Mannerheim made a career in the Imperial Russian Army, rising to the rank of lieutenant general. He also had a prominent place in the ceremonies for Tsar Nicholas II's coronation and later had several private meetings with the Russian Tsar. After the Bolshevik revolution, Finland declared its independence but was soon embroiled in civil war between the pro-Bolshevik "Reds" and the "Whites", who were the troops of the Senate of Finland. Mannerheim was appointed the military chief of the Whites. Twenty years later, when Finland was twice at war with the Soviet Union from November 1939 until September 1944, Mannerheim successfully led the defence of Finland as commander-in-chief of the country's armed forces. In 1944, when the prospect of Germany's defeat in World War II became clear, Mannerheim was elected President of Finland and oversaw peace negotiations with the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom. (Finland was never at war with the United States.) He resigned the presidency in 1946 and died in 1951.
In a Finnish survey 53 years after his death, Mannerheim was voted the greatest Finn of all time. Given the broad recognition in Finland and elsewhere of his unparalleled role in establishing and later preserving Finland's independence from Russia, Mannerheim has long been referred to as the father of modern Finland, and the Finnish capital Helsinki's Mannerheim Museum memorializing the leader's life and times has been called "the closest thing there is to a [Finnish] national shrine".
The Mannerheim family descends from a German businessman, Heinrich Marhein (1618–1667), who emigrated to the Swedish Empire. His son Augustin Marhein changed his surname to Mannerheim and was raised to the nobility by King Charles XI in 1693. Augustin Mannerheim's son, Johan Augustin Mannerheim, was raised to the status of Baron in 1768. The Mannerheim family came to Finland, then an integral part of Sweden, in the latter part of the 18th century.
Mannerheim's great-grandfather, Count Carl Erik Mannerheim (1759–1837) served as the first Prime Minister of Finland. In 1825, he was promoted to the rank of Count. Mannerheim's grandfather, Count Carl Gustaf Mannerheim (1797–1854), was an entomologist and served as President of the Viipuri Court of Appeals. Mannerheim's father, Carl Robert, Count Mannerheim (1835–1914), was a playwright who held liberal and radical political ideas, but he was also an industrialist whose success varied. Mannerheim's mother, Hedvig Charlotta Helena von Julin (1842–1881), was the daughter of a wealthy industrialist.
As the third child of the family, Mannerheim inherited the title of Baron (only the eldest son would inherit the title of Count). His father went bankrupt in 1880; he was forced to sell the family home and his other landed estates to his sister, as well as his large art collection. Mannerheim's father left his wife, Countess Hélène, and moved to Paris with his mistress. He returned to Helsinki and founded the Systema company in 1887, and was its manager until his death. Countess Hélène, shaken by the bankruptcy and her husband's desertion, took their seven children to live with her aunt Louise at the aunt's estate in Sällvik. Hélène died the following year from a heart attack. Her death left the children to be brought up by relatives, making Mannerheim's maternal uncle, Albert von Julin, his legal guardian.
Because of the worsened family finances and Mannerheim's serious discipline problems in school, Julin decided to send him to the school of the Hamina Cadet School in 1882. The Cadet Corps was a state-run military school educating boys of aristocratic families for careers in the Military of the Grand Duchy of Finland and in the Russian Armed Forces. Besides his mother tongue, Swedish, Mannerheim learned to speak Finnish, Russian, French, German, and English.
The disciplinary problems continued. Mannerheim heartily disliked the school and the narrow social circles in Hamina. He rebelled by going on leave without permission in 1886, for which he was expelled from the Finnish Cadet Corps. Mannerheim next attended the Helsinki Private Lyceum, and passed his university entrance examinations in June 1887. Now he had a better school report to show than the one from the Finnish Cadet Corps. He wrote to his godmother, Baroness Alfhild Scalon de Coligny, who had connections at the Russian court, to help him enter the Nicholas Cavalry School. His real wish was to join the Chevalier Guard; but his relatives balked at the costs, so he dropped it. Mannerheim's godmother invited him to her husband's country house, Lukianovka, in summer 1887. There Gustaf worked to improve his Russian. While in Russia, he spent some time at a military camp at Chuguyev, which strengthened his decision to choose a career in the military.
From 1887 to 1889, Mannerheim attended the Nicholas Cavalry School in St. Petersburg, In January 1891, Mannerheim was transferred to the Chevalier Guard Regiment in St Petersburg. In 1892, Mannerheim's godmother, Countess Alfhild Scalon de Coligny, arranged for him to be married to a wealthy and beautiful noble lady of Russian-Serbian heritage, Anastasia Arapova (1872–1936). Mannerheim and she had two daughters, Anastasie (1893–1978) and Sophie (1895–1963). Mannerheim separated from his wife in 1902, and the couple divorced in 1919. Mannerheim served in the Imperial Chevalier Guard until 1904. Mannerheim specialised as an expert on horses, buying stud stallions and horses for the army. In 1903, he was put in charge of a display squadron and became a member of the equestrian training board of the cavalry regiments.
Mannerheim volunteered for duty in the Russo-Japanese war in 1904. In October 1904, he was transferred to the 52nd Nezhin Dragoon Regiment in Manchuria, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He was promoted to Colonel for his bravery in the Battle of Mukden in 1905 and briefly commanded an irregular unit of Hong Huzi, a local militia, on an exploratory mission into Inner Mongolia.
When Mannerheim returned to St. Petersburg, he was asked if he would like to make a journey through Turkestan to Beijing as a secret intelligence-officer. General Palitsyn, Chief of the Russian General Staff, wanted accurate, on-the-ground intelligence about the reform and modernization of the Qing Dynasty. The Russians wanted to know the military feasibility of invading Western China, including the provinces of Xinjiang and Gansu, in their struggles with Britain for control of Inner Asia known as "The Great Game". After much deliberation, Mannerheim, disguised as an ethnographic collector, joined the French archeologist Paul Pelliot's expedition in Samarkand in Russian Turkestan (now Uzbekistan). From the terminus of the Trans-Caspian Railway in Andijan, the expedition started in July 1906, but Mannerheim spent the greater part of the expedition alone, after quarrelling with Pelliot over several logistic issues on their way to Kashgar in China's Xinjiang province.
With a small caravan, including a Cossack guide, Chinese interpreter, and Uyghur cook, Mannerheim first trekked to Khotan in search of British and Japanese spies. Upon returning to Kashgar, he headed north into the Tian Shan range, surveying passes and gauging the attitudes of Kalmyk, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz tribes towards the Han Chinese. Mannerheim arrived in the provincial capital of Urumqi, and then headed east to Turpan, Hami, and Dunhuang in Gansu province. He followed the Great Wall of China through the Hexi Corridor, and investigated a mysterious tribe known as Yugurs. From Lanzhou, the provincial capital, Mannerheim headed south into Tibetan territory and to the lamasery of Labrang, where he was stoned by xenophobic monks. Mannerheim eventually arrived in Beijing in July 1908, where he worked on his military intelligence report. He returned to St. Petersburg via Japan and the Trans-Siberian Express. His military report was a detailed account of modernization in the late Qing Dynasty, covering education, military reforms, Han colonization of ethnic borderlands, mining and industry, railway construction, the influence of Japan, and opium smoking. Mannerheim's report outlined the likely tactical uses of a Russian invasion of Xinjiang, and Xinjiang's possible role as a bargaining chip in a putative future war with China.
After Mannerheim's return to Russia in 1909, he was appointed to command the 13th Vladimir Uhlan Regiment at Mińsk Mazowiecki in Poland. The following year, Mannerheim was promoted to major general and was posted as the commander of the Life Guard Uhlan Regiment of His Majesty in Warsaw. Eventually, Mannerheim became part of the Imperial entourage and was appointed cavalry brigade commander.
At the beginning of World War I, Mannerheim served as commander of the Guards Cavalry Brigade, and fought on the Austro-Hungarian and Romanian fronts. In December 1914, after distinguishing himself in combat against the Austro-Hungarian forces, Mannerheim was awarded the Order of St. George, 4th class. He said after receiving this award, "Now I can die in peace." In March 1915, Mannerheim was appointed to command the 12th Cavalry Division.
Mannerheim received leave to visit Finland and St. Petersburg in early 1917, and witnessed the outbreak of the February Revolution. After returning to the front, he was promoted to lieutenant general in April 1917 (the promotion was backdated to February 1915), and took command of the 6th Cavalry Corps in the summer of 1917. However, Mannerheim fell out of favour with the new government, who regarded him as not supporting the revolution, and was relieved of his duties. He decided to retire and returned to Finland.
In January 1918, the senate of the newly independent Finland, under Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, appointed Mannerheim Commander-in-Chief of Finland's almost nonexistent army, which was then not much more than some locally organised White Guards. Mannerheim's mission was to defend the government and its forces during the Finnish Civil War (or War of Liberty, as it was known among the "Whites") that broke out in Finland, inspired by the October Revolution in Russia. He established his headquarters in Vaasa and began to disarm the Russian garrisons and their 42,500 men. After the Whites' victory, Mannerheim resigned as commander-in-chief. He left Finland in June 1918 to visit relatives in Sweden.
In Sweden, Mannerheim conferred with Allied diplomats in Stockholm, stating his opposition to the Finnish government's pro-German policy, and his support for the Allies. In October 1918, he was sent to Britain and France on behalf of the Finnish government, to attempt to gain Britain's and the United States's recognition of Finland's independence. In December, he was summoned back to Finland after he had been elected temporary Regent of Finland. As Regent, Mannerheim often signed official documents using Kustaa, the Finnish form of his Christian name, in an attempt to emphasise his Finnishness to some sections of the Finnish population who were suspicious of his background in the Russian armed forces. Mannerheim disliked his last Christian name, Emil, and wrote his signature as C.G. Mannerheim, or simply Mannerheim. Among his relatives and close friends Mannerheim was called Gustaf.
After Frederick Charles of Hesse renounced the throne, Mannerheim secured recognition of Finnish independence from Britain and the United States. In July 1919, after he had confirmed a new republican constitution, Mannerheim stood as a candidate in the first presidential election, supported by the National Coalition Party and the Swedish People's Party. He lost the election to Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg and left public life.
In the interwar years, Mannerheim held no public office. This was largely due to his being seen by many politicians of the centre and left as a controversial figure for his outspoken opposition to the Bolsheviks, his supposed desire for Finnish intervention on the side of the Whites during the Russian Civil War, and Finnish socialists' antipathy toward him. They saw him as the bourgeois "White General". Mannerheim also doubted that the modern party-based politics would produce principled and high-quality leaders in Finland or elsewhere. In his gloomy opinion, the fatherland's interests were too often sacrificed by the democratic politicians for partisan benefit. During the interwar years, Mannerheim's pursuits were mainly humanitarian. He headed the Finnish Red Cross (Chairman 1919–1951), was member of the board of the International Red Cross, and founded the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare. He was also the chairman of the supervisory board of a commercial bank, the Liittopankki-Unionsbanken, and after its merger with the Bank of Helsinki, the chairman of the supervisory board of that bank until 1934. He was also a member of the board of Nokia Corporation.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Mannerheim returned to Asia, where he travelled and hunted extensively. On his first trip in 1927, to avoid going through the Soviet Union, he went by ship from London to Calcutta. From there he travelled overland to Burma, where he spent a month at Rangoon; then he went on to Gangtok, in Sikkim. He returned home by car and aeroplane, through Basra, Baghdad, Cairo, and Venice.
His second voyage, in 1936, was to India, by ship via Aden to Bombay. During his stay in India, Mannerheim met old friends and acquaintances from Europe. During his travels and hunting expeditions, he visited Madras, Delhi and Nepal. While in Nepal, Mannerheim was invited to join a tiger hunt by the King of Nepal.
In 1929, Mannerheim refused the right-wing radicals' plea to become a de facto military dictator, although he did express some support for the right-wing Lapua Movement. After President Pehr Evind Svinhufvud was elected in 1931, he appointed Mannerheim as chairman of Finland's Defence Council. At the same time, Mannerheim received a written promise that in the event of war, he would become the Commander-in-Chief of the Finnish Army. (Svinhufvud's successor Kyösti Kallio renewed this promise in 1937). In 1933, Mannerheim received the rank of Field Marshal (sotamarsalkka, fältmarskalk). By this time, Mannerheim had come to be seen by the public, including some former socialists, as less of a "White General", and more of a national figure. This feeling was enhanced by his public statements urging reconciliation between the opposing sides in the Civil War and the need to focus on national unity and defence.
Mannerheim supported Finland's military industry and sought in vain to establish a military defence union with Sweden. However, rearming the Finnish army did not occur as swiftly or as well as he hoped, and he was not enthusiastic about a war. He had many disagreements with various Cabinets, and signed many letters of resignation.
When negotiations with the Soviet Union failed in 1939, Mannerheim withdrew his resignation on 17 October. At age 72, he became commander-in-chief of the Finnish armed forces after the Soviet attack on 30 November. In a letter to his daughter Sophie, he stated, "I had not wanted to undertake the responsibility of commander-in-chief, as my age and my health entitled me, but I had to yield to appeals from the President of the Republic and the government, and now for the fourth time I am at war."
He addressed the first of his often controversial orders of the day to the Defence Forces on the same day the war began:
The President of the Republic has appointed me on 30 November 1939 as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of the country. Brave soldiers of Finland! I enter on this task at a time when our hereditary enemy is once again attacking our country. Confidence in one's commander is the first condition for success. You know me and I know you and know that everyone in the ranks is ready to do his duty even to death. This war is nothing other than the continuation and final act of our War of Independence. We are fighting for our homes, our faith, and our country.
Mannerheim quickly organised his headquarters in Mikkeli. His chief of staff was Lieutenant General Aksel Airo, while his close friend, General Rudolf Walden, was sent as a representative of the headquarters to the cabinet from 3 December 1939 until 27 March 1940, after which he became defence minister.
Mannerheim spent most of the Winter War and Continuation War in his Mikkeli headquarters but made many visits to the front. Between the wars, he remained commander-in-chief, which strictly should have returned to the presidents (Kyösti Kallio and Risto Ryti) after the Moscow Peace, on 12 March 1940.
Before the Continuation War, the Germans offered Mannerheim command over 80,000 German troops in Finland. Mannerheim declined so as to not tie himself and Finland to Nazi war aims. Mannerheim kept relations with Adolf Hitler's government as formal as possible and successfully opposed proposals for an alliance. If Mannerheim had not also firmly refused to allow his troops participate in the Siege of Leningrad, they would have ended up becoming an integral part of the siege.
Mannerheim's 75th birthday, 4 June 1942, was a major occasion. The government granted him the unique title of Marshal of Finland (Suomen Marsalkka in Finnish, Marskalk av Finland in Swedish). So far he is the only person to receive the title. A surprise visit by Hitler in honour of Mannerheim's birthday was less pleasing to him and caused some embarrassment. Hitler did not travel much, but the "brave Finns" (die tapferen Finnen) and their leader Mannerheim he wanted to visit.
Adolf Hitler decided to visit Finland on 4 June 1942, ostensibly to congratulate Mannerheim on his 75th birthday. But Mannerheim did not want to meet him in his headquarters in Mikkeli or in Helsinki, as it would have seemed like an official state visit. The meeting took place near Imatra, in south-eastern Finland, and was arranged in secrecy.
From Immola Airfield, Hitler, accompanied by President Ryti, was driven to the place where Mannerheim was waiting at a railway siding. After a speech from Hitler, and following a birthday meal and negotiations between him and Mannerheim, Hitler returned to Germany. President Ryti and other high-ranking Finns and Germans were also present. Hitler spent about five hours in Finland. Hitler reportedly intended to ask the Finns to step up military operations against the Soviets, but he apparently made no specific demands.
During the visit, an engineer of the Finnish broadcasting company YLE, Thor Damen, succeeded in recording the first eleven minutes of Hitler's and Mannerheim's private conversation. This had to be done secretly, as Hitler never allowed others to record him off-guard. Damen was given the assignment to record the official birthday speeches and Mannerheim's responses and, following those orders, added microphones to certain railway cars.
However, Mannerheim and his guests chose to go to a car that did not have a microphone in it. Damen acted quickly, pushing a microphone through one of the car windows to a net shelf just above where Hitler and Mannerheim were sitting. After eleven minutes of Hitler's and Mannerheim's private conversation, Hitler's SS bodyguards spotted the cords coming out of the window and realized that the Finnish engineer was recording the conversation. They gestured to him to stop recording immediately, and he complied. The SS bodyguards demanded that the tape be immediately destroyed; but YLE was allowed to keep the reel, after promising to keep it in a sealed container. It was given to Kustaa Vilkuna, head of the state censors' office, and in 1957 returned to YLE. It was made available to the public a few years later. It is the only known recording of Hitler speaking in an unofficial tone.
There is an unsubstantiated story that during his meeting with Hitler, Mannerheim lit a cigar. Mannerheim supposed that Hitler would ask Finland for help against the Soviet Union, which Mannerheim was unwilling to give. When Mannerheim lit up, all in attendance gasped, for Hitler's aversion to smoking was well known. Yet Hitler continued the conversation calmly, with no comment. In this way, Mannerheim could judge if Hitler was speaking from a position of strength or weakness. He was able to refuse Hitler, knowing that Hitler was in a weak position, and could not dictate to him.
In June 1944, Gustaf Mannerheim, to ensure German support while a major Soviet offensive was threatening Finland, thought it necessary to agree to the pact the German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop demanded. But even then Mannerheim managed to distance himself from the pact, and it fell to President Risto Ryti to sign it, so it came to be known as the Ryti-Ribbentrop Agreement. This allowed Mannerheim to revoke the agreement upon the resignation of President Ryti at the start of August 1944. Mannerheim succeeded Ryti as president.
When Germany was deemed sufficiently weakened, and the USSR's summer offensive was fought to a standstill (see Battle of Tali-Ihantala) thanks to the June agreement with the Germans, Finland's leaders saw a chance to reach a peace with the Soviet Union. At first, attempts were made to persuade Mannerheim to become prime minister, but he rejected them because of his age and lack of experience running a civil government. The next suggestion was to elect him Head of State. Risto Ryti would resign as President, and parliament would appoint Mannerheim as Regent. The use of the title "Regent" would have reflected the exceptional circumstances of Mannerheim's election. Mannerheim and Ryti both agreed, and Ryti submitted a notice of resignation on 1 August. The Parliament of Finland passed a special act conferring the presidency on Mannerheim on 4 August 1944. He took the oath of office the same day.
A month after Mannerheim took office, the Continuation War was concluded on harsh terms, but ultimately far less harsh than those imposed on the other states bordering the Soviet Union. Finland retained its sovereignty, its parliamentary democracy, and its market economy. Territorial losses were considerable; all Karelia and Petsamo were lost. Numerous Karelian refugees needed to be relocated. The war reparations were very heavy. Finland also had to fight the Lapland War against withdrawing German troops in the north, and at the same time demobilize its own army, making it harder to expel the Germans. It is widely agreed that only Mannerheim could have guided Finland through these difficult times, when the Finnish people had to come to terms with the severe conditions of the armistice, their implementation by a Soviet-dominated Allied Control Commission, and the task of post-war reconstruction.
Before deciding to accept the Soviet demands, Mannerheim wrote a missive directly to Hitler:
Our German brothers-in-arms will forever remain in our hearts. The Germans in Finland were certainly not the representatives of foreign despotism but helpers and brothers-in-arms. But even in such cases foreigners are in difficult positions requiring such tact. I can assure you that during the past years nothing whatsoever happened that could have induced us to consider the German troops intruders or oppressors. I believe that the attitude of the German Army in northern Finland towards the local population and authorities will enter our history as a unique example of a correct and cordial relationship ... I deem it my duty to lead my people out of the war. I cannot and I will not turn the arms which you have so liberally supplied us against Germans. I harbour the hope that you, even if you disapprove of my attitude, will wish and endeavour like myself and all other Finns to terminate our former relations without increasing the gravity of the situation.
Mannerheim's term as president was difficult for him. Although he was elected for a full six-year term, he was 77 years old in 1944 and had accepted the office reluctantly after being urged to do so. The situation was exacerbated by frequent periods of ill-health, the demands of the Allied Control Commission, and the war responsibility trials. He was afraid throughout most of his presidency that the commission would request that he be prosecuted for crimes against peace. This never happened. One of the reasons for this was Stalin's respect for and admiration of the Marshal. Stalin told a Finnish delegation in Moscow in 1947 that the Finns owe much to their old Marshal. Due to Mannerheim, Finland was not occupied. Despite Mannerheim's criticisms of some of the demands of the Control Commission, he worked hard to carry out Finland's armistice obligations. He also emphasised the necessity of further work on reconstruction in Finland after the war.
Mannerheim was troubled by recurring health problems during 1945, and was absent on medical leave from his duties as president from November until February 1946. He spent six weeks in Portugal to restore his health. After the announcement of the verdicts in the war crimes trials were announced in February, Mannerheim decided to resign. He believed that he had accomplished the duties he had been elected to carry out: The war was ended, the armistice obligations carried out, and the war crimes trial finished.
Mannerheim resigned as president on 11 March 1946, giving as his reason his declining health and his view that the tasks he had been selected to carry out had been accomplished. Even the Finnish communists, his enemies in 1918, appreciated his efforts and his role in maintaining the unity of the country during a difficult period. He was succeeded by his conservative Prime Minister Juho Kusti Paasikivi.
After his resignation, Mannerheim bought Kirkniemi Manor in Lohja, intending to spend his retirement there. In June 1946, he underwent an operation for a perforated peptic ulcer, and in October of that year he was diagnosed with a duodenal ulcer. In early 1947, it was recommended that he should travel to the Valmont Sanatorium in Montreux, Switzerland, to recuperate and write his memoirs. Valmont was to be Mannerheim's main residence for the remainder of his life, although he regularly returned to Finland, and also visited Sweden, France and Italy.
Because Mannerheim was old and sickly, he personally wrote only certain passages of his memoirs. Some other parts he dictated and described. The remaining parts were written by Mannerheim's various assistants, such as Colonel Aladár Paasonen; General Erik Heinrichs; Generals Grandell, Olenius and Martola; and Colonel Viljanen, a war historian. As long as Mannerheim was able to read, he proofread the typewritten drafts of his memoirs. He was almost totally silent about his private life, and focused instead on Finland's events, especially on those between 1917 and 1944. When Mannerheim suffered a fatal stomach attack in January 1951, his memoirs were not yet in their finished form. They were published after his death.
Mannerheim died on 27 January 1951, 28 January Finland time, in the Cantonal Hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland. He was buried on 4 February 1951 in the Hietaniemi Cemetery in Helsinki in a state funeral with full military honours.
Today, Mannerheim retains respect as Finland's greatest statesman. This may be partly due to his refusal to enter partisan politics (although his sympathies were more right-wing than left-wing), his claim always to serve the fatherland without selfish motives, his personal courage in visiting the frontlines, his ability to work diligently into his late seventies, and his foreign political farsightedness in preparing for the Soviet invasion of Finland years before it occurred. (See, for example, Jägerskiöld, "Mannerheim 1867–1951"; "The Republic's Presidents 1940–1956" / Tasavallan presidentit 1940–1956, published in Finland in 1993–1994).
Mannerheim's birthday, 4 June, is celebrated as Flag Day by the Finnish Defence Forces. This decision was made by the Finnish government on the occasion of his 75th birthday in 1942, when he was also granted the title of Marshal of Finland. Flag Day is celebrated with a national parade, and rewards and promotions for members of the defence forces. The life and times of Mannerheim are memorialized in the Mannerheim Museum. The most prominent boulevard in the Finnish capital was renamed Mannerheimintie (Mannerheim Road) in the Marshal's honor during his lifetime.
Various landmarks across Finland honor Mannerheim, including most famously the Equestrian statue located on Helsinki's Mannerheimintie in front of the later-built Kiasma museum of modern art. Turku's Mannerheim Park includes a statue of him. Tampere's Mannerheim statue depicting the victorious Civil War general of the Whites was eventually placed in the forest some kilometres outside the city (in part due to lingering controversy over Mannerheim's Civil War role). Other statues, for examples, were erected in Mikkeli and Lahti. On 5 December 2004, Mannerheim was voted the greatest Finnish person of all time in the Suuret suomalaiset (Great Finns) contest.
From 1937 to 1967, at least five different Finnish postage stamps or stamp series were issued in honor of Mannerheim; and in 1960 the United States honored Mannerheim as the "Liberator of Finland" with regular first-class envelope domestic and international stamps (at the time four cents and eight cents respectively) as part of its Champions of Liberty series that included other notable figures such as Mahatma Gandhi and Simon Bolivar.1888: Non-commissioned officer
1891: Cornet of the Guard
1893: Lieutenant of the Guard
1902: Captain of the Guard
1904: Lieutenant Colonel
1911: Major General
1917: Lieutenant General
1918: General of Cavalry
1933: Field Marshal
1942: Marshal of Finland
1918: Commander-in-Chief of the White Guard: from January to May 1918
1918: Commander-in-Chief of the Finnish Defence Forces: from December 1918 to July 1919
1931: Chairman of the Defence Council: from 1931 to 1939
1939: Commander-in-Chief of the Finnish Defence Forces [bis]: from 1939 to 1946
In the course of his lifetime, Mannerheim received 82 military and civilian decorations.Finnish
Commander Grand Cross with Swords and Diamonds of the Order of the Cross of Liberty (1940; Commander Grand Cross with Swords: 1918)
Knight of the Mannerheim Cross, 1st and 2nd class, the Order of the Cross of Liberty (1941)
Commander Grand Cross, with Collar, Swords and Diamonds, of the Order of the White Rose (1944)
Commander Grand Cross, with Swords and Diamonds, of the Order of the Lion of Finland (1944)
Order of St. Anna, 2nd degree (1906)
Order of St. Stanislaus, 2nd class (1906)
Order of St. Vladimir, 4th degree (1906)
Order of St. George, Knight 4th class (1914)
France: Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour (1939; Officer: 1910; Knight: 1902)
Sweden: Knight of the Royal Order of the Seraphim (1919)
Sweden: Knight Grand Cross 1st Class of the Order of the Sword (1942; Commander Grand Cross: 1918)
Denmark: Knight of the Order of the Elephant (1919)
Japan: Order of the Rising Sun with Paulownia Flowers, Grand Cordon.
Nazi Germany: Golden Grand Cross of the Order of the German Eagle
Nazi Germany: Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (1944; Knight's Cross: 1942; Iron Cross 1st Class with 1939 bar: 1942)
German Empire: Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class (1918)
Estonia: Military Order of the Cross of the Eagle, 1st Class with Swords (1930)
Estonia: Grand Cross of Order of the Estonian Red Cross (1933)
United Kingdom: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) (1938)
Kingdom of Hungary: Order of Merit of the Kingdom of Hungary, Grand Cross with the Holy Crown of St. Stephen (1941)
Kingdom of Romania: Order of Michael the Brave, 1st class (1941)
C. G. MANNERHEIM, ACROSS ASIA FROM WEST TO EAST IN 1906–1908. (1969) ANTHROPOLOGICAL PUBLICATIONS. Oosterhout N.B. – The Netherlands
Across Asia : vol.1