Whites (Finland)

The Whites (Finnish: Valkoiset, Swedish: De vita, Russian: Белофинны), or White Finland, was the name used to refer to the refugee government and forces under Pehr Evind Svinhufvud's first senate who opposed the "Reds", or the Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic, during the Finnish civil war (1918).

White Finland
Flag of Finland 1918 (state).svg
NameState flag of Finland during the Civil War
UseState flag and ensign
Adopted27 February 1918
Relinquished29 May 1918
DesignRectangular Coat of Arms of Finland (colours gold and silver on red)


The Whites had no clear political aims in common, other than stopping the communist revolutionary Reds from taking power and returning to constitutional rule by the Senate (the government of the Grand Duchy of Finland) which was formed by the non-socialist parties of the Eduskunta (parliament) and returning to the Rule of Law. The provisional head of state of White Finland was Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, chairman of the senate at the time, and its military was commanded by Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim.

The refugee government was supported by the remnants of the Finnish Legion stationed along the eastern front.[1] This emerged as the paramilitary White Guard, Jäger troops, and were expanded with the addition of other recruitees and draftees, as well as the political right,[citation needed] separatist-minded from Russia. The Jägers had left to Germany between 1914 and 1917 for military training and returned at eve of the civil war, many already as First World War veterans. They also received military support from the German Empire.


The Whites' campaign was initially challenged by the goal of capturing the Varkaus industrial center.[2] The 1,200 Red forces defending the city finally surrendered after the invading troops secured the surrounding areas.[2] This battle was one of the turning points of the civil war since it gave the Whites control of the northern part of Finland. The success of the campaign is attributed to the White's better equipment, organization, and unity.[3]

By February 1917, Finland was already divided with the Whites controlling the area north of Pori, Tampere, Lahti, Lappeenranta, and Viipuri while the urban areas to the south were under the Red zone.[3] With the assistance of the Germans under General Rüdiger von der Goltz, the Whites were able to capture Helsinki and Tampere until the Reds finally fled to Soviet Russia in April[3] and the victors claimed the entire former Grand Duchy of Finland. The initial frontlines were established rather quickly, and over the course of the war, Whites conquered all of Finnish territory. The Finnish constitution of 1919 established the modern Republic of Finland, and the Treaty of Tartu between Finland and Russia (1920) confirmed the outcome. Thus, the Republic of Finland is the sole successor of White Finland.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Unterseher, Lutz (2009). Military Intervention and Common Sense: Focus on Land Forces. Berlin: Ryckschau. pp. 20–21. ISBN 9783000280764.
  2. ^ a b Tepora, Tuomas; Roselius, Aapo (2014). The Finnish Civil War 1918: History, Memory, Legacy. Leiden: Brill. p. 100. ISBN 9789004243668.
  3. ^ a b c Singleton, Fred; Upton, Anthony F. (1998). A Short History of Finland. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 109, 110. ISBN 0521640695.