Prisoner-of-War Camp no. 2

During the Second World War, a large prisoner-of-war camp operated in Alkkia. The prisoners worked on the farms and in the communities of the local area.

Prisoners of war on Tuohisalo farm

Prisoner-of-war Camp no. 2 operated in Alkkia between 1939 and 1942. Some prisoners of war remained in Karvia and Parkano area until 1944. Rather than being confined to the POW camp, however, they were placed on farms.

POW Camp no. 2 operated on Tuohisalo farm in Tuohisalo village during the Continuation War. A family evacuated from Karelia during the Winter War had been resettled on this farm. Now the cowshed, cellar and part of the farmyard were enclosed by a barbed wire fence. A building that formerly held a few cows now had to serve as temporary accommodation for hundreds of men.

Photo: Laura Puolamäki, the barn that served as a war prison

A sauna in which the prisoners sought to rid themselves of lice still stands in the farmyard. The cramped conditions and poor hygiene allowed different parasites to spread easily. This is why both the men and their clothes were cleaned regularly.

Photo: Laura Puolamäki, Tuohisalo farm’s sauna

The prisoners’ journey to Karvia and Rihkaa unit located in Parkano started from some other prisoner-of-war camp closer to the front. For example, nurse Ludmila Bihoveta was captured in Raivola on 31 September 1941. She only made it to Karvia from Miehikkälä concentration camp on 13 July 1942. The prisoners of war had many occupations, including kindergarten director, cook, painter, carpenter, farm labourer and worker.

Photo: Finnish Wartime Photograph Archive

Prisoners made up for the labour shortage

As the Continuation War went on, labour shortages became a problem in Finland, and prisoners of war were ordered to work in early autumn 1941. The prisoners in Karvia mostly ended up doing forestry work in the local area, including in the mires of Alkkia. Some were also transported further afield to perform forestry work for Metsähallitus and the Finnish Defence Forces.

Photo: Finnish Wartime Photograph Archive

Prisoners also did construction work. A lumberjacks’ cabin at the southern end of Mustajärvi Lake, which is still used today, was built by prisoners of war. The prisoners also participated in harvesting fields belong to the camp and building roads.

Hundreds of prisoners were also working on local farms. In August 1941, for example, a total of 325 prisoners were placed on farms. When POW Camp no. 2 was closed down, many prisoners stayed on to work on the farms.

Photo: Eino Nikkilä, Finnish Heritage Agency-Finna-Finna, Kiikka, Karvia on 1930

Friendships between locals and prisoners

Juri Supjuk was assigned to Ylinen farm in Karvia and stayed there until it was time for the prisoners of war to return to Russia. He kept in touch, and 53 years later in 1998, the farmer’s son Lauri Ylinen and Juri Supjuk met again in St Petersburg.

Juri and Lauri’s friendship reflects the relationship between the Finns and prisoners of war placed on farms in more general terms: despite the war, daily work brought them together and friendships were formed, even if this was not officially allowed.

Photo: Finnish Wartime Photograph Archive

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 Koivumäki, Tuohisalo

Last photo: Laura Koivumäki, Rihkaantie road

The prisoners of war worked for the houses and communities in the area