Biographies: Aatto Koivunen (Finland, 1874-1928)

Figure 1.-- This photo was taken in 1913. It shows Aatto Koivunen with his wife and their children. They had four children, sons were Martin and Reino and their twin daughters Asta and Martha. The girls are wearing traditional clothing and all the children are barefoot. Koivunen was a Finnish Red Guard commander during the Finnish Civil War (1918). Click on the image to see the family after the Civil War. Martin is gone, killed in the War.

Aatto (actualf Adolf but often inicated as Eve) was born illegitimate. This and other indescretions led to his mother being punished (pilloried) by the church and the family lands conficated. This no doubt affected his social and polittical outlook. He seems to have acquired the name Koivunen. He became involved in the local workers movement fom an early point, although he also founded a sucessful insulation business. He learned English and hd friendly relations with Russians. He was thus drawn into the Bolshevick Camp in the Civil War. As the commander of the Pispalan (region of Finland) Red Guards, he led a local Red Guard foce in the Finish Civil War after the Russian Revolution. He became a rakennuseristäjä (home builder). He married Hilma Nikkilä (1877- ) and they had four children before World War I. Their sons were Martin and Reino and their twin daughters were Asta and Martha. Hilma was at first interested in the youthh movement. He and Hilma became deeply committed to workers movement and eventually the Bolsheviks. He commanded a Red Guard force of more than a thousand men in the Battle of Tampere on Epilän Front. The whole family, including the girls, and son-in-law Gunnar Keltamäki joined the struggle. His wife Hilma was also a fervent Bolshevick. She help found the Pispalan female Guard. Their son Martin was killed in the fighting at Epilänharjulla (March 26, 1918). Koivunen after the Battle of Tampere retired to the east toward the Gulf of Vankimotista. He was, however, captured. He was held in a prison camp. His daughter apparently saved him, but we do not have the details. A number of Red commanders were shot. The Reds also shot prioners. Koivunen was tried for treason and sentenced to life in prison. He had contracted malaria in the prion camp. He was released (1921). He was, however subsequently release and participated in Finnish poltics as a Communist. He died of complications from Malaria (1928) Koivunen's lifestory brings up an interesting country. His family owned a farm, but as he was illegitimate, his widowed mother lost the land because of her indecretions. He as a result grew up poor, but managed to build a successfull business. A kind of Horatio Alger story. The Bolsheviks once in power implemented policies disadvantaging the families of former business owners and took land away fom the kulaks (land owning peasants), killing many in the process, especially in the process. Nany from the socilly targeted groups disappeard into the Gulag. We wonder how they would have treated Koivunen or what kind of administrative process existed for such circumstances.


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Created: 5:04 PM 4/12/2014
Last updated: 5:04 PM 4/12/2014