Finnish and Soviet fortifications and structures around Karhumäki and Poventsa

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Eugenius
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Re: Finnish and Soviet fortifications and structures around Karhumäki and Poventsa

Post by Eugenius » 27 Feb 2024 22:58

V21 - a shelter for 20 (?) men with MG cupola and observation cupola.

Observation cupola to the left and MG cupola to the right:

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Eugenius
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Re: Finnish and Soviet fortifications and structures around Karhumäki and Poventsa

Post by Eugenius » 27 Feb 2024 23:01

This shelter is noticeably deeper than other objects:

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The doorway to MG cupola:

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Eugenius
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Re: Finnish and Soviet fortifications and structures around Karhumäki and Poventsa

Post by Eugenius » 27 Feb 2024 23:03

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Observation cupola from inside:

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Eugenius
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Re: Finnish and Soviet fortifications and structures around Karhumäki and Poventsa

Post by Eugenius » 27 Feb 2024 23:36

Observation and fire control post V28. The top slot is of another shape this time:

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Eugenius
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Re: Finnish and Soviet fortifications and structures around Karhumäki and Poventsa

Post by Eugenius » 27 Feb 2024 23:37

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Eugenius
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Re: Finnish and Soviet fortifications and structures around Karhumäki and Poventsa

Post by Eugenius » 28 Feb 2024 11:39

This shelter for roll out gun is not marked on the map, probably because it was not finished by August 1942, when the map was drawn.

The wide trench on the left leads to rock shelter V25, which is just in 30 m.:

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The floor of the gun shelter was even not levelled:

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The gun firing position is in front of the shelter:

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Eugenius
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Re: Finnish and Soviet fortifications and structures around Karhumäki and Poventsa

Post by Eugenius » 28 Feb 2024 14:09

Probably the largest and mostly preserved object among all pieces of Finnish fortifications in Karhumäki - rock shelter V25.

For many years after the war this object was used as civil defence shelter, then as workshop, and later as storage. Yes, the users did not care too much about initial condition of the shelter, but the most important was that the object was locked and guarded, which prevented strangers from getting inside and taking away whatever not firmly fixed.

A year ago local enthusiasts and researchers of history have opened a museum there named Замок Кархумяки (Zamok Karhumyaki - Karhumäki Castle). They also launched a basic site https://zamok-karhumyaki.ru/ (only in Russian so far). There are almost no any exhibits inside, but the main exhibit is definitely the object itself. Karhumäki is not so big town with population below 12 000. It has really interesting museum of local history, a number of historical buildings, but its main attraction are definitely Finnish fortifications, which are numerous and of various types, quite densely located and at least not ruined. So it's really nice that the efforts are made to preserve historical objects.

The entrance and a well in front, probably also a communication/electrical cable vault. Filled with garbage so far, but spar ladder inside is visible. Actually the main task for the people, who run the museum, is to clean it and to make simplest conveniences for visitors.

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One of drills found inside:

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The exhibits are presented by various posters on walls so far, and one of them is really "a joke of history". This is an adapted copy of the notice published in leading Soviet newspapers on May 23, 1945. Here is the translation:

May 23, 1945

To the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR, Marshal of the Soviet Union I.V. Stalin

On the occasion of today's celebration by the Control Commission of the end of the war and the brilliant victories of the Red Army over Germany, unheard of in history, I ask you, Mr. Marshall, to accept my, as well as on behalf of the Finnish people, enthusiastic congratulations and expressions of our firm intention to strive with all our might to develop trust-based friendly relations with the great neighbour of our homeland.

President of the Republic of Finland Marshal Mannerheim
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To the President of the Republic of Finland Marshal Mannerheim

Thank you for your congratulations on the occasion of the victorious end of the war against Nazi Germany.

I. Stalin


Just think of it: Finland was de facto an ally of Nazi Germany and a rival of Soviet Union until September 1944. All three countries experienced a fierce war less than a year ago, including Lapin sota. And in May 1945 Finland's leader congratulates Soviet leader in occasion of the end of the war with its recent ally using quite enthusiastic expressions!

But who knows - perhaps this Mannerheim's telegram also played a certain role in the fact that Mannerheim was not arrested, like Ryti, Tanner and other Finnish wartime politicians, and the after-war history of Finland went exactly the way it did...

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Last edited by Eugenius on 28 Feb 2024 15:26, edited 2 times in total.

Eugenius
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Re: Finnish and Soviet fortifications and structures around Karhumäki and Poventsa

Post by Eugenius » 28 Feb 2024 14:22

Suur-Suomi was planned to be something like this:

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A water storage and well:

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A place where stove was once installed:

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Eugenius
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Re: Finnish and Soviet fortifications and structures around Karhumäki and Poventsa

Post by Eugenius » 28 Feb 2024 14:28

Comparison pictures of various buildings during wartime and nowadays:

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The purpose of most of constructions and devices inside is still not known as there are no detailed layouts of this object once it was constructed. We try to search, but still with no result.

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A stairway leading to emergency exit:

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Probably the tank for rainwater collection:

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Eugenius
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Re: Finnish and Soviet fortifications and structures around Karhumäki and Poventsa

Post by Eugenius » 28 Feb 2024 14:41

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Another vein of quartz:

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Ventilation outlet. When all the entrances were blocked, some daredevils tried to get inside the shelter by climbing down the rope. It was quite a dangerous thing, since the height there is about 10 m.

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Inner door of emergency exit:

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Last edited by Eugenius on 28 Feb 2024 19:58, edited 1 time in total.

Eugenius
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Re: Finnish and Soviet fortifications and structures around Karhumäki and Poventsa

Post by Eugenius » 28 Feb 2024 14:51

Get closer co-operation of the affairs of artillerymen and infantry

We will scatter all Mannerheim’s bunkers into dust with our own fire


Soviet verse of probably Talvisota period:

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Most likely power generators were placed here:

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The remnants of ventilation and/or heating system:

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These decayed wooden frames are probably of Finnish time:

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Re: Finnish and Soviet fortifications and structures around Karhumäki and Poventsa

Post by Eugenius » 28 Feb 2024 15:18

The brick walls were probably erected in post-war times:

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And this is definitely a heat exchanger. The Finnish bunkers had a combined ventilation and heating system - outside air passed through the stove and got heated. When heating the air was not required, a special damper was shut, and the air bypassed the stove without heating. In this rock shelter, a more complex system was used, since large rooms needed to be heated - first water was heated (possibly the rainwater that was collected in that concrete tank, which pictures I posted earlier), then hot water was supplied to this heat exchanger, which heated the air. The operation principle is exactly the same as in your car's radiator, but with opposite purpose - heating the air, not cooling the coolant.

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And this is how emergency exit and ventilation shaft look from outside. The entrance is still closed with lattice mainly for safety purposes - and also to prevent the strangers to get in, when the museum is closed

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Re: Finnish and Soviet fortifications and structures around Karhumäki and Poventsa

Post by stridsvagn » 01 Mar 2024 19:15

Eugenius wrote:
24 Feb 2024 18:14
The entrance. I'm really sorry that I have to post the pictures of piles of garbage here. Yes, this is a pity fact - all fortification objects located close to the areas of people's permanent residence are turned into garbage dumps. It was truly not me who brought the garbage there))), and I have no idea how it would be possible to delete THAT amount of garbage from pictures using Photoshop or any other software like that. But this is not only Russian issue - you would see the same in all ex-Soviet/ex-Communist countries like Belarus and Baltic countries. In Poland and Czech Republic it is better, and in Finland, Denmark, Germany, France etc. it is almost perfect. The further to the West, the better conditions are.
It is a shame that there is so much trash in those historical forts. I have had the opportunity to explore some fortifications on the west coast of the US, and I can assure you that many are in no better condition than these.

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Re: Finnish and Soviet fortifications and structures around Karhumäki and Poventsa

Post by Eugenius » 02 Mar 2024 12:25

stridsvagn wrote:
01 Mar 2024 19:15
It is a shame that there is so much trash in those historical forts. I have had the opportunity to explore some fortifications on the west coast of the US, and I can assure you that many are in no better condition than these.
Unfortunately, in Russia most of even Soviet fortification objects have no any legal status, not saying about Finnish or German ones. They are not anyone's property and most of them are not officially registered as historical or cultural monuments. In fact, legally they do not exist at all, and anyone may do with them whatever he wants. Why the people's attitude and thus the preservation of fortification objects differs so much from country to country - that's another issue.

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Re: Finnish and Soviet fortifications and structures around Karhumäki and Poventsa

Post by Eugenius » 02 Mar 2024 15:13

Lotvonen wrote:
24 Feb 2024 07:35
Question:
Is it true that Finnish Army abandoned these impressive ouvrages without fighting ?
(June/July 1944)
My friend Grigory Popov prepared a kind of abstract from modern Russian sources with more details of battle for Karhumäki. I made the translation and also added some comments made in Italic in square brackets. Sorry for probable long-read.

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The date of the beginning of the Soviet Karelian Front’s offensive is considered to be June 21, 1944. However, this statement is true only regarding the actions of the main forces of the 7th Army, which crossed Svir [Syväri] river near Lodeynoye Pole [Lotinapelto]. On another sector of the same 7th Army’s front, as well as on Medvezhyegorsk [Karhumäki] direction, where the divisions of the 32nd Army attacked, the offensive began a day or two earlier.

On the same evening of June 20, when the first units of Soviet 368th Infantry Division crossed Svir river in Vyazostrov area [at present a tract, ca. 61.008435, 35.171828], the regiments of the 313th, 289th and 176th Infantry Divisions of the 32nd Army offended on the northern shore of Onega Lake.

By this time the Finns, having sent the 4th Infantry Division to Karelian Isthmus, began to withdraw part of their forces from Maselga [Karjalan Maaselkä] and Povenets [Poventsa], and now Finnish 56th Regiment of 1st Infantry Division, 33rd Regiment of 6th Infantry Division, 21st Infantry Brigade, 5th Field Artillery Regiment and a number of smaller (artillery, frontier guard, engineer and fortress) units were in front of the advancing Soviet Army. The Finns' defensive potential was weakened, which certainly made the task easier for Soviet divisions. However, taking into account the terrain inaccessible for mass troop movement, and most importantly, the presence of powerful fortifications of Maselga fortified area, it must be admitted that the task assigned to Soviet troops was not easy.

On the extreme left flank of the Soviet 32nd army - along the northern shore of Onega lake, - the 313th Red Banner Rifle Division (commander Lieutenant Colonel N. F. Tsygankov) operated consisting of 1068th (commander Lieutenant Colonel I. V. Rudenko), 1070th (commander Lieutenant Colonel I.E. Pilshchikov) and 1072nd (commander Lieutenant Colonel V. F. Babenko) regiments. The division was supposed to advance in the direction of Povenets - Medvezhyegorsk. In the very first hours of the battle, the Finnish defences were broken through and the regiments managed to move forward along the entire front. By 2 a. m. at night of June 21, the battalions of the 1070th Infantry Regiment cleared the village of Povenets from the Finns, and at dawn the vanguard of the 3rd Battalion of the 1072nd Infantry Regiment broke into Pindushi [Pintuinen]. Following it, the main forces of the division approached, which by the evening began a battle on the eastern and north-eastern outskirts of Medvezhyegorsk.

As it follows from Finnish archival documents recently published in the Internet, the regiments of the Soviet 313th division had to break through the defence of Karhumäki sector, which included well-fortified positions both in the city itself and outside it - in the area of Vichka sovkhoz [state farm, north of Limpuinen] and further several kilometres to the north. The leadership of the sector was entrusted to the commander of the Finnish 33rd Infantry Regiment of the 6th Division, Colonel A. Kurenmaa. Right in the city of Medvezhyegorsk by June 21, 1944 there were 2 infantry (13th and 14th) and 1 machine gun (reinforced by a separate machine gun platoon) companies of the 33rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd company of the 12th engineer battalion, 2nd platoon of the 1st separate fortress company (in the pillboxes of the Medvezhyegorsk heights) and the 2nd platoon of the 14th artillery company. The troops occupying positions in the urban sector of Karhumäki were led by the commander of the 3rd battalion of the 33rd Infantry Regiment, Major O. Laaksonen.

In the suburban area, the 3rd battalion and a platoon of 45 mm cannons of the artillery company of the 21st Infantry Brigade, as well as the 5th platoon of the 20th separate fortress company (in pillboxes on the heights near Vichka) were defending. The defence in this area was led by the commander of the 3rd battalion of the 21st Infantry Brigade, Lieutenant Colonel T. Koponen. The artillery group of the Karhumäki sector (group commander Major Söderström) included the 4th heavy, 11th light and 21st light (without one battery) divisions, which, if necessary, could be supported by 4 batteries of the neighbouring sector located in the area near Kolozero lake [ca. 62.92931, 34.29987]. To the west of Medvezhyegorsk (up to Chebino) [Tšopina] there were reserve units (2 battalions of the 21st brigade, 2 battalions of the 33rd Infantry Regiment, as well as a ranger [jääkäri] and artillery companies, etc.). There is no data yet on the total number of all those troops, but it should be borne in mind that the Finnish infantry brigade was superior in size to the Soviet rifle division - according to Finnish data, 7900 versus 6600 people.

Fighting on the outskirts of Medvezhyegorsk began on the evening of June 21st, but it soon became clear that it would not be possible to take the city with a head-on attack. In this regard, the commander of the 313th Infantry Division, Colonel N. F. Tsygankov, decided to pause, to conduct additional reconnaissance of the enemy’s defences and to regroup his forces. At 1 p.m. on June 22nd, the 1072nd and 1070th Regiments attacked again, but were again unsuccessful. Although during the battle the Belomorkanal hotel [62.91586, 34.47272, the largest pre-war building in the city, built in 1934, which housed hotel, restaurant, sauna, post office, laundry etc. – something like Finnish seurahuone] and several stone buildings of the city were captured, but all key positions remained in the Finnish hands.

The 313th Division fought in Medvezhyegorsk and its environs. During the day on June 23rd, the 1068th Regiment made its way off-road to the road leading to Chebino, and the 1072nd Regiment knocked out the Finns, first from Vichka station, and then, breaking through a line of trenches and pillboxes cut in rocks, also from Vichka state farm. At 17-20 with support of artillery and ground attack aircrafts, an attack began on the main Finnish defensive line, which ran along the Medvezhyegorsk heights. During the battle, which lasted several hours, the battalions of the 1070th and 1072nd Regiments broke through the enemy positions and captured most of the city. But in some places the Finns continued to resist, and then the tanks of the 90th Separate Tank Regiment, which had recently been assigned to the 313th Infantry Division, went on attack. According to available data, in total the regiment had 3 pcs. of T-28 tanks, 8 pcs. of T-26 tanks, 15 pcs. of T-40 tanks, 1 pc. T-60 tank and 3 pcs. of T-38 tanks [note that all the tanks used were of quite old models and mostly lightweight – no any T-34 or KV tanks]. The tanks with assault troops struck the flank and the rear of the Finns, which occupied a military camp area and a sanatorium building [now a ruin at 62.9147, 34.44134]. The attack was successful and later one of the captured Finnish soldiers stated during interrogation: “Your fire and the sudden appearance of tanks in the west of our position stunned us so much that we all literally went crazy and were confused.” However, there was no talk of mass escape or general madness of the Finns. By the end of the day, they organized 2 counter-attacks and in some places even pushed back the Soviets. Only after bringing his reserve into battle did the division commander, Colonel N. F. Tsygankov, manage to stabilize the situation.

After that the remnants of the defeated Finnish garrison were forced to leave Medvezhyegorsk. According to Soviet data, the Finns lost more than 1,300 people as killed and wounded in the battles for the city, but this figure is greatly overestimated. According to available information, the total losses of 3rd Battalion of 33rd Infantry Regiment of the Finnish army were 80 people. It is still unknown how many other Finnish units lost when defending Medvezhyegorsk. The Finns, in turn, estimated the enemy's losses at approximately 700 - 800 people, which is probably also overestimated. In the meantime, based on the available information, we can say that at least 120 - 170 Soviet soldiers were killed during the capture of the city and no less than 180 soldiers were severely wounded. As about war trophies taken, according to the published data, in Medvezhyegorsk and its surroundings the units of Soviet 313th Infantry Division captured 50 guns and mortars, 49 machine guns, many small arms, 2 aircrafts, 11 steam locomotives, more than 300 carriages, 170 vehicles, outfit depot, ammunition depot and 3 food depots.

As a result of the battles on June 20 - 23, both Soviet divisions advancing along the Onega coast - the 368th and 313th - were able to break through the enemy’s defensive lines and enter the operational space - of course, if such a concept can be applied to Karelia with its forests, swamps, lakes and few roads. At the same time we should also notice that such a success was a direct consequence of what until today is considered by some researches to be a mistake of the Soviet command. We are talking about those 10 days that separated the offensive of the Karelian Front in Ladoga and Onega Karelia from the offensive of the Leningrad Front on Karelian Isthmus. During that period, the Finns were able to relocate 4 divisions and 1 brigade from Karelia to Karelian Isthmus, which ultimately allowed them to stop the advance of the troops of Soviet Leningrad Front. But in all things, there is a price to pay, and in this case the price was the weakened Finnish positions on Olonets [Aunus] Isthmus and Maselga Isthmus. The defensive lines built in those places did not live up to the hopes placed on them and did not recoup the funds spent on its construction. And the funds, by the way, were considerable: according to the report of the Finnish Defense Ministry dated July 25, 1944, from January 1, 1942 to June 1, 1944, 358 millions of Finnish marks were spent on the construction of fortifications in Svir river and Onega lake areas, and 304 millions of marks in Maselga and Rugozero [Rukajärvi] areas.

The hasty withdrawal of Finnish divisions from Karelia played into the hands of the troops of Soviet Karelian Front. As a result, units of Soviet 368th Infantry Division practically without a fight occupied the southern bank of Svir river, which the Finns had been strengthening since the end of 1941. The Finnish resistance on the northern bank turned out to be very weak as well despite the fact that the defence lines there were built according to the latest fortification knowledge the Finns had. As for Maselga fortified area, it can be assumed that under other conditions it would have been just impossible to break through it with the limited forces those 3 divisions of Soviet 32nd Army had. Nevertheless, the breakthrough took place in quite a short time with comparatively small losses.

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