The lease period of Porkkala 1944-1956


The strategic location of the Porkkala peninsula at the narrowest and shallowest spot of the Gulf of Finland has affected the history of the area. This also applies for the period of time after the Finnish-Soviet Continuation War 1941-1944. For eleven years the Porkkala area came to be the part of the Soviet Union that the Soviets called Porkkala-Udd in the Leningrad district.


The collaboration between the Estonian fort Naissaar and the Finnish Mäkiluoto had begun already during the war. The distance between these forts is 36 km. A cable was secretly laid at the bottom of the Gulf of Finland, and this enabled a common fire control. During the war the Finns set out two nets as blockage for the Soviet submarines trying to get out to the Baltic Sea through the Gulf of Finland. This was done mainly to secure the transportations of iron ore from Sweden to Germany.


These nets were to the detriment of the Soviet Union, and in September 1944 Stalin agreed to armistice. The conditions of the armistice were hard on Finland. Reparations had to be paid and Finland had to give up wide areas in Karelia, Petsamo and Salla at the eastern border to the Soviet Union – and a contract about the leasing of the Porkkala area as a military base for 50 years – until 1994 – had to be signed.


Two thirds of Kirkkonummi, one fourth of Siuntio and almost all of the small municipality of Degerby were parts of the leased area. In this way the Soviet Union had full control over the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic states.
Just over 7 200 inhabitants of Porkkala were evacuated. 1 170 of them lived in Degerby. Only about 200 inhabitants lived in the part of Degerby, which was not part of the leased area. Degerby was administratively joined with the municipality of Inkoo in 1946.


At least 30 000 Soviet inhabitants were placed in Porkkala, probably even more. About one third of the inhabitants were civilians: officer's families, teachers, paramedics etc.


In July 1955 the Soviet Union decided, on initiative of Nikita Khrushchev, to hand back the Porkkala area to Finland. The equipment on the military base was out-of-date and Kaliningrad was a better guarantee for the supervision of the Baltic Sea region. The blasting of the approx. 300-500 cement bunker's was begun and the evacuation was carried through in great haste.


On 26th of January 1956 the borders of the Porkkala area were opened. The Finnish inhabitants could finally visit their old homes on 4th of February.


After a hard political battle the inhabitants of Porkkala got the right to buy their old land. The inhabitants that owned land in Porkkala had become a compensation for the lands during the evacuation so that they could buy land somewhere else. This was also happened to the 400 000 Karelians after the war.


The municipality of Degerby was joined with the municipality of Inkoo from the 1st of January 1946. Despite some efforts, a change has not been made since. The inhabitants of Degerby are still inhabitants of Inkoo. But the village identity in Degerby is still very strong.

 

Do you want to learn more about our local history and the lease period of Porkkala? Visit us at the Degerby Igor Museum!

The travel organization in Porkkala is called Porkkala Travel.