January 28, 2011

A small war

Filed under: Uncategorized — jchatoff @ 12:04 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Today marks the beginning of the Finnish Civil War in 1918.

The town of Tampere, after the war.

It was a very short war, but has a long Wikipedia entry due to the fact that poor  Finland was still a pawn in the game between Russia and Germany and there was a lot going on in those countries at the time.  When the Socialists took over Parliament, they were called Reds and had the backing of Lenin.  But four-fifths of the country was controlled by conservatives – the Whites – and they were sustained by Germany.

Essentially, the German army defeated the Reds in less than four months and Finland became a German protectorate.  That was in May.  By November, the Germans had lost WWI and Finland was able to declare its independence.

Socialists went underground or were imprisoned or emigrated.  And that is one reason Fitchburg MA had a vigorous and influential Finnish  workingmen’s party that became very active in the labor struggles of the Twenties.

A famous Finn

Sadly, the little civil war had an enormously deleterious effect on the country.  Besides the 37,000 people killed, 20,000 orphans were created, Finland’s emerging industrial prosperity was dealt a major blow and agriculture was devastated.  Finnish politicians appealed to Herbert Hoover, head of the Committee for the Relief of Belgium and Hoover got the Allies to briefly lift their blockade of the Baltic so that food could be sent in.

It took Finland more than seven years to recover from its four-month war.  Today it is ranked the second most stable country in the world, the seventh most economically competitive and third in the world in graduation rates.  In 2010, Newsweek ranked it first in the world based “on health, economic dynamism, education, political environment and quality of life.”

* * *

OMG – it’s Oprah’s birthday today!  She’s in good company: Thomas Paine, Anton Chekov, Romain Rolland, Frederick Delius, Barney Oldfield, W.C. Fields, Paddy Chayefsky, Adam Clayton Powell, John Raitt, Germaine Greer and Tom Selleck.


1 Comment »

  1. Wowwy zowwy that’s a good Finnish, thank you Jean we love Matt


    Comment by avery — January 28, 2011 @ 10:57 am | Reply

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