Karvia temporary prison

In 1935, a temporary prison was established in Alkkia. The idea was that the prison would operate for five years and that the prisoners’ labour would be used to turn the peatlands of Alkkia into farmland for permanent settlement.

Settlement activities in Alkkianneva mire

Settlement activities had a prominent role when Finland gained her independence, as a large part of the agricultural population either had no farms or were renting land. This is why settlement acts and plans were brought in, the most recent one before the Second World War in 1936.

The temporary prison was started as a fixed-term project with the idea of using the prisoners’ labour to turn Alkkianneva mire into farmland for landless people. Karvia temporary prison had 18 prisoners at the start, and ultimately 58 places. There were several buildings in the prison area.

Photo: Uusi Koto-Karvian kirja II, a map of the temporary prison

From a temporary prison to a prisoner-of-war camp

The Winter War broke out before the first five-year operating period of the temporary prison ended. At that time, the temporary prison intended for civilians was turned into a prisoner-of-war camp.

The change was quick and unexpected but the temporary prison coped well with the challenge; only one prisoner died during the Winter War. Persons taken in custody for various reasons during the war years were also placed in Sarkasalo.

Photo: Finnish Wartime Photograph Archive

The temporary prison expands

Contrary to the original plans, Karvia temporary prison continued to operate and was expanded after the war. The prison was an important provider of jobs and societal influencer in the area. Housing was constructed for the staff, and a school, community hall, post office and other services became available in the village. The prison also had a farm and kept livestock.

Photo: Laura Puolamäki, an apartment of the temporary prison’s director

From a temporary prison to an institution for conscientious objectors

In 1961−1969, the temporary prison housed a special institution for conscientious objectors to military service during its last years of operation. The work activities of the prison dwindled gradually in these years, and the buildings also became dilapidated. Some of the prison’s land areas were already transferred to the Finnish Forest Research Institute in 1961 as Parkano research station was established.

Photo: National Land Survey of Finland, a map sample on 1959

A significant part of local history

Karvia temporary prison was operational for a total of 34 years, of which six as a prisoner-of-war camp and eight as a special institution for conscientious objectors. The greatest share of the prisoners’ work in Alkkianneva was completed in 25 years, or between 1935 and 1960. The scale of the results is large considering that they were achieved using forced labour and that this period includes the war years.

The work completed in these 25 years included:

  • 98 km of sewers
  • 554 of field drains
  • 25 ha of fields with subsurface drains
  • 89 roadside ditches
  • 44 km of road foundations
  • 50 residential buildings
  • 8 livestock sheds
  • 63 outbuildings and warehouses
  • 35 barns
  • 26 saunas
  • 44 other buildings.

The prison handed over 175 hectares of land for settlers and 125 hectares for farming. The area farmed by the prison totalled 343 hectares. The temporary prison was the biggest employer in Karvia. The prison had a staff of 63 when it ceased to operate.

Photo: Digital Archives of the National Archives of Finland

Text: Laura Puolamäki

Preparatory studies: landscape specialist Laura Puolamäki, ProAgria Southern Finland and Rural Women’s Advisory Organisation Southern Finland, university teacher Eeva Raike, Cultural Production and Landscape Studies, University of Turku and the students, spring 2020

Main photo: Laura Puolamäki, The area of ​​the former temporary prison in Karvia in 2020

Last photo: Laura Puolamäki, Alkkia in 2020

Human activity has changed the Alkkia area dramatically between the 1930s and modern times