The Finnish Civil War was a civil war in Finland in 1918 fought for the leadership and control of Finland between White Finland and Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic (Red Finland) during the country's transition from a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire to an independent state. The clashes took place in the context of the national, political, and social turmoil caused by World War I (Eastern Front) in Europe. The war was fought between the Reds, led by a section of the Social Democratic Party, and the Whites, conducted by the conservative-based Senate and the German Imperial Army. The paramilitary Red Guards, were composed of industrial and agrarian workers. They controlled the cities and industrial centers of southern Finland. The paramilitary White Guards, consisted of land owners and those in the middle and upper-classes. They controlled rural central and northern Finland led by General C. G. E. Mannerheim.