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From ancient times the territory of Karelia was occupied by various tribes. There is evidence that even back in the stone age people hunted in the woods of Karelia and fished in numerous lakes and rivers. Pictures on rocks (petroglyphs) display scenes of ancient tribes hunting elk in winter and sailing the rivers and lakes in large boats, and reflect religious beliefs of those times. These pictures on rocks of the Onega lake and of the White sea tell us about the period when the territory of Karelia was populated by the Saami tribe, also called "Lapi" - a nomadic tribe of people, moving with deer. Later the Korela and Veps (Vesi) tribes pushed Saami together with the deer population, constantly migrating in search of better pastures, further north, and started settling on the territory.
Written documents about the ancient Korela
The name "Korela" has originated, possibly, from "Koru ela" ("she ate bark" in Russian) - Karelian soil is very rocky and it was extremely difficult to cultivate wheat there, therefore Karelians very often added powdered tree bark to flour when making bread, and that, probably, contributed to the formation of such a name. At the end of the 1st millenium A.D. the territory of Karelia in the North was populated by the Saami, the territory between the Ladoga and the Onega lakes was occupied by Vesi, and the Northern and the Western Ladoga areas and the Karelian isthmus was occupied by the Korela tribe, bordering in the south with Izhora - people, inhabiting the land, known as Ingria.

During the period of the Karelians settling and starting to inhabit the coast of the Ladoga lake many defense fortifications were erected. On remote hills near the waterways, especially on the dangerous parts - rapids or curves - they built stone shafts intended for protection of the local population from enemy attacks. There are many such fortifications along the Northwest coastline of Ladoga -
About the origin of Karelian place-names
Tiversk and Korela in the Priozersk area; Lopotti, Linnavuori and Linnamaki in the Kurkiyoki area; Suur-Mikli in the Lahdenpohya area and Paaso in the Sortavala area, next to Helulia. From such hillforts the watchmen were able to notice the coming enemy ships soon enough to notify the area about the coming danger through a system of alarm fires. The population of the villages, involved in agriculture in that area, immediately gathered in such fortifications behind stone shafts.

Iron weapons of Karelians

By the end of the 1st millenium A.D. the population of Korela used iron tools in agriculture and hunt extensively. The style of iron tools and weaponry production of the local blacksmiths is rather similar to the Novgorod style of that time. Karelians were engaged in "slash-and-burn" agriculture - they picked a site, suitable for cultivation, in the forest, chopped down the trees there and piled them up on the cleared territory. Next summer the piles were burnt, and the ashes were spread on the site. Then the field was used for cultivation of barley, wheat or turnip for several years, and after 7-10 years the field was abandoned to get covered with trees and bushes for 15-20 years; then the cycle repeated.

The end of the 1st millenium through the beginning of the 2nd is called the Viking era. It was the period when the Vikings traveled long distances in their ships.
Chronology of Russian rulers
They discovered new lands, traded, plundered and conquered whole countries. At this time the Vikings also frequently visited the Northern Ladoga area. In the Kurkiyoki area many Viking burial sites, related to this period, are found. The Ladoga lake, connected with the Finnish gulf by the Neva river, gave access to settlements of Karelia, to the Onega lake and to the Novgorod land. Mentions of Viking campaigns to Karelia at this period are also found in the Scandinavian sagas. In the saga about the Danish king Ivar Vidfamn it is said that he died and was buried in Karyalanpohya. The action of this saga takes place in the 7-8th centuries.
Swedish Kings and regents
The "Halfdanar saga Eysteinssonar" saga speaks about a Viking battle in Karyalanpohya, which was situated East from the Old Ladoga town. The saga also tells about Grimri, who lived in a castle and supervised the whole Karyalanpohya. The saga about the Holy Olaf, written by Snorri Sturulsson, says that he had visited Finland, Karyalaland, Eistland, Kurland and even built fortifications there. Since the Viking era the population of Korela was always ready for an enemy attack.

Barter trade in Karelia

Trade was beginning to play an even larger role in the economics of Karelia. Karelians mostly sold furs that they acquired through hunting or through trade with the Saami hunters. After furs wax was the most important exported article for Russia. A document from 1342, where Novgorod sets trade terms with Riga, Gotland and German cities, also mentions Karelian wax. Beginning in the 11th century a close connection with Novgorod is starting to develop, and trade with Novgorod merchants gains even more importance. Crusifix-shaped ornamentsProbably in the 12th century orthodox Christianity starts penetrating the Ladoga area. evidence to that are Christian ornaments and Karelian toponyms. The frequent name "Riekkala" is derived from the karelian word "kreikala", that is, a place where a Greek lived.

The "Our Father" prayer in Karelian with a translation to German
And, indeed, the church on the Riekkala island in Sortavala was one of the oldest churches in the Ladoga area, and the oldest chappel in the Kurkiyoki area was in the Riekkala gulf. The final acceptance of Christianity in Karelia was sealed in 1227, when the Novgorod prince Yaroslav, the father of prince Alexander Nevskiy, arrived at Karelia and christened Karelians all together, as the chronicles tell: "...that same year prince Yaroslav Vsevolodovich, having sent, christened a multitude of Karelians, for not all men." Presumably, no later than the 12th century Karelia became one of the Novgorod lands. However, Karelia still had a certain degree of autonomy. Such conclusion can be made on the grounds of the trade contracts texts between Novgorod, the Hanse and the island of Gotland in 1262-1263, in which Novgorod did not guarantee safety for foreign merchants on the territory of Karelia.

In 1249 the Swedes captured the lands of Häme and came to the borders of Karelia. This was accompanied by an arrest of Karelian merchants on their traditional trade routes. Fighting against the new danger lead to the final military union of Korela and Novgorod. Karelians with the help of Novgorod tried to resist the Swedish agression.
Map of Russia in 11-13th century
In 1178 karelians penetrated the Häme lands, captured the swedish bishop Rudolph and then put him to death. In 1187 Karelians together with the Novgorod army took a raid at the large Swedish city Sigtuna (the predecessor of modern Stockholm). The city was plundered and burned. The city gates, captured in that campaign, still adorn the Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod. In 1198 Karelians together with Novgorod conquered a stronghold of Sweden in Finland, the city of Åbo (Turku).

The Vyborg castle

The fortress of Korela

In 1293 the head of the Swedish state Torgils Knutsson and the Swedish bishop Peter Vesteros had organized a crusade of the Swedish knights to the Karelian land. The results were three Karelian pogosts annexed and the Vyborg castle founded. Since then the Vyborg castle becomes the support of Swedish expansion to the east. Constant threat, coming from Vyborg, forced Novgorod to take counter action. In 1310 the Tver prince Boris Konstantinovich, who was invited by Novgorod to defend Karelia, erects a castle in the Korela town. Since then Korela had been the official administrative center of Karelia.

This is what 19th century books tell us about the events of that time: "...In the summer of 1317, the Germans (Swedes) having come to the Ladoga lake, again killed many Onega merchants, just like in 1283. In order to avenge this, in 1318 the Novgorodians went with war over the sea to the Full river (now Aura-ioki), burned down Luder's* city (Åbo) of the Suomi prince (the Duke of Finland) and Piscupl (Bishop's castle Kustö (Kuusisto), the ruins of which still exist on the island by the same name), and came back to Novgorod with success.

The ruins of the Kuusisto castle

* The castle of Åbo was burned by the Novgorodians on June 12th, 1318; there is no doubt that they called it Luder's town by the name of the Finland's prefect Luder of Kern, who lived in that castle at the time.

The Swedish king Magnus, who himself was with all of his fleet on the Nevo (Ladoga) lake, was surrounded and saved himself no other way than by digging through a narrow isthmus* and, having sacrificed a large number of ships.

* This isthmus is probably the one, which is now near the Taipala village on the eastern coast of the lake. Having dug through it, the Swedes could escape with their ships to the Suvando lake, and from there to inner Finland."

In 1323 in the Orekhovets fortress (Oreshek, Pähkinasaari, Noteburg), which was founded that same year at the source of the Neva river in the Ladoga lake, the Noteburg (Pähkinasaari) peace treaty was signed. According to that treaty the Swedes received three Karelian pogosts; Novgorod kept 14. The treaty remained officially active for 270 years until 1595, when another treaty with the Swedes was signed - the Tausinna treaty. In the Ladoga area the Russian state border was on the borders of the Kiryazh, Serdovol and Ilomantsi pogosts. The Swedish Catholicism conversion policy on the captured lands caused a mass flee of Karelians to the Russian side. And although. according to the treaty, runaways were to be returned, fleeing for religious motives was considered a serious cause; it is mentioned in the annals: "...if ours run away to your side, scourge them, or hang; if yours run to our side, we shall do likewise, so that they would not cause a conflict between us. But these Karelians we will not return; they are christened into our faith. There's not many of them left anyway, for many have perished..."

The Noteburg peace treaty

Peace, established by the treaty with the Swedes, turned out to be rather short-term. Already in 1340 the Swedes were againg regularly plundering Karelian villages. The First Chronicles of Novgorod tells about a Swedish attack at the Kurkiyoki pogost shortly after: "In the summer of 6904 (1396) The Germans had come to Karelian land and conquered 2 pogosts: Kuryoki and Kulolax, and burned down the church; and prince Konstantine with Korela chased them and captured one to speak and sent him to Novgorod".

In 1470 the Swedes had built a new fortress Olafsborg (Nyslott, Olavinlinna) on their eastern border in the Savo region. A more detailed study of the borders shows that the Swedes in their attempt to get a stronghold on the captured Karelian lands, had built the fortress 5 kilometres into the Karelian territory, which belonged to Russia. That fortress became a constant threat to the Ladoga area pogosts.
A map of Russia in the 13-17th centuries.

Heliula in 1500
In 1478 the Novgorod lands were annexed to the Moscow Russia, and Karelia became a part of the Russian state. The first census of Karelia was conducted because of that. In the "Census Book of 1500" by Dmitriy Kitaev the Korela region of the Vodskaya Patina (Vodi Land) is described. That document contains the first mention of the Heliula village; it also contains a list of families which inhabited the village.

In the beginning of the reign of Ivan IV the Terrible the prosperity of Karelia land went on for a while, but later, due to tax increases poverty and desolation came. With the introduction of state tax collectors robbery attacks to extort taxes became frequent. The study of the Search Book of 1571 allows us to make interesting conclusions. The Search Book was different from the Census Book in that it described not the existing taxpayers, but the desolate farms. Often the causes for the desolation were stated. The search itself was conducted because of the tremendous desolation of the Karelian land. The following reasons for desolation were mentioned among others: "the owner got killed by thunder, the children starved, the farm fell apart", "drowned fishing on the Ladoga lake", "the farm got destroyed in a fire", "Germans killed the owner, they burned the house, the children have disappeared", "ran away from king's taxes, the farm was burned by the tax collectors", "being in great debt from king's taxes, died, the children are beggars". Among the desolation causes, desolation from impossible taxes is the first, desolation from Swedish attacks is second and daily life causes are third.

In 1570 a new war against the Swedish king Johan III started. The war was very cruel and was called "the long hatred war". In 1572 Herman Fleming was appointed as head of the Swedish troops in Karelia. On December 29th, 1572 Fleming's army started out from Vyborg. Fleming was using the burned ground tactics, destroying all people and houses on his way. The truce that was called soon after that, lasted until 1577. In 1577 Swedish attacks at Karelian lands started again. In the summer of 1579 Herman Fleming atacked Karelia again. The attempt to stop his conquest failed, and he once again swept over the land with sword and fire. Local people tried to hide on the islands in Ladoga, but Swedes, having found some boats, reached the islands as well. All population was killed; neither women nor children were spared. In 1580 the Swedish troops in Finland got a new commander, originally from France, Pontus de la Gardie. On october 26th Swedish army sieged the Korela fortress and de la Gardie started bombarding the fortress with fiery cannonballs. The wooden buildings caught fire and the fortress was conquered. The Swedes renamed the captured fortress to Kexholm. In February of 1581 a troop of 2 000 soldiers of Klaus Fleming made a raid from Savonlinna to Karelian lands via Orivesi and the Kiteenyarvi lake to Tulemayarvi in Olonets area. They returned via Salmi, Sortavala and Piuhaarvi (Pyhäjarvi). On May 16th, 1581, the Swedes attempted a military campaign in ships from Kexholm to Olonets (Aunus), but they encountered Russian ships. The Russian ships drew back, but the suddenness of the attack was lost. The Swedes went on their campaign and landed near Olonets, but there they were almost completely destroyed, their commander being captured.

During the period from 1570 to 1595 most of the local population fleed to Russian lands. The lands around Korela town, where most military action took place, were deserted. Local population started fighting the Swedes. A peasant from Serdobol (Sortavala) named Kirill Rogozin had gathered a rather large group. In 1582 Swedish army of 1200 men was stationed in Korela town. The Russian guerilla troop under Rogozin's command had 1500 men in it and its actions went on in the area between Hiitola and Sortavala, intercepting carriages and boats. He attacked Korela several times but did not succeed in conquering it.

In 1583 a Plussa peace treaty was signed, according to which Karelian land (Ladoga area - its western and northern coasts) was given away to Sweden. That same year Swedes had invited Finnish settlers to come to the deserted lands. The settlers took empty houses and lands and paid no taxes for 3 years. The local population, however, did not want to accept Swedish rule. Fierce guerilla war went on. Rogozin's troop kept terrifying the Swedes. Near Suoyarvi a troop under command of two brothers - Luka and Onitsa Räsänen engaged in guerilla action. In Kiryazh (Kurkiyoki) pogost ther was a troop headed by Mikko Yalkinen. In the autumn of 1587 Russian troops went through Olonets, Salmi, Sortavala, Pialkyarvi, Kitee and Suistamo, where they stopped, collecting taxes for the Great Prince. The captain of Swedish navy troop of six ships, which was created in Kexholm, Pentti Yusten, mentioned: "The robbers were caught near Sortavala and executed in Salmi". The war was developing quickly and in 1590 regular armies were engaged in it again. The results were unfovaroble for the Swedes. On January 30th, 1592 a two-day battle took place near Kexholm. The Russians did not manage to conquer the fortress, but the areas were ravaged. On November 17th, 1592 Johan III died. That lead to the signing of a Peace Treaty in Teusina on May 18th, 1595. According to that treaty the town of Korela was returned to Russia, but the Swedes affirmed some of their conquests in the North and in Savo. In 1597 the population starte returning to their emansipated homeland. Lands that, suffered from war, were released from taxes for the next 10 years. The government offered economical help to those who wished to settle on those lands. It is interesting that many Finnish settlers, invited by the Swedes, decided to stay under Russian rule. They also had all the privileges.

A Russian map of Ladoga from the 17th century

In 1609 a contract was signed in Vyborg by the Russian commander Skopin-Shuyski and Swedish commander Jacob de la Gardie about military help against the Poles, who had captured Moscow. According to the contract, Karelian land (Ladoga territories) was to go to the Swedes in exchange for their military help. The local population did not, however, wish to accept the contract, and Jacob de la Gardie had to submit those lands to Sweden by military force in 1610. In the absence of regular armies Bishop Silvester called the local population to fight the occupants. A total of approximately 2000 men was gathered. In September 1610 Jacob de la Gardie's troops sieged the Korela fortress. There were 2000 popular army men and about 500 soldiers. The siege went until March 1611 and was stopped after full exhaustion of defenders. The Swedes had allowed the remaining 100 popular army men and Bishop Silvester to leave the fortress with their banners and weapons. Karelian land was given to the Swedes for almost 100 years. But guerilla warfare went on for several years after that. In Korela region there was a guerilla troop under command of Maxim Räsänen, the son of Luka Räsänen. In 1615 about 1000 men started out from Kurkiyoki towards Olonets by land and in ships. They encountered the guerilla troops near Ristilahti (Uukuniemi); the Swedes were victorious, but the campaign was disrupted.

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A border mark from 1617 - the Varashev Stone

Peace negotitations began in 1615 and on February 27th 1617 a peace treaty was signed in the Stolbovo village. According to that treaty Sweden received not only Karelian lands, but also Ingermanland (Ingria). The Stolboo treaty had readically changed the life of Ladoga Karelia. The Swedes started to apply their new order with force. Jacob de la Gardie became the first governor in those lands; having received them for län ownership. This meant that he had to pay a certain amount of money to the treasury of Sweden, and then he was to collect taxes from the population to cover his expenses and make profits.
A document from 1590

A document from 1618

A document from 1631
The period of de la Gardie's rule went from 1617 to 1630. During the time of de la Gardie's rule a census was conducted repeatedly to reflect the economical condition of the land and to determine the its potential; Heliula appears in those documents as well. The Korela town was again renamed to Kexholm and the Ladoga Karelia land was renamed to Kexholm län and divided into two parts. According to the conditions of the peace treaty of 1617 the population of Karelia had the right to freely practice Orthodox faith and had to belong to the Novgorod Archdiocese. But the swedish government began to try to convert Orthodox Christians to Lutheran. All Orthodox monks, boyars and petty bourgeoises were ordered to leave Swedish territory, but the peasants and Orthodox priests were not allowed to go to Russia. But, in spite of all bans and prohibitions Karelians left Karelian land in whole families. Within 40 years of Swedish rule a total of approximately 30 000 families left Karelia; most of them settled in the area of the town of Tver (situated north-west of Moscow), having founded a so-called "Tver Karelia". Orthodox Karelians and russian population of the Ladoga area began to get superseded by the Finns and Finnish Karelians, settled here by Jacob de la Gardie.

Coat of arms of Sortavala

In the first third of the 17th century the Swedes had founded Sortavala town. The Swedish period design of the city had a network of streets, crossing each other at a right angle, which were all descending like meridians towards the gulf (the plan of 1697). The four streets of the town went almost parallel to the present Komsomolskaya street. Its mainland frontier went somewhere near the present-day street of 40 years of VLKSM. Waves of the gulf were splashing at the site of present autotransport company. Already in the end of the 19th century a part of the gulf was already turned into land. Officially the town Sortavala has two birth dates, although the first mention of the town occurs already in 1478: "Also do not inflict any harm in Sortavala and in the Novgorod lands..." Being founded around 1632, Sortavala received a letter of benevolence from the Swedish queen Christina in 1642, which meant that it was granted town privileges. The other birth date of the city is 1783, when this time the Russian queen Ekatherine II had given Sortavala the status of a town

Even after Swedish rule came to Karelian territory, Karelians and Russians kept opposing the Swedes. It is known that in 1641, under Swedish rule, the first Christian church was built in Heliulia. Already in 1648 it is marked on the Swedish map of Sortavala pogost. However, Russian troops occupied Sortavala in 1656 and in 1657 the church was burned. A monument was erected on its site. This monument is situated to the right of the Sortavala-Viartsilia road in the Telman village (the original site of Heliulia) - it is in shape of a stone plate, standing on a support of stones, surrounded by a stone wall. The plate had a memorial plate and a cross on top. After the church was burned, other churches were built not in Heliulia, but nearby, in a place called "Kirkonniemi".

A document from 1656 mentions five merchants from Sortavala, who went to Stockholm with plenty of goods: dried meat, bacon, butter, leather, furs, hemp, linen and cloth. Their names were Semen Egorov, Mikhail and Ivan Ivanov, Kondratiy Vasilyev, Ivan Yakovlev.

Life under Swedish rule was difficult because of heavy taxes. The rainy summer of 1695 destroyed almost all crops; the next two years were also unfavorable. People started to starve. In the chronicles these years were called "the years of death from starvation". 25% of all population starved to death. But Swedish authorities continued to collect heavy taxes. Peasant unrest began. A Kurkiyoki peasant Lauri Kilappa headed a delegation to the Swedish king, but the king did not receive them. A rebellion broke out. The peasants killed tax collectors and state officials. Armies were sent to stop the rebellion; they succeeded. Kilappa was captured and executed in Kexholm.
Sortavala area on maps

A report in the first Russian newspaper "Vedomosti" about a defeat of Swedish troops by the Russian army near Serdobol
In 1700 the Northern war between Russia and Sweden began. In 1701 Russians began their raids through the Karelian isthmus and in the Ladoga area. In 1705 a Russian army of 2000 men under command of P. M. Apraksin started out from Olonets towards Sortavala. The Swedish garrison was defeated. In June of 1710 the city of Vyborg surrendered. That same year Russian troops conquered Kexholm and the lands near it. Local population pledged allegiance to the Russian government. After the Russian armies came, most of the Swedish population fled and the Finns stayed. In 1721 the Nystadt (Uusikaupunki) peace treaty was signed; according to that treaty Ladoga Karelia became a Russian territory once again.

In 1741-1743 Sweden made an attempt to return a part of Karelia including Ladoga area; it failed. In 1742 Swedish troops burned the city of Serdobol (Sortavala). Even in 1780 there were only 63 houses and 277 male inhabitants in Sortavala. In 1743 in the city of Åbo (Turku) a peace treaty was signed, according to which the Kymenengård province with such cities as Hamina, Lappeenranta and Savonlinna, was annexed to Russia. In 1744 the Vyborg region was formed; it included the Vyborg land, the Kexholm land and Kymenegorod land. Official languages of the region were Russian, Swedish and German.

During the reign of Ekatherine II about 200 cities and many trade places were founded in Russia. In 1775 Kexholm received the official status of a city, and after that, in 1783, Sortavala was acknowledged as a city. "The letter given to cities", published by Ekatherine II in 1785, allowed any independent person to enter the trade guild. This encouraged an increase in the number of merchants in the Ladoga area and a more active trade.

Merchants travelled to villages, buying up at profitable prices all they could: furs, meat, butter, crockery, knives. When their sledges were full, they took all these goods to Saint Petersburg. In return for those goods they brought back clothes, salt. Also traders travelled around with smaller goods - threads, buttons, finger rings, hair combs, lip harmonicas, cards. In the summer time cloth scrap collectors went through villages. They collected cloth scrap for paper mills in their long carts. They traded small items for the cloth scrap.

In the late 1780-s the Swedish king Gustav III had once again attempted to conquer the Karelian isthmus, including the Ladoga area. Military action went on rather slowly from 1788 till 1790, for the Swedish king did not really expect to win and Ekatherine II did not want to send her best armies to the Karelian stage of the war theatre.
War action in the Sortavala area in 1789

A story about the Kurikka-Hiekka battle near Sortavala
In 1808 a new war between Russia and Sweden began. Armies under general Alekseev's command were fighting on Finnish territory. But the battles were very unsuccessful for the Russians. Alekseev was forced to retreat to Sortavala. In 1809 the Fredricshamn (Hamina) peace treaty was signed, according to which Finland became a part of the Russian empire. Finland received the status of the Grand Duchy of Finland and a relative independence. Finland had its own parliament, currency, judicial system, its own army. on December 23rd, 1811 emperor Alexander I issued a decree to add the Finnish region (Russian lands), which also included the Kexholm land, to the Grand Duchy of Finland (thus making these lands officially not a part of Russia, but a part of Finland within the Russian empire). After that the border of the Duchy of Finland was moved to the town of Sestroretsk.

During those times merchants bought in Ladoga villages and carried to Saint Petersburg fish, meat, bacon, grain, furs, pitch. They usually travelled through villages in the winter, when it was easy to travel around in sledges. They brought back from the city textiles, leather goods, hardware. The villages had their own masaons, carpenters, furnace builders, weavers, crockery makers, leather and wood craftsmen. Professional skills were passed on from one generation to another. Every village had its blacksmith. Coastline villages had people that made fishing nets.

By 1840 the trade fairs in Sortavala became the largest in Finland. Furs, grain, wood pitch, butter, lumber, stones for building - these were the basic goods at the fair. The fairs took place in spring and summer.

In 1857 the first steamboat came to Ladoga. It travelled from St. Petersburg to Sortavala. In the 1860's they also built special piers for steamboats in other ports of Ladoga as well. In 1875 the cost of transportation from Saint-Petersburg to Serdobol was 4 roubles and 50 copecks for first class, 3 roubles and 25 copecks for second class, and 2 roubles for third class. The study of navigation books from 1854 shows that during the period from May through November 73 ships sailed to Serdobol, and most of those ships - from the Svir river and its inflows. It is known that on the Sermak quay of the Svir river a navigator was paid 50-75 roubles for a journey to Serdobol, and luggage delivery cost to Serdobol was 2 copecks per pood.

In 1830's in the Vyborg region just as all over Finland starts the nationalist movement. In 1845 the Finnish Literature Society in Vyborg was established. Sortavala becomes the second center of the Finnish nationalist movement in the Vyborg region. A large part of it was in the Sortavala seminary, established in 1880, and its newspaper "Laatokka".

But together with the national rising the idea about a "Great Finland" was born. The idea was based on unification of all Fenno-Ugric people in one state. In 1860 in a book by Ahlqvist-Oksanen, the concept of "The Finnish State" was introduced, defining the borders of the future "Grand Finland" from the Gulf of Bothnia to lake Onego and up to the mouth of the Northern Dvina river. Also in those years the so-called "Karelian issue", related to annexing the Eastern Karelia to Finland too, was born.

In 1812 there were 25 000 Orthodox church-goers in the Vyborg region. Most of them lived in the Ladoga area. The most numerous parishes were in Sortavala and Salmi areas. Orthodox children received elementary education in parochial schools. They were taught either in Russian or in Finnish, according to their parents' will. SortavalaEducation in parochial schools was given on a very good and modern level, in many respects due to hard work by the director of the Sortavala seminary, priest Sergiy Okulov. Rich spiritual life was concentrated in Valaam and Konevets monasteries and also in the women's monastery in Lintula, founded in 1895. In the late 19th century under abbot Damaskin's supervision a lot of construction work was carried out in the Valaamo monastery. In 1885 in Sortavala an Orthodox brotherhood of Saint Sergiy and Saint Herman was founded; since 1897 it published a newspaper called "Aamun koitto" ("The dawn").

After the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 in Russia, the Finnish parliament assumed full authority in Finland in November 1917 and finally declared independence of Finland on December 6th. On December 31st, 1917, independence of Finland was officially acknowledged by the Soviet government, headed by V.I. Lenin. The revolution that took place in Russia in November (Old Style October) 1917, echoed in Finland. Finnish society had split into two hostile sides. Finnish workers, inspired by the example of Russia, had begun to create their own Red Guards.

At the same time Civic Guards, military troops to defend the interests of bourgeoisie were formed. In January 1918, Gustav Mannerheim, Lieutenant General of the Imperial Russian army was appointed as the commander of the White (anti-Bolshevik) army. When the Reds took power in Helsinki and southern Finland on January 28th, 1918, he took control over the central and northern parts of the country and disarmed Russian troops that were there. At the same time the red guard army carried out a revolution in the south, having deposed the government and replacing it with its own, headed by K. Manner. Battles full of bloodshed began between the white army and the red guards. Ladoga area was conquered by the whites and Vyborg became the headquarters for the reds.

White Finns, inspired by the victory, remembered the idea of "Grand Finland". The Civil War in Russia even gave actual hope for an expansion of the state's territory. Eastern Karelia was the first stage of that expansion. Finnish armies managed to conquer the White Sea Karelia in 1918, but by the end of the year they had to come back to Finland. In 1919 the intrusion was repeated, and Finnish armies occupied Olonets and Lodeynoye Pole, but by the end of the year the troops again returned to Finland. On October 14th, 1920 in Tartu a peace treaty between Finland and Soviet Russia was signed, which confirmed old borders except for the Pechenga (Petsamo) area, which was ceded to Finland.

After Finland's separation from Russia Ladoga's economics, oriented at trade with Russia, came to a dead end. Traditional economical connections were interrupted. Transportation by Ladoga to St. Petersburg was stopped. Agriculture of the Ladoga areas were mostly meat-dairy; grain was partly imported from Russia. After grain import stopped, hunger came to many regions. Many landless Ladoga peasants had no more jobs (since they often went to St. Petersburg for seasonal jobs). Finland's government took emergency action - massive cut-down of trees began. Lumbering provided employment and money to start farms and raise agriculture.

In 1894 the Karelian railroad was built; it marked a new stage in the development of industry. The railroad went through Vyborg - Antrea (Kamenogorsk) - Hiitola - Yaakkima (Jaakkima) - Sortavala. In 1930's the roads were developed and regular bue transportation was introduced. There were daily 30 bus tours from Sortavala to Lahdenpohya. Navigation was also of great importance. Sortavala had the main port in Ladoga. In 1920 458 different ships were attributed to Sortavala.

But the idea of "Grand Finland" was not forgotten. In 1922 the "Academic Karelian Society" was founded. The society called to create a Finnish state from the Baltic Sea all the way to the Ural mountains; a state, which would unite all fenno-ugric peoples. The first step towards that was the annexation of Eastern Karelia to Finland. A theory of national supremacy was dedveloped to rationalize this idea. According to that theory, Finns stood on the highest level, then different Fenno-Ugric peoples and so on. Slavic people and Jews were on the lowest level. Ideas of the society received a massive response and numerous organizations, such as the Domestic National Movement, the Karelian National Union, the Karelian Educational Society, and so on, were founded. The government of Finland somewhat endorsed the aggressive plans of some of those numerous organizations and unions. All of this persistently alarmed the Soviet government. Negotiations, started in Moscow to normalize the relations between the Soviet Union and Finland, were disrupted by the latter. On the other hand, Stalin was very aware of the closeness of a capitalist country (Finland's border was only some 60 kilometres away from Leningrad) and wanted to make sure the northern capital was secure by gaining some land from Finland. Constant reassurances from Finland that it would neither allow an attack on Soviet Union via its territory nor attempt such on its own part seemed to be far too unconvincing to Stalin. Germany and USSR signed a pact about the division of spheres of influence - Germany received Poland and the Soviet Union got Finland. The Finnish side thought the conditions offered by Stalin were unacceptable. The result of these circumstances was the Winter War.

Map of Heliulia from 1939

The war started on November 30th, 1939; the Soviet troops entered Finnish territory without an official notice of war. The main battle action took place on the Karelian isthmus. Finnish troops quickly drew back to their defense line (the "Mannerheim line"), prepared beforehand, from Taipole (Taipale) to Summa. The advance of Russian troops in the north of Karelia was stopped. The war started taking more time than intended. Due to fierce colds and the powerful Finnish defense the Soviet army bore many losses. Western countries supported Finland. Sweden, England, USA, Italy and France provided Finland with weapons. Germany, abiding by the pact terms, not only did not help Finland, but even stopped all aid coming to Finland through Germany from other countries. The League of Nations (the predecessor of United Nations) called all of its member countries to provide all possible help to Finland as a victim of aggression; both Germany and USSR by then were already expelled from the League: Germany - for Poland and the Soviet Union - for Finland.

A story of a Karelian wartime evacuee

In early February of 1940 Finnish defense was broken. Soviet troops came to the suburbs of Vyborg. Finnish government realized that the war was lost. On March 13th, 1940 a peace treaty was signed in Moscow. According to that treaty Finland ceded to the Soviet Union 3 cities, 2 towns and 58 areas. The new border basically repeated the 1721 border (the Peace of Nystadt (Uusikaupunki)). During the negotiations Finland asked for the population on those territories to have an option to stay there for a year and choose the country they'll live in. The Soviet party insisted on evacuation of all population to Finland. Almost 400 000 people had to be evacuated to Finland and settled there - the population of Heliulia was settled in the towns of Kokkola and Oulu.

Settlers to fill the Ladoga land, deserted after the evacuation, began arriving already in May of 1940. They were invited from all over the country. There were especially many settlers from the Vologda region and from Belorussia. Sometimes whole villages, about to be flooded, moved to Karelia. On March 31st, 1940 Ladoga area was included in the newly formed Karelian-Finnish S.S.R. (Soviet Socialist Republic, the 16th one at the time).

Coat of arms of Karelian-Finnish SSR, 1940 type.

At that time some people in Finland harboured plans of returning the lost territories. As Germany grew stronger, the Finnish government tried to become close to it. The idea of national supremacy joined the bitterness about the lost territories and homes and gave new strength for the creation of the "Grand Finland". The short-term goal of the war was to annex to Finland the whole Soviet Karelia and Leningrad (St. Petersburg) region. The Ladoga and Onego lakes, the Svir river and the Belomorskiy channel were to become inland waters of Finland. The final decision to begin a war was made on May 25th, 1941 in Saltzburg and on May 26th in Berlin during a counsel with the Germans. By June 17th, 1941 Finland had fully mobilized its armies and positioned them on the border with the Soviet Union.

On June 22nd Germany attacked USSR. Response followed immediately - Soviet aircraft bombed several Finnish cities on June 25th, and later that evening the Finnish parliament declared the state of war(until then Finnish troops were not allowed to open fire in return to shots from the Soviet ground). Soviet frontier guards made a few raids into Finnish territory and, finally, at night on June 29th Finnish armies crossed the Soviet border.

The frontier guards were the first to fight the Finnish troops. Despite the significant superiority in numbers, Finnish troops advanced slowly and bore significant losses. After heavy battles Finnish armies soon reached the Ladoga lake. On September 10th Finnish troops conquered the city of Olonets. Finnish evacuees started to return.

By 1944 some 282 000 people returned to their old places. They began to restore the agriculture of the region. In 1943 almost all of the lands were involved in agriculture. Soviet prisoners of war were directed to that agricultural work as well. There were several war prisoner camps on the Kurkiyoki territory. One of them was in Lahdenpohya, another one was in Kurkiyoki.

After the advances of the Soviet army by the beginning of 1944 Germany's defeat became more obvious. Finland realized its inevitable defeat as well. Beginning in 1943, the Soviet Union and England through the U.S.A. ambassador in Finland repeatedly made peace propositions to the Finnish government. On March 29th, 1944 Finnish delegation came to Moscow to discuss peace terms. However, under pressure from Mannerheim, on March 12th, 1944 the Finnish delegation rejected the peace terms, partly because of the large reparations amount.

On June 9th, 1944 Soviet armies started a powerful attack on the Karelian isthmus. On June 20th, 1944 Soviet troops occupied Vyborg. An armistice was declared on September 4th, 1944 and the "temporary" peace treaty was signed on September 19th (the official peace treaty was signed later in 1947 in Paris). According to the armistice terms the borders between USSR and Finland mostly resembled those of 1940. The gateway to the Arctic Ocean, Petsamo (Pechenga), was also ceded to the Soviet Union".

Finland started evacuating its population from the Ladoga area and later pulling out its troops. Almost all of the Finnish population was evacuated. Evacuation was darkened by a terrible incident. On June 20th, 1944 several Soviet aircraft bombed the train station in the village of Elisenvaara. It had been known as an important railway junction and during that bombing some trains with evacuees were on that station. About 270 people died in that bombing (134 were killed and 136 were not found; among those who were killed were 19 soldiers, 25 old men, 51 women, 39 children) and about 400 were wounded.

By the end of 1944 the civil Soviet population, evacuated in 1941, began returning. The Soviet period of Ladoga Karelia's history began.

In the creation of this page materials of the Lahdenpohja area history pages were used.