Important dates


1 May

May Day is celebrated widely. Several hundred thousand people participate in marches organised by workers’ associations across the country despite the chilly and windy weather. Some 50,000 people assemble in the Hietalahti square in Helsinki. Speeches focus on the eight-hour working day, municipal law reform and food shortages.

4 May

Social Democrats Matti Turkia and Evert Huttunen meet with V. I. Lenin, the Bolshevik leader, who expresses support for Finnish aspirations even if they result in Finland’s separation from Russia. He also accepts the battle against the provisional government.

10 May

The first issue of the Uusi Päivä newspaper, created to promote the independence cause, is published.

12 May

Red Guard members from 1905–06 have been invited to a meeting held in Kaisaniemi, Helsinki. A committee appointed at the meeting begins to prepare the establishment of a Red Guard. The Red Guard is supposed to carry out the following duties: maintain public order, protect private and state property, safeguard workers’ peaceful demonstrations as well as freedom of assembly, freedom of opinion and expression, and freedom of the press. However, based on experiences from the Red Guard in 1905–06, the representatives of Helsinki Workers’ Associations prohibit organised workers from participating in the scheme.

14 May

A delegation of a military committee set up by activists seeking full independence in Finland meets representatives of the German General Staff in Stockholm. The activists are asking for German weapons and the help of two German Army Corps in the summer.

15 May

V. I. Lenin’s article “Finland and Russia” is published in Pravda. Lenin takes a stand supporting Finland’s and other nations’ right to break away from Russia. He believes that this will contribute to the birth of a federal state comprised of different nationalities.

17 May

The parliament passes a food law that aims to improve food rationing.

19 May

Allan Serlachius, head of internal affairs, orders that local militia troops must be disbanded immediately. They are to be replaced by state-run police departments. The aim is to establish a police force that enjoys public trust.

20 May

The Russian Finance Minister and the Bank of Finland sign an agreement on a new loan of 100 million Finnish Markka (FIM). The loan is the fourth taken during the World War. With this new loan, the total amount of war loans granted by Finland to the Russian government reaches FIM 400 million.

29 May

In Turku, a general strike breaks out as firemen demand that their officers must resign and the fire department must be run by the crew. The city council responds by terminating the employment contracts of the firefighters who are on strike. The Social Democratic municipal organisation joins the strike and declares that their main objective is the implementation of municipal democracy.

30 May

The strikers in Turku demand that a majority of council seats shall be allocated to the working class. They besiege the assembly room in the city hall where members of the city council are holding a meeting. The siege lasts for 36 hours.

31 May

The Russian provisional government signs the Prohibition approved by the Finnish parliament.