THE FINNISH-SOVIET CONFLICT OVER KARELIA AND POLISH DIPLOMATS' REPORTS ON THE SOCIO-POLITICAL SITUATION IN EASTERN KARELIA IN THE INTER-WAR PERIOD
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The territorial changes that took place in Europe after the First World War had an adverse effect on Karelia. Situated in the north-eastern corner of Europe, Karelia had been the scene of intense rivalries between Russia and Sweden, which was forced to relinquish the greater part of that province at the beginning of the 18th century. In 1811, after Finland had been occupied by Russian troops, East Karelia had been incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Finland, which became an autonomous province of the Russian Empire. Taking advantage of the revolutionary turmoil in Russia, the Finns declared the independence of their country on 6 December 1917. However, only North and South Karelia eventually became part of Finland; East Karelia remained in Soviet Russia. During the interwar years Finland tried to reopen the problem of Karelia on the international forum, but without any notable success. Especially in the early twenties the Finns were prodded to persevere in their efforts by the discontented Karelians. Later, however, all signs of unrest in East Karelia were obliterated by systematic sovietization. At first Moscow used for that purpose the Finnish communists that fled to the Soviet Union after an unsuccessful communist coup and a brief civil war that swept Finland in the early months of 1918. After the Stalinist purges of 1935 practically all of the old Finnish cadres were replaced by ethnic Russians. This article uses Polish archive sources (AAN, CAW) to present the Finnish-Russian relations in the context of the conflict over Karelia and the socio-political realities in the Russian administered East Karelia between 1917 and 1939.
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