Suojeluskunta - The Finnish Civil Guard
The Suojeluskunta, that literally translates into
Protective Guard, was first established in a number of localities to
maintain order during the Finnish general strike of 1905.
The Suojeluskuntaevolved rapidly in numbers and units in 1917 and
1918 as a result of the effect of the Russian revolution in 1917 that led
to the Finnish Civil War in 1918. That
war pitted the Reds (backed by Russia), and the Whites (Suojeluskunta).
The Whites won that contest. It
was a particularly nasty civil war in that mass executions were conducted
during and at the end of the war by both sides.
Even today, feelings about the civil war run deep in Finland in
much the same way as our feelings about our own civil war.
The Civil Guard that further evolved from the Civil
War, allowed volunteer soldiers and patriots to drill and practice
marksmanship skills on weekends. They
provided the backup to the Finnish Army that was too small and
ill-equipped to take on an invading country.
They operated independently of the army due in part to the fact the
Guard mistrusted the army which was commanded by officers trained in
Russia. While they began as a
group of independent cells scattered across the countryside carrying a
common name, beginning in 1918, they evolved into a national organization
with its own leadership, pledge of allegiance, and standards.