The People's Flag is Deepest Red - A Revolutionary TL

There are decades where weeks happen and weeks where decades happen. -Vladimir Lenin.

Workers of Finland, we have Victory! - Kullervo Manner 1918

Lithuania I shall return -Augustinas Voldemaras 1919

Poland yet lives! – Last words of Josef Piłsudski Warsaw 1920

Before a revolution happens, it is perceived as impossible; after it happens, it is seen as having been inevitable. – Rosa Luxemburg

The enemies of the country and of freedom of the people have always denounced as bandits those who sacrifice themselves for the noble causes of the people. – Emiliano Zapata

The salvation of the young mind and the freeing of it from the noxious reactionary beliefs of their parents is one of the highest aims of the proletarian government. – Nikolai Bukharin

The world at the dawn of 1918 was bleeding. In Western Europe, a line lay carved across Northern France and into Belgium as the German Empire and the Entente Cordiale of the United Kingdom, the Third French Republic, and the United States of America lay in a brutal sludging fight over fields of mud, rivers of blood, and cities of ashes. To the east the former Russian Empire burned in the fires of Revolution, China churned as the failures of 1912 were painted across the land in blood. Mexico lay in the brutal embrace of revolution.

The Fires of the First World War had scoured their way across the world. Who knows when the ashes will cool?
Hi, this is a TL aiming to explore the ramifications of the Pan-European Socialist Revolution that Vladimir Lenin envisaged succeeding and the red flag stretching from the French border to Vladivostok. I am hoping to get the first update out sometime next week on the Finnish Revolution and the initial POD
The Finnish Revoultion: Finland Prior to the Revoultion
The Finnish Revolution: The North is Red

The fall of the Russian Empire in 1917 was to say the least a calamitous event for those nations that the House of Romanov had welded together under their crown. From the lake shores of Finland to the harsh mountains of Georgia blood was split to carve out new nations, from the carcass of the Russian Empire. The revolutionaries that emerged varied from nationalists seizing the chance to free their homeland from the Russian yoke to communists, and everything in-between.

While the foremost among them were the sister revolts of the dominating Russian Revolution that sprung up across Eurasia. The most influential among these was of course the Finnish Revolution, the second of the three great revolutions on the 1910’s. But to explain how the Finnish Revolution triumphed and brought the red light to the north first the scene must be set.

Finland during the First World War

When war broke out in 1914 Finland was in a precarious position. A core part of Finland’s economy was trade with the German Empire. While the Russian market was vital to Finland it never exceeded 40% of trade within the then Grand Duchy, Swedish, French and British Markets remained vital and by 1914 the value of trade with Germany equalled Russia. The war’s main reaction was a temporary panic before returning to work. Despite the loss of German and British trade and the imperilment of the Baltic Trade the economic situation temporarily was weakened beginning the slow decline that would lead to the revolution four years later. Finland’s exports declined to 50% of their pre-war level in 1916 and 29% in 1917. While the uptick in Russian orders managed to deal with the economic crisis, the economy actually shrunk by about 10% in 1914-15. While at a glance the Russian war orders were able to bolster the Finnish economy to a position where it might be able to survive and even thrive. In reality the wave of Roubles that descended on Finland began to severely undermine the Finnish economy and the Finnish Mark. Since 1865 the Finnish Mark had been separated from the Russian Rouble and tied to the value of Silver, the Bank of Finland also exchanged Marks and Roubles in a set value and as Roubles poured into Finland inflation began to rapidly increase. Between 1914-1918 the Finnish Mark underwent an inflation value of 91%. While in general wages lagged behind inflation the standard of living did not decrease a drastic amount. Shortages in rural areas in 1917, were while existent far from dominating. As 1917 drew to a close and 1918 drew near everyday life began to be filled with more minor problems, which while not devasting and far from as horrendous as they would be in the dark nights of 1919’s Winter a sense of optimism remained persuasive throughout Finnish society.

Military Finland would also be impacted by the war that set Europe alight, Finnish citizens were unable to be conscripted like the rest of the Russian population, despite this seven hundred Fins would volunteer to serve in the Russian Army in the war, though two thousand would serve under the German Empire. Helsinki became the single largest base of the Russian Baltic fleet with over 20’000 soldiers stationed in Helsinki, by 1917 there were 125’000 Russian soldiers stationed in Finland. Many of these soldiers arms’ would end being vital in the victory of the Finnish Reds during the Civil War. Though Finland was never a front in the war it became a part of German war aims as the Russian Empire collapsed. The Finnish Jaegers that served in the White Forces during the Revolution were trained with the idea of creating a German satellite in mind. If Germany was able to secure Finland, they would have near complete control over the eastern edge of the Baltic Sea. An aim that would be clearly shown during the Battle of Åland and the brief Kingdom of Finland notionally under Prince Fredrick Charles of Hesse, and the subsequent government-in-exile that would last until the Swedish election of 1956.

Politically the outbreak of war did not influence Finland too much. Finland had introduced universal suffrage in 1906 and the local Social Democratic Party (Suomen Sosialidemokraattinen Puolue) had never been banned from participating in politics. The SPD as it was known was a socialist party of the German bent which differentiated it from their Russian comrades. Since 1907 the SPD had been a major force in the Finnish parliament when they won 40% of the votes, which at the time was a world record, this result would be reinforced in 1913 when they won 43.11% of the vote and from there ninety of the two hundred seats within the Finnish Parliament. The outbreak of war meant that the Finnish Parliament was suspended by the Russian government but by 1916 as the Germans chewed their way through the Russian Empire and the fragile balance that Nikolai II ruled over began to break down the Finnish Parliament was reconstituted, and the 1916 elections were a deceive victory for the SPD. 47.29% of the vote and 103 seats. Their largest opposition the Finnish Party won 17.49% of the vote and thirty-three seats. The SPD’s rhetoric around helping the power and empowering the working class. The inability of the bourgeoise parties to capitalise on this resulted in the SPD emerging as the dominant party within the Grand Duchy.

Finally, the class divisions of Finland despite what some of the more nationalist members of the Finnish Parliament claim were not linguistic. Finland at the dawn of the 20th century was an emerging nation state. The majority of the population even those who’s native language was Swedish thought of themselves as Finnish. Even general Mannerheim the hero of the Finnish Far-right, native language was Swedish. While officially Finnish, Swedish, and Russian were the official languages of the Grand Duchy in practise Finnish and Swedish were the only two languages, laws and newspapers were published in the two languages. The main linguistic divide was not class based but geographical rural populations spoke mostly Swedish while urban coastal elite spoke Swedish. The biggest divide in Finland was class rather than language, yes, the majority of workers only spoke Finnish but those who spoke Swedish also supported the socialists placing their class interests over the interests of their fellow Swedish speakers, but then as now Finland was bilingual society and the languages that the workers spoke did not divide them from each other. While some of the more nationalist elements in the political sphere namely the Fennomania a group which despite its nationalist ideals was led by ethnic Swedes some of whom only spoke Swedish attacked what they called the Swedish Upper class, in an attempt to build up a nationalist movement up across Finland.

The collapse of the Finnish State was tied deeply in with both the economic web that they were dependent on and the Russian Revolutions of 1917.

The February Revolution was a surprise to the Finish people, but it was a pleasant one. The fall of the increasingly unpopular Romanov Monarchy was met with popular enthusiasm from across the spectrum of Finnish society, and the Russian Empire at large. Despite what the later events of the year would prove, the majority of Finnish society thought that there was a large chance that they would secure victory in the war that was currently devastating Europe. Part of this was optimism; many saw the chance of victory as an opportunity for Finland to secure their previously highly privileged position within the Empire or even claw independence from the Russian Empire. In hindsight this is incredibly naïve but the many discipline problems within the Russian Army were unknown and Finland’s lack of direct participation in the war meant that the outcomes of the war were viewed in a much more academic viewpoint than in other parts of Russia or Russia’s western allies.

When Nikolai II abdicated the throne and brought an end to the Romanov Monarchy Finland’s political situation was reinforced in the new Provisional Government’s manifesto of the 20th of March in which the constitutional autonomy of Finland was to be respected as was the cultural status of Finland. The Finnish Government appointed on the 15th of March was made up of six representatives from bourgeois politicians, and six from the socialist parties, this government was known as the Tokoi Senate after its chairman socialist Oskar Tokoi. The government was backed by both the government apparatus and the populace with many holding high hopes that the new government would be able to carve out Finland’s independence from Russia, as already the new government came in with the removal of Russians from the Finnish administration and police forces. To many Fins this meant that they would finally be able to control their own destiny outside of Russia’s political control.

This however was not the result that would come about for the Finnish people. The newly appointed Governor General of Finland Mikhail Aleksandrovich Stakhovich a member of the Party of Peaceful Revolution, stated in an interview following his appointment ‘I am very happy to be charged by the Provisional Government to render to Finland her Constitution and to apply it as broadly as possible— that is to say until complete autonomy is attained.’[1] (Emphasis authors) When this information was transferred to the Finnish Government, they interpreted it as a commitment to the continuation of Russian over the Finnish State. As Finland was in a constitutional limbo with the fall of the Russian Monarchy and as such the Finnish Monarchy, removing the Finnish head of state and who they were to work with as the Russian Government. Previously where they had worked with the Tsar they now had to deal with the Duma and the provisional government. While the new government was made up of opposition members who had previously supported the Finnish State against the Russian Government despite this, many of them failed to recognize that many major Finnish politicians desired independence. Of course, part of this comes from Finland’s strategic position in relation to then Petrograd. The Baltic Fleet was a hotbed of revolutionary fervour among the already revolutionary Russian state. When news of the fall of the Tsar came thirty-eight officers of the Baltic Fleet were killed by their sailors in a brutal mutiny. For the provisional government the ties that, Finnish Socialists had with the mutineers finally confirmed within their mind that Finland and particularly Helsinki in the current state was not a protection to Petrograd.

It was a threat.

The conflict between Finland and Petrograd only grew as 1917 passed on. The constitution was drafted by the Finnish Parliament which placed the previous executive functions of the Grand Duke in the hands of the Finnish Parliament. While the constitution still retained Finland within Russia and placed foreign and military affairs on Petrograd there were several differing ideas on how to implement this new constitution. On the 20th of April chairman Tokoi declared that the parliament would follow the will of the people. Which was a highly nebulous concept as he did not particularly expand on the point. While the Finnish population looked on with a large amount of support and unity the Russian Government did not. The rapidly rising Kerensky the then Minister of War viewed it as Finland betraying Russia in her darkest hour.

Tensions only grew as the year dragged on when on the 18th of July the Finnish Government implemented a bill that made Finland effectively independent, and the bill did not even require the ratification of the Russian authorities to go into effect. This was the final slap in the face to the Russian Government. The Finns had leapt upon them in their weakest moment with Tokoi flat out stating that the Russian Government had fallen. But as the Bolsheviks were crushed the mind of the Provisional Government turned to Finland with wrath.

Ordering a dissolution of the Finnish Government Kerensky with support of the Bourgeois Parties in the Finnish Parliament sought to crush the socialists and maintain Russian Control over the region. Socialist Parties within the party refused this ultimatum, with Tokoi giving a militant speech declaring that the only true Finnish patriots were the Socialists. As tensions grew with the bourgeois parties having removed themselves from parliament believing that the dissolution of the parliament by the Russians represented a chance for them to assume control over Finland. The Socialists on the other hand viewed it as a chance to secure not only Finnish Independence but begin a grand transformation of Finnish Society.

However, for said transformation to happen it required both control over Finland and the removal of the threat that the Bourgeois Parties and their alliance with Russia represented. The rump Senate being as it was senate formed a committee of 25 Socialists on how to deal with the ‘Threat to the Finnish People’, on the 26th of July. This committee would evolve into the Workers’ Revolutionary Council the leading military command for the Finnish Socialist Workers’ Republic.

This was ultimately the final straw for Kerensky, having already dissolved the Finnish Government legally the rump Senate in his mind was formed from traitors and the same Bolsheviks that had nearly overthrown his government in the July Days. He ordered all forces loyal to the legitimate government in Finland to dissolve the Senate and impose martial law until the newly scheduled elections in November.

Of course, however the Kornilov affair threw all of these plans into chaos. (AN: The remainder of the discussion of the fall of the Provisional Government and the beginning of the Russian Revolution will be in a later update.)

[1] This statement is from OTL, source The Russian Provisional Government 1917 Documents: Selected and edited by Robert Paul Browder and Alexander F. Kerensky. A minor POD here is the Finnish population take it a bit worse then OTL, and a more militant anti-Russian viewpoint begins to appear in the Finnish populace.
The Finnish Revoultion: The Red Flag Rises
The Finnish Revolution 1917-1918

As Russia and the lands once welded to Petrograd’s grasp were reforged in the fires of the October Revolution Finland was not immune from the raging fury of the revolutionary tides that were tearing their way across Eurasia. On the 13th of November, the Workers Revolutionary Council voted to seize power as a general strike brought the last of the Finnish state apparatus to its knees. Despite 12 of the twenty-five members voting for the decree to be rescinded the ball of Revolution had been unleashed and it could not be stopped.[1] The Red Guards, already militant from the discontent with Russia and the Kornilov Affair events, seized Helsinki with ease; the scattered White forces that resisted were eliminated without prejudice. The Finnish Revolution had begun.

Across Finland a series of left-wing revolts secured the industrial centres of Finland. The Red Guards were the single largest armed force in Finland allowing them to secure several key critical positions. As the winter of 1917 grabbed Finland with her cold hands the material conditions left fully extensive warfare beyond the grasp of both sides but both sides knew that they needed to strike quickly if they were to secure the fate of Finland. The White Government in the north of the country seeing that they were outnumbered and the success of the Red Guard in seizing the entirety of the south of the country de facto forced them into an offensive position.

The rapidly formed Civil Guard was placed under the command of Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim on the 25th of November. Mannerheim, a Finnish officer with prior command experience in the Imperial Russian Army was generally recognized as both the most experienced and competent officer available to the White forces. The Whites at the start of the war held a single East-West railway, the Pieksämäki-Haapamäki-Seinäjoki line but it was enough for the Whites to maintain their supply lines at least, at first. The main issue for the Whites at first was securing Pohjanmaa (Ostrobothnia/Österbotten); the region was notably filled with Russian troops due to the strategic position that it held over the Baltic Region. Mannerheim, seeing the amount of weaponry, and munitions, that the Russian forces in the region offered to the nascent Reactionary government ordered the movement of Finnish forces into the area. The majority of the Russian Officers were known to sympathise with the whites, and many would end up serving in the many White Armies that appeared all over Europe during the Red Years, including ironically a large portion serving in the Deutsche Legion a British backed force that fought in the German Revolution primarily during the Battle of Hannover.

That all happened after the Battle of Pohjanmaa of course a battle that is often cited most notably by Russian historian Maya Suslova (the daughter of the famous Russian[2] theorist Mikhail Suslov) as the decisive battle in the Finnish Revolution even more important in the course of the war then the capture of Haapamäki in April of 1918.

White forces entered the region on the 3rd of December, they requested that the Russian forces stand down and hand their weapons over to the Finns and in return they’d be allowed to head back to Russia. While the offer of a return home appealed to many of the Russian troops stationed in the region, the Finnish forces made a critical mistake. They transmitted their requests to the officers in the region, officers who had been steadily losing control, influence, and popularity over their men. The Russian officers were more than willing to hand their weapons over to the Finnish forces, the men on the other hand had seen the rising militancy of the Finnish populace against their presence, only a day before the White envoys had arrived a Russian soldier had been kidnaped, and hung from a tree. While most historical evidence posts to the Finnish partisans being red aligned the effect that their actions had were undoubtedly greater then what they had expected. When the Russians were told that they were supposed to hand their weapons over to the Finns their first thought went to the men and women who’d been slaughtering their comrades. The men refused the order arguing that doing so would be giving weapons to the men that had been killing their comrades. The officers insisted. The men refused again.

Now the initial level of militant feeling among the Russian soldiers was quite low, the majority of them simply wanted to return home to their families safely. They hated their officers but very few were militant enough to try and form the Soldier Soviets’ that had become a bastion of Bolshevik support. Instead, they hoped that negotiation would allow them to head home without handing over what in their mind was their only protection against the bloodthirsty Finns surrounding them. Of course, the military situation changed far too rapidly for that to occur. The Civil Guard had heard rumours that the Red Guard was moving north, and that revolution had gripped Åland. While the Red Guard rumour was false in the idea that the Red Guard was advancing to secure Pohjanmaa rather than secure a temporary frontline as they actually were. The Åland rumour was completely true, however. The region had been in a state of anarchy since November of 1917, the local Swedish population had finally had enough and proclaimed the Ålands provisoriska regering. The provisional government in the island's sole act would be requesting Swedish intervention. A request that was received positively by many with Erik Palmstierna the Minister for Naval Affairs leading the charge in the Swedish government.

But Sweden was across the sea, the Russians were right there, and they were impeding Finland’s safety. Mannerheim gambling that the Russian troops were too discontented to fight, ordered the Civil Guard to disarm the Russians with ‘an appropriate level of force’. On the 6th of December Civil Guard forces advanced on the Russian barracks with their weapons drawn hoping that the show of force would scare the Russians into surrendering. The Russian officers who hadn’t known of the plan to attack were split. Many called for their men to surrender, some however viewed it as an attack from the Finnish forces. The Russian troops sided with the later faction. The first volley from the Russian machine guns turned the snow bright red. The Civil Guard’s attack collapsed. While the first attack was not that bloody compared to the grinding slaughter that was happening in Western Europe 115 men had been killed, over five hundred were wounded and the newly militant armed Russians were well dug in. Any hope of a peaceful end of Russian presence in Pohjanmaa was dashed when the first bullet had fired. If the Civil Guards were to secure the region, they had to do so with blood steel and will.

[1] This is the POD here, ITOL it went the other way but because of a slightly more militant air in Finland due to Russian interference the vote goes the other way.
[2] Note the Russian here as opposed to Soviet…
I'm assuming that Lenin's plan for independent republics within a Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia (or something similar) will come to fruition.
Nice, rare enough thing to see an early USSR timeline!

A question, althogh admittedly a somewhat difficult one: what's the situation in Central Asia? Has Kolesov still claimed the mantle of leadership of the local Bolshevik movement in Turkestan? Or has Petrograd managed to maintain more control over the Central Asian revolution and a Petrograd appointment has been sent to lead the revolutionary movement? IOTL Kolesov seized power in Tashkent on 20 November 1917 iirc, so perhaps with Finland going better for the Bolsheviks, perhaps Lenin could pay some more attention to Central Asia and thus avoid some of the blanders that often endangered the Bolshevik presence in the area.

Keep up the good work!
Nice, rare enough thing to see an early USSR timeline!

A question, althogh admittedly a somewhat difficult one: what's the situation in Central Asia? Has Kolesov still claimed the mantle of leadership of the local Bolshevik movement in Turkestan? Or has Petrograd managed to maintain more control over the Central Asian revolution and a Petrograd appointment has been sent to lead the revolutionary movement? IOTL Kolesov seized power in Tashkent on 20 November 1917 iirc, so perhaps with Finland going better for the Bolsheviks, perhaps Lenin could pay some more attention to Central Asia and thus avoid some of the blanders that often endangered the Bolshevik presence in the area.

Keep up the good work!
I've yet to look into Central Asia too much yet. My main research area right now is the fall of the Provisonal Government, the German Revoultion, and Finland. But I'll definitely look into the changes in Central Asia.
I'm assuming that Lenin's plan for independent republics within a Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia (or something similar) will come to fruition.
Aye this TL is kinda designed to explore what a more 'pure' Leninism would look like in practice and the effects of having a much stronger socialist block from 1919 onwards.
...Hm. An RSFSR without a USSR? Interesting. Very interesting. Consider this thread watched.
Thank you I hope to give this part of the world and history the respect and research it deserves.
The Declaration of the Socialist Finnish Workers Republic
To The Finnish People.

The Workers Revolutionary Council has on 13th day of the last November, does henceforth declare, to be the Supreme holder of the State Authority as well as set up a Government to the country, which has taken to its primary task the realization and safeguarding of the rights and powers of the Finnish Workers through the establishment of a Finnish Socialist Workers Republic. The labourers of Finland have by this step taken their fate in their own hands: a step both justified and demanded by present conditions. The people of Finland feel deeply that they cannot fulfil their national duty and their universal human obligations without a complete sovereignty. The century-old desire for freedom awaits fulfilment now; The People of Finland has to step forward as an independent nation among the other nations in the world.

Achieving this goal requires measures by the Workers Revolutionary Council. Finland’s current form of government, which is currently incompatible with the conditions, requires a complete renewal and therefore upon the liberation of Finland a new constitution shall be drafted to represent the will of the Finnish proletariat. The provisional law of the Finnish Socialist Republic does henceforth declare the end of the Grand Duchy of Finland, and we do henceforth proclaim in the name of the Finnish proletariat and their associated nation that no monarch may ever rule over the Finnish lands.

The same goal also calls for measures from the part of the Government. The Government will approach foreign powers to seek an international recognition of our nation’s independence as a state. At the present moment this is particularly all the more necessary, when the grave situation caused by the country’s complete isolation, famine and unemployment compels the Government to establish actual relations to the foreign powers, which prompt assistance in satisfying the necessities of life and in importing the essential goods for the industry, are our only rescue from the imminent famine and industrial stagnation.

The Russian people have, after overthrowing the Tsarist Regime, in a number of occasions expressed its intention to favour the Finnish people the right to determine its own fate, which is based on its centuries-old cultural development. And widely over all the horrors of the war is heard a voice, that one of the goals of the present war is to be, that no nation shall be forced against its will to be dependent on another (nation). The Finnish people arm-in-arm with the free Russian people and its proletariat revolution do stand side by side for the liberation of all humanity. At the same time the People of Finland dare to hope that the other nations of the world recognize, that with their full independence and freedom the People of Finland can do their best in fulfilment of those purposes that the Finnish proletariat aim to undertake for the liberation and emancipation of the working class.

At the same time as the Commission has wanted to let all the Finnish proletariat to know these words, the Government turns to the working class, as well as the public authorities, calling everyone on their own behalf with rapt attention to follow the (law and) order by filling their patriotic duty, to strain all their strength for achieving their classes common goal in this point of time, which has such an importance and decisiveness, that there have never before been in the life of the Finnish people. The liberation of both our class and our people.

Kaikkien maiden proletaarit, liittykää yhteen!

Singed in Helsinki 13th of November 1917

Valfrid Perttilä, Oskari Tokoi, Matti Airola, Erkki Härmä, Ida Aalle-Teljo, Väinö Jokivirta, Väinö Toikka, as elected representatives of the Central Worker’s Commission of Finland.
I just recently found this a few minutes ago, and I'm now watching this TL. Good luck in trying to portray the Pan-European Socialist Revolution.
What is the policy of the Soviets and Germany towards Poland going to be - since Pilsudski seems to die in Warsaw in 1920, I presume the Soviets won? Will they allow a rump state to survive or will they divide it completely between themselves?

Also, will there be any changes from the OTL views of Lenin on the nationalities question? Because OTL, if I understand his views on the subject correctly, his position was essentially that "the right to divorce doesn't mean an obligation to divorce", ie that while there was a right to self-determination, it didn't mean that such right had to be inevitably exercised. (sorry beforehand if I misunderstood said policy).
What is the policy of the Soviets and Germany towards Poland going to be - since Pilsudski seems to die in Warsaw in 1920, I presume the Soviets won? Will they allow a rump state to survive or will they divide it completely between themselves?
Poland will continue on as a rump SSR though the borders are still TBD.
Also, will there be any changes from the OTL views of Lenin on the nationalities question? Because OTL, if I understand his views on the subject correctly, his position was essentially that "the right to divorce doesn't mean an obligation to divorce", ie that while there was a right to self-determination, it didn't mean that such right had to be inevitably exercised. (sorry beforehand if I misunderstood said policy).
Lenin's views will stay the same but the idea of a 'Brotherhood' of Socialist nations will become much more common amongst the Bolsheviks and hard left
The Winter War
The Winter War

As December of 1917-18 settled in Finland was in the midst of the greatest struggle that it had ever been subjected to. The rapidly growing conflict in Pohjanmaa had transformed into a three-sided struggle with Russians, the Red Guard, and the Civil Guard all fighting to secure the region. But as the struggle contuined the political matters of the war began to rear their head. On the 13th of November following the seeming complete collapse of the Russian provisional government in favour of what would become the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, the last remains of political order and control in Finland collapsed. The Senate long having become a powerless body met it is final dissolution when the Workers Revolutionary Council by now under the control of hardliners within the Social Democrats proclaimed the beginning of the Finnish Revolution with their declaration of full independence of the Socialist Workers Republic of Finland[1] a declaration that began the Finnish Revolution.

But the politicking that had started the conflict now gripping Finland was something that to the majority of Finns was something they neither cared about nor cared to learn. All they cared about was the return of peace. Something that was rare across the wide bounds of Europe in the winter of 1917-1918.

Despite what later pop history could classify the Winter War as, conflict was extremely limited in Finland, mainly relegated to Pohjanmaa, with occasional skirmishes in central Finland one of which would determine the very fate of the Revolution.

Following the February Revolution Sir George Buchanan, the British ambassador to the Russian Empire had expressed a cautious hope over the fate of the new Russian government. However, as the year contuined the incompetence, fragility, and division of the Provisional Government he realized that the new government was going to be unable to maintain Russia’s position in the war. The near constant debate over the war including the constant criticism of the war from the left and the populace. The final political straw however was the Kornilov Affair. The political instability that the ill-fated putsch gave birth too, was the first stage of failure of the Provisional Government. At the same time, the man’s own health was deteriorating the stress of working with a constantly shifting government, alongside the near daily barking of gunfire had worsened Buchanan’s health to the point that plans were being put in place for his return to London in mid-1918[2] Then came the October Revolution. The complete collapse of the Russian Provisional Government in an afternoon, and the rise of the Bolsheviks to power was a fatal blow to the man’s health. Following news that Kerensky had been captured attempting to flee Petrograd, Buchanan decided to hurry up his withdrawal from Russia.
On the 14th of December (New System) Buchanan pulled of Petrograd on a train heading north into the blood-soaked wastes of Finland. Despite the obvious dangers the Finland route was the shortest, and ironically the safest method for the man to return home.
As the train moved through southern Finland all of which had fallen under Red control the journey was peaceful. The Red Guards were all engaged to the north, and the leadership had agreed on safe passage for Buchanan, as had the white government further north.
As the train moved north towards the frontlines both sides were on edge, there had been a number of minor skirmishes earlier in the month, and both sides had utilized armoured trains before. All it took was one case of snow glare for the course of the Finnish Revolution to turn.
A white sniper overlooking the train lain saw a flash of red on fabric. Opening fire into the first carriage he struck Buchanan through the shoulder. The White forces around him joined in the firefight with the crack of rifles booming around the cold rail line for ten minutes. That was how long it took for the Whites to restore order to their troops.
That was also how long it took for George Buchanan to bleed out on the train floor. His death doomed the Kingdom of Finland. After all what could a rump state do against the wroth of the British Empire?
That was not the only unwelcome news that reached Mannerheim on the 16th of December even as the remains of the British diplomatic mission passed through White Finland their paranoia only growing news came from the front in Pohjanmaa. The Soviets established by the Russian forces in the region had established a truce with the Reds and representatives of the new Bolshevik Government in Russia. In return for safe passage home and an end to the war the Russian forces would hand over their positions and arms to the Reds. That single agreement was a death-knell for the Whites’ position in Pohjanmaa. On the 18th of December, the last Russian surrendered his position to a member of the Red Guard. A dug in, well defended, and well-armed position.
The initial attempts to clear out the Red Guards from their new holdings was met with an avalanche of bullets. The tired, demoralized, and cold Civil Guards hoping on a desperate gamble that the Red Guards would be worse at defending then the Russians met an unfortunate fact. No matter how well trained a machine gun operator is the bullets are still just as deadly. Pohjanmaa was firmly under Red control par the few areas that the Civil Guard had secured in November.
sMannerheim could see the writing on the wall, on Christmas 1917 he officially ordered a withdrawal from Pohjanmaa, the beginning of the Suuri retriitti. The Whites had lost Pohjanmaa. The Revolution was picking up steam, and on the 1st of January 1918 the United Kingdom opened diplomatic relations with the Red forces through their diplomatic presence in Sweden. In a great fit of irony, the ‘World’s policeman’ had taken the side of a revolutionary force from the simple desire for revenge. Nobody murdered an ambassador of the British Empire and got away with it. The White Finnish would pay.

[1]The addition of the Socialist to the name came from pressure from Lenin and the Bolsheviks to the south.
[2] This is the biggest POD here. I have taken the liberty of having the worse situation in Russia making Buchanan’s health get much worse faster than OTL and as such have him plan to leave earlier.
Aplogies for the wait I've hit a bit of writiers/research block for Finland.