Monday 18 January 2016

The case of Huhtiniemi. Looking back into previous forensic conflict archaeology in Finland.

According to persistent rumours in Finland (after WW2) the Finnish army held secret war courts for deserters in Lappeenranta SE Finland during the summer of 1944 after the Soviet offensive that same year. The rumours were supported by finds of several skeletal remains in the area over a prolonged period of years after the war.

Picture from the archaeological excavations (2006).

It was assumed that convicted deserters were moved to Huhtiniemi, executed by firing squad and buried in unmarked graves. Because no records of the activities of the "Greater Saimaa's" regional court martial from 1944 had been found, some believed the records had been deliberately destroyed.

Archaeological excavations were carried out by the dpt. of Archeology University of Helsinki at the site in 2006. During the excavations the skeletal remains of 11 people, all male and aged early twenties to middle-aged, were found.

Finnish forensic dentist Helena Ranta participated in the Huhtiniemi excavations
Forensic research and archaeological finds revealed that the skeletons belonged to  Russian servicemen who died in the garrisons of the area in the 18th century. The cause of death was most likely disease, as the the bodies showed no evidence of battle trauma, gunshot- or other wounds.

An orthodox cross found in the vicinity of one of the buried Russian soldiers.

Further excavations thave not showed evidence of any more mass graves in Huhtiniemi area in Lappeenranta. According to the official report by the research team (from October 2007) all possible WW2 mass grave sites in Huhtiniemi area have been examined and found to be empty of human remains. 

The skeletal remains of the deceased found during the archaeological excavations were properly reburied in 2015.


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