Tähystyskupu Salpa-asemassa

Tähystyskupu Salpa-asemassa
Kymmenen tonnia "pehmeää" valuterästä teräsbetonikorsun katolla.

tiistai 24. syyskuuta 2013

The Salpa-line, Bolt of Finlands Eastern Frontier

I wrote this little story more than two years ago. It was published in the newspaper Salpa-Jukola 2011, which was also the name of the biggest orienteering event in Finland. Last weekend there was a small public Salpa-line presentation at Lappeenranta. One of the guides told at Facebook, that they had to guide also in English and that´s the skill which they had to improve. He is guite right. That´s problem for me too. I have too few chances to guide in English. It means that you have to start almost at the very beginning every time with your bad English. The only way to get it better, is to use it. That’s why this story is republished in my blog. This is not pure English, but for me it´s better than nothing!

In the Winter War (30.11.1939 – 13.3.1940) started by offensive of former Soviet Union Finland lost part of its eastern territories including important Karelian Isthmus. The new border had no permanent fortifications. The world political situation was still critical. On the other hand The Finnish army had got good fighting experiencies in fortified defence positions in the Winter War.

The commander in chief of The Finnish army, Marshal C. G. Mannerheim ordered just after the Winter War truce to build a fortification line along the new eastern border.  The fortification was consistent from Gulf of Finland to Lake Saimaa. Along forward north the defence line leant against waterways and east-west roads up to Polar Sea.

The construction work started on 17.4.1940 at Virolahti Harju area, in the very place where Salpa-Jukola 2011 is organized. The first workers were voluntaries from Sweden, over 900 men. Their help was important. They brought suitable machinery, money and created the effective organisation for the growing building site.

Help from Sweden was worth of 10 per cent of all fortification costs.

In the fortification, called later Salpa-line there were at its highest almost 35 000 men working. 2 000 women worked at supply duties. All the paid labour were civilians. At the same time Finnish army built field fortifications made from timber, soil and stones. The building site was the biggest in Scandinavia.

The work at Salpa-line was interrupted while the Contuniation War (26.6.1941-5.9.1944) started. The construction restarted at summer 1944, when the Red Army launched their gigantic attack to occupy the whole Finland. The effective time of the building was 18 months. At 1941 the costs of Salpa-line took five per cent of the state budjet.

There were made in the Salpa-line 700 reinforced concrete bunkers and about 3 000 different kind of field fortification equipment. Stone antitank obstacles were done over 200 km, in it about 400 000 single stones, weight at least three tons of each. Excavation barriers for tanks were dug 130 km, trenches 350 km and barbed wire obstacles over 300 kilometres.

In the Salpa-line there were no battles. The fortification has done its duty best, when it is not needed.

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