Vaellus 2006 2007 2009
English Page

Opening addresses at the Trail of the Displaced

2006 Vuokko Niskanen

2007 Laila Hirvisaari
2007 Pirkko Siili
2007 Pirjo Riitta Rantanen
2009 Riitta Uosukainen
2010 Laila Hirvisaari

2006 Vuokko Niskanen

Opening address by Vuokko Niskanen at the The Trail of the Displaced 10/6/2006.

[Vuokko Niskanen is an accomplished teacher, educator and author of school books. She was born in Sortavala in 1933. In the 1970s she wrote a series of children's books, based on her own childhood and the war experience in Karelia. The popular books were reprinted in 2006 as 'Hiekkalan lasten tarina' ]

Dear Tribe Members,

I read recently in Helsingin Sanomat that people from Lappeenranta are in Helsinki this weekend, making South-Western Finland better known in Helsinki. I will read one of the answers of Helena Anttonen to the questions by the journalist, because it suits particularly well to this event.

Who are Karelians, the journalist asks. This is the response [in Karelian dialect]. "Karelianity is nowadays popular. Many people want to identify as Karelian. It was a different matter 60 years ago when folks had to get evacuated with their brickabrack. We have been married across Finland and our blood has been diluted also to the other tribes. Almost everyone is one quarter or one eighth Karelian."

Once again I noticed that Karelianity is now popular and people also have the courage and willingness to talk about it when the Karelians in the Turku region got together to reminisce old times and make plans for the future. Surprisingly many started their introduction with the words "I am not an evacuee". There were daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, descendants in second and third generations and also some friends of Karelians. In addition, there were people interested in books and history, lacking the personal experience of a forced departure and having to leave everything behind. They had also come to listen and ask questions. The interest in Karelia is alive and wide ranging.

It is exactly to those kinds of people that this Trail of the Displaced gives the opportunity to re-enact the feelings of people evicted from their homes. The Trail of the Displaced is paying tribute to over four hundred thousand evacuees. 400 000 different stories of the trail. Every story has the same, sad reason.

[Starts speaking in the Karelian dialect]

I was happily surprised when I was asked to give a speech here. Always when I speak about matters of the heart, my speech changes to my birth language, the dialect of the Northern shores of Lake Ladoga.

I did not have to walk to the other Finland and I did not even have to sit on a horse carriage. The first time I was 6 and the second time 10 years old and in winter we travelled by sleigh and in the summer by boat to Sortavala and from there on an evacuee train to wherever the train took us. As long as we got somewhere, I did not question it.

I promised to tell about my grandmother's evacuee trail. We had come from Käkisalmi already before the mobilisation of the military to the island of Tulola, to safety at my grandparents' house. My grandmother was a group leader even in those days when we waited three days and nights in Sortavala in the crowded station building for the train where we could also fit in. My grandmother's group included three children with backpacks, with a label and our name in the backpack in case we got lost, so that people would know to whose party we belong. My grandmother was also looking after her daughter whose contractions were intensifying. I have written about this from a child's viewpoint in the story of the Hiekkala children. My brother was born in the train and for years he was called 'the one from Kaalamo', according to the place where he was born.

When we had to leave the second time, my grandmother was travelling with the cows on the evacuee trail, now already familiar to us from the pictures. The trail we are reminiscing today. First we had to get the cows from the island to the mainland. I have only vague memories of the transportation, but my brother remembers and masters all things technical. He explained that they needed two row boats, attached to each other with poles so that they looked like a wide vessel, resembling a catamaran. The cows were guided from the shore over the side to the boat so that they ended up standing sideways, their front hooves in one boat and the hind hooves in the other.

On the mainland there was a place where the cattle was collected and where my grandmother arrived in a motorboat and joined the common trail. At the end of the journey to Savo she was even transported in a train carriage with two cows. These ladies were tough heros, my grandmother was then already 57 years. The trail that starts now will give us a chance to empathise with what they experienced.

During our evacuation trip my grandmother was the one to easily burst into tears. She had plenty of understanding, protection and means of survival to the worries of a little girl. I have written about these in many contexts. In my own life as grandmother, following the example of my own grandmother, my best friends are my five grandchildren.

Because I was invited here as an author, I will finish by reading an extract from the extra chapter of the Story of the Hiekkala children.

The lilac bushes of my grandmother's place were in blossom just when we left the home shore in a motorboat. My grandmother asked, between tears, why we cannot stay at home because we have a good home. No one could give an answer. And now it is 60 years from that.

What happened to the Hiekkala children afterwards? Did these children exist? I can tell you that each one of them has had a model in real life. But their experiences are also familiar to all the Karelian children of their age and in part also to all the war time children.

I have written the story of the Hiekkala children as a tribute to my grandparents and parents, as a thankyou to my sisters and brothers, as a memory to my children and grandchildren and primarily as notes about the past of the Finnish nation to all the children of the present day Finland who read. A large number of all these children who have learnt to read have become my good friends. I hope that you all read very many books during your life.

2007 Laila Hirvisaari

Professor, author Laila Hirvisaari's speech at the opening of The Trail of the Displaced on 4/8/2007 in Lohja.

This year 68 years have passed since, at the start of the Winter War, the Karelian folk had to leave their home regions to flee the war. Many villages received their orders to depart at the last moment. Some were given a few days, some only a few hours. What did the mother in Evacuee's Song, ["Evakon Laulu", written by Veikko Lavi] think when she said: "Here is all me property, file small children and even a new coffee pot" ["tässä on miun koko omaisuus, viisi lasta sekä kahvipannu uus."] We know of cases where in the hurry to leave one grabbed a box of lace from under the bed but a valuable painting hanging on the wall and the farm title deeds in the drawer were left behind. Many families still had time to take their photos with them. They have been very useful and given lots of joy.

Every evacuee has his or her own memories. Every one of them would deserve their own story to be told. The destiny of the evacuee is different for everyone but always equally touching and shocking. We have now gathered here in Lohja to take part in the Trail of the Displaced. Exactly these types of events associated with the evacuation trigger our memories.

The evacuation memories of adults and children are different. I myself remember best the evacuation trail that started after midsummer in 1944. It took us from the border at Lappeenranta and Nuijamaa first on horse carriage to Savitaipale, from there to Selänpää station. There we boarded the train and my grandmother stayed for one hour on the bench at the station next to a piss pot and a can of milk. Grandmother did not become nervous but she told she thought that the train will return to pick her up. It did return indeed, but on a different track.

The train journey took a couple of weeks, that's how I remember it. At least once we were told to run into the forest because of a fleet of bomber planes. From the Hiekkamäki station at Mynämäki our family, a war widow mother, I little girl and my grandparents were taken to the Jäppilä farm in the village of Korvensuu. The summer in a new scenery started, at the home of good people who received us cordially and warmly. A few weeks ago my mother was farewelled on her last journey. Four children from our evacuee home of Jäppilä were there to farewell her, because the friendship has lasted over sixty years.

Adults experienced the evacuation journey in a different way from children. The war was such a big injustice, that an individual could feel only powerless in the middle of it. One is enormously concerned about one's closest people, children, husbands, fathers and sons at the front. One was worried about the home front. One was scared of fleets of bomber planes spreading death. One received a message, a notice, departure and return. New message, new return, silence, never again return.

I was a child during the war. I remember the wax flowers. Even today I cannot stand them. At the photo studio my mother told me that you are a war orphan, your father has fallen at the front, please do no smile. I did not smile because the rubber laces of the sleeves of my skirt were squeezing me painfully. I remember the shoes made of cloth that went to pieces in rain. I remember the adults who cried and laughed at the same time. I remember the black clothes in the cemetery and the black veil covering my mother's face. I remember the strangely dark and cold night when my father was buried. The same night they buried over 120 war heroes. I remember words like Syväri... Kannas... Paatene... Äänislinna...

I remember reading the death notices in the newspapers, and one of them had my name among the mourners. I remember I ran to the yard of my grandmother's place and raised my tiny fist when a bomber plane swerved downwards. I remember how my grandmother carried me into the potato cellar and covered me with her body. Fear and anguish. Tears. Letters from the front. Father has fallen. Later on I was thinking where he would be. Under the soil? Or in heaven? Or in a prison camp?

Does time guild memories? Not at least memories of war. War cannot be surrounded by window panes covered with lace. But there is also nostalgia associated with war: fashion, music, art, books.

One cannot live in bitterness. One cannot cry your whole life because of something you can no longer get back. We evacuee children know that even if most of us were deprived of our father and home, one cannot feel bitterness forever. During the memorial day for those fallen in war ["Kaatuneitten muistopäivä", on the 3rd Sunday in May], we go to the war hero cemetery and say a quiet prayer. We thank those who have given us our lives, we thank our closest people that we have had the strength to survive. Orphanhood always exists. Being an evacuee and losing one's home are the most painful memories one can have.

One cannot truly live in bitterness. One has to find joy, acceptance and optimism into one's life. One cannot deny one's memories but we cannot live in our memories alone. From here on we will live days that are in front of us and we are grateful for them. But we return to war memories and our evacuation journes when it is time to return.

2007 Pirkko Siili

Speech by the chairman of the Lohja Karelia Society, Pirkko Siili, at the statue of Johannes Virolainen, Councillor of State, on 4/8/2007.

We have stopped here for a moment at the start of our trail at the memorial dedicated to a remarkable Finnish evacuee, to remember and honour his work for the Karelians and for our whole country. We stand in front of the memorial of Johannes Virolainen, Councillor of State. The influences in his life were war, Karelianity and politics.

The arch of his life started on the last day of January in 1914 in the family of farmer Paavo Virolainen in the village of Ylä-Somme in the municipality of Vyborg. Johannes Virolainen was the first matriculated student in his extended family and in his village. After receiving his white matriculation cap in 1932 he started his national service. He writes in one of his articles in September 1932 that he heard the lieutenant trainer tell during a lesson at the Hamina Military Reserve Academy: "You lads will become officers in Reserve, if you finish the course you now start. If our eastern neighbour attacks, which we always have to keep in mind, during the first three months over 50 percent of you will fall". Johannes Virolainen states: "This is what they told us, but we believed in peace".

People believed in peace both in Karelia and in the whole of Finland. Karelia was living "good years". It was a period of economic and spiritual boom. The region took giant steps to rise to the level of the other regions. Vyborg grew to become the second largest city in the country. Educational institutions and culture in their different forms were blossoming. Also other parts of Karelia experienced a strong period of development.

The Winter War broke out as a total surprise to most people. On the first day of September 1939 Germany attacked Poland. England and France declared war on Germany on the 3rd of September. In October the Finnish Government was requested to send representatives to negotiate on important questions between the two countries. These events already meant that Finland would have to take part in the war that had started. Finland could not agree to the demands from Moscow and so the negotiations ended without results. As a consequence Soviet Union accused Finland of border offences and talked about the "Mainila shots", according to which the Finnish artillery had fired across the Eastern border, killing Soviet soldiers. Without a declaration of war, Stalin ordered his troops to attack from the Eastern border, from the Karelian Isthmus all the way to Petsamo, intending to occupy Finland.

So the horror images became reality, those pictures that the Finns had seen about the Polish people fleeing in distress from the war. The images one would never have believed to become reality for us in Finland, became real - the first evacuation journey started. The war touched everyone - the whole of Finland and it took its toll from all of our families, from the smallest to the largest. As far as the Karelian evacuees were concerned, the orphaned children, widows and parents who had lost their sons had to struggle, not just because they had lost their home and property, but they also had to struggle with the pain of having lost their loved ones.

Johannes Virolainen who had received his degree of Bachelor of Agriculture and Forestry and Agronomist in 1938 was put in charge of the evacuation of the civilian population. In the beginning of September 1939 he had become the manager of the district office of the Vyborg region in the ministry of social security. After the war started, he was transferred to the evacuation office of the 2nd Army Staff. Some of his duties were the evacuation of the population in co-operation with the military authorities and especially the transportation of property from the areas of military operations.

The evacuation plans compiled before the war were deficient and they concentrated on the transportation of the population. Luckily they had enough time to move a considerable number of people from the areas threatened by war. When the military operations started and the Soviet Union attacked on a wide front, the situation became so difficult that the responsibility for the administration and also for the evacuation was transferred to the military authorities. The enemy crossed quickly the border zone that had been evacuated earlier and especially the first days of December were exciting when the Soviet troops advanced.

Two separate areas of evacuation were set up in the the administrative region of Vyborg, the Karelian Isthmus and the Ladogan Karelia, of which the Isthmus was larger and more difficult because of the busy schedule and its large population. It became also clear that it was not possible to rescue much property at all during only a few days. The evacuation work was very industrious, though. The authorities asked and got assistance from everywhere: cars, railway carriages and horses. The government among other things asked to send all the disposable trucks in the country to Karelia for the evacuation transportations.

Many of us who stand here now, our parents and grandparents experienced both the departure of 1939 which was regarded as temporary, and also the bitter second evacuation trail from which we have not yet returned. We have lived as Finns together with our other tribal brothers and sisters, building the post-war Finland into a welfare state where we and our children feel happy to live in. The Karelians have been persons of influence, cultural personalities, politicians - as a good example we have the man, in front of whose memorial we are now. He set up his home here in the Lohja area, he was the longest serving member of parliament and had many turns as a Government Minister. His activities as the Speaker of our Parliament were also remarkable. He certainly deserved his place among the eight who received the title Councillor of State. His life's journey and evacuee's trail ended on the 11th of December 2000 and his last resting place is next to the beautiful church of St. Lawrence in Lohja. A monument, sculpted by Nora Tapper, was erected here for him in 2004.

Throughout times we Finns have been made stronger by belief in God and His guidance even during difficult times. Therefore I ask, that when we start with our emotional memories our Evacuee's Trail, we sing together the favourite hymn of Johannes Virolainen, also known as the "Hymn of Titanic", "Towards you, my Lord" ["Sua kohti Herrani", but the name of the Hymn of Titanic is apparently in English "My heart will go on"]. You can find the hymn in the hymn book in its new words starting with 'Käyn kohti Herraani' ["I go towards my Lord"]. However, we will sign it in the words that also Johannes Virolainen had learnt it in.

2007 Pirjo Riitta Rintanen

How the evacuee experiences have affected the development of the society and individually

Pirjo Riitta Rintanen
Licensed Psychologist

My own experiences as a child of evacuees, a second generation Karelian, starting with two of my poems:

Summer 2007

At the war hero cemetery of Kirvu
Flowers of meadow to my uncle,
Still almost a child,
You cannot give more than your life
On behalf of others
Thank you, uncle, every day

On the church staircase
In the sun
I have come home
Nothing is missing
Sky of the moment

From the church hill to the memorial of
fallen Russians
a wreath is carried by
a war orphan since baby man from Kirvu
father fell

carries a wreath
along the road
how does the man have the strength
to carry such a heavy burden
his back straight
steady steps


An old Karelian lady
In her national dress
So beautiful hands
Wrinkles on cheeks
Grey of hair
Liveliness of eyes and depth

I do not want to release my hand
A touch from Karelia
Warmth and memories
So alone when you depart
All of Karelia in the heart

Losses caused by the war:

- loss of a part of the fatherland,
we have not grieved together the whole country, people do not know how large a region we are talking about, how rich region, always important to the neighbour militarily and economically,
Vyborg and Petchenga they always wanted, roads to all the seas

home region, nature, sceneries, living environment, climate
loss of the tribal connection, customs, culture
loss of the dialect
loss of the communities and villages, difficult to grieve together when living apart
loss of cemeteries and churches
dispersed family line, loss of the paths of forefathers
breaking up of home, family members at least part of the time
loss of property, objects,
loss of close relatives
adoption of adult responsibility by children and young adults too early
the pressures of mothers, women to take care of home duties, responsibility for the family, worry how fathers and men manage in the war
loss of parents, orphanhood
experiences of children displaced by war, double loss of parents, language
losses of health and mental health, father's lost nerves affected family life
being called a Ruskie
those who fell and got injured in war
concern for food and clothes
the destinies of many people changed dramatically (including me)
making guilty of war, sharing the war experiences of men, peer support, being branded with war madness, militarism
dishonouring the Lotta nurses, tarnishing their reputation
the quick adaptation of the evacuees, one had to manage well, show that one is worthy, good
being silent about the experiences, one's own culture
settling the Karelians to inner Finland a great national achievement, we could have been proud of it together
experiencing lack of sympathy and understanding, others treated badly, others well
forgetting the fallen war heroes, not every family talked about them
untreated traumas,
loss of self confidence

I am a citizen of two tribes, a child of Karelian evacuees and of parents in Western Finland. My mother was from Kirvu and my father from Antrea, the lines of both my parents are all from Karelia, as far back as the genealogists have managed to research. My father was in the war, my mother had to leave as an evacuee, she was in the second bombing of Elisenvaara, she returned during the armistice to Enso and returned again with my sister as an evacuee. She finally settled in Western Finland.

I did not get a chance to live with my own tribe, in the middle of my own culture but in a family in Western Finland, even though I met my mother and my sister throughout my life.

I have had two of everything, parents, homes, tribes, cultures, dialects, my first mother spoke in Karelian dialect, the other spoke the Rauma dialect, tribal identities, my fatherland is like the war hero memorial of Kirvu cemetery, a torso, in two pieces, headless.

I have just managed to get rid of my shame that I do not speak the Karelian dialect but that of Rauma.

I was able to adopt Karelianity as my own identity only ten years ago after all my parents had passed away, so that I would not offend anyone.
At home we never spoke about Karelians and Karelianity, but never maligned them either. About Karelianity one kept quiet. Karelians visited us but they never told where they were from. I took part in the annual Karelia Festival the first time only at the turn of the century in Helsinki and from then I have fully embraced my Karelianity.

I was not able to meet my grandfather Antti, even though he lived for eight years after my birth, my mother did not have the courage to ask permission from my new parents to take me to see my grandfather nor to his funeral. Last summer I was not able to find out where he had been buried because of the privacy of grave information. According to the Bible, on the last day we will get lifted from our graves, even the lowest, and not even the Orimattila parish can prevent that, because Antti-grandpa was a believer.

One grieving is not enough, loss of meeting my grandpa, loss of grandpa's presence, loss of grandpa, loss of grandpa's grave in the tribal lands where he would have belonged and the loss of the grave where he is.

In spite of that, nowadays in my mind there is a deep gratitude towards my parents and relatives in Western Finland and I am also proud of my own Karelian relatives, my roots, my Karelianity.

In the history of our nation the war caused many kinds of traumas to people, both material and mental. Many people had many traumatic experiences that were not talked about. Lotta nurses and comrades in arms were the trauma councillors, listeners, even though they themselves would have needed help in their own crisis. Of course also neighbours and grandparents were assisting. The priests were fully occupied in delivering death notices and blessing the deceased.

The losses of one's own fatherland, tribe, cultural environment, social network, the connection of the family line, property, many lives and health, experiencing and seeing many traumatic situations and the absence of parents and loved ones or mental stress, locking up into silence was the loss of that period, also for children. War orphans, children displaced by war and members of the baby boomer generation have had little to live by. The losses of children displaced by war were multiple, they lost their parents at both ends and felt alienation, loss of the language, again after returning.

Traumatic situations should be treated quickly, a discussion should get started immediately so that one would not lock up, lose touch with what has happened. A child or a young person is unable to handle grieving alone because one is still psychologically dependent on the adult, a safe adult can support and get one to speak and express one's emotions.

The loss of a parent is the most difficult loss to a child, the loss of a child to a parent. I can only imagine the amount of sorrow that the losses in the war brought to families. It is also painful to lose one's adult child. It was also possible for the widows to be left on their own, they could be quiet all their lives about a fallen war hero so that the child did not get any impression of the fallen father. Many lost their companions and chose too quickly a new partner and that is the reason why these marriages did not always succeed. The contacts with the Germans and often a tragic separation caused losses both the children and adults have had difficulty to speak about because of shame.

A child copies with losses better if she knows the facts, if people talk openly about the loss. It is important for a child to be interested in the loss and that one keeps the connection alive with the child's family. The lost person should be allowed to live in one's innermost. Jealousy could have also prevented speaking about the fallen in the presence of the new partner. The father who was in the war was not allowed to be with the children and after he returned, he was under mental stress both about what had happened and also about how to arrange life in practice, starting everything from scratch, adapting to new circumstances. Many fathers were uptight, yelled while asleep because one was not allowed to talk about traumas, to avoid being branded a war lunatic. Alcohol consumption may also have increased during the war. The children may have remained distant at the emotional level.

During the war it was most important to survive and manage in the everyday, there was no scope for emotions, it was a crisis period. After the war one was not allowed to talk about the war, why they went to war, why they came here from Karelia, they should have stayed there. One was not allowed to speak about the political reasons either, the "neighbour" took care about the propaganda. In the media the same attitude tends to continue, even though the neighbour does not put so much pressure on them. Karelia is not enough in the forefront, people do not have enough information about its history, culture and tribe.

Feelings that many carried and still carry are deep offence, feeling of being invalidated, experiencing complete misunderstanding about the losses. Guilt and shame are also ordinary feelings, like feeling of inferiority, alienation, differences in temperament and looks. Even today we can be perceived as Russians, Karelia as Russia. One is allowed to miss Karelia only among one's own people, you must not hope for its restitution, you cannot talk about Karelia, "why still talk about those old things". The losses have been real losses, you cannot remove them totally by invalidation, even though one has to live here and now.

Nowadays for many people the past can get activated after the important people have passed away, after one's own health has started to deteriorate, when one realises one's own limits. One's independence becomes weaker in a tangible way together with one's strength, the achieved detachment becomes weaker when one's dependence increases. One starts to miss one's parents, one's mother and father. After one's partner passes away, an older person can break down, the focal point to Karelia, to home has gone. Every loss brings up all the previous untreated losses.

If you do not treat traumas, they will follow you and haunt you unconsciously. Depression is a basic reaction to helplessness and psychic pain. In the background, from a long period, associated with the losses, there is often anger and sadness which we do not have an emotional connection with. Depression can be caused by genetic disposition, it can be caused by traumas or both together. We are different in our structure and tolerance. Hormonal factors and aging affects our moods as well. Also our education and models from important adults, mostly our parents, have an impact on our self image, our self-esteem and our ability to actively work on our problems and find solutions.

Our problem can be that we experience and react today the same way we learnt to experience as a child. The reality can now be totally different in our lives but we react the same way we experienced our lives and learnt to react in our childhood. Bringing the experiencing of life up-to-date, to the present has often to be done by therapy.

If the parent was lost too early, the parent did not have a chance to be one's protection and model long enough, and the child and young person has less chance, unless someone else comes and takes the responsibility for these tasks. A critical time for losing one's parents is also applicable to a young person who is almost an adult. Parents thinking positively about life, luckily also our tribe, give us a model of hope and persistence and adapting to the realities.

The Karelians do not have a tangible region in our country any more, the tribe can experience togetherness in common events, Karelia we are on this side. I have a dear friend from Laihia whose families have always lived there. I remember with envy at the graveyard when she showed with her mother all the family graves, however far in the past, everyone was asleep among their own, alive and dead.


Passed away young, my father's mother of twelve children
My grandma's
Grave does not have a cross
I do not even know its location
In which of the two graveyards in Antrea my grandma sleeps
The new or the old
Many times I have wandered in them
And thought
Is she there or there

My father was ten years old when his mother passed away,
two siblings were even younger
No photos were left of my grandma, not a single memory,
No relatives from grandma's side,
Only the evening prayer was left,
That she must have taught to my father before her death

Mother told that father had said during the war that
he knew about concentration camps,
Mother started to fear a lot
Father had asked mother to bless herself in the evening,
so that mother does not have to fear anything bad

My father was survived by faith, fatherland that he defended, me and my sister

The cross at my grandma's grave is made of
My crossed hands as I pray
About my grandma I know now the only and the most important - the faith

The roots reach the deepest in the graveyard, my own roots and the nation's. At the Karelia Festival, Docent Petri Raivio told how the graveyards were targets for destruction by the Russians, because it is difficult to get rid of the truth that for centuries Finns had lived there and they are still there resting in peace. Also in Kirvu they built an armoury on the top of the graveyard and the tombstones were used in the foundation of the buildings and bricks from the chimneys of the houses as walls. The buildings in Kirvu have already deteriorated and the consecrated land is permanent, you cannot remove the blessing and the history does not change, even though you were to rewrite it according to your own liking against the realities. Also the houses reminded of us, from whom the land was taken, they had to be destroyed, the houses also reminded of the culture. The names of the municipalities tell about their old inhabitants and the conqueror has changed them. Every time one visits Karelia, something of one's own has again been destroyed, lost.

I read war diaries to understand what happened, to understand my fallen uncle, I look for him from the notes, was someone nearby at the front, what has been the silenced cost of our freedom.

In my heart I feel sorrow because those who were there did not get sympathy, space to talk, appreciation, until now when most of them have already passed away. I feel sorrow that I did not read a single book at school about the war or Karelia. Not once did we remember the veterans, were we thankful to them or proud of them. Napoleon was important, not the history of our own country nor Estonia. The Lotta nurses were banned altogether. However, one cannot destroy the truth, later on I have got to know Lottas.

We should have the courage to talk openly about the history of our own country, its wartime, the losses, the loss of Karelia, the fate of the Karelians, we should grieve as a whole nation the loss of Karelia, rich both materially and culturally. We should also appreciate more our own culture and the resettlement of the Karelians, rescuing the whole tribe into the inland as immigrants. Everyone should be allowed to live in their own culture, among their own people, at their own roots, everyone requires them for their own identity.

The Karelians can be examples, trail blazers, how to retain hope, how to be extremely tough in adverse circumstances. In adverse circumstances at least I myself get strength when I think about my own family, if they have managed and had the strength, why not I, because I come from the same family line.

2009 Riitta Uosukainen

Opening address by Riitta Uosukainen, Councillor of State, 4/7/2009 at Virolahti

The unbearable lightness of coping after being an evacuee

What is it all about when hundreds of experienced, literally adult women and men get together to reminisce about anything but easy and pleasant stage of having to get evacuated 65 years earlier? What is it all about when you cannot bypass the anniversaries of 1940 and 1944? This is not a celebration, it is more like anniversaries with multiple meanings. Being an evacuee has clearly left its mark on people who experienced it, it has been eating you or made you bitter or given you empathy for those who were forced to leave for various reasons or it has increased your general understanding of life, even creativity.

Every evacuee in Finland has his or her own story, so do I. I was conceived to honour the conquest of Enso in Kotka, where my mother and big sister were evacuated after the Winter War. We returned to Enso in Jääski as soon as it was possible, and that is where I was born on 18 June 1942 during the Continuation War. My birth was dramatic, my mother had to give birth alone because the others were in the bomb shelter. The year was the famous year of frozen turnips, but there was hopefulness still in the air: we had returned home. But exactly on my second birthday we had to leave again. We were different from the others because we travelled on our "own ticket" and to our own address, to stay with my mother's relatives in Lempäälä. It was not similar to the situation of the farm mistress from Antrea: "No problems in walkin', as long as I'd know where to go and what to do and when we can go back". That thought was shared by thousands and thousands who had been given "northwards" as their address.

In any case, we are still on that journey. Being an evacuee manifests itself deeply in thoughts and in a funny way in everyday life: I would not like to dispose of clothes and things; one might still need them. And I always buy items a couple of sizes too big, so that my grandchild's souvenier hat from Berlin fell deep over the forehead.

Our family returned to the stub-Vuoksenlaakso in any case in the autumn of 1944. There was no return to Enso in Jääski, but my father wanted to stay as close to it as possible, so that the return journey would be short. My parents never visited their old home region. Karelianity continues on, with different nuances. The smokestacks of the Enso factories push piles of smoke so that we can see them through our window in Rautio in Imatra, now they produce for International Paper (USA). In between we have the border of two worlds. We did not have time to develop a nostalgic attitude; there was no way the sun could scorch us more in the old days in Enso, because it is so close to Imatra. We have made excursions with the Jääski Society, and with my husband's relatives we visited the Isthmus. I am both an everyday and a festival Karelian. My father was a typical Karelian, joyful, outgoing, sensitive, excellent company and a music man. My mother was born in Teuva and she was brought as a baby to the Isthmus, and she quite appreciated and emphasised Karelianity, even though there were signs of certain South Ostrobothnian pomposity.

I have two sources of strength: I am a woman and I am Karelian. Both these attributes have been used as an instrument to humiliate and subjugate, but at all my stages I have done my utmost to show in a tangible way the best aspects of womanhood and Karelianity and their strength. Being an evacuee has brought a strong extra nuance to my Karelianity.

I was the deputy chairman of the Karelia League for seven years and I volunteered most part of my so called spare time to Karelianity, Karelian culture and evacuee Karelianity. These wonderful people around Finland needed a listener and speaker, and with joy I came to meet them. They did not have any crisis assistance. An enormous amount of problems were blocked inside speechlessness, official silence and private muteness.

They had each other, though. Karelian people understood each other. After the war there was a lot of so hard work, it was time to rebuild, the men returned from the war, but many of them were damaged psychologically, physically or socially. The assessment of the situation was enormous: 410 000 evacuees, eleven percent of the population had to find new places to live in. An atlas of the Karelian surnames tells how the Karelians were spread around, which broke up the family lines and endangered the tradition. Finland lost ten percent of its land area, twelve percent of its arable acreage, ten percent of its industrial production, 900 km of railroads, 600 school buildings and cultural institutions. And the hardest this bleeding of course hurt the lost, without exaggeration wonderful, region and its people who ended up in diaspora.

It is a wonder how quickly the Karelians found themselves and each other in their new living areas. They managed, but the cost to their soul was severe. Eeva Kilpi has characterised without comparison that tangible, social survival in her book 'Elämän evakkona' [Eeva Kilpi, 1983, 'As An Evacuee of Life']:

"Born there, in her home region, been there at her home, only there, after that lived as an evacuee, as an evacuee all her life, managed generally yes, even succeeded, Karelians had to succeed, otherwise they would not have coped in Finland, on the side they revitalised the economics of Finland, and culture, someone would say, enriched the literature, created art, even though they did not manage to keep folk poetry under their own name, but even those were robbed from them like sampo; improved the Finnish racial characteristics by marrying people from Tavastland, spread equality and democracy to Ostrobothnia, reconciliated quarrels by Satakunta people, mellowed down the stiffness of people in Uusimaa and tickled their aloofness, got along even with people from Savo. Have given first their land, then bet everything on themselves in every way, because they do not know how to live any other way and do not put up with other people unless they can in one way or another embrace them, surrendered everything except that which you cannot deprive, their memories."

In Eeva Kilpi's text a strong person is speaking. Not everyone has been equally strong, lives of many evacuee children have been stigmatised by a feeling of inferiority, memories of bullying at school and discrimination. The majority of the population has truly made it understood, who were "lower people". Nuances of these attitudes come up even today. People had difficulty of giving even little from their plenty, even though the others lost everything. In these types of conversations my eyes flash, I grow 5cm taller and with the voice of the Snow Queen I give back, reminding that you are talking to an evacuee.

I left my duties at the Karelia League because of conflict of interest when I became a government minister in 1991. Many times I was hoping that people would pay attention to the psychological and sociological phenomena associated with the evacuees. Children and teenage evacuees deserve to be researched and to get support, even if it is late. Who can measure the exhaustion of the adults and children of those days? Where are the meters to measure the work output of teenage boys and girls? Research has been done. There is a lot of competent material available from the net, Pirkko Sallinen-Gimpl, Anne Kuorsalo, Iris Saloranta, Erkki Kujala, Marja Marttila, Pirjo Riitta Rintanen and others have done good work from their own starting point.

We go as evacuees our whole life. At least I have roots and air roots that I use, according to the situation. Karelianity is not endangered in globalisation. However, it requires a strong, unstruggling self image, and the Karelians have plenty of it - otherwise they would not have managed. What have the people of our tribe been able to give, even as evacuees? According to Henri Broms, Karelians are sensual, and they understand symbols. They have eating, drinking, dancing, singing and religion in a happy hotchpotch but still in harmony. Even though the life has treated them like the Creator treats a beggar, the identities of Karelians are preserved with the accuracy of a municipality.

When I was preparing for this event, I saw a claim even in the text of some researchers that Karelians do not have a region in Finland. Truly we have! We have Etelä-Karjala and we have Pohjois-Karjala and then we have the Karelia of the evacuees everywhere. When I send this trail on its way, I welcome you into each of those regions. And none of them should declare themselves as the only Karelia; such atmosphere can occasionally be found in Pohjois-Karjala, even though its dialect belongs to the Savo group of dialects.

The third country wide Trail of the Displaced will start. And it would no longer occur to any of its spectators to say what was said in Tammela during the original evacuee trail. A mother asked from her son in the evening, what the evacuees were like. The son sighed: they were almost like people.

We are people, made into steel in many fires. And we have no other consolation except each other - here in the palm of God's hand.

2010 Laila Hirvisaari

"All evacuees have their own memories, one could write an individual story about each of them. Everyone has their own evacuee's destiny, but always as touching and shocking."

Dear participants in the Trail of the Displaced, and everyone present here at Urjala today! These were the words I used in Lohja 2007. They are also relevant even today during the Trail of the Displaced, which in a way binds together those trails of the Winter War and the summer of 1944, when hundreds of thousands, almost half a million people had to be evacuated. Today's trail, compared to those in the past, is certainly more joyful and open occasion, because now it is done on a voluntary basis. And so should it be, for us to continue in memories the journey that many of us experienced in reality, and at the same time to transfer that experience to those who are younger than us, who never had to do it.

Then on the 4th of August 2007 in Lohja it was a hot day and the atmosphere was warm like today. We all visited the grave of Johannes Virolainen, next to the church. I remember that my mother's funeral had been only a few weeks earlier, everything had come to the surface, childhood's memories, the we experienced together during war time, war widowhood and war orphanhood. Our evacuation journey with my mother and my grandparents during the summer 1944 took us to Mynämäki, the village of Korvensuu, the farm of Jäppilä. Our friendship lasted for decades, it still exists. They came to my mother's funeral, all those who were able. That is real evacuee friendship. In this both parties, both the arrivals and those who received them became attached to each other for life.

In March it was 70 years since the end of the Winter War. Helsingin Sanomat and other newspapers brought up visibly and in a laudable manner the events of our wars. We remember to lightning fast departures, the full evacuee tranins, the endless crowds of people that filled the roads with horse carriages, push bikes and walking to flee the war, to safety. There were as many life's stories as there were those who had to leave. We the smallest ones who were born in the middle of the war, did not know that normal life was not li ke that but it was war time. Who had time to tell that to a child? We thought that life was always going to be like that: fleets of bomber airplanes, air bombardments, soldiers, mourning veils and wax flowers.

Many years later it became clear to me also that war time was an exceptional time, quite different from the time before we were born. And it would continue different after the peace. But after the wars nothing was like before, everything had changed. A new period of adaptation started to hundreds of thousands of Karelians. We are perhaps consoled by the sensible advice by the gentle friar, St Francis of Assisi: "If you cannot possibly do anything about something, you just have to accept it." We have accepted because one cannot live in eternal bitterness. Karelians had to be adapted to almost every municipality in our country. Now later on it has become clear that the evacuated Karelians brought with them to many Finnish villages a positive attitude towards life, and also optimism in the middle of sorrow and losses.

As the protector of this Trail of the Displaced, I would like to send to your journey using the words of our fine poet, Aale Tynni:

So I say
What I have to say:
Without continuity
It is impossible to live.
Yesterday has a thread
That continues into tomorrow.
It carries the day
With all its troubles.

I watch the Milky Way
I remember the deceased
Memory is full of light
Because they loved.
I am attached to many of them,
Familiar, distant ones.
My life is a part of a greater one.
I am connected to the galaxy.

I am sending you on this summery day to your trail with love and warmth. Take joy into your heart, do not get exhausted during the journey because even this trail has its destination.