Red Guards (Finland)

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Red Guards
Finnish: Punakaarti
Swedish: Röda gardet
Participant in the Russian Revolution of 1905 and Finnish Civil War
Red officers.jpg
Red officers during Finnish Civil War
Active 1905–1907
Ideology Socialism,
Left-wing nationalism
Leaders Ali Aaltonen
Eero Haapalainen
Eino Rahja
Kullervo Manner
Otto Wille Kuusinen
Area of operations [citation needed]
Allies Russian Red Guards
 Russian SFSR

 Russian Empire


Battles and wars Russian Revolution of 1905, Finnish Civil War, Heimosodat

The Red Guards (Finnish: Punakaarti Swedish: Röda gardet) formed the army of Red Finland during the Finnish Civil War in 1918. The combined strength of the Red Guard was about 30,000 at the beginning of the Civil War, and peaked at 90,000-120,000 during the course of the conflict.[citation needed]

The leadership of the Red Guards altered during the war: Ali Aaltonen, Eero Haapalainen, Eino Rahja and in the end Kullervo Manner. The government of Red Finland was the Finnish People's Delegation. The Red Guards were in power from 28 January to the end of April 1918 in southern Finland.[citation needed]

The Red Guards' general staff was located in Helsinki; the other major cities controlled by the Red forces were Tampere, Turku, Pori and Viipuri. Red Tampere came to its end on 6 April 1918 after bloody battles when the White Guards commanded by Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim conquered the city.[1]

Thousands of Red Guards were imprisoned, hundreds of them were executed, and the rest were transported to POW camps. Helsinki was in White control by April 12, 1918.[citation needed] Some joined the Red Army and fought against nationalist Finns in the heimosodat. In fact, during the 1920s, the Soviet International Red Officer School had more Finnish students than the Finnish Reserve Officer School. The highest rank was obtained by Eino Rahja, who was a commander of an army corps (komkor).

During the general strike of 1905 "National Guards" were formed in Finland. These Guards included both socialists and non-socialists, but eventually they were divided into opposing militias. In that year, however, bloodshed was still avoided.[2]

The last surviving Red Guard, Aarne Arvonen, became Finland's oldest man ever before his death in January 2009.[citation needed]



End of 1917 20,000 men estimate
When the civil war started 30,000 men [3]
Middle of conflict, (Peak) 90,000+ men [3]
In 1920 Thousands, though all in Russia, mostly in Karelia and Ingria, see heimosodat

[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tony Jaques (2007). Dictionary of Battles and Sieges: P-Z. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 993. ISBN 978-0-313-33539-6. 
  2. ^ Jussila, Osmo; Seppo Hentilä; Jukka Nevakivi (2004) [1999]. Suomen poliittinen historia 1809–2003 (in Finnish) (4th ed.). Vantaa: SanomaWSOY. p. 80. 
  3. ^ a b "Inboerdeskriget < Uppslagsverket < TWiki". Retrieved 2014-01-22. 

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