Finland’s Whole New World

The 19th and 20th century Russian population was made up of a series of smaller groups. The people of Russia were less loyal to their nationality and more dedicated to their more personalized groups based on religion, status within the community, and the region in which they resided. This meant that after the 1917 Russian revolution places like Finland, Poland, the three Baltic states, and others would start to act upon their desire for their own country and government. The people of these states felt that the Russian government was too oppressive and that independence was needed to free the people.

In Finland there was already a disconnect with Russia. During World War I the people of Finland were split between Russia and Germany. Following the 1917 revolution, Finland asked for independence, which was rejected by the Russian provincial government. The provincial government disbanded the Finnish National Assembly but with the election of a new council that was very German sympathetic they accepted Finnish independence. In December of 1917 Finland gained their independence. Their response was to put the government, the Sejm, squarely in the hands of the people. A popular government was formed and the people of Finland were given the power to control this new government. Three main articles were set forth. The first was to set the power firmly in the hands of the Sejm of Finland and keep in from Russian control. It also clarifies that Russia still had control of the military. The second article was to enforce the power of the Sejm, specifically its elections and existence. The third article stated that the Sejm had the executive control in Finland’s affairs. Finland was not the only part of Russia to gain independence, Poland and the three Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia also gained their independence. But many other parts still remained under the greater shadow of Russia.



3 thoughts on “Finland’s Whole New World

  1. It’s interesting that so soon after the Russians gave Finland and Poland independence, they attempted to regain control over them during World War 2. I would like to know more about Russia’s control over the Finish military doing the war as the Fins were capable of mounting a formidable resistance against the Russians. I would also like to know the relation of population make up between the states that received freedom and those who were kept within the USSR.

  2. It is very interesting to see how the three Baltic states were able to initially gain their independence before the Soviet Union swallowed them back into their control. Meanwhile, Finland was able to keep it’s sovereignty. Is this simply because Finland is a larger country or did the Soviet Union feel those Baltic states were more important to their national security/identity?

  3. What surprised me in the Sejm’s Law of July 5th, 1917 was the final sentence in Article 1 stating that the Sejm alone would not decide on laws regarding the military or foreign policy. The document does not clearly indicate who would be approving such decisions, which I thought highlighted the Sejm’s focus on domestic affairs. This focus was reinforced in its Address to the Provisional Government, where the Sejm argued for its right to use state power on domestic affairs because of the Tsar’s abdication. Was the Sejm simply too focused on its domestic turmoil to focus on foreign affairs? Or was there a purpose in this ambiguity?

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