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Veikko Itkonen. Terijoki is ours again.

Suomi Taisteli (Finland in War). 3. Sotiemme suurlukemisto. Toimittanut Jukka L. Mäkelä. Porvoo-Helsinki-Juva: Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö, 1978.

Translated from Finnish by Pauli Kruhse

Army Information Company - Veikko Itkonen. Sept. 1, 1941.

"Welcome to Terijoki!" A slogan in a colourful Finnish travel poster welcomed Finnish soldiers in one of the houses when they pushed their way from Rällälä direction towards Terijoki. Heavy clouds of smoke rose into the air from central parts of the locality signalling that the Russkies (corresponds to the Russian expression for Finns: chukhna - P. K.) had fulfilled a Stalin's order of destruction when the Finns were drawing nearer. When our troops arrived at the centre of the "city" of Terijoki it was discovered that the extent of destruction was limited only to the most prominent commercial buildings of the locality. The Russkies had not time to set fire on other buildings although there were ready-made gasoline bombs in almost every houses.

Terijoki was taken house by house. Every building was searched and cleared of enemies found here and there in several dozens. The blazes of fires were so strong that nothing could be done to save the buildings already set to fire but the swift actions of our boys saved the majority of other buildings in the locality almost intact. Great number of mines was met in buildings but mobile clearing squads defused them before any accidents happened. After this, the Information Company men with their green ribbons could exempted of the "armed service" and could concentrate on investigating the present condition of the site now brought back to Finnish hands again.

The unexpectedly intact buildings on the Rällälä side made us to anticipate that Terijoki has not, at least not badly, suffered from the Russkies' occupation or the destructive rage instigated by their futile fight. Houses built in Russian style stood side by side shaded by leafy trees, looking at least externally intact.

At the railway bridge we saw the first traces of destruction: an attempt to blow up the bridge was made. It had succeeded only partly and the explosion had damaged only some of the ground supports. Then we climb up to the railway bed and see from there that the station building still exists. During the last war it was partly damaged. The scaffolding around the building tell that the Russians had, at least, tried to repair the railway station of their "city".

Farther away, behind the railway underpass smoke clouds rise high up to the sky. On the main street the prominent and modern commercial building of Kannaksen Osuusliike (Karelian Isthmus Cooperative) as well as those of Paavolainen and other major business's are on fire. Especially houses made of stone seem to have been the Russians' major targets for hate. Tongues of flames shoot out from their windows but the walls seem to keep their upright positions. Most of the wooden houses in the locality's centre are fine, although window glasses have got broken or been demolished. Inside you can find the customary Russki filthiness and disorder. In many business premises stores from Russian shops can be found. On the whole, they seem to be cheap junk, nothing of any value can be found.

The beautiful park surrounding the Lutheran church was turned into an amusement site. Bright red flowers were planted along the park walks and in the midst of them there were benches of screaming green carried to the site. The war hero statue was removed. No traces of it can be found nearby.

The tower of the church had been torn down making the building's appearance completely different. The Cyrillic letters on the church wall tell what purposes the shrine served in this focal point of administration of the Kuusinen regime: Movie Theatre. Inside, replacing the altar is a huge screen and the old benches have been replaced by ordinary movie theatre folding seats. The pedestals still remain in the projection room above the organ loft but the projectors have been carried away. Some filmstrips there contain typical episodes from Russian movie art. The film posters make us to conclude that films have been displayed three times nightly.

The Orthodox Church has been deprived of its biggest tower and the gilding of the cupolas has been covered by a dirty blue paint. The church is totally emptied from inside and no signs reveal now its previous use.

The Civic Guard house opposite the Orthodox Church is in ruins. It probably caught fire already during the last war.

The sports field with its choir stand have been an open-air theatre for Russkies. In the centre of the field stands some sort of a "pen" with benches for about a couple of hundred people. The choir stand is painted garish red and decorated with the appropriate sickle and hammer. Remains of settings lie on the stage which itself is lined with huge billboards filled with slogans for Lenin and Stalin. It was met with some astonishment when on the other billboard Stalin's name was found smudged with white paint but Lenin's name was left intact.

All buildings on the coastline behind the sports field were intact. Even some furniture was found there. One building contained a store of arms of the Russkies with a number of new small-bore rifles and flare pistol cartridges.

The pride of Terijoki, the beach, opens out before our eyes in its old familiar shape. The waves of Gulf of Finland rinse its fine sand which spreads out clean and pure between the leafy woods and the sea. The bathing huts remain in good shape near the woods as well as the kiosk of the Lottas (Women's Voluntary National Defense Organisation) in the middle of the sand. The beach water slide cannot any more be seen on its traditional site.

You can discern in the horizon the island of Kronstadt with its strong fortifications. We just wonder why its huge tubes are not sending shells to the beaches of Terijoki when an ominous whistling growing step by step into a shrilling whining began to be heard from the sea: Kronstadt had learned the Finnish occupation of the site and had opened fire to coastline. The ground shakes and strong thumps echo from distance.

We still visit Hotel Puistola and the main building of the Casino which both look fine from outside. The first building has been subjected to large repair work. Inside the house numerous new walls have been set up, floors have been renovated and walls plastered, but the work was not finished.

When at Terijoki, bathing amidst the waves of Gulf of Finland is a must. Even now we will not miss the opportunity. We return to the beach, take off our clothes and throw ourselves to the embrace of salt water that feel strange when thinking about the swells of Ladoga's fresh water and our previous bathing beach there. We sense this as a sort of a historical event in this war: Finnish soldiers bathing on Terijoki beach. We are interrupted by a nasty howl of grenades coming from the sea that near the coastline seem to explode once more. The Russkies seem to use an extra charge to extend the range. Explosions follow each other, the ground howls and whistles, grenades fly over our heads and hit the ground with heavy explosions near us. Terijoki seems to tremble, windows rattle in houses and birdsong ceases. We get off the water, get dressed and continue our journey while grenades are still giving their concert around us.

Houses at Ollinpää are for the most part burnt down - probably already during the previous war. Käkösenpää is, on the other hand, mostly undamaged, as were the houses in the direction of Tyrisevä.

The garrison barrack area was destroyed already in the Winter War. The whole square is now in ruins only with empty white flagpoles in the middle. There has been no time to hoist the blue-cross flag because battles are still going on in the vicinity and even in the locality centre.

The new fine military hospital is burning inside but outer walls are undamaged. The canteen nearby is in fire but the apartment house of the former military band is intact.

Although the "city" of Terijoki has been the cradle of Kuusinen's puppet government, all signs at street-crossings are solely in Russian. The Karelo-Finnish People's Government of Kuusinen appears to have no influence even in this respect to the affairs of the Karelian ideal society. Things have been run completely in accordance with Russification principles.

War has passed over Terijoki and it is free again. The harsh traces of war can be seen on its streets and lanes but as a whole the Terijoki community has remained in remarkably good condition despite of its hard experiences. Its prosperity will soon be recovered and maybe already on next summer it can open its beaches and summer resorts to a flow of tourists that certainly will be bigger than ever. Terijoki can now include a new feature to its characteristics: a year and a half it was under an alien rule but now it belongs again to Finland.

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