• Antti Matikkala
Avainsanat: Mannerheim, kenraalikunta, palkitseminen, kunniamerkit, Vapaudenristin ritarikunta, Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun ritarikunta, Suomen Leijonan ritarikunta, talvisota, jatkosota, Lapin sota


The article analyses how Mannerheim rewarded Finnish generals in the period 1940–1945 with the Crosses of Liberty and the insignia of the Orders of the White Rose of Finland and of the Lion of Finland – or left undecorated. As contextual borderline cases, the survey includes six colonels, who were not promoted to generals during the war, but received honours of the general rank level. This highlights the use of honours as compensation for the delayed or unreceived promotion to the rank of general. Generals were honoured for their merits during the Winter War 1939–1940 only after the war. The Crosses of Liberty that Mannerheim gave as the commander-in-chief to the Winter War generals demonstrate that for Mannerheim the nature of achievements was a more important criterion for the level of honours than the military hierarchy. The honours did not change the military hierarchy, but Mannerheim marked his own order of appreciation with the Crosses of Liberty. In December 1940, Mannerheim became Grand Master for life of the newly-formed Order of the Cross of Liberty. The new special decoration, the Mannerheim Cross, which could be given regardless of military rank, proved to be very useful because a new war broke out so soon after the Winter War. The oak leaf, which could be added to the Cross of Liberty for distinguished front-line or leadership achievements, was introduced in August 1941 and it solved many award problems. In Mannerheim’s view, the Cross of Liberty 1st Class was a ‘distinguishing badge of a high-ranking leader’. It was given fifty times with swords to Finnish recipients for the merits during the Winter War. During the Continuation War 1941–1944, it was no longer a decoration for general officers: only one Finnish general and one admiral received it. Finally, even the Cross of Liberty 1st Class with swords and oak leaf was predominantly a decoration for colonels. Out of its 44 Finnish recipients, seven were major generals. With some exceptions, the Mannerheim Cross and the oak leaf required from generals considerable achievements as front-line commanders. When placing them in an order of precedence based on their honours, the Mannerheim Cross must be given the highest priority. For the merits during the Winter War, only three Finnish generals received the Cross of Liberty 1st Class with Star. The prolonging of the Continuation War added pressures to awarding of the star since an increasing number of generals came ‘in turn’ to receive it. Instead, the Grand Cross of the Cross of Liberty remained extremely rare. After the Winter War, Mannerheim gave it to only two generals: Lieutenant General Erik Heinrichs and Major General Rudolf Walden. For merits during the Continuation War only four Finnish generals received it: General of the Artillery V. P. Nenonen and Lieutenant Generals Väinö Valve, J. F. Lundqvist and K. L. Oesch. During the years 1940–1944, Mannerheim did not propose any Finnish general to be decorated with the insignia of the Order of the White Rose of Finland. This was also applied to the Order of the Lion of Finland when it was established in 1942. During the Second World War, Mannerheim used these orders to reward the military merit his generals only in 1945 when, as the President of the Republic, he could make the decisions on his own. With the insignia of these orders, which were given with swords, Mannerheim rewarded such generals who could not be bestowed higher class of the Cross of Liberty. The decorations of the Orders of the White Rose of Finland and of the Lion of Finland were supplementary honours to generals since, according to the prevailing order of precedence, even the Cross of Liberty 1st Class was higher than the highest class of the two other orders, the Grand Cross. Overall, the honours given to Finnish generals were very comprehensive and only few generals were left without the final honours of the three orders, given in 1944–1945. Mannerheim was rather unforgiving, but in 1945 the past leadership conflicts were largely forgotten. Mannerheim decorated even generals whom he had withdrawn from the front-line command positions during the battles of summer 1944. Previous research has put much emphasis on the role of the front-line commanding generals. As this study demonstrates, in the estimation of the commander-in-chief, who oversaw the entirety of war, some generals holding important home-front positions, were due to receive higher honours than several generals commanding divisions. The use of the orders of merit was an important element of Mannerheim’s personnel policy. The merits, as defined by Mannerheim, were for him more important factors in determining the class of the honour than seniority or military rank, although the classes of the orders to some extent followed the military hierarchy. It was typical for Mannerheim to consider different options at length and to change decisions already made. This was also evident

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Antti Matikkala
Matikkala, A. (2016). MANNERHEIM JA SUOMEN KENRAALIKUNNAN PALKITSEMINEN KUNNIAMERKEIN 1940–1945. Tiede Ja Ase, 73. Noudettu osoitteesta