Military Wiki
Red Guards
Finnish language: Punakaarti
Participant in the Russian Revolution of 1905 and Finnish Civil War
Red officers.jpg
Red officers during Finnish Civil War
Active 1905-1907
Ideology Social democracy,
Leaders Ali Aaltonen
Eero Haapalainen
Eino Rahja
Kullervo Manner
Area of
[citation needed]
Allies Russian Red Guards
 Russian SFSR

 Russian Empire

  • Grand Duchy of Finland


Battles/wars Russian Revolution of 1905, Finnish Civil War, Heimosodat

The Red Guards (Finnish language: Punakaarti ) formed the army of Red Finland during the Finnish Civil War in 1918. The combined strength of the Red Guard was about 30,000 at the beginning of the Civil War, and peaked at 90,000-120,000 during the course of the conflict.[citation needed]

The leadership of the Red Guards altered during the war: Ali Aaltonen, Eero Haapalainen, Eino Rahja and in the end Kullervo Manner. The government of Red Finland was called "The People's Deputation". The Red Guards were in power from 28 January to the end of April 1918 in southern Finland.[citation needed]

The Red Guards' general staff were located in Helsinki; the other major cities controlled by the Red forces were Tampere, Turku, Pori and Viipuri. Red Tampere came to its end on 6 April 1918 after bloody battles when Mannerheim's White Guards conquered the city.[citation needed]

Thousands of Red Guards were imprisoned, hundreds of them were executed, and the rest were transported to POW camps. Helsinki was in White control by April 12, 1918.[citation needed] Some joined the Red Army and fought against nationalist Finns in the heimosodat. In fact, during the 1920s, the Soviet International Red Officer School had more Finnish students than the Finnish Reserve Officer School. The highest rank was obtained by Eino Rahja, who was a commander of an army corps (komkor).

During the general strike of 1905 "National Guards" were formed in Finland. These Guards included both socialists and non-socialists, but eventually they were divided into opposing militias. In that year, however, bloodshed was still avoided.[1]

The last surviving Red Guard, Aarne Arvonen, became Finland's oldest man ever before his death in January 2009.[citation needed]

File:Tampere Pispala red guards memorial.jpg

Red Guards memorial in Pispala, Tampere


End of 1917 20,000 men estimate
When the civil war started 30,000 men [2]
Middle of conflict, (Peak) 90,000+ men [3]
In 1920 Thousands, though all in Russia, mostly in Karelia and Ingria, see heimosodat

[citation needed]

See also[]


  1. Jussila, Osmo; Seppo Hentilä, Jukka Nevakivi (2004) [1999] (in Finnish). Suomen poliittinen historia 1809-2003 (4th ed.). Vantaa: SanomaWSOY. p. 80. 

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