Sunday, January 3

'Toverihauta' - Red Grave - Photo

I was driving around the countryside of Finland, looking for some interesting things to photograph and came across the old Mouhijarvi graveyard.

In the graveyard I was surprised to find a memorial marking the grave for some of those who fought on behalf of the communists during Finland's civil war. While there was lots of fighting during the civil war, there are very few memorials around. In fact, I think the only other signs of the civil war that I can recall seeing in Finland are some bullet holes near a bridge in Helsinki and a couple German graves in Helsinki.

I talked with one of my Finnish friends who was surprised that I found such a memorial marking a grave. He has never seen one. As you can tell from the photos, the marker was placed sometime in the recent past.

During the Civil war there was intense fighting in this area and to this day, over 90 years later, feeling still run deep with the locals.
Battle of Tampere

In February 1918 general Mannerheim weighed the centre of the general offensive of the Whites between two strategically most vital strongholds; Tampere, Finland's major industrial town in the south-west and Viipuri, Karelia's main city. Although seizing Viipuri offered major advantages, the low combat skills of his army and potential for a major counterattack by the enemy in the area or in the south-west made it too risky; in the end Mannerheim decided to strike first at Tampere. He launched the attack on 16 March at Längelmäki, 65 km north-east of Tampere; at the same time the White Army began advancing along a line through Vilppula–Kuru–Kyröskoski–Suodenniemi, north and north-west of Tampere. The Red Guards collapsed under the weight of the assault, and some of its detachments retreated in panic. The White Army cut off the Red Guards' retreat south of Tampere in Lempäälä and lay siege to Tampere on 24 March, entering the town four days later. The true Battle of Tampere began on 28 March, later called the "bloody Maundy Thursday" on the eve of Easter 1918. The battle for Tampere was fought between 16,000 White and 14,000 Red soldiers, and it was the decisive action of the war and the largest military engagement in Scandinavian history to that point. It was Finland's first urban battle, fought in the Kalevankangas graveyard and from house-to-house in the city as the Red Guards retreated. The battle, lasting until 6 April 1918, was the bloodiest action of the war; the motivation to fight for defence had increased markedly among the Reds, and the Whites had to use part of the fresh, best trained detachments of their army. The fighting in Tampere was pure civil war, Finn against Finn, "brother rising against brother", since most of the Russian army had retreated to Russia in March and the German troops had yet to arrive in Finland. The White Army lost 700–900 men, including 50 Jägers. The Red Guards lost 1,000–1,500 soldiers, with a further 11,000–12,000 imprisoned. 71 civilians died mainly due to artillery fire. The eastern parts of the city, with wooden buildings, were destroyed completely. - Wikipedia

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