Europe 1918: Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
3 Mar 1918Treaty of Brest-Litovsk:
Soviets accept independence
of Finland, Estonia, Livonia,
Courland, Lithuania, Belarus
With Russia helpless against the German advance, Lenin was forced to pay a high price for peace. On 3 March 1918, the Bolsheviks signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, effectively recognizing German dominance over the previously Russian territories of eastern Europe.
7 Nov 1917–25 Feb 1918 Bolshevik consolidation▲
On 7 November (O.S. 25 October) 1917, the Bolsheviks rose up in Moscow, securing control after 8 days of fighting. At about the same time, the Bolsheviks seized control in Kiev and the remaining important cities of the former Russian Empire. On 25 November 1917 (O.S. 12 November) Russia held free elections for the National Constituent Assembly, with the Socialist-Revolutionary Party winning a plurality but the Bolsheviks dominant in the cities. Arguing, on the basis of the split between left and right Social Revolutionaries, that the Assembly did not accurately reflect the will of the Russian people, Premier Vladimir Lenin had it dissolved on 18 January 1918 (O.S. 5 January), leaving his Bolsheviks operating as the de facto single-party government.
6 Dec 1917 Finnish Declaration of Independence▲
Between 1908 and 1916 the power of the Finnish Parliament in the Grand Principality of Finland had been neutralized by the Russian Tsar Nicholas II and the so-called “sabre senate” of Finland, a bureaucratic government formed by Imperial Russian Army officers. The February Revolution of 1917 restored much of Finland’s autonomy and, when the Bolsheviks declared a general right of self-determination “for the Peoples of Russia” in November, the Finnish Parliament assumed all powers of sovereignty. In early December the Parliament declared Finland an independent republic, a move which was recognized by the Soviet Russian government at the end of the month.
9 Dec 1917 Armistice of Focșani▲
Although the Central Powers had captured most of Romania’s territory, they were unable to break through the Romanian line into Moldavia. However, without Russian support, Romania was forced to make an armistice with Austria-Hungary in May 1917. Two months later, Romania signed the Treaty of Bucharest, relinquishing the Carpathian ridgeline to Hungary in exchange for the formerly Russian but ethnically Romanian region of Bessarabia.
27 Jan 1918 Battle of Kämärä▲
The abrupt end of Russian rule in Finland left power in the hands of the Finnish Parliament, unstably divided between the left-wing ‘Reds’—mostly social democrats, but also containing revolutionary elements—and the right-wing ‘Whites’—conservatives, monarchists, economic liberals, and ethnic Swedes. Local skirmishes broke out in January 1918 and on the 26th Ali Aaltonen, leader of the Red Guards, issued a Red Order of Revolution, beginning a large-scale mobilization on the evening of the 27th. That same day White troops ambushed a rail shipment of Bolshevik weapons from Petrograd to the Reds at Kämärä, but were forced to withdraw after a short battle.
3 Mar 1918 Treaty of Brest-Litovsk▲
In March 1918 Soviet Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire at Brest-Litovsk, Russia. The treaty ended Russia’s participation in World War I and forced it to cede the Baltic States to Germany, to cede Kars to the Ottoman Empire, and to recognize the independence of Ukraine and Finland. Russia was also obliged to pay six billion German gold marks in reparations.
Mar 1918–Jul 1920 Spanish Flu in Europe▲
In 1918, cases of a new virulent strain of influenza started appearing on the European military fronts, in particular around the major troop staging and hospital camp in Étaples, France. Because news from the front was censored, the first big public outbreak was in neutral Spain, after which the Allies called it ‘Spanish flu’— although whether it originated in Europe, North America, or China remains uncertain. The flu killed more than 400,000 in France, over 500,000 in Italy, about 260,000 in Spain, 250,000 in Britain, and 150,000 in Germany, with some 2.6 million deaths in Europe overall.