The Aunus expedition was an attempt by Finnish volunteers to
occupy parts of East Karelia in 1919, during the Russian Civil War. Aunus is
the Finnish name for Russian city Olonets Karelia. This expedition was one of
many Finnic "kinship wars"fought against forces of Bolshevist Russia
during the Russian Civil War.
During the summer of 1918, the government of Finland received various appeals from East Karelia for joining the area to Finland. In February 1919 the plans for the Aunus expedition were prepared and Gunnar von Herzen was chosen as the commander of the troops. He thought that the expedition would succeed with a thousand Finnish volunteers, but only if the Karelians would join the fighting.
The expedition crossed the border on the night of April 21, 1919. The goals were to capture Lotinanpelto, Petrozavodsk and the Murmansk railroad. The troops were divided into three groups and were made up of 1000 volunteers. The southern group advanced to Lotinanpelto in just three days, but was pressed back by Bolshevik troops. The northern group captured Prääsä. At this time it became obvious that there weren't enough troops to complete the goals of the expedition and a new round of recruiting 2000 new volunteers was started.
The Finns had hoped that the Karelian population would have joined the troops as volunteers but only a few did and their morale was never very high. The initiative soon passed to the Bolsheviks and Finns were forced to retreat back to Finland.
Aunus stamps were issued for Aunus troops by local authorities during Finnish occupation. They were Finnish definitives from 1917 with overprint Aunus. Aunus stamps represented ''independence" but they were primarily issued to raise money to support the volunteer corps.