Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

[H&F] "Kaarlo Kurko; the journey to the Polish battlefields, 1919"

Co-blogger Jussi Jalonen continues telling the story of Kaarlo Kurko, an adventurous young Finn who volunteered to fight on Poland's behalf against the Soviet Union in 1919-1920.

After participating in the Estonian War of Liberation and the Yudenich offensive against Petrograd in the autumn of 1919, Kurko was determined to travel to Poland, to fight the Bolsheviks once again. This was by no means an easy feat. Traveling by ship to Danzig was out of the question, because the Finnish consuls in Riga and Tallinn were now unwilling to write passports for the volunteers. The recruitment of soldiers to the White Russian forces was strictly forbidden by the Finnish government, and the same rules applied also to those men who wanted to join the Polish army. Even though general C. G. E. Mannerheim, the former commander-in-chief of the Finnish White forces and the former Head of State, had visited Warsaw and personally met Józef Piłsudski in the autumn of 1919, he had done so as a private citizen. After Mannerheim’s defeat to Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg in the presidential elections of July 1919, the newly-independent Finland no longer wanted to have anything to do with the intervention against the Soviet Russia.

Traveling overland through the Baltic countries was also next to impossible. The Polish-Lithuanian border was closed and heavily-guarded, with both countries in de facto hostilities against each others because of the Polish conquest of Vilnius and the ensuing Vilnius dispute. The Polish-Latvian frontier was a complete war zone, with the city of Daugavpils still under Soviet occupation. Under the circumstances, the Finnish volunteers who were still in Estonia and Latvia and wanted to join the Polish armed forces could not travel together as a single group, but instead had to make their way to Poland each on their own.

Go, read more. How did Kurko make it, and why did he try in the first place?
Tags: baltic states, blogs, finland, first world war, former soviet union, h&f, links, poland, war
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