Finland's Declaration of Independence


Finland's Declaration of Independence

The Finnish declaration of independence was adopted by the Parliament of Finland on 6 December 1917. It declared Finland an independent and sovereign nation-state rather than an autonomous Russian Grand Duchy.

Revolution in Russia

The February Revolution, 1917, and even more so Lenin's Bolshevist October Revolution, had ignited hopes also in the Grand Duchy of Finland. After abdication of Tsar Nicholas II on 15 March 1917, the personal union between Russia and Finland lost its legal base – at least according to the view in Helsinki.

On 5 November, the Parliament had consequently declared itself to be "the possessor of supreme State power" in Finland, based on Finland's Constitution, and more precisely on [http://sv.wikisource.org/wiki/Regeringsform_1772#%C2%A7_38. §38] in the old Instrument of Government of 1772, which had been enacted by the Estates after Gustav III's bloodless coup.

On November 15, 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.

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 the Parliament had appointed in November, came back to the Parliament with a proposal for a new republican Instrument of Government 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.

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

The Declaration

With reference to the declaration of November 15, 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."

Aftermath

Hardship burdened the common people, which already had resulted in alarming polarization, and soon would ignite the Civil War. The declaration actually addresses this problem::"The Government will approach foreign powers to seek the recognition of our political independence. All the complications, famine and unemployment ensuing from the present external isolation make it urgent for the Government to tie direct contacts with foreign powers without delay. Urgent, concrete assistance in the form of necessities for living and industry is our only rescue from imminent famine and industrial standstill."

On 6 December the Parliament adopted the Declaration, which is why that day is the national holiday Finland Independence Day.

During the Winter War (1939-1940) and Continuation War (1941-1944) Finland lost some of its territory to the Soviet Union.

Context

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania also declared their independence from Russia during the same period. See Estonian Liberation War, Latvian Independence and Freedom wars of Lithuania.

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

ee also

* The 90th Anniversary of Finland's Declaration of Independence was recently selected as the main motif for a high value commemorative coin, the €5 90th Anniversary of Finland's Declaration of Independence commemorative coin, minted in 2007. The reverse shows petroglyph aesthetics, while the obverse has a nine-oar boat with rowers as a symbol of a true Finnish trait: collaboration. You can also distinguish signs of music and Finnish zitherin strings in the coin's design.
* History of Finland
* Politics of Finland

External links

* [http://fi.wikisource.org/wiki/Itsenäisyysjulistus Declaration of independence (Finnish)] - Wikisource
* [http://sv.wikisource.org/wiki/Finlands_självständighetsförklaring Declaration of independence (Swedish)] - Wikisource
* [http://sv.wikisource.org/wiki/Regeringsform_1772 Instrument of Government (Swedish)] - Wikisource
* [http://194.252.88.3/radioarkistoweb.nsf/sivut/poliitikko?opendocument&pageid=Content1416142A5FB Audio recording of Svinhufvud reading the speech in 1937] - (YLE)


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