Finland declared independence from Russia in 1917 during the Bolshevik revolution. The subsequent civil war ended in victory by the White forces under Marshal Baron Gustav Mannerheim, a former officer in the uniform of the Tsar, later to become commander-in-chief of the Finnish army in the Winter War of 1939/40.
Mannerheim had been a chevalier garde to the Romanov royal court in St Petersburg. Passionate about baroque ceremony, he yet fought well in the savage Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05, travelled for the Tsar for over five years in wild Central Asia, including Tibet, and served with distinction under Bushilov in the first world war, before the imperial defeat by the Bolsheviks. But after escaping to exile in Finland he did not become attached to democracy: with sunken, piercing eyes and hooked nose, he was yet judged courteous and fatherly: an air of de Gaulle.