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From February Revolution to Civil War: Finnish Historians and the Year 1917

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image of Journal of Modern Russian History and Historiography

The major focus of Finnish historiography on the 1917 Revolution remains Finland’s secession from Russia in December 1917. However, now it is known that the secessionist ideas did not emerge immediately after the February Revolution but only after the Bolshevik takeover in October. Until then the goal of the Finnish political elites was to reformulate Finland’s autonomous position within the new post-tsarist Russia. Finnish business elites strove for access to Russian markets. The end of the Finnish coalition cabinet in July is seen as one of the turning points during 1917: the widening of the political gulf between non-socialist forces and the Social Democrats. During the fall of 1917, one of the major questions was why the Finnish Social Democrats ended the General Strike soon after they had declared it, and thus in effect terminated the revolution in Finland. The final question addressed by this article relates to Lenin’s motives in recognizing Finland’s independence.

Affiliations: 1: University of Helsinki, Finland,


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