Lapua Movement

The Lapua Movement (Finnish: Lapuan liike, Swedish: Lapporörelsen) was a Finnish radical nationalist and anti-communist political movement founded in and named after the town of Lapua. After radicalisation it turned towards far-right politics and was banned after a failed coup-d'état in 1932. Anti-communist activities of the movement continued in the parliamentarian Patriotic People's Movement.

Lapuan liike
Emblem of the Lapuan liike


The Lapua Movement started in 1929 and was initially dominated by anti-communist nationalists, emphasizing the legacy of the nationalist activism, the White Guards and the Civil War in Finland. The movement saw itself as the badly needed restorer of what was won in the Civil War, supporting Lutheranism, nationalism, and anti-communism.

Many politicians, and also high military officers, were initially sympathetic with the Lapua Movement, as anti-communism was the norm in the educated classes after the Civil War. However, excessive use of violence made the movement less popular within a few months.

In the Civil War Ostrobothnia was one of the most important strongholds and bases of the White army, and anti-Communist sentiments remained extremely strong in Ostrobothnia. Late in November 1929 the Young Communist League of Finland arranged agitation, meetings and protests in Ostrobothnian Lapua. As the Nationalists put it, the Communists had " mocked God, the Lutheran Church, the 'bourgeois' fatherland, the Finnish army and General Mannerheim".[1] This infuriated townspeople who violently made an end to the meeting. Anti-Communist violence was hailed as justified and praiseworthy. On December 1 the first anti-communist meeting was held, attracting more than 1,000 people demanding an end to all communist activities.


Eino Niemisen pahoinpitely
Lapua Movement supporters battering the "red officer" Eino Nieminen in front of the Vaasa courthouse during the 4 June 1930 riot.

Marches and meetings were arranged throughout the country. On June 16, 1930, more than 3,000 men arrived in Oulu in order to destroy the printing press and office of the Communist newspaper Pohjan Voima. However, the last issue of Pohjan Voima had appeared on June 14. The same day, a Communist printing press in Vaasa was destroyed. A so-called "Peasant March" to Helsinki was a major show of power. More than 12,000 men arrived in Helsinki on July 7. The government yielded under the pressure, and communist newspapers were outlawed in a "Protection of the Republic Act."

Meetings held by leftist and labour groups were also interrupted, often violently. More than 400 meeting locals owned by the labour movement were closed by Lapua activists.

One common treatment was "muilutus", which started with kidnapping and beating. After that the subject was thrown into a car and driven to the border of the Soviet Union. Tragically, many of the Finns deported by the Lapua Movement, and who remained in the Soviet Union, were later caught up in Stalin's Great Purge and executed; while peresecuted in Finland as Communists, Stalin accused them of being "Nationalists".[2]

On October 14, 1930, the popular ex-president Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg and his wife were kidnapped and driven to Joensuu (i.e., not really to the Soviet border this time). After this, general support for the movement collapsed. Moderate people left the movement, and extremists took the stage.

Failed rebellion

In February 1932 a Social Democrat meeting in Mäntsälä was violently interrupted by armed Lapua activists. The event escalated to an attempted coup d'état known as the Mäntsälä rebellion (Mäntsälän kapina), led by the former Chief of Staff of Finland's army, General Wallenius. Despite the appeals of Wallenius, the army and the White Guards were largely loyal to the government. Many historians believe the main reason for the failure was poor planning: the event just escalated from actions of the local chapter and the national organization came aboard later.[3] The rebellion ended after President Svinhufvud gave a radio speech to the rebels. After a trial, the Lapua Movement was banned on November 21, 1932, under the Protection of the Republic Act, which Lapua itself had worked to get passed. Wallenius and about 50 other leaders were sentenced to prison.


After the Lapua Movement was banned, the Patriotic People's Movement was formed shortly thereafter. Like its predecessor, it also was nationalistic and anti-communist. It had limited political success and was banned in 1944 on the orders of the Soviet Union in the aftermath of the Continuation War.

See also


  1. ^ (Niinistö, Jussi, Suomalaisia vapaustaistelijoita / Finnish Freedom Fighters, NIMOX KY/Ltd., 2003, pages 17–20; Siltala, Juha, Lapuan liike ja kyyditykset, Otava, 1985, pages 51–53; Virkkunen, Sakari, Suomen presidentit I / Finland's Presidents I, Otava, 1994, pages 192–193; Salokangas, Raimo, "Itsenäinen tasavalta" / "An Independent Republic," page 635 in Zetterberg, Seppo et al., eds., Suomen historian pikkujättiläinen / A Small Giant of the Finnish History, WSOY, 2003).
  2. ^ Iltalehti Teema Historia: Lapuan liike, Alma Media, 2015, p. 34-35.
  3. ^ Iltalehti Teema Historia: Lapuan liike, Alma Media, 2015, p. 4-7.
  • Kirby, David (2006). A concise history of Finland. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-53989-0.

External links

1930 Finnish parliamentary election

Parliamentary elections were held in Finland on 1 and 2 October 1930. The Social Democratic Party emerged as the largest in Parliament with 66 of the 200 seats. Voter turnout was 65.9%.

1931 Finnish presidential election

Two-stage presidential elections were held in Finland in 1931. On 15 and 16 January the public elected presidential electors to an electoral college. They in turn elected the President. The result was a victory for Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, who won on the third ballot by just two votes. The turnout for the popular vote was 47.3%. This presidential election was held during an ideologically, politically, socially and economically tense time. The Great Depression was impoverishing many Finnish farmers and workers. The far-right Lapua Movement had not settled for the ban of the Communist Party and its affiliated organizations in the autumn of 1930. It wanted to help elect a President who would also strongly oppose the Social Democrats and moderate bourgeois parties, such as the Progressives. Although Svinhufvud disapproved of the Lapua Movement's violent kidnappings of left-wing politicians and other illegal acts, he was their preferred presidential candidate. Former President K.J. Ståhlberg, a champion of democracy, parliamentarism and the rule of law, had been briefly kidnapped by some activists of the Lapua Movement with his wife in October 1930. He was chosen as the Progressive presidential candidate. Speaker of the Finnish Parliament, Kyösti Kallio, held ideals similar to those of Ståhlberg, and he became the Agrarian presidential candidate. The outgoing President, Lauri Kristian Relander, had lost the Agrarian presidential candidacy to Kallio, because he did not condemn the Lapua Movement as strongly as Kallio did, and a sufficient number of Agrarians believed that Kallio could control the Lapua Movement's extremists more effectively than Relander. Right-wing Finns and some centrists, such as a prominent Agrarian parliamentarian, Juho Niukkanen, were concerned that Ståhlberg's re-election (after a six-year break) as the Finnish President would escalate political tensions in Finland. The Commander-in-Chief of the Civil Guards (a bourgeois voluntary defence organization), Major General Lauri Malmberg, announced in the Finnish Parliament that he would not guarantee order among the Civil Guards, if Ståhlberg was elected President. Svinhufvud's razor-thin victory required Niukkanen's arm-twisting tactics, whereby he pressured all the Agrarian presidential electors to support Svinhufvud. This 69-year-old and slightly ailing conservative politician was considered by his supporters as a sufficiently bold, solid and patriotic man to re-unite the ideologically divided Finns. His pro-democracy supporters hoped that he could keep both right-wing extremists and left-wing extremists in check (see, for example, Sakari Virkkunen, Finland's Presidents I / Suomen presidentit I. Helsinki: Otava Ltd., 1994, pgs. 242-245 (Relander), pgs. 11-14 (Svinhufvud); Pentti Virrankoski, A History of Finland / Suomen historia, volumes 1&2. Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society / Suomalaisen kirjallisuuden seura, 2009, pgs. 810-816; Raimo Salokangas, "The Independent Republic" (Itsenäinen tasavalta), pgs. 635-639 in Seppo Zetterberg et al., eds., A Small Giant of the Finnish History / Suomen historian pikkujättiläinen. Helsinki: WSOY, 2003).

Arvi Malmivaara

Arvi Einar Malmivaara (23 May 1885, Kiuruvesi – 30 August 1970, Seinäjoki; surname until 1906 Malmberg) was a Finnish Lutheran clergyman and politician. He was a member of the Parliament of Finland from 1935 to 1939, representing the Patriotic People's Movement (IKL). He was also active in the Lapua Movement.

He received a degree of Philosophiae Magister in 1910. He was working as a teacher of a theological discipline and of drawing at Lapua's school of social sciences during 1909-1919. From 1913 to 1918 he was also a leader of this school. He worked as a parish priest in Kuusankoski in 1919-1923, and from 1923 to 1928, and then was a parish priest in Ylistaro during the period of 1928-1958. From 1939 to 1958 he worked in Provincial Council of Lapua.He participated in Presidential elections in Finland in 1937, 1940, 1943. From 2 September 1935 to 31 August 1939 he was a member of Finish Parliament from Patriotic People's Movement (IKL) in Vaasa.

Malmivaara ornamented the inner sanctuary of church in Valkeala Jesus in Gethsemane.

Asser Salo

Edvard Asser Salo (22 February 1902, Laukaa, Grand Duchy of Finland – 11 February 1938, Karelian ASSR, Soviet Union) was a Finnish lawyer and politician. He was a member of the Parliament of Finland from 1929 to 1930, representing the Socialist Electoral Organisation of Workers and Smallholders (STPV).

On 4 June 1930, he was kidnapped in Vaasa by activists of the anti-communist Lapua Movement, who forced him under threat for his life to make a public promise to never again engage in communist activities on the territory of Vaasa Province. Soon thereafter he went into exile, first to Sweden, then to the Soviet Union, where he worked at first as a lecturer at the International Lenin School in Moscow. He worked in administrative functions in Leningrad from 1935 to 1936 and in the Karelian ASSR from 1936 until 18 August 1937, when he was dismissed.

As one of the victims of the Great Purge, he was arrested by the NKVD, sentenced to death and shot on 11 February 1938.

Aukusti Mäenpää

Onni Aukusti Mäenpää (5 January 1891, Soini - 1933, Petrozavodsk) was a Finnish shoemaker and politician. He sided with the Reds during the Finnish Civil War. When the Red side lost the war he fled to Sweden, where he stayed until 1920. He was a member of the Parliament of Finland from June to October 1930, representing the Socialist Electoral Organisation of Workers and Smallholders (STPV). In 1930 he was abducted by activists of the anti-communist Lapua Movement, who forced him to cross the border to the Soviet Union, after which he settled in the Karelian ASSR. In the spring of 1933, while participating in a lumber floating operation as a union representative, he caught a cold which got worse and eventually led to his death.

Eino Pekkala

Eino Oskari Pekkala (29 November 1887 − 30 September 1956) was a Finnish lawyer and politician. He was a member of the Parliament of Finland, representing the Socialist Electoral Organisation of Workers and Smallholders 1927–1930 and the Finnish People's Democratic League 1945–1948. In the 1920−1930s, Pekkala was twice in prison for his political activities, and he was even kidnapped by the fascist Lapua Movement in 1930. As the political situation in Finland changed after the World War II, Pekkala was the Minister of Education 1945–1946, and the Minister of Justice 1946–1948.In his youth, Pekkala was a talented athlete. His greatest achievements were three Finnish Championship titles in decathlon.

His brother was the Prime Minister of Finland Mauno Pekkala.

Erkki Räikkönen

Erkki Aleksanteri Räikkönen (August 13, 1900 – March 30, 1961) was a Finnish nationalist leader.

Born in St. Petersburg to a cantor, he attended the University of Helsinki before taking part in the ill-fated mission to secure independence for Karelia in 1921. Like most of those who took part in this event he joined the Academic Karelia Society (AKS), helping to found the movement along with Elias Simojoki and Reino Vähäkallio. He quit in 1928 to join Itsenäisyyden Liitto (Independence League), a group that had been formed by Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, Räikkönen's most admired political figure. Räikkönen took this decision in response to the banning of the Lapua Movement, a move that had left the far right in Finland without a wide organisational basis (groups like AKS having small, elite memberships).Along with Herman Gummerus and Vilho Annala Räikkönen was the founder of the Patriotic People's Movement in 1932. He would not stay a member long however as the group soon became purely Finnish (isolating the Swedish-speaking Räikkönen) and moved closer to Nazism, which he opposed.Having left the movement he contented himself with editing the journal Suomen Vapaussota, whilst also becoming involved in the Gustav Vasa movement, a right wing organization for Finland's Swedish-speaking population. He ultimately emigrated to Sweden in 1945 and lived out his life there in retirement.

Ilmari Sormunen

Toivo Ilmari Sormunen (23 November 1896, Sumiainen - 22 November 1980) was a Finnish farmer and politician. He joined the still illegal Communist Party of Finland (SKP) in the 1920s. On 1 May 1930, Sormunen was abducted for a short time by activists of the anti-communist Lapua Movement, as he was about to give a speech at a leftist May Day rally. This was the first in a series of abductions carried out by the Lapua Movement against left-wing activists in 1930. During the 1930s, Sormunen was accused by members of the leadership of the SKP of being a bukharinite and a social democrat for having been critical of collectivisation. Because of his communist activities, Sormunen was imprisoned by Finnish authorities for sedition from 1930 to 1934 and again from 1937 to 1939. The SKP was legalised in 1944 as a result of the Moscow Armistice of 19 September 1944 and in March 1945 Sormunen was elected to the Parliament of Finland, where he represented the Finnish People's Democratic League (SKDL) from 1945 to 1951.

Jalmari Rötkö

Hjalmar (Jalmari) Rötkö (13 August 1892, Suomenniemi - 19 July 1938) was a Finnish labourer and politician. He was a member of the Parliament of Finland from 1929 to 1930, representing the Socialist Electoral Organisation of Workers and Smallholders (STPV).In 5 July 1930, Rötkö and Eino Pekkala were kidnapped by the fascist Lapua Movement.

Kaarlo Huhtala

Kaarlo Vilho Huhtala (13 October 1874 in Ulvila – 7 February 1941) was a Finnish farmer and politician. He took part in the Finnish Civil War on the White side. He was a member of the Parliament of Finland from 1930 to 1933, representing the National Coalition Party. Huhtala was also active in the Lapua Movement.

Kurt Martti Wallenius

Kurt Martti Wallenius (July 25, 1893 in Kuopio – May 3, 1984 in Helsinki) was a Finnish Major General.


Lapua (Finnish: [ˈlɑpuɑ]; Swedish: Lappo) is a town and municipality of Finland.

It is located next to the Lapua River in the region of South Ostrobothnia. The town has a population of 14,414

(31 January 2019) and covers an area of 751.82 square kilometres (290.28 sq mi) of

which 13.67 km2 (5.28 sq mi) is water. The population density is 19.56 inhabitants per square kilometre (50.7/sq mi). The municipality is unilingually Finnish.

List of fascist movements by country A–F

A list of political parties, organizations, and movements adhering to various forms of fascist ideology, part of the list of fascist movements by country.

Minna Craucher

Minna Craucher (23 August 1891 in Pirkkala – 8 March 1932 in Helsinki) was the false name of Maria Vilhelmiina Lindell, a Finnish socialite and spy. Her home was a noted salon for various writers and artist. She also did espionage, originally for the Cheka, and was arrested three times for fraud. She also had connections to the right-wing Lapua Movement. She became the subject of several books and stories. In 1932 she was murdered with a shot to the head.

Mäntsälä rebellion

The Mäntsälä rebellion (Finnish: Mäntsälän kapina) was a failed coup attempt by the Lapua Movement to overthrow the Finnish government.

On 27 February 1932 some 400 armed members of the Suojeluskunta militia interrupted a meeting of Social Democrats in Mäntsälä with small arms fire. This was a local event organized by the local chapter, but the national organization soon joined in. In the next few days, leading members of the Lapua Movement (Lapuanliike) and hundreds of armed members of Suojeluskunta arrived at Mäntsälä. The former Chief of General Staff, Major General Wallenius also joined the leadership of the rebellion. The men refused to disperse and demanded the cabinet's resignation and a change in political course.

Two days later, the cabinet ordered the leaders of the Lapua movement arrested using the Protection of the Republic Act which the movement itself had urged for a year before. Army units prepared as the Chief of Defence, Lieutenant General Aarne Sihvo was prepared to use force to end the rebellion. Orders were given to reinforce the defence of Helsinki with tanks and artillery in case the situation worsened. As the tensions grew, so did the consumption of alcohol among the instigators.

On 2 March President Pehr Evind Svinhufvud gave a radio speech in which he urged the militiamen to return home and promised that only the leaders would be punished. The men dispersed and the leaders were arrested a few days later. In spring, the Lapua Movement was disbanded.

The Mäntsälä rebellion can be considered the last major radical-right-wing incident in Finland after the Civil War. In the coming years, the economic situation in Finland would improve and radical movements would lose support.

Ståhlberg kidnapping

The Ståhlberg kidnapping refers to an incident that occurred on October 14, 1930, at approximately 9:00 AM EET, in which the former First President of Finland, Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg, and his wife, Ester Ståhlberg, were abducted from their home in Helsinki, Finland, by members of the Lapua Movement. The kidnapping was spearheaded by an ex-White general by the name of Kurt Martti Wallenius. Threats of execution were issued when the Lapuans' demands were not met, however Wallenius and his henchmen were too incompetent to handle the kidnapping and too hesitant to carry out their murder threat. The Finnish public was both ashamed and horrified by this pointless act of lawlessness, and a general adverse reaction against the Lapuans greatly eroded their already dwindling popular support. In addition to this, the kidnapping was decisive in forcing the election of Pehr Evind Svinhufvud to the presidency against Ståhlberg in February 1931. After the kidnapping the Lapuans threatened to assassinate Ståhlberg.

Vihtori Kosola

Iisakki Vihtori Kosola (10 July 1884 – 14 December 1936) was the leader of the Finnish right-wing radical Lapua Movement.

Kosola was born in Ylihärmä, Southern Ostrobothnia. His family's farmhouse burnt down the next year, and the family moved to Lapua. His formative years were spent in farming and cattle-breeding.

Kosola was an active recruiter of Finnish Jäger troops to Germany from Autumn 1915, and was incarcerated in 1916. He was imprisoned in Helsinki, then at the Shpalernaya prison in St. Petersburg among other Finnish activists. He was released after the Russian Revolution and eagerly took part in the Finnish Civil War against the Red Guards and the Russians. After the war Kosola led the Lapua White Guard. He also joined the Agrarian League.

In the 1920s he organized Vientirauha, a strikebreakers' organisation, in Southern Ostrobothnia. He made a speech at the first meeting of the anti-communist Lapua Movement as it was organized in 1929, and was chosen as its leader as the movement radicalized in the following year. He took part of the abortive Mäntsälä Rebellion of 1932 that ended with the dissolution and banning of the Lapua Movement and the brief imprisonment of Kosola.

Kosola was chosen as president of the Lapua Movement's successor, the Patriotic People's Movement (IKL), but as the Movement became more political, Kosola had less time to participate in its affairs in Helsinki. Kosola's political career ended in 1936, when he was deposed from IKL's leadership; he was considered more of a liability than an asset by IKL. Contemporary accounts describe Kosola after being freed from jail as a tired and sick man who drank alcohol to deal with the stress. He was also in excessive debt and his farm was subject to foreclosure and auction. He died of pneumonia in December 1936. Kosola's first son, Niilo, bought the farm and was eventually elected as a MP and briefly as a government minister. Kosola's second son, Pentti, was imprisoned for shooting a political opponent. Pentti fought in the Winter War (1939–40) as a fighter pilot, but was killed in action.Kosola's radical right-wing politics caused a common saying in the 1930s: "Heil Hitler, meil Kosola," accented Finnish for "They've got Hitler, we've got Kosola". Sometimes also a third stanza, "muil Mussolini" (the others have Mussolini) was added. Kosola had a sobriquet Kosolini after his charismatic and vivid style of speech similar to Benito Mussolini.

Vilho Annala

Vilho Annala (17 January 1888, Lapua – died 28 July 1960, Helsinki) was a Finnish civil servant, economist and far right politician.

Väinö Hakkila

Väinö Pietari Hakkila (29 June 1882, in Lempäälä – 18 July 1958, in Orivesi) was a Finnish politician from Social Democratic Party of Finland.

Hakkila was elected into Parliament for terms of 1919–1945 and 1948–1958. He was deputy speaker from 1929 to 1932 and speaker of the Parliament from 1936 to 1945, including wartime period. He was Minister of Justice in the Tanner Cabinet from 1926 to 1927 and the first Social Democratic municipality mayor of Tampere for more than thirty years, 1920–1952.

Hakkila, as one of the victims of Lapua Movement, was kidnapped and beaten in July 1930.

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