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Karelia in the Soviet Union

Last modified: 2003-08-21 by
Keywords: karelo-finnish | karelia | finland | world war ii | proposal | fir | olonets | tree | hammer and sickle (yellow) | hammer and sickle: no star | hammer and sickle: solid star |
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[Karelian flag of 1978]
by Jaume Ollé, 18 Nov 1996
See also:

Karelian Workers’ Commune, 1920

In 1920 the communists proclaimed the soviet republic [following the Finnish Soviet Republic — ed.] and plain red flag was used.
Jaume Ollé, 17 Nov 1996

The Karelian Workers’ Commune (Finnish: Karjalan Työkansan Kommuuni) was set up 7 June 1920 by decree of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the Congress of Soviets. It worked in direct competition with the autonomous East Karelian government. The chairman of the KWC’s Revolutionary Committee was a Finn, Edvard Gylling, who fled Finland when the red side lost the civil war there. Initially, both the borders and administration structure of the KWC were somewhat unsettled. The KWC did not have a constitution or a flag of its own. Instead the Russian constitution applied, and the Russian flags were used. Paskov [pas94] illustrates two flags. First, the one of the Russian SFSR. The second flag shown is the well-known red flag with yellow star, hammer and sickle (set to 1924 by Paskov [pas94]). The Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed by the Fourth All-Karelian Congress of Soviets 25 July 1923. Still, a flag was not adopted until 1938. Until 1938, the flag of the Soviet Union was in use, according to Paskov [pas94].
Jan Oskar Engene, 29 May 1997

[Olonets ''Russian'' flag]
by António Martins, 28 Jun 2002

Though the KWC used the flags of the Russian SFSR, there might be one flag connected with Soviet Karelia. This is the flag Paskov [pas94] describes as «The Flag of the Russian Federation adopted in the Olonets Province in 1918». This is again a red field with an abbreviation in golden yellow in the canton. The canton is outlined in gold on the field sides. This flag does not, however, appear to be a flag for the KWC.
Jan Oskar Engene, 29 May 1997


Karelian A.S.S.R., 1937

Legal Design

[Karelian flag of 1937]
by Jaume Ollé, 17 Nov 1996

In 1935 was created the ASRR that adopt flag in 1937. The constitutional and legal flag was the above, but the flag really used was a little different.
Jaume Ollé, 17 Nov 1996

I can identify language #1 as Russian and language #3 as Karelian — but what is the second language? For what’s worth, it is the one missing in the design actually used.
António Martins, 29 May 2001

Design Actually Used

[Karelian flag of 1938]
by Jaume Ollé, 17 Nov 1996

Paskov [pas94] shows this flag to be red and with RSFSR written in large cyrillic and Latin gold letters, with the name Karelian ASSR written in a smaller gold script in Russian and Finnish/Karelian.
Jan Oskar Engene, 29 May 1997

[Karelian flag of 19??]
by Jaume Ollé, 17 Nov 1996

Karelian-Finnish S.S.R., 1940

[Flag of Karelo-Finnish SSR in 1940’s]
by Mark Sensen, 01 Jun 1996

The Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia were able only to offer token resistance to Soviet occupation in 1940, but the fourth Baltic state, Finland, fought back desperately and, although lost 10% of its territory, survived as an independent state. When the Soviets invaded Finland in 1940, a Provisional Finnish People’s Government was created in Karelia as a precursor to Soviet rule being established in Finland and the establishment of a Finnish SSR of which Karelia would be part. A Finn-Karelian SSR was in fact proclaimed, in March 1940. However, when it became apparent that the Soviets had failed in their aim of occupying Finland, this was downgraded to an Autonomous Republic.
Stuart Notholt, 17 Sep 1995

In march 1940 the Karelian ASSR was promoted to the Karelo-Finnish SSR (intended as a predecessor of a Finnish SSR, wich never was established because Finaland couldn’t be conquered). A flag was introduced according the Soviet-model: red with a yellow hammer and sickle (but without a star) and the name in both Finnish (Karelian?) and Russian.
Mark Sensen, 18 Mar 1996

The Karelian-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic was established 31 March 1940 and combined the territory of the former Karelian ASSR with areas taken from Finland in the Winter War (the Karelian Isthmus, however, was joined to the Leningrad Oblast). The flag is again red, with a hammer and sickle and under this the name of the SSR written in Karelian/Finnish and Russian all in yellow. The illustration in Paskov [pas94] has a red star outlined in gold above the script and hammer and sickle. According to Paskov, this was the 1940 flag of the KFSSR.
Jan Oskar Engene, 29 May 1997

Red with in the upper hoist yellow name in sanserif in both Latin (Karjalais-Suomalainen SNT) and cyrillic (Karelo-Finskaja SSR). Little yellow hammer and sickle above.
Mark Sensen, 01 Jun 1996

As adopted by the Supreme Soviet of the Karelo-Finnish SSR on 9 June 1940, Article 118 of the K-FSSR Constitution read:

The State Flag of the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic shall consist of a red cloth in whose left corner near the staff at the top, shall be placed a gold sickle and hammer and the inscription «Karelo-Finskaia SSR» in the Finnish and Russian languages. The proportion of width to length shall be 1:2.
Dave Martucci, 06 Sep 1996


Karelian-Finnish S.S.R., 1947 (proposal)

[Proposal of 1947]
by Jan Oskar Engene, 29 May 1997

An interesting proposal, dated 1947, for a KFSSR is also shown in Paskov [pas94]. While the flag is still based on the Soviet red flag model, the proposal added a line of black stylized trees on blue that would have made it stand out among SSR flags.
Jan Oskar Engene, 29 May 1997

The artwork in [pas94] shows a solid gold star in both proposals. But checking Laurla’s own Itä-Karjalan tunnuksia [lau97], I found images with red stars fimbriated in gold — as the author of this book was the one who submitted the 1976 proposal, I rather trust this source!
Jan Oskar Engene, 26 Jun 2001

Could this 1947 proposal have been (one of) the inspiration(s) leading to the more imaginative and distinct SSR flag designs adopted in 1949-1954? If it weren’t for the inscription (omnipresent in the contemporary soviet subnational flags), it could have been one of the new lot.
António Martins, 20 Jun 2001


Karelian-Finnish S.S.R., 1953

[Flag of Karelo-Finnish SSR in 1950’s]
by Mark Sensen, 18 Mar 1996

Instead [of the refered proposal,] a more conventional flag was adopted for the KFSSR in 1953. This was red, with two narrow stripes of blue over green along the bottom. A red star outlined in gold star, along with gold hammer and sickle was set in the canton. No lettering appeared on the flag.
Jan Oskar Engene, 29 May 1997

This flag was the only one, among the 16 soviet SSR flags, to have a third non-white color, adding to the scarlet background the unique combination of light blue and green. It may have been influenced by the 1947 proposal, and certainly influenced the current Karelian flag.
António Martins, 29 May 2001

In the early 1950s like the other SSRs a flag was adopted horizontal red-blue-green (19:5:6) with yellow hammer, sickle and yellow outlined star.
Mark Sensen, 18 Mar 1996

Regarding the Karelo-Finnish SSR, in the K-FSSR Constitution of 1953 (strangely, no exact date is given in [tfb]), Article 118 was changed to read:

The State Flag of the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic shall be a cloth, consisting of three colored strips horizontally placed: The upper being red; the middle being light blue, comprising one-sixth the width of the flag, and the lower, green, comprising one-fifth the width of the flag. On the red strip, in the left upper corner near the staff, shall be placed a gold sickle and hammer and, above them, a red five-pointed star edged in gold. The proportion of the width of the flag to its length shall be 1:2.
Dave Martucci, 06 Sep 1996


Reverse of the flag

[Back of the flag]
by Mark Sensen, 18 Mar 1996 | [two-sided] [reverse]

No hammer, sickle and star on the reverse side.
Mark Sensen, 25 May 1997


Karelian A.S.S.R., 1956

[Karelian flag of 1956]
by Jaume Ollé, 17 Nov 1996

On 16 July 1956 the KFSSR was downgraded to the Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. As a result the flag changed. The new flag of the Karelian ASSR was based on the flag of the Russian SSR, that is, it had a blue stripe along the hoist, the rest of the field being red and with the outlined star, hammer and sickle and the abbreviation of the autonomous republic’s name in Russian (cyrillic characters) and Finnish (Latin characters) underneath all in golden yellow.
Jan Oskar Engene, 29 May 1997

On 20 August 1956 adopt new flag. After 1956 is also legal to use the flag with only the capital letters.
Jaume Ollé, 17 Nov 1996

The new flag had a blue stripe along the hoist, the rest of the field being red with the red star outlined in yellow over the hammer and sickle and under that "KASSR" written in Russian and Finnish/Karelian.
Jan Oskar Engene, 02 Jun 1997

The K-FSSR was changed back to an ASSR on 20 August 1956.
Dave Martucci, 06 Sep 1996

On 16 july 1956 Karelia became the Karelian ASSR again within the Russian SFSR. All ASSRs used a flag like their SSR (for Karelia the RSFSR, Soviet flag with a blue hoist [1:7]) and the name or initial in their own language(s).
Mark Sensen, 18 Mar 1996


Karelian A.S.S.R., 1976 (proposal)

[Karelian proposal of 1976]
by Jan Oskar Engene, 29 May 1997

Paskov [pas94] shows a second proposal, this time a project by Finnish heraldist Kari K. Laurla dated 1976. Laurla’s design for a KASSR flag kept the blue stripe along the hoist, the red upper field and the gold star, hammer and sickle. To this was to bands of white and green along the bottom. The dividing line between the red and white was in the shape of a fir-twig section, while that between the white and green was wavy. Note that the image is my interpretation of the design (may differ somewhat in details from Laurla’s original proposal).
Jan Oskar Engene, 29 May 1997

The artwork in [pas94] shows a solid gold star in both proposals. But checking Laurla’s own Itä-Karjalan tunnuksia [lau97], I found images with red stars fimbriated in gold — as the author of this book was the one who submitted the 1976 proposal, I rather trust this source!
Jan Oskar Engene, 26 Jun 2001

Laurla’s proposal was never adopted (probably much too Finnish looking). I don’t know the deatils, though these are probably in the Finnish and Russian text in Paskov’s book [pas94].
Jan Oskar Engene, 02 Jun 1997

What were the adoption possibilities of this 1976 proposal? By that time, it was quite clear that ASSR flags were always copies of the respective SSR’s flag with added lettering. Did Laurla seriously wanted to change this or was it just a vexillographic musing?...
António Martins, 20 Jun 2001


Karelian A.S.S.R., 1978

[Karelian flag of 1978]
by Jaume Ollé, 18 Nov 1996

The flag of the Karelian ASSR changed in 1978, but only slightly, so that "KASSR" was replaced by "Karelian ASSR" again written in both Finnish/Karelian and Russian.
Jan Oskar Engene, 02 Jun 1997

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