THE MARCH TO MÄNTSÄLÄ

In relation to the enforcement of compulsory military service, the Civil Guards provided conscription officials with statements on the character of draftees.  The goal was to prevent communists from getting military training.

Having lost the war in 1918, the far left continued their operations underground. Communists gained the upper hand in the Finnish Trade Union Federation, pressuring Civil Guard members at worksites and eventually leading to violence in the 20s. The Government enacted laws to suppress worksite terror and protect safe working conditions in 1930.  

The country’s economy suffered from frequent political strikes. In 1920, employers established an organization to intercept them. The Civil Guards were not formally involved in blocking strikes, but the Commander-in-Chief advised members to aid in ensuring the continuity of labour.

In November 1929, an altercation with communist youths in Lapua served as the beginning of loud anti-communism. A delegation was soon sent to Helsinki with demands of banning communist activities, and the Lapua Movement was born. When 13,000 countrymen marched to the capital in 1930, the Civil Guard was in charge of the practicalities along with the women of the Lotta Svärd.

Conforming to the demands of the Lapua Movement, so-called communist laws were passed in the autumn of 1930. The laws placed restrictions on printing and rallying.

The movement strengthened the numbers of the Civil Guard, and political activity crept into the organization alongside the newcomers. Members of the Guard participated in the Lapua Movement’s illegal activities, including some 250 attempted deportations in the summer of 1930. Individuals were condemned for their involvement in violent affairs, but the Guard was not blamed for the actions of its members. General Kurt Wallenius served as the main secretary and later the chairman of the Lapua Movement. He was determined to tie the Civil Guards to the cause. A shift to the far-right led to hostility towards social democrats as well, and the situation finally came to a head in Mäntsälä.