Detailed database information about persons who died in Finland's civil war has been gathered, starting from 1998. In November 2019, the National Archive published the renewed WarVictimSampo online service that replaced the previous War Victims database. As part of this complementing work, the Prime Minister’s Office ordered from the National Archive, at the end of 2019, an archive study aiming to add detail to the number of reds who died at the Lahti POW camp based on original materials. In addition, they wanted more specific information about prisoners’ causes of death, and to find burial sites in the Hennala area, where the city was planning new buildings. The completed study was published on 2 June 2021 on the National Archive’s website.
The Lahti POW camp was operated at the Hennala barracks from May 1918 to November 1919. At first, prisoners captured in the Lahti battle (19/04–01/05/1918) and kept on the Fellmann field were transferred to the camp, but prisoners from different parts of Finland were later gathered there, to be judged by the Court of Political Offence. The maximum number of prisoners in the camp was more than 10,000.
1,167 prisoners died in the Lahti POW camp, which is more than one in ten prisoners. The largest mass executions of the civil war were performed in the Lahti area in the spring of 1918, when over 700 prisoners were executed. Almost 1,200 prisoners died of hunger and diseases in the Lahti POW camp.
The National Archive’s study examines the functioning of the Lahti POW camp and presents updated information about prisoner mortality in Lahti in 1918. The study included going through church registers, archive materials of courts of political offences and the Finnish army, as well as several other document groups. Based on these, the number of persons who died in the Lahti POW camp has become much more specific. New and more detailed information is also available in the National Archive’s WarVictimSampo online service.
The archive study was mainly performed by Master of Arts Ilkka Jokipii. In the initial phase, Master of Arts Ville-Pekka Kääriäinen also participated in the work. The research work that started in autumn 2020 was directed by Director of Research Päivi Happonen.
“The body was taken away and buried” – An archive study about the operations of the Lahti POW camp and mortality rates among prisoners (pdf)
Planner Ilkka Jokipii
ilkka.jokipii(a)arkisto.fi, phone +358 29 533 7341
Director of Research, Adjunct Professor Päivi Happonen
paivi.happonen(a)arkisto.fi, phone +358 50 468 8762