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Association tries to track fallen hero memorials

A Helsinki-based heritage association is trying to hunt down missing memorials to soldiers who fell defending Finland during Finland’s Second World War engagements, including the Winter War with Russia and the Continuation War. The Tammenlehvä Heritage Association says many of the plaques inscribed with the names of fallen heroes have wound up in the collections of private individuals.

Pro Patria -taulu Tohmäjärven koulukeskuksen juhlasalissa.
One of the Pro Patria plaques on display in a school hall in Tohmajärvi. Image: Esa Huuhko / Yle

The plaques, known as Pro Patria tablets, are inscribed with the names of soldiers who fell in the wars Finland fought between 1939 and 1945. Since the summer the Tammenlehvä Heritage Association has been documenting the whereabouts of the commemorative plaques.

The Association has discovered that many of the plaques are not in their original locations, with the situation particularly bad in northern Karelia, in northeast Finland.

"Many Pro Patria plaques have disappeared from the walls of schools that have been shut down. We don’t know where they have gone. Some of them have turned up in private homes," lamented Rauno Suhonen, chair of the Joensuu Airlift Association.

"They have even disappeared from some schools that are still operational," he added.

One hunting club in Tohmajärvi announced that it had come into possession of one of the plaques when it purchased a mothballed village school. Others have ended up in summer cottages.

"We’re now calling on those private individuals to contact us. The tablets may be in summer village schools purchased to be converted into summer cottages. We would like to collect them in a location where they can be publicly displayed," explained Arto Juntunen, president of the Tohmajärvi-Värtsilä Reserve Officers Association.

Possible locations for the tablets include churches or schools. The Association members hope to wrap up their inventory of the memorials this year.

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