Thursday, October 20, 2011

200th anniv. of Finnish Military Academy 20.3.1979

This Cover and the stamp on it were issued on 20.3.1979 to commemorate the 200th anniv. of Finnish Military Academy. The stamp depicts the old school building at Hamina and the Academy flag. The founder of the Academy was Georg Magnus Sprengtporten. Haapaniemi Military Academy was the first army military academy in the entire Kingdom of Sweden. It was founded in May 1781 and destroyed in a fire on March 26, 1818. The history of the Haapaniemi Military Academy includes three distinctive men. Georg Magnus Sprengtporten was the founder of the Academy, but he never became its commandant. He had been one of those to support Gustav III's coup d'état in 1772, but after disagreements with the King he was sent to the backlands of Savo to command the Savo Jaeger Regiment in 1775. By the time Gustav III gave his concession to found the Acadamy in 1779, Sprengtporten had already moved abroad and finally entered into the service of the Russian Empire at the invitation of Empress Catherine II.
Finland Cadet school was the common name for the Fredrikshamn cadet school during the period 1819–1901. The Cadet School was originally founded in 1780 by Georg Magnus Sprengtporten at Kuopio and transferred in 1781 to Rantasalmi where it was called Haapaniemi Cadet School. In 1819, after the School was transferred to Hamina (Swedish: Fredrikshamn) the name was changed accordingly, in common usage. After Finnish independence in 1917 the Cadet school was moved to Santahamina in Helsinki and in 1920 the premises were occupied by the Reserve Officer School of the newly formed Finnish defence forces. Today the main building of the Cadet school hosts the headquarters of the Reserve Officer School of the Finnish Army. Hamina Cadet School was abolished in 1903 with the abolition of the separate Army of the Grand duchy of Finland as part of the Russification policy. The conscription of Finnish soldiers directly to various units of the Russian Empire was seen as illegal and unconstitutional in Finland. Finnish officers protested first in through mass resignations and later through a strategy of disobedience, in what is now known as the Conscription strikes. Finally it was settled that the Grand Duchy of Finland would fulfil its obligation to the common defence with a monetary compensation to the Russian Empire instead through the provision of conscripts.
As an aside it would interest the reader to know that Field Marshal Mannerheim was a cadet at Hamina cadet school. Due to a disciplinary breach he was expelled in his final year in 1886, which caused him to continue his military career in the Imperial Russian Army. It is indeed ironical that Mannerheim after this initial setback in his military carreer was to play such an important and dominant part in Finland’s 20th Century history. My friend Pia sent me this card.

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