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Provincia di Ravenna

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Istituto per i Beni Culturali Emilia-Romagna

Memoria e Ricerca

La guerra civile finlandese del 1918 e il suo ricordo in prospettiva locale

di Risto Alapuro
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 21 (2006), p. 21

Remembering the Finnish Civil War in 1918
The most eloquent indication of the continuing ambivalence of the Finnish Civil War in 1918 that broke out immediately after the proclamation of independence in 1917, is the peculiar fact that it still has no commonly shared name, nearly ninety years after the conflict itself.1 It is called not only the Civil War, but also the War for Freedom (or War for Liberation), the Rebellion, the Revolution, the Class War, and the Internal War. All these terms emerged already during the conflict or immediately after it, but they are still alive, to varying degrees, with the Civil War (or the Internal War) and the War for Freedom being the main variants today. That numerous terms stay alive, implies that one can still position him- or herself in the Finnish society through the choice of term. It also means that no one correct term exists: the variety tells of the ambiguity of the founding events of the independent Finland in 1917-1918, and of the continuing presence of this ambiguity in the Finnish identity.
1. An unlikely civil war
The ambivalence stems from the character of the Finnish Civil War as a result of internal and external developments that accentuated polarization and created conditions for gaining independence as two aspects of the same process. The War was a kind of dependent and abortive revolution, which despite some premonitions in late 1917 came as a nearly total surprise both for the entire intellectual culture and the great majority of the revolutionaries themselves.
Throughout the nineteenth century Finland, a former part of the Swedish kingdom, was a Grand Duchy in the Russian empire. Due to its past, Finland was a society with Scandinavian social structures and institutions. The party system that emerged in the beginning of the twentieth century, after the introduction of universal suffrage for men and women in 1906, was quite similar to those in Scandinavia.
Against this background the breakout of a civil war in Finland appears an unlikely event. It was a paradoxical result of dependence on the fragile mother empire, Russia, that fell in the turmoil of revolution during World War I, coupled with the existence of a big Western-type, non-revolutionary Social Democratic worker movement.2 After the February revolution in Russia the Finnish Social Democrats, who had gained a parliamentary majority in the general elections in 1916 (103 seats out of 200), formed a coalition cabinet with the bourgeois parties, taking the post of the prime minister and pushing forward a number of institutional and social reforms. In July 1917, however, they were removed from political power in a manner whose legality they always questioned. Parliament was dissolved through a conflict between the Finnish government and the Russian Provisional Government in cooperation with Finnish bourgeois groups, and in the subsequent elections the Social Democrats lost their majority. Yet decisive was that the disintegration of the autocracy had left the Finnish state without the established means of coercion. There were no domestic Finnish troops, the Russian troops stationed in the country were largely paralyzed, and the "Russified" Finnish police was widely forced to resign. In these conditions the expulsion of the Social Democrats from the government paved the way for the struggle between the social classes to grow. Class-based guards, which sought arms, began to take shape in the summer and the fall of 1917, first on the bourgeois side to promote law and order, and then increasingly also on the socialist side. A socialist bloc consolidated itself, consisting of the Social Democratic party, the trade unions, and the workers' security guards. In November a general strike was declared. At the end of January 1918 the bourgeois government, after a proclamation of independence and its recognition by the Bolsheviks in December, declared that the bourgeois civil guards were government troops and ordered the disarming of the workers' guards, now generally called Red Guards. The Social Democrats launched a "defensive" revolution. A little more than three months later the challenge was repelled by the government's army aided by German troops.
This chain of events, totally unthinkable one year earlier, would have sufficed to create a traumatic afterimage, open to a rich variety of interpretations. At the moment of gaining the independence, one half of the population had waged a war against the other half. Moreover, on the "White" side Germans had contributed to it, and on the "Red" side the revolutionaries had acquired arms and other support from the Russians. But this was not all. The conflict was accentuated by a large-scale violence, perpetrated notably by the victors. During the encounter and immediately after the revolutionaries' defeat in late April about 9,000 Finns were killed in battle, and, according to various statistical sources, 1,650 and 8,400 were executed in the "Red terror" and the "White terror," respectively. In the summer and autumn 14,000 more Reds died in the prison camps, in which the White victors incarcerated about 82,000 people -- in a country of 3.1 million people (Manninen 1992, 453; Paavolainen 1966, 94; 1967, 142, 192; Peltonen 2003, 307; Ylikangas 1993).
2. A reservoir of interpretations
In all its dimensions and ambiguities the event provided a rich reservoir for interpretations in the decades to come for the social memory, understood as a continuous construction and reconstruction of the past that is reshaped by the needs of each particular present. There was no obvious or natural continuity from the pre-1917 epoch into which the victors, or the defeated, would have been able to place the War and thereby to make it understandable. The extremely charged whole of contradictory elements came to imbue conceptions of the Finnish nation and the classes in Finland, of the national unity and the conflict up to the 1960s and the 1970s, and even later, up to the 2000s.
For the prevailing culture the legacy of the Civil War involved, in all, four interrelated and extremely sensitive aspects. Perhaps the most sensitive and ambiguous aspect was the incontrovertible fact that in the process of gaining national independence it so happened that the contrast between "national" and "not national" came to be forcefully accompanied by the contrast between what was Finland's "own" and what was "alien," between what was "inside" and "outside" within Finland. The War resulted in the exclusion of a major part of the population from the nation as being "not national" or as "those who had no fatherland." In the dominant view the rebels had separated themselves from their compatriots and put themselves in the service of their mortal enemies, the (Bolshevik) Russians.
Second, Finland, which was an "unhistoric" nation in the sense that it was not linked to any historically remembered ("Finnish") polity, had gained independence as a by-product of the world war, and consequently its national identity was far from being established. Third, a socialist giant power intimately linked to those "without a fatherland" began to consolidate itself on the other side of the border. Finally, even though viewed as a War for Freedom, or a struggle for the liberation of Finland from Russian imperialism that took the form of Bolshevism after the autumn 1917, the encounter could not fully embody the image of an organic growth, cherished by the nation-building intellectuals. The irrefutable fact of the involvement of the "people" in the rebellion and the bloody revenge by the victors precluded the emergence of a deeply satisfying and heroic afterimage. No positive myth could be created that might have established itself, if the struggle had appeared natural from the national(ist) perspective.
Significant for later interpretations of the nature of the War was this last aspect -- the nearly total incomprehensibility of the event to the intelligentsia. The solidarity of the people with the "national" educated class had constituted a basic tenet in the national(ist) ideology, and no emergence of a revolutionary party had preceded the attempted revolution. Consequently the intellectuals were very poorly prepared to comprehend the awesome challenge and even tended to feel it insulting. It is understandable, then, that the "catastrophe" was interpreted within the framework of the national ideology. An interpretation evolved which explained the seemingly inconceivable revolt of a part of the people "against itself" by projecting the cause of revolution outside the nation. In the founding event of the independent statehood that which was "alien" appeared to have penetrated that which was Finnish. Reds were "infected" or "misled" by the Russians to betray their own country and undo the newly won independence of their fatherland.
While for the victors the War became a struggle for the survival of the nation, for the defeated it was a social struggle, a struggle between classes in Finland. And indeed, its class basis was exceptionally clear, thanks to the strong organizational unity of the worker movement in Finland. The War has even be called "perhaps Europe's most clear-cut class war in the twentieth century" (Martin 1970, 412).
Different conceptions of the conflict soon crystallized themselves in the names given to it. Three main terms emerged. "War for Freedom" (vapaussota), was accompanied by "Civil War" (kansalaissota) adopted by the defeated, especially by the Social Democrats, and by "Class War" (luokkasota), used by left-wing socialists and Communists, whose party was founded in 1918 in Moscow.
All this does not mean that the Civil War itself continually dominated the political discussion in the subsequent decades. It rather means that the War crystallized a certain framework or a series of coordinates for perceptions of unity and disunity internally and vis-à-vis the Soviet Union, of loyalty and disloyalty, of a need for conformity and a tolerance for plurality, etc. It profoundly modified and reinforced linkages between the inside and the outside and provided a kind of underlying system of significations, or a code, which exceeded the Civil War itself and was available when views of solidarity were discussed and defined. In this way the War was to permeate the whole political culture, in the frame of which took place its remembrance.
3. War for Freedom and its commemoration in the 1920s and 1930s
After the War one experience, that of the victors, was publicly commemorated, whereas that of the losers got no place in the public memory. If we call historical memory a conscious, institutionalized construction of the past out of a selection of its elements, and collective memory a sense of affinity based on shared memories (Lavabre 1992; cited in Parot 2004, 9), then we can say that in the victors' treatment of the War -- remembering, mourning, cherishing the memory of the deceased, giving a meaning to the conflict -- both aspects flourished. The collective memory could nourish the historical memory, and the two reinforced each other by creating a coherent understanding of the War as a combination of personal sufferings and a national purpose. Memories were upheld and (re)defined through official projects, monuments, public ceremonies, works of history. They inculcated the memory of the Red violence and betrayal and contributed to the interpretation that was to predominate in the interwar period.
It is striking, however, that the academic research proper only to a small degree took part in the construction of the White historical memory. Not only the Civil War but social conflicts in general were almost completely ignored in the social sciences and historiography. When the War was discussed by the academic community -- which was entirely on the victors' side --, it was normally considered as a regrettable but by no means fatal disturbance in the gradual unfolding of the nation. In a well-known and representative collection of round-table discussions of Finnish culture (Pidot Tornissa, 1937) a group of mainly centrist humanists and social scientists reflected extensively upon the cultural crisis that they felt to haunt Finnish society, but they had practically nothing to say about the Civil War or its possible repercussions. Two prominent university intellectuals stated explicitly that the war was only a minor incident, an "episode," whose permanent consideration is of no value. By World War II the academic culture was significantly incapable of analyzing the conflict. The reaction of academic research was silence; it did not even provide studies to add to the more ore less official histories of the War for Freedom.
The losers, instead, had to rely mainly on the resources of collective memory -- stories of White atrocities, belief legends, other narratives, maintenance of unconsecrated graves of Reds, and so on. Little room was left for them to construct historical memory in the Finland of the 1920s and 1930s. Graphically the asymmetry appears in the number of official memorials erected by 1939. More than 350 towns erected statues commemorating White victims of the War, but there were only five official memorials in honor of the Red victims. In the 1920s the victors destroyed memorial stones of the Reds in several towns (Peltonen 2002, 192).
Constraints on remembering the War among working people were imposed by several structural and institutional factors, which allowed them to act within limits set by the bourgeois groups, holding a kind of second-class citizenship. Along with the regular army there was the Civil Guard, a paramilitary organization, which originated in the Civil War and was supported by all bourgeois parties. It was instituted as a nationwide armed organization and maintained alongside of the regular army, to secure the country against external but definitely also internal enemies. An institutional base the victors' conception found in the educational system, the church, and the whole system of law and order.
The Communist party of Finland was naturally enough banned, but the Social Democrats were soon allowed to act, and in the late 1930s they even entered the government. Yet a division into two camps split the society. Political and economic second-class citizenship was accompanied by cultural isolation. It was reflected in the workers' organizational network that was parallel to the bourgeois one. In the 1920s the workers not only voted for their own parties, put they also played, read, sung, participated in sports, shopped, and deposited their savings primarily in their own organizations and enterprises. The deep and pervasive concentration of popular activities around the workers' halls on the one hand and the civil guard halls, on the other, so characteristic of local life in this period, reflects this polarization better than anything else. The workers also definitely drew away from the church's sphere of influence.
Collective memory of the defeated was constructed and maintained above all within the workers' "camp." A written and oral narration of arbitrary executions and retaliations by the victors lived on parallel to the official interpretation (Peltonen 2002, 192). Because the image taught in school and dominating in other institutions denied the White atrocities, these were told and retold, worked and reworked within the worker community -- in families, everyday social communication, various political and cultural organizations -- in the form of oral narrative, which soon developed in a whole narrative tradition (Peltonen 1996). The memory of terror became an element in the working-class culture, or a part of the collective representation of the working people. Not infrequently the maintenance of victims' graves put people against the authorities. While elaborate funerals were given by the church to "War heroes" from the White side, many clergymen refused to hold service for the fallen Reds. The grave sites of executed Reds were for a long time a very sensitive subject. These people were buried both within and outside of cemeteries, and some of the dead were buried in secret places of execution. The victims were not usually allowed to be lamented for in public. In many places an attempt was made to prevent people from maintaining their graves, and it was not allowed to congregate at the graves or to bring flowers, much less to erect grave markers. Stories were told about perpetrators receiving supernatural punishment, or about haunting observed or hymn-singing and weeping heard at the grave or the murder site. (Peltonen 1996, 238, 426; 2002, 186, 188-189)
The significance of the terror in collective memory is emphasized by the fact that in Finland an autonomous working-class culture had remained weak. The industrial working class was not culturally separated from rural traditions. Even if politically distinct the Social Democratic worker movement had shared the forms of associational life and the cultural activities with other popular groups (Mäkelä 1985, 255-256, 325). In the narrative tradition of the Civil War the ideal worker was endowed with qualities similar to the traditional virtues of a good (non-socialist) Finn (except a negative attitude toward the church) (Peltonen 1996, 256). Therefore, in the absence of a distinct and encompassing working-class culture, the political dimension and the memory of the terror as its core element became exacerbated in the polarization after 1918.
The experience of the terror also appeared in the everyday resistance by workers, constituting an aspect in their attempts to locate themselves in relation to the past and to maintain or to regain the control of their lives in the post-civil war situation. Ulla-Maija Peltonen (1996, 235-236, 432) in her study of the working-class narrative tradition after 1918 relates expressions that tell of the regaining of the human dignity and of indirect resistance. By singing a certain hymn ("One must truly lament and grieve sorely"), published in the church hymnbook, people could criticize the church itself; in school children could soil history book pictures of General Mannerheim, the wartime White commander-in-chief; etc. This is what Michel de Certeau (1990) calls tactics: the resistance practiced on the terrain of the adversary, that is, conditioned by the adversary but using its terrain for one's own benefit.
Within the workers' "camp," elements of historical memory were also built. Of great significance in gaining a subjective mastery of the own past were the systematic collection of information about the White terror and the publication of lists of victims in memorial texts and press articles. Memoirs were published. A communist variant of memory appeared in books and other writings published in the Soviet Union and the United States, where defeated had fled or emigrated.
4. Reorientation in the 1960s
In 1944, as a result of the armistice with the Soviet Union, the Communists, effectively banned in the interwar period, emerged from the underground, and in the first post-war elections gained one fourth of the national vote; about ten years later they became momentarily the largest party in Parliament.3 Thus a party, whose large support was undoubtedly due to the Civil War (on this argument, see Alapuro 2002, 178-180; also Peltonen 2002, 192) and its repercussions in the interwar period, entered the political scene. The class conflict, particularly the opposition between Communists and all the others, was the most salient and visible cleavage in the Finnish society.4 Simultaneously the USSR gained influence in the country; a delicate relationship emerged which was formalized in the Finnish-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in 1948.
Now the restrictions on the public treatment of the White terror had vanished, but the internal bipolarity and itse external dimension had certainly not lost their acuity. When the cleavage between the Social Democrats and the bourgeois parties increasingly lost its importance, it was replaced by a conflict between the Communists and all the other political groups. Moreover, the bourgeois culture remained resistant to the reality of the White terror; it stuck in the old positions in front of the Communist challenge and of Finland's new dependence on the Soviet Union.
What was new, however, was that the losers could now gain public visibility for their interpretation of the War, even though the publicity still remained mainly within the worker movement and among the parties of the Left. Red deceased were buried in the church cemeteries. Oral narratives about the misery of the Red supporters in 1918 and their discrimination in the subsequent period spread within labor organizations. Most expressive of all, in the 1940s and 1950s, nearly hundred new statues were erected in memory of the defeated (Peltonen 2002, 192). The White and Red interpretations remained strongly opposed to each other, but now they were more on par than before.
A reorientation in the dominant culture took place finally in the 1960s, as a part of a broad re-evaluation of culture and politics in Finland. At the same time the interwar figures stepped aside and made room for a new generation. The change occurred. First the reassessment appeared in the literature. Already in the 1920s and the 1930s writers had been able to analyze social conflicts much more perceptively than historians or social scientists; these were incapable of coping with the encounter up to the late 1950s. A new phase began, when in 1960 the writer Väinö Linna published a major work set in the year 1918.5 In the second volume of Linna's great trilogy Täällä Pohjantähden alla (Here Underneath the North Star) the conflict is crystallized in the vicissitudes of a crofter's son, who was an active member of the local workers' association, a Red guard leader, and finally one of the tens of thousands of prisoners in White camps. The book opened, so to say, many locked doors. It showed the entire bourgeois readership how the insurgent side could also be seen as a part of the nation. In presenting the revolutionaries not as misled or misbehaving but as sensible and responsible people, it legitimized them as Finns and, as it were, gave them back their rights of citizenship. Linna showed the educated class how to find a new way of reaching the "people": although the people had rebelled, they had also striven for the nation's best interests. Linna's novel had an enormous echo, and it effectively contributed to a reconciliation between the intellectual culture and the collective memory of the workers. It soon established itself as the "national" novel of the twentieth century.
In a few years it was followed by a re-evaluation among historians, the first signs of which went back to the late 1950s (Paasivirta 1957). A historian, Jaakko Paavolainen, published a two-volume study of the Red and the White violence, followed later by a volume on the prison camps (1966, 1967, 1971). All of them were based on a careful scrutiny of available statistical sources, and showed undeniably the dimensions of the White terror. A significant aspect of Paavolainen's work, manifest at the terminological level, was the treatment of the two campaigns of violence as parallel: the volumes were called "Red terror" and "White terror" (in quotation marks). That is, the terror -- which "always refers to someone else's behavior" (Charles Tilly) -- was considered similarly characteristic of the two parties. A government-funded project "History of the Red Finland in 1918" was launched in 1967. 6
The view that stressed the class character of the War gained progressive understanding among scholars. They indicated that distinct class lines had pitted the urban and the rural proletariat against the other social groups, and stressed hardship and grievances as factors underlying the encounter. In a conciliatory spirit of making justice to the defeated, these were now seen having acted reasonably in their own interest. Social Democratic leaders were largely absolved of their alleged Bolshevik infection. If earlier the war was portrayed as a War for Freedom, that is, as a war of liberation from Russia, which had turned into a Civil War, now it was rather considered as a Civil War, which had turned into a War for Freedom (because, so it was concluded, the success of the revolution would have inevitably resulted in the Bolshevik supremacy in Finland, irrespective of what the Finnish revolutionary leaders had in mind) (Kettunen 1998). Both the external and the internal dimension were accepted but now the internal one came to prevail. Reorientation implied a reconciliation: the war was defined as a "national tragedy." Thus historical research contributed to the incorporation of the Red victims in national memory.
There was another indication of the closing or narrowing of the gap between different historical memories and a new readiness to include elements of the collective memory of the workers into the dominant culture, or, as Ulla-Maija Peltonen (1996, 416) puts it, of the penetration of the interwar "little tradition" into the bourgeois "great tradition." Three campaigns of collection of memories were carried out in the same decade, the 1960s, by three major archives representing different political orientations: the "official" Folklore Archives of the Finnish Literature Society, Labor Archives close to the Social Democrats, and People's Archives close to the Communists and left-wing socialists.7 Materials were gathered of the year 1918 and the subsequent period, mainly through folklore questionnaires. People were asked to write about their experiences in that epoch, and the calls found considerable echo. Thousands of Finns from both sides wrote tens of thousands of pages of war memories for these different archives, bringing to light new information, especially about the experiences of the Red side. No wonder, then, that by the 1970s more than 200 towns had erected statues to commemorate the Red side, and in 1970 a national memorial honoring the Red victims was unveiled in the capital Helsinki (Peltonen 1996, 65-86; 2002, 193, 195).
An aspect of the reorientation that advanced at the same time as the Civil War was reassessed was a new approach to Communists among the bourgeois groups, and most notably in the (young) academic intelligentsia. Now it became possible to embrace the Communists within the nation. They entered the government for the first time in 1966 (after the exceptional post-World War II situation). In the reassessment the social sciences played a pronounced role. The inclusion of Communists was gradually seen to be "reasonable" in a pluralist society. Social scientists provided "scientific," rational arguments for their acceptance: if the Communists were treated in the same way as the others, they would accept the legitimacy of the Finnish sociopolitical system. In other words, the Communists began to be increasingly seen as on a par with other Finns.
The strong Communist party and ultimately the Civil War also marked the radical student movement of the 1960s and 1970s in Finland. The movement broke the nearly total anticommunism of the educated class and contributed to the re-evaluation of the War and the Communists in a specific way. When students and other young intellectuals discovered the worker movement, not only the Social Democrats but also the Communists and left-wing socialists, the atmosphere was electric. For an appreciable number of young intellectuals, the discovery of the people in the guise of the working class was a genuine revelation. It was as if a part of the hidden history of the country had been brought from the dark out into the open. A renaissance of the working class culture ensued, including the view of the encounter of 1918 as a Class War, and led many intellectuals to the Communist party and particularly to its hard-line and Soviet-minded minority, which opposed the party's pro-government majority.
For a time in the early 1970s this line controlled the strongest student organization in Finland -- apparently a unique phenomenon among the student movements of the epoch. A reason seems to lie, as curious as it may sound, in the wholeheartedly pro-Soviet stand of the Communist minority. Given the close linkage between the internal and the external in the Finnish class conflict, it was inevitable that in discovering the Communist worker movement, the student activists discovered the Soviet Union as well. The movement took an unreservedly favorable view of the USSR, leaving little room for Maoist or Trotskist tendencies. In idealizing the Soviet system and, for example, Otto Wille Kuusinen, a leading figure of the Red Finland in 1918 and later a prominent Soviet leader, the students obliterated the boundary between the inside and the outside from an opposite direction than their parents' generation had done. They not only included the Finnish Communists in the nation but in a sense even brought the feared "alien" from the outside to the inside. Through this highly provocative conclusion they brought to an extreme but curiously logical end the unlocking of the "trauma" that by the 1960s had not been subject to academic or other analysis in the dominant culture.
5. The Civil War after the Bolshevik century
Today the configuration, consisting of the superposition of an internal and an external position and going back to the Civil War, has vanished. Within the country the conflict progressively eroded in the 1970s, the decade that coined the term "consensus" as the keyword of Finnish politics. A suicidal internal strife in the Communist movement was followed by its dissolution as a political party at the end of the 1980s. The party's successor, the Left Union, has broken with the communist ideology, even though many former Communists are active in it. Then the Soviet Union disintegrated, completing the decline of the tension that goes back to the beginning of the "Bolshevik century."
One might presume that the year of 1918 has thus lost its relevance as a subject of discussion and debate as well. This is not at all true. In fact the end of the Bolshevik century has multiplied the perspectives to it. The fall of the Soviet Union has inspired a critical reassessment of the past decades, including the Civil War. Both in scholarly and other discussion it has been revived as the War for Freedom with a greater determination than in the intervening decades, but simultaneously also with a greater understanding to the revolutionaries' motives than in the interwar period and the 1950s. A comprehensive history stressing the activities on the White side and called significantly "The Years of Gaining Independence" was launched in 1987, two decades later than the large project of the Red Finland (see above). Like the earlier project, it was carried out under the patronage of the state authorities and funded by them. Other topics of reinterpretation are the Civil Guard and the communist movement. Also the elucidation of the White terror has advanced from the point reached in the 1960s and the 1970s. In his The Road to Tampere (1993) the historian Heikki Ylikangas draws a realistic picture, full of details, of the large-scale operation against the Red stronghold Tampere and the final crushing of its defenders. The book provoked a debate nearly equal to those in the 1960s.
Another matter is the heightened attention to the memory in this new phase (Parot 2004). Ylikangas gathered a lot of individual memoirs for his work, and a remarkable number of other studies -- especially local studies --, movies and even novels have joined the examination of the experience of the Civil War, with varying emphases.8 In this activity the term Internal War (sisällissota) seems to have replaced the Civil War as the most common term for the conflict. Usually the violence, often on both sides, appears more palpable and more naked than has been customary in earlier accounts, or personal experiences and memories prevail. Most notable in this respect -- as anamnesis or the recalling to mind of things past (Parot 2004, 68-69) -- is a gigantic project started in 1998, the 80th anniversary of the War, that aims to identify as many as possible of the about 40,000 Finns killed in violent conflicts between the beginning of the World War in 1914 and the end of the Finnish participation in the war in the Soviet Russia in 1922 (see Westerlund 2001). The overwhelming majority, 35,000 - 37,000 of those who met their death, were victims of the civil war and its aftermath. In this project the motivation is conciliatory, shown by the central role of the Finnish government in its launching and financing.9
The central role of the memory in this new phase has led Jocelyn Parot to speak of a Finnish project of realms of memory [lieux de mémoire]. Like Pierre Nora's project in France, this project has taken a shape that in fact enhances national unity. In it one can sense "a desire to incorporate the memory of victims of the Civil War in the national memory in the way of an inheritance [patrimoine]" (Parot 2004, 10). A graphic example of this "memory phenomenon [phénomène mémoriel]"10 is the commemoration of the Red victims at the site of a postwar prisoner camp in 1998. Not only did the representatives of all political parties assist, for the first time, at the celebration, but the names of all victims commemorated were carved on the stone. This practice markedly differs from the anonymity characteristic of the earlier memorials for the Reds (Peltonen 2002, 195).
Instrumental in this project of recollection are historians, novelists, and other intellectuals. The "memory phenomenon" appears in the context of a renewed debate of the twentieth century and its founding events in Finland, on the one hand, and of the Finnish identity, on the other. These two interrelated themes are forcefully affected by the redefinition of Finland's place in Europe, due to the fall of the USSR and the entrance of the country in the European Union. It tells of the density of the Civil War experience that these issues are handled through the analysis and utilization of an encounter that occurred nearly ninety years ago.
R. Alapuro, State and Revolution in Finland, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1988.
R. Alapuro, Coping with the Civil War of 1918 in Twenty-first Century Finland, in Historical Injustice and Democratic Transition in Eastern Asia and Northern Europe: Ghosts at the Table of Democracy, ed. by Kenneth Christie & Robert Cribb, London, Curzon, 169-183.
E. Allardt, Finnish Society: Relationship Between Geopolitical Situation and the Development of Society. Research Group for Comparative Sociology, University of Helsinki, Research Reports, no. 32, 1985.
M. de Certeau, L'invention du quotidien. 1. Arts de faire, Paris, Gallimard, 1990 [1980].
P. Kettunen, Vuoden 1918 vaihtelevat varjot, in "Työväentutkimus" 12, 1998, 45-48.
J. T. Lappalainen, J. Piilonen, O. Rinta-Tassi & M.-L. Salkola, Yhden kortin varassa. Suomalainen vallankumous 1918, Helsinki, Valtion painatuskeskus, 1989.
M.-C. Lavabre, Histoire, mémoire et politique: le cas du Parti communiste français, Paris, IEP, 1992.
K. Mäkelä, Kulttuurisen muuntelun yhteisöllinen rakenne Suomessa [with a summary in English: "Social structure and cultural variation in Finland"], in "Sosiologia"22, 1985, 247-260, 324-325.
O. Manninen, Rauhantahtoa ja väkivaltaa, in Itsenäistymisen vuodet 1917-1920, vol.2. Taistelu vallasta, ed. by Ohto Manninen, Helsinki, VAPK-kustannus, 1992, 446-483.
W. C. Martin, A Sociological and Analytic Study of the Development of the Finnish Revolution of 1917-1918 in Terms of Social Structures, Ph.D. thesis, Vanderbilt University, 1970.
J. Paasivirta, Suomi vuonna 1918, Porvoo and Helsinki, WSOY, 1957.
J. Paavolainen, Jaakko, Poliittiset väkivaltaisuudet Suomessa 1918. I. "Punainen terrori", Helsinki, Tammi, 1966.
J. Paavolainen, Poliittiset väkivaltaisuudet Suomessa 1918. II. "Valkoinen terrori", Helsinki, Tammi, 1967.
J. Paavolainen, Vankileirit Suomessa 1918, Helsinki, Tammi, 1971.
J. Parot, La Finlande de l'après-Guerre froide: conséquences d'une transition géopolitique, Mémoire pour le DEA, Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris, 2004.
U.-M. Peltonen, Punakapinan muistot. Tutkimus työväen muistelukerronnan muotoutumisesta vuoden 1918 jälkeen [with a summary in English: "Memories of the Civil War: a Study of the Formation of the Finnish Working-class Narrative Tradition after 1918"], Helsinki, Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, 1996.
U.-M. Peltonen, Civil War Victims and the Ways of Mourning in Finland in 1918, in Historical Injustice and Democratic Transition in Eastern Asia and Northern Europe: Ghosts at the Table of Democracy, ed. by Kenneth Christie & Robert Cribb, London, Curzon, 2002, 184-197.
U.-M. Peltonen, Muistin paikat. Vuoden 1918 sisällissodan muistamisesta ja unohtamisesta [with a summary in English: "'Sites of Memory -- on Remembering and Forgetting the 1918 Civil War in Finland"], Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, 2003.
Pidot Tornissa (1937) Jyväskylä: Gummerus.
L. Westerlund, Den sista stora vita fläcken i Finlands närhistoria utforskas. Undersökningen om krigsdöda åren 1914-22, in "Historisk Tidskrift för Finland" 86, 2001, 104-110.
H. Ylikangas, Tie Tampereelle, Porvoo and Helsinki and Juva, WSOY, 1993. (In Swedish: H. Ylikangas, Vägen till Tammerfors. Striden mellan röda och vita i finska inbördeskriget 1918, Helsingfors, Söderström, 1995.)

1. In preparing this text I have drawn from an article about the implications of the Civil War of 1918 for the Finnish political culture in general (Alapuro 2002).
2. Of this interpretation, see, in more detail, Alapuro 1988, Ch. 9.
3. To be precise, the Communist party was represented in Parliament through an organization initially founded for cooperation between Communists and left-wing socialists, the Finnish People's Democratic League (Suomen kansan demokraattinen liitto, SKDL).
4. Erik Allardt (1985, 29-48) lists "class conflicts," "ideological struggle between Communists and all others," "tension between towns and the countryside," and "the language conflict" between Finnish speakers and Swedish speakers, in this order, as four main cleavages which have been important in different phases in twentieth-century Finland.
5. In the same year two other major novelists, Veijo Meri and Paavo Haavikko, also happened to publish novels set in 1918.
6. Originally the aim was to prepare scholarly accounts of the history of the Red Guard (Lappalainen et al. 1989, 7).
7. Then the People's Archives collected mainly materials concerning the 1920s and the 1930s; materials focusing specifically on 1918 were gathered already in 1957.
8. The number of various scholarly studies alone published since 1992 is at minimum 15.
9. See the homepage of the project: http://vesta.narc.fi/cgi-bin/db2www/sotasurmaetusivu/main?lang=e
10. This is Pierre Nora's term, used by Parot (2004) in the Finnish context.