Civil War documents

 

Following the outbreak of the Civil War, the People’s Delegation occupied the Bank of Finland’s head office after several days of negotiations at the turn of January and February 1918. The People’s Delegation also occupied seven branches of the central bank, in Kuopio, Hämeenlinna, Kotka, Viipuri, St Petersburg, Tampere and Turku.

In the first week of April, the People’s Delegation left the Bank’s head office in Helsinki and withdrew to Viipuri. In the first week of April, the People’s Delegation left the Bank’s head office in Helsinki and withdrew to Viipuri. The branches were retaken by May 1918 at the latest, with the Viipuri branch being the last to be recovered.

A collection of Civil War documents extending to approximately 1½ shelf kilometres was assembled retrospectively, possibly in the early 1920s. In accordance with the spirit of the times, it was entitled ‘Documents from the Rebellion’. The collection is incomplete and contains primarily material discovered in the head office in April 1918. Some of the material has been subjected to an attempt at destruction (e.g. some of the preserved correspondence has burn marks). Some material has also been successfully destroyed. For example, if we compare the correspondence preserved at the head office with archive material at the branches or with the ‘Asiamiehen kansio’ (documents of the Chief Legal Officer) in the present collection, we can see there are discrepancies.

Thus, the material preserved is incomplete. In addition, it was originally not comprehensive or at least not retained according to the normal principles of central bank document management. This is particularly apparent in the accounting material. Normally, in the Bank of Finland’s archives, each account transaction is visible both in the original account, in the derivative control account, in correspondence, in receipts and – if the sums involved are sufficiently large – possibly also in the minutes of meetings. The accounting from the period of occupation does not follow these principles, nor, for example, did it employ double-entry bookkeeping.

Incomplete as it is, the collection ‘Documents from the Rebellion’ nevertheless provides a peephole through which we can glimpse the administrative practices of the People’s Delegation during the Civil War.

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