Open letter of Mannerheim to President Ståhlberg, Paris, Oct. 28, 1919

Mr. President! At this moment, when the people of Finland faces decisions that will determine its future, I see as my patriotic duty to come forward with my firm belief, emerging from my careful examination of facts and the prevalent mood in Paris and London. Once again, most probably for the last time, the development of events has given an opportunity to our people, to take part in the decisive battle against the most cruel despotism ever known in the world, to secure our freedom with relatively small sacrifices and to create prerequisites for the safe and happy future to our new nation and, this way, to show the world that the limitless and on legality based sovereignty of Finland is a pan-European benefit.

There is in well-informed places no doubt that the decline of the Soviet power is just a matter of time. The European opinion sees that the fate of St. Petersburg is held by Finland and the question of conquering St. Petersburg is not regarded as a Finnish-Russian question but a global question, to achieve a final peace and to serve humanity. If St. Petersburg will be conquered without our participation, our country will meet unpredictable difficulties when our country's relations with her eastern neighbour will be evaluated. If this will be the case, we have not given the countries friendly to us such arguments they, on the basis of our assistance in time of need, could find favourable against all sorts of demands that will be made upon us. If the White troops now fighting in front of Petrograd will be defeated, we will be made responsible for it by all. Already now we hear voices saying that Finland has avoided the Bolshevik invasion only because of the Russian armies now operating in the South and East.

The Soviet Government is well aware about the fact the Army of Finland can decide the fate of St. Petersburg. In case this government is given free hands, there is no doubt that it will use its supremacy against us, and a peace with the Bolsheviks making us their ally in the eyes of the world, gives us nothing else than a false security. Providing the Russians with arms and material procured by us with great difficulties, we do not create us better choices for our future, we only diminish the ability to defend our country at a time we ought to be capable with all our forces to defend our rights. But doing the opposite, we with a brisk action could produce guarantees for being heard in future international settlements, we could raise our nation to a powerful and respected international position and would acquire us sympathy and gratitude of present times.

The eyes of the world are turned on us, and all the friends of Finland ask, feeling uneasiness, do we show us being worthy of our status as a free nation and do we play a role, suited to our abilities, in establishing peace in Europe. We will be asked if we, as a nation just year ago herself calling help, are going to turn down the request directed to us. The decisions, now done, will tell if the world now and in the future can put blame on a brave and chivalrous nation in case it felt timid and refrained herself from a deed that is required by interests of mankind and the concern for her own future success.
Source: G. Mannerheim: Memoirs. Part I. Finnish edition, Helsinki, Otava, 1951. Translation from Finnish by Pauli Kruhse.

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