Fortification area


During 1944, the German 20th Mountain Army was re-assigned to hold Petsamo, in Eastern
Lapland, to realign a front stretching south across Lapland. Work was then begun fortifying two extensive defensive positions along the Arctic Road that runs north-south through the centre and East of Lapland. At the same time, in spring 1944, construction was started in Enontekiö, at the
narrowest point of the Arm of Finland. This installation went under the code-name “Sturmbock-Stellung”. The builders on the western bank of the Lätäseno River, close to the eastern side of the
fells, were German construction pioneers, civilian construction workers from Organisation
Todt and an estimated 3000 Russian prisoners of war. After Finland had signed an armistice with the
Soviet Union, the German retreat transformed itself into the so-called Lapland War. For the
Germans, the Finns, and particularly for the province of Lapland, it meant a bitter end to the
Second World War. The reinforced German 7th Mountain Division (approx. 12 000 men) occupied the nearly completed Sturmbock position towards the end of October, 1944. A small Finnish force,
consisting mainly of two reinforced battalions of conscripts, bivouacked in front of the
German positions in the village of Markkina. As the severe winter cold set in, military action was
limited to minor skirmishes. Early in January 1945, the Germans abandoned their well-fortified position on the western side of the Lätäseno River withou giving battle. The last defence of the Germans
was the Lyngen position, the edge of which runs along the north shore of Kilpisjärvi lake.
The last German troops left Finnish soil at the end of April 1945.


In the fortified installation of Järämä, 1209 meters of combat, connecting and shallow trenches have been restored to their original state. In the combat trenches, a total of 10 different positions have been
reconstructed demonstrating heavy and light machine-gun nests and foxholes for infantry. Covered dugouts for a heavy anti-tank gun, and two emplacements, which were probably intended for rocketlaunchers, have also been restored. Three posts intended for field surveillance/range-finding have been entirely rebuilt. Five dugouts have been built anew, two from corrugated iron, and three from wood. The intention has been to reconstruct one example of each category of pillbox and dugout in the area. The remaining dugouts and unfinished foundation diggings have been left just as they are for a comparison. During the reconstruction, certain techniques of restoration archaeology have been employed, and information has been gathered from the Bundesarchiv of the German Federal Republic and from German War Veteran organisations.

Kuva: Elina Vammavaara