Carl Gustav Emil Mannerheim

Carl Gustav Emil Mannerheim

Carl Gustav Emil Mannerheim was the second regent of Finland (1918-1919), the sixth president (1944-1946) and the Finnish Marshal.

Childhood and youth

He was born in Louhisaari Manor in Askainen on June 4, 1887. Mannerheim spent his early childhood mainly in Louhisaari. He was accepted into the Finnish Cadastre School in Hamina on June 19, 1882. However, he did not like the Cadastre School because of its strict rules and often received punishments.

He was dismissed from the Cadastre School in 1886. He was accepted to the Russian Imperial Army's Nikolai's Cavalry Avademy in 1887. He graduated from the Cavalry Academy on August 10, 1889.

Career in the Russian Army

Mannerheim worked in the Russian Army for almost 30 years in 1889-1917. During that time, he participated in the war between Russia and Japan in 1904-1905 and made a two-year exploration and intelligence expedition to Central Asia and China in 1906-1908. The length of the expedition was 14,000 kilometers and it was made on horseback. Mannerheim gathered nearly 1,200 objects for the National Museum's collections and took about 1,500 photographs. In the First World War 1914-1917 Mannerheim took part in battles in Poland, Galicia, Bukovina and Romania. Mannerheim was promoted to Lieutenant General in 1917. The collapse of the Russian Empire in the February 1917 revolution shocked Mannerheim. He was transferred to reserve in September 1917. Mannerheim returned to Finland on December 18, 1917.

Finland's nationhood and the civil war

In the Finnish Civil War in 1918, Mannerheim served as the command-in-chief of the troops of the Finnish Government, the Svinhuvud Senate. On the other side there were Bolshevik forces, so-called "reds". The war ended with the victory of the government troops and in May 1918 Mannerheim held a great victory parade in Helsinki. Political disagreements, however, led to the resignation of Mannerheim as the command-in-chief on May 31.

The time between the wars 1918-1939

Between the wars (1918-1939) Mannerheim spent his time on farming and worked in many social activities. He was chosen the President of the Finnish Red Cross for 30 years in 1921. In addition, he founded in 1920 the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare. Mannerheim also valued scouts and received the first honorary membership of the Finnish Scout League in 1919. He also worked in the governance of various banks.

Second World War 1939-1945

In Finland's case the Second World War is divided into the so-called Winter War (1939-1940) and the Continuation War (1941-1944). In both wars Mannerheim served as the command-in-chief for the Defense Forces. In 1942, Mannerheim turned 75 and was awarded the title of the Marshal of Finland. He is the only person who has received this title. At the final stages of the war in 1944, the incumbent president Risto Ryti resigned and Mannerheim was elected for his part as the sixth president on August 4, 1944. In September 1944, Finland signed the Moscow Armistice with Soviet Union and Britain. Mannerheim resigned from the post of the President in March 1946

Later years

For the great part of his later years, Mannerheim spent in Switzerland's Montreux, on the shore of Lake Geneva, in the private hospital of Valmont, in the village of Glion. Mannerheim is buried in Hietaniemi's heroic cemetery.

Day commands of the command-in-chief

For the undersigned the day commands issued by Mannerheim as the command-in-chief of the Defense Forces have made a great impression. They show his deep understanding of political and military issues. They are usually also well-written. Day commands also show Mannerheim's impressive sense of good values. The most impressive of these day commands is, in my opinion, the day command of 14 March 1940, which was issued immediately on the following day after the end day of the Winter War. Below are two extracts from it.

Soldiers! I have fought on many battlefields, but never have I seen warriors like as you. I am proud of you as if you were my own children, as proud of the man of the Northern fells as the plains of Ostrobothnia, the Karelian forests, the hills of Savonia, the fertile fields of Häme and Satakunta, the mild groves of Uusimaa and Varsinais-Suomi. I'm as proud of the sacrifice, offered by the son of a poor cottage as that of the wealthy.

Carl Gustav Emil Mannerheim: Day command of the command-in-chief 14.3.1940

With joy and pride I think of the Finnish lottas - their sacrificial and unremitting work at various fields, which has liberated thousands of men on fire lanes. Their noble spirit has encouraged and supported the army, whose gratitude and appreciation they have fully achieved.

Carl Gustav Emil Mannerheim: Day command of the command-in-chief 14.3.1940

A rare color photo of Mannerheim

Mannerheim was an experienced rider

Mannerheim (at right) at the Nikolai's Cavalry Avademy


Mannerheim leaves Parliament after becoming elected president

Mannerheim and Paasikivi

Mannerheim and Kallio

Mannerheim greets scouts visiting his home