THE KARJALA STORY
REVOLUTION, WAR, WONDER
This book is the story of Karjala (Karelia) from prehistory to after World War II as seen through the eyes of my family. As Karjala was an integral part of Finland the book is also an outline of Finnish history. And as Karjala was the battleground between Finland and Russia, it is a military history. It is also a “cultural” history as the book looks at the epic, and enchanting, history of Karjala from a human perspective.
Few people outside of Finland know about Karjala, its’ people and its’ history. I have not been able to find a book in English on the history of Karjala – for that matter very few in Finnish. The story is as fascinating as it is little known. Karjala is the part of Finland that was lost to Russia in World War II. Karjala stretches from St Petersburg to the White Sea on the eastern side of present day Finland. From pre historic times the Karjalainen people had been part of Finland – genetically, ethnically, and linguistically. For 800 years, from the time of the Vikings to the modern age, Karjala served as the battle ground between the West and the East - initially in wars between Sweden and Russia, and then in wars between Finland and Russia.
While this book is about a “nations” history, I have woven that history around my families’ stories. My family roots go back 500 years in Finland and Karjala. Both my parents were from Karjala, father from the city of Viipuri and mother from the nearby farming community of Kavantsaari. I have combined historical facts with family lore, family memoirs, original manuscripts, and excerpts from classical as well as less known Finnish books. I include many photos in an endeavor to bring the story to life - family photos, Finnish military photos, and images of classical Finnish art.
The first portion of the book covers the periods from Prehistory and the age of Kalevala, through 600 years of Swedish and Russian wars, the Finnish Civil War (during the Bolshevik Revolution), and the sunshine years before WW II.
The second part of the book deals with the Winter War of 1939-1940 between Russia and Finland – from the view- point of both the men and the womenfolk. The battle front was our homeland in Karjala. I provide a historical overview of the military campaigns and politics; and trace my fathers and my five uncles’ life on the battlefront; and, the flight of my grandparents, mother, aunts and children from our home.
The last part of the book deals with the ContinuationWar of 1941 – 1944 between Finland and Russia and the subsequent short Lapland War against Germany. Again I provide a historical military and political framework - this time provided by the six volume Jatkosota Historia. As for the Winter War section, I trace the men’s lives on the front through the war (including the epic battles of Ihantala and Ayrapaa, and the loss of Viipuri); and my families “evakkomatka” flight from Karjala.