In My Heart
The Finnish Lapland war museum and German war memorial hall
Finnish Lapland warThe Finnish Lapland war ('Lapin sota' in Finnish) were the hostilities between Finland and Nazi Germany between September 1944 and April 1945. It was fought in Finnish Lapland.
Lapland War MuseumIn Finnish Lapland, war remains are scarce. At Järämää on the Swedish border there is a museum built in connection with one German fortification called Sturmbock. This is the best preserved of the Lapland war remains. Follow the E-8 and you'll find Järämää a little north of Karesuvanto.
Look here to find the Lapland war remains at Järämää.
Photo: Olav E. Johansen/Ossimellom
The German 20th Mountain Army conquered the narrow part of Käsivarsi in the summer of 1944. The 7th Mountain Division held the position there from October 1944 till January 1945.
At the war museum at Järämää there is an exhibition showing the war i Finnish Lapland. The German fortifications are found behind the museum building. The museum is open from June till September.
Here are many pictures from the Sturmbock fortification.
And here are many more.
The German War MemorialAbout 18 km north of Rovaniemi there is a war memorial on the shore of lake Norvajärvi. The memorial hall is built of red granite. In the peaceful woods some 2509 German soldiers have been put to their last resring place.
In the entrance hall we find a statue called "Mother and son". In the memorial hall itself there are 8 rows of stone with the names, rank, birthday and day of death of the soldiers chiseled into the stones.
(All photos: Olav E. Johansen)
The morial hall is open from April 1 - September 30.
Read here for more info. (in German only, but there are more photos + map)
Armistice with the Sovjet UnionFrom June 1941 Germany and Finland had been at war with the Soviet Union, co-operating closely in the socalled Continuation War. In the summer of 1943, the German high command thought that Finland might make a separate peace agreement with the Soviet Union. The Germans made plans for withdrawing their forces northward in order to defend the nickel mines near Petsamo.
During the winter of 1943-1944, the Germans improved the roads from northern Norway to northern Finland by extensive use of prisoners of war labour. Many of them died in the cold Lapland winter.
Finland signed the Moscow Armistice with the Soviet Union. The Sovjets demanded that Finland demobilize. While doing this they had to fight the Germans as the Sovjet Union demanded that Germans troops be ousted from Finland. The Finnish Lapland war had finally come to and end.
BattlesGeneral Hjalmar Siilasvuo led the Finns against the Germans under General Lothar Rendulic. Siilasvuo drove the Germans out of most of northern Finland. There were battles at Tornio, Tankavaara and Kaunispää where the Germans regrouped before retreating towards Norway.
Most of the civilian population of Lapland was evacuated to Sweden and Southern Finland before the combats started. The inhabitants of the Tornio area, though, were not evacuated. About 100,000 Finnish Lapland inhabitants became refugees.
Scorched earth tacticsAs they retreated, the German forces under General Lothar Rendulic destroyed large areas of northern Finland using the scorched earth tactics. About 47 % all dwellings in the area were destroyed. The provincial capital of Rovaniemi was burned to the ground. Two thirds of the buildings of larger villages like Sodankylä, Muonio, Kolari, Salla and Ivalo were destroyed.
675 bridges were blown up and all main roads were mined. 3,700 kilometres of telephone lines were destroyed. According to some estimates the property losses were equivalent to about 3.15 billion dollars in 2005 dollars.
Children's crusadeThe last German troops got out in April 1945. Only 600 Finnish troops were left to fight the Germans. Most of these were fresh recruits. Because of this, the last part the Finnish Lapland War is called the Children's Crusade in Finland.
Other war remainsAt the camping site Lomakyla Inari there on display an engine from a German Junker plane that was shot down by a Russian plane in October 1944.
Where the Reindeer Roam