Finnish Declaration of Independence

Image of the Declaration in Finnish with the senators' signatures

Itsenaisyysjulistus 1
Itsenaisyysjulistus 2

Image of the Declaration in Swedish with the senators' signatures

Självständighetsförklaringen 4 12 1917 1
Självständighetsförklaringen 4 12 1917 2
Ven tunnustaa Suomen itsenisyyden
The Bolshevist government of Russia led by Lenin approve Finland's independence

The Finnish Declaration of Independence (Finnish: Suomen itsenäisyysjulistus; Swedish: Finlands självständighetsförklaring; Russian: Провозглашение независимости Финляндии) was adopted by the Parliament of Finland on 6 December 1917. It declared Finland an independent nation, among nations ending its autonomy within Russia as its Grand Duchy of Finland, with reference to a simultaneously delivered bill to the Diet to make Finland an independent republic instead.

Declaring the independence was only part of the long process leading to the independence of Finland. The declaration is celebrated as the Independence Day in Finland.

Revolution in Russia

After the February Revolution and the abdication of Grand Duke Nicholas II on 2 March (15 March N.S.) 1917, the personal union between Russia and Finland lost its legal base – at least according to the view in Helsinki. There were negotiations between the Russian Provisional Government and Finnish authorities.

The resulting proposal, approved by the Provisional Government, was heavily rewritten in the Finnish Parliament and transformed into the so-called Power Act (Finnish: Valtalaki, Swedish: Maktlagen), whereby the Parliament declared[1] itself to now hold all powers of legislation, except with respect to foreign policy and military issues, and also that it could be dissolved only by itself. At the time of the vote it was believed that the Provisional Government would be quickly defeated by the rebellion in Saint Petersburg. The Provisional Government survived, however, disapproved of the Power Act and dissolved the Parliament.

After new elections and the ultimate defeat of the Provisional Government in the October Revolution, the Finnish Parliament decided to set a three-man regency council, based on Finland's Constitution, and more precisely on clause §38 of the old Instrument of Government of 1772, which had been enacted by the Estates after Gustav III's bloodless coup. This paragraph provided for the election of a new monarch in case of the extinction of the royal line and was interpreted in Finland as vesting sovereignty in the estates, later the Parliament, in such an interregnum. The regency council was however never elected because of the strong opposition of Finnish socialists and their general strike which demanded for more radical action.

On 2 November (15 November N.S.) 1917, the Bolsheviks declared a general right of self-determination, including the right of complete secession, "for the Peoples of Russia". On the same day the Finnish Parliament issued a declaration by which it assumed, pro tempore, all powers of the Sovereign in Finland.[2]

The old Instrument of Government was however no longer deemed suitable. Leading circles had long held monarchism and hereditary nobility to be antiquated, and advocated a republican constitution for Finland.

The Senate of Finland, the government that the Parliament had appointed in November, drafted a Declaration of Independence and a proposal for a new republican Instrument of Government. Chairman of the Senate (a.k.a. Prime minister) Pehr Evind Svinhufvud read the Declaration to the Parliament on 4 December. The Declaration of Independence was technically given the form of a preamble of the proposition, and was intended to be agreed by the Parliament, which adopted the Declaration on 6 December.

On 18 December (31 December N. S.) the Soviet Russian government issued a Decree, recognizing Finland's independence,[3] and on 22 December (4 January 1918 N. S.) it was approved by the highest Soviet executive body, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee (VTsIK).[4]

The Declaration and 15 November

With reference to the declaration of 15 November, the declaration says:

The people of Finland have by this step taken their fate in their own hands; a step both justified and demanded by present conditions. The people of Finland feel deeply that they cannot fulfil their national and international duty without complete sovereignty. The century-old desire for freedom awaits fulfilment 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 fulfilment of those purposes that will win them a place amongst civilized peoples.


Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania declared their independence from Russia during the same period. See Estonian War of Independence, Latvian Independence and Lithuanian Wars of Independence.

These three countries were occupied by, and annexed into, the Soviet Union (1940-1941, 1944-1991). See Occupation of the Baltic states.

Text of Finland's Declaration of Independence

To The Finnish People.

The Finnish Parliament has on 15th day of the last November, in support of Section 38 of the Constitution, declared to be the Supreme holder of the State Authority as well as set up a Government to the country, that has taken to its primary task the realization and safeguarding Finland’s independence as a state. The people of Finland have by this step taken their fate in their own hands: a step both justified and demanded by present conditions. The people of Finland feel deeply that they cannot fulfil their national duty and their universal human obligations without a complete sovereignty. The century-old desire for freedom awaits fulfilment now; The People of Finland has to step forward as an independent nation among the other nations in the world.

Achieving this goal requires mainly some measures by the Parliament. Finland’s current form of government, which is currently incompatible with the conditions, requires a complete renewal and therefore has the Government now submitted a proposition for a new Constitution to the Parliament’s council, a proposition that is based on the principle that Finland is to be a sovereign republic. Considering that, the main features of the new polity has to be carried into effect immediately, the Government has at the same time delivered a bill of acts in this matter, which mean to satisfy the most urgent renewal needs before the establishment of the new Constitution.

The same goal also calls for measures from the part of the Government. The Government will approach foreign powers to seek an international recognition of our country’s independence as a state. At the present moment this is particularly all the more necessary, when the grave situation caused by the country’s complete isolation, famine and unemployment compels the Government to establish actual relations to the foreign powers, which prompt assistance in satisfying the necessities of life and in importing the essential goods for the industry, are our only rescue from the imminent famine and industrial stagnation.

The Russian people have, after subverting the Tsarist Regime, in a number of occasions expressed its intention to favour the Finnish people the right to determine its own fate, which is based on its centuries-old cultural development. And widely over all the horrors of the war is heard a voice, that one of the goals of the present war is to be, that no nation shall be forced against its will to be dependent on another (nation). The Finnish people believe that the free Russian people and its constitutive National Assembly don’t want to prevent Finland’s aspiration to enter the multitude of the free and independent nations. At the same time the People of Finland dare to hope that the other nations of the world recognizes, that with their full independence and freedom the People of Finland can do their best in fulfilment of those purposes that will win them an independent position amongst the people of the civilized world.

At the same time as the Government has wanted to let all the Finnish citizens to know these words, the Government turns to the citizens, as well as the private and public authorities, calling everyone on their own behalf with rapt attention to follow the (law and) order by filling their patriotic duty, to strain all their strength for achieving the nation's common goal in this point of time, which has such an importance and decisiveness, that there have never before been in the life of the Finnish people. In Helsinki, 4 December 1917.

The Finnish Senate:

P.E. Svinhufvud. E.N. Setälä.
Kyösti Kallio. Jalmar Castrén.
Onni Talas. Arthur Castrén.
Heikki Renvall. Juhani Arajärvi.
Alexander Frey. E.Y. Pehkonen.
O.W. Louhivuori.[5]

International recognition

Country Date
 Russian SFSR 4 January 1918
 France 4 January 1918
 Sweden 4 January 1918
 German Empire 4 January 1918
 Greece 5 January 1918
 Norway 10 January 1918
 Denmark 10 January 1918
  Switzerland 11 January 1918
 Austria-Hungary 13 January 1918
 Netherlands 28 January 1918
 Spain 21 February 1918
 Ottoman Empire 21 February 1918
 Bulgaria 27 February 1918
 Holy See 2 March 1918
 Argentina 11 May 1918
 Iran 23 July 1918
 Thailand 9 October 1918
 Poland 8 March 1919
 United Kingdom 6 May 1919
 United States 7 May 1919
 Japan 23 May 1919
 Belgium 10 June 1919
 Chile 17 June 1919
 Peru 23 June 1919
 Italy 27 June 1919
 Uruguay 18 August 1919
 Liechtenstein 27 October 1919
 Portugal 19 December 1919
 Brazil 26 December 1919
 Colombia 31 December 1919

See also


  1. ^ "Hallituksen esitykseen, joka sisältää ehdotuksen laiksi erinäisten asiain siirtämisestä Suomen senaatin ja kenraalikuvernöörin ratkaistavaksi" (in Finnish). 25 July 1917. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  2. ^ "Eduskunta". Suomi 80 (in Finnish). Tampere University. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  3. ^ "Primary Documents - Soviet Recognition of Finland's Independence, 18 December 1917". first world war. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  4. ^ "On This Day - 4 January 1918". first world war. Retrieved 20 August 2016. Eastern front: Bolshevik Government recognises independence of Finland.
  5. ^ Translation from the Finnish language by B.Holm, 25 July 2009. (Clarifications by the translator are in brackets.)

External links

Abolition of monarchy

The abolition of monarchy involves the ending of monarchical elements in the government of a country. Such abolition may also (but not always) eliminate aristocratic systems and "hereditary government" features in constitutional practice.

History records transitions from monarchy to other forms of government from very early times, either through revolutions, coups d'état, wars, or legislative reforms (sometimes involving abdications). Athens had abandoned the principle of hereditary rule by 753 BCE. The founding of the Roman Republic in the 6th century BCE provides a well-known example and anti-monarchism became part of Rome's traditions, being cited as justification for the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BCE. Monarchical Carthage became an aristocratic republic in 308 BCE.

The twentieth century saw the abolition of several monarchies - some constitutionally or violently overthrown by revolution or by war, some disappearing as part of the process of decolonisation. By contrast, the restoration of monarchies has occurred rarely in modern times:

the autocratic Ukrainian State revived a monarchical Hetmanate in 1918

Spain established a constitutional monarchy in 1978 following the end of Francoist Spain in 1975 (Francoist Spain was nominally a monarchy, although it was under an authoritarian regency and the throne was vacant)

Cambodia transitioned from a republic to a kingdom in 1993

Carl Enckell

Carl Johan Alexis Enckell (7 June 1876 — 26 March 1959) was a Finnish politician, diplomat, officer and businessman.

Enckell followed his father's steps in Russian military and rose to the Imperial Russian Guard. As he was not satisfied in the earnings, he studied Mechanical Engineering degree in Germany. Subsequently, he worked in Kuusankoski paper mill and in Helsinki-based engineering companies Hietalahti Shipyard and Engineering Works and Kone- ja Siltarakennus. During the 1910s Enckell worked in employers' organisations.

In 1917, shortly before October Revolution, Enckell was appointed Finnish Minister–Secretary of State in Saint Petersburg. Following the Finnish Declaration of Independence, Enckell worked hard to get international recognition for the declaration. During the following years, Enckell worked as diplomat in Paris and later in League of Nations, in which he successfully pursued the Finnish interests in Åland crisis. He served as Foreign Minister in four short-lived cabinets during the early politically turbulent years of the young republic.

Enckell moved to work in financial sector in the 1920s but made return into politics as Foreign Minister. He led Finland out from Second World War and contributed establishing friendly relations with Soviet Union and new foreign policy, the Paasikivi–Kekkonen doctrine.

Enckell was married to German-born Lucy née Ponsonby-Lyons. They had four children, of whom Ralph Enckell became a notable diplomat.

Declaration of independence

A declaration of independence or declaration of statehood is an assertion by a defined territory that it is independent and constitutes a state. Such places are usually declared from part or all of the territory of another nation or failed nation, or are breakaway territories from within the larger state. In 2010, the UN's International Court of Justice ruled in an advisory opinion in Kosovo that "International law contains no prohibition on declarations of independence", though the state from which the territory wishes to secede may regard the declaration as rebellion, which may lead to a war of independence or a constitutional settlement to resolve the crisis.

Finland–United States relations

Finland – United States relations are bilateral relations between Finland and the United States.

According to the 2012 U.S. Global Leadership Report, 48% of Finnish people approve of U.S. leadership, with 34% disapproving and 18% uncertain.

Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic

The Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic, more commonly referred to as Red Finland, was a theoretical precursor of an unrecognized Finnish socialist state. It was outlined during the Finnish Civil War, on 29 January 1918 by the Finnish People's Delegation, the Reds and Red Guards of the Finnish Social Democratic Party, after the socialist revolution in Finland on 26 January 1918.

The name "Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic" (Suomen sosialistinen työväentasavalta) appeared only in the Treaty between Finnish People's Delegation and Russian Council of People's Commissars, signed 1 March 1918. The People's Delegation had earlier used the name Republic of Finland (Suomen tasavalta), but Soviet leader V. I. Lenin proposed adding the attributes "Socialist Workers' Republic" into the name during negotiations. The People's Delegation later blamed its delegates for succumbing to Lenin's demand, since the official name of the state should have been decided by the Finns themselves.

Grand Duchy of Finland

The Grand Duchy of Finland (Finnish: Suomen suuriruhtinaskunta, Swedish: Storfurstendömet Finland, Russian: Великое княжество Финляндское, Velikoye knyazhestvo Finlyandskoye; literally Grand Principality of Finland) was the predecessor state of modern Finland. It existed between 1809 and 1917 as an autonomous part of the Russian Empire.

Originating in the 16th century as a titular grand duchy held by the King of Sweden, it became autonomous after the Russian annexation in the Finnish War. The Grand Duke of Finland was the Romanov Emperor of Russia, who was represented by the Governor-General. Due to the governmental structure of the Russian Empire and Finnish initiative, the grand duchy's autonomy expanded until the end of the 19th century. The Senate of Finland was founded in 1809, which became the most important governmental organ and the precursor to the modern Eduskunta (Parliament).The economic, social and political changes in the Grand Duchy of Finland were closely connected with those in the Russian Empire and the rest of Europe. The economy grew slowly during the first half of the 19th century. The reign of Alexander II after 1855 saw significant cultural, social and intellectual progress and an industrializing economy. Tensions increased after the Russification policies were enacted in 1889, which limited autonomy and cultural expression. The unrest in Russia and Finland during World War I and the subsequent collapse of the Russian Empire resulted in the Finnish Declaration of Independence and the end of the Grand Duchy.

Grand Duke of Finland

Grand Duke of Finland or the Grand Prince of Finland (Finnish: Suomen suuriruhtinas, Swedish: Storfurste av Finland), was from around 1580 to 1809 a title in use by most Swedish monarchs. Between 1809 and 1917, it was the official title of the head of the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland, who was the Emperor of Russia. The anachronistic female form of the title in English is usually Grand Princess of Finland (Swedish: Storfurstinna av Finland, Finnish: Suomen suuriruhtinatar). The only women to have used the title were the Swedish Queens regnant Christina and Ulrika Eleonora. A few crown princes of Sweden also were called Grand Prince of Finland.

Gulf of Finland

The Gulf of Finland (Finnish: Suomenlahti; Estonian: Soome laht; Russian: Фи́нский зали́в, tr. Finskiy zaliv, IPA: [ˈfʲinskʲɪj zɐˈlʲif]; Swedish: Finska viken) is the easternmost arm of the Baltic Sea. It extends between Finland (to the north) and Estonia (to the south) all the way to Saint Petersburg in Russia, where the river Neva drains into it. Other major cities around the gulf include Helsinki and Tallinn. The eastern parts of the Gulf of Finland belong to Russia, and some of Russia's most important oil harbours are located farthest in, near Saint Petersburg (including Primorsk). As the seaway to Saint Petersburg, the Gulf of Finland has been and continues to be of considerable strategic importance to Russia. Some of the environmental problems affecting the Baltic Sea are at their most pronounced in the shallow gulf.

Gustaf Idman

Karl Gustaf Idman (1 December 1885 in Tampere – 13 April 1961 in Helsinki)

was a Finnish diplomat and a non-partisan Minister of Foreign Affairs in Antti Tulenheimo's cabinet in 1925.Idman completed a law doctorate in 1914 and worked in Helsinki University as a professor of international law from 1915 to 1917.

Idman became an official in the Finnish Foreign Office in January 1918 after Finland gained independence. Idman belonged to the delegation which visited St. Petersburg in 1917 and acquired Lenin's approval for Finnish Declaration of Independence.

Idman hold several foreign service positions during his career. He was special envoy in Copenhagen 1919-1927, in Budapest 1922-1927, in Riga and Kaunas 1927-1928, in Prague from 1927 to 1935, in Warsaw 1928-1938 and in Bucharest 1928-1938. During World War II, Idman hold a similar position of a special envoy since October 1939 in Tokyo and also since August 1941 in Mukden (Manchukuo). Idman was put into disponibility on 5 April 1945 and he resigned from the ministry in 1947.

Idman owned Hatanpää mansion in Tampere region. He left in his will money for a foundation that distributes annually grants for approximate million euros to students in Tampere.

Instrument of Government (1772)

Sweden's Constitution of 1772 (Swedish: regeringsform, "Instrument of Government") took effect through a bloodless coup d'état, the Revolution of 1772, carried out by King Gustav III, who had become king in 1771. It established once again a division of power between the parliament and the king. The period came to be known as the Gustavian era. This was a response to a perceived harm wrought upon Sweden by a half-century of parliamentarism during the country's Age of Liberty practiced according to the Instrument of Government (1719), as many members of the Swedish parliament then used to be bribed by foreign powers.

January 4

January 4 is the fourth day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 361 days remaining until the end of the year (362 in leap years).

Kaarle Krohn

Kaarle Krohn (10 May 1863 – 19 July 1933) was a Finnish folklorist, professor and developer of the geographic-historic method of folklore research. He was born into the influential Krohn family of Helsinki. Krohn is best known outside of Finland for his contributions to international folktale research. He devoted most of his life to the study of the epic poetry that forms the basis for the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala.

Kingdom of Finland (1918)

The Kingdom of Finland (Finnish: Suomen kuningaskunta; Swedish: Konungariket Finland) was an abortive attempt to establish a monarchy in Finland in the form of a German client state following Finland's independence from Russia.

In March 1918, the German Empire successfully intervened in the Finnish Civil War on the side of the Finnish White Army. By May 1918, the German Baltic Sea Division had aided the Whites to gain control over most of the country, and its commander Rüdiger von der Goltz in practise ruled Finland as the "regent of Finland". Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse was elected to the throne of Finland on 9 October 1918 by the Parliament of Finland, but he never took the position and renounced the throne in December 1918 after Germany's defeat in the First World War.

Krepost Sveaborg

The Krepost Sveaborg was an Imperial Russian system of land and coastal fortifications constructed around Helsinki during the First World War. The purpose of the fortress was to provide a secure naval base for the Russian Baltic fleet and to protect Helsinki and block routes to Saint Petersburg from a possible German invasion. Krepost Sveaborg was part of Peter the Great's Naval Fortress, a coastal fortification system protecting access to Saint Petersburg by sea. The central part of Krepost Sveaborg was the old fortress of Suomenlinna where the fortress headquarters were located. Due to technological advances in artillery the old fortress was no longer capable of providing a sufficient protection, and a new main defensive line was built well beyond the old fortress boundaries. New coastal artillery guns built on outlying islands protected Krepost Sveaborg from the sea, while fortified lines constructed around Helsinki were intended to stop any attacks on land. The primary coastal guns were 10 in (254 mm) model 1891 guns and 6 in (152 mm) model 1892 Canet guns. Older 11 in (279 mm) model 1877 guns were also used. In summer 1917 the fortress had two hundred coastal or anti-landing guns, of which 24 were 10-inch guns in six batteries, 16 were 6-inch Canet guns in four batteries and twelve were 11-inch guns in three batteries. The artillery used in land fortifications included older coastal guns, old fixed carriage guns and newer light field guns. In March 1917, Krepost Sveaborg had a total of 463 guns, although many of them were obsolescent. Krepost Sveaborg was still partly incomplete in 1917 when the February Revolution halted most of the construction work. Some further construction work was carried out during the remaining year, but all work halted during the October Revolution. Following the Finnish Declaration of Independence, parts of the land fortifications were used in the Finnish Civil War. The coastal fortifications were later taken over by Finland to protect Helsinki, while the land fortifications were mostly abandoned and disarmed.

Pähkähullu Suomi

Pähkähullu Suomi (Insane Finland) is a 1967 comedy by Spede Pasanen. It's the third film starring Spede in a contemporary crazy comedy after he first appeared in X-Paroni and Millipilleri. His movies expanded to more ludicrous high concept pieces. The films release coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Finnish declaration of independence which is also referenced in the film.

Sandvikens Skeppsdocka och Mekaniska Verkstad

Aktiebolaget Sandvikens Skeppsdocka och Mekaniska Verkstad (Finnish: Osakeyhtiö Hietalahden Sulkutelakka ja Konepaja; "Hietalahti Shipyard and Engineering Works Ltd.") was a Finnish shipbuilding and engineering company that operated in Helsinki in 1895–1938. The company was set up to continue shipbuilding at Hietalahti shipyard, after its predecessor Helsingfors Skeppsdocka, which operated the yard in 1865–1895, had bankrupted.

The company portfolio consisted building and repairing of ships, production of tram and railway wagons, boilers, steam and combustion engines, winches and other products. Before and during the First World War the main customers were the Imperial Russian Navy and the Finnish State Railways. Following the Finnish Declaration of Independence in 1917, the Finnish Civil War broke out in 1918. The yard was closed until the Red Guards had left the city.

Due to recession in shipbuilding the company owners decided to sell the shares to another Helsinki engineering company, Kone- ja Siltarakennus in 1926. In 1935 Kone- ja Siltarakennus was taken over by Wärtsilä, which amalgamated Hietalahti Shipyard and Engineering Works into its own organisation. The yard continued operating under name Wärtsilä Hietalahti Shipyard after that.

Santeri Alkio

Santeri Alkio (Finnicized form of Aleksander Filander; 17 June 1862 in Laihia, Finland – 24 July 1930 in Laihia) was a Finnish politician, author and journalist. He is also considered to be the ideological father of Finnish Centre Party.

Savonlinna Opera Festival

Savonlinna Opera Festival (Finnish: Savonlinnan oopperajuhlat) is held annually in the city of Savonlinna in Finland. The Festival takes place at the medieval Olavinlinna (St. Olaf's Castle), built in 1475. The castle is located amid spectacular lake scenery.

Trust (1976 film)

Trust (Finnish: Luottamus, Russian: Доверие, translit. Doverie) is a 1976 Finnish-Soviet historical drama film directed by Edvin Laine and Viktor Tregubovich. The film portrays the events leading up to the Finnish Declaration of Independence from Russia in 1917.

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