The Finnish Battle for Identity: Finnish Socialism, Nationalism and Russian Ideological Intervention in the Finnish Civil War

  • Alexander Maavara University of Waterloo


The Finnish Civil War, fought from January to May 1918, was one of the many small scale Eastern European conflicts fought in the ideological and ethnic turmoil that followed the Russian Revolution and the First World War.  The war was fought between socialist Finnish Reds and conservative Finnish Whites. Despite its class conflict characteristics, the Civil War was manufactured by the Whites as a War of Liberation from Russia. The Whites successfully mobilized Finnish nationalism by exploiting the nature and history of Finnish socialism to reveal contradictions in socialist policies and painting the Reds as puppets of Russian communists.