100 years of Finnish history

Le MusÈe national de Finlande prÈsente l’histoire de ce pays depuis la PrÈhistoire jusqu’‡ nos jours. Il comprend une importante partie ethnographique.

by Katherine Larson

December 6, 1917, found much of the world in turmoil. World War I raged, and one of its major combatants, Russia, had spent the year in the throes of revolution. While these conflagrations burned, a spark of hope was lit: Finland unilaterally declared its independence.

For over seven centuries, Finland had been under the control of one or both of its two most powerful neighbors, Sweden and Russia. Then came the spring of 1917, when the Russian tsar abdicated, a provisional government was instituted, and a right of self-determination was announced. Finland moved swiftly to act on the exciting possibilities raised by this announcement.

In summer, however, under the sway of counterrevolutionary forces, the announced right was revoked. Disappointment. But in autumn the Bolsheviks took power and again declared a general right of self-determination, including the right of secession, for “the Peoples of Russia.” This right would not last long either, but Finland acted fast so as not to let the opportunity escape. The new nation declared independence in ringing words:

“The people of Finland feel deeply that they cannot fulfill their national and international duty without complete sovereignty. The century-old desire for freedom awaits fulfillment now; Finland’s people step forward as a free nation among the other nations in the world. . . . The people of Finland dare to confidently await how other nations in the world recognize that with their full independence and freedom, the people of Finland can do their best in fulfillment of those purposes that will win them a place amongst civilized peoples.”…

To read the full story, please pick up a copy of this months Marquette Monthly at one of our distribution outlets.

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