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People of Kuusamo in war and evacuation


The Continuation War ended with the armistice with Soviet Union on September 4th, 1944, and the Moscow Armistice on September 19th, 1944. The Germans had to be evicted from Finland, and that started the Lapland War. The people of Kuusamo were evacuated to the south of Oulu. The Germans who retreated from Kiestinki destroyed their trench railways, camps, and other equipment. Before leaving Kuusamo, they burned the buildings of the church town; two houses Kuusela and Tyynelä in Lahdentaus were spared.

Soviet soldiers followed the retreating German army to the church town and occupied Kuusamo September 9th to March 17th, 1944. Since buildings had been burned, the Soviet soldiers build dugouts shelters around the church town. There were more than 200 dugouts partially dug in the ground in Lahdentaus, on the banks of River Nilojoki, in Toranginaho, Tiililä and on the slope of the lake side of the old cemetery, as well as in ​​the hospital. Building materials had been taken from the un-burned buildings and haybarns. Dishes, furniture, and clothes had been brought from different parts of Kuusamo.

After leaving Kuusamo, the Soviet soldiers did not destroy their dugouts. Kuusamo residents who returned from evacuation in the late winter of 1945 stayed in those 50-square-meter dugouts until they could build their own homes. In the embankment next to the cemetery, one can see traces of the bottom structures of the dugouts.

Written by Helena Palosaari, Bachelor of Arts, home district councillor

Red Square gate 1945

At the door of a dugout 1945

Dugout in the Lahdentaus from the inside 1945