You arrived here at 12:20 Helsinki time Thursday 28.8.2014





The iron curtain comes down, and "the world's longest railway tunnel" is created

Explanation of map of the region

The iron curtain comes down, and "the world's longest railway tunnel" is created
 print this
By William Moore, for International Edition

      The accompanying map shows bluntly how near the ceded area was to the capital, Helsinki. Artillery batteries close to the site of the present Sarfvik golf course, just across the Espoo border, would have had little difficulty sending shells into the heart of the city. Parliament (Eduskuntatalo) is marked for reference.
      Coastal gun emplacements, though intended primarily to protect sea lanes, could also throw heavy munitions at least as far as the western suburbs. If push had come to shove, Helsinki would have been a sitting duck, and the damage would have been total.
The map legend in the lower left corner is as follows: (left column) coastal artillery, field artillery, a twin-turreted heavy coastal cannon (with a range of 42 km), anti-aircraft batteries, and a tank regiment.
      The right-hand column shows, from the top: marine regiments(there were three in all), separate marine battalions, frontier posts, harbour (there was also a submarine and naval port further south), radar station, and residential areas.
The area with the large flag marks the location of a command & control centre capable of withstanding a nuclear blast. To the east of this was a Soviet Air Force base. It had shelters for 30 planes.
      The smaller flag marks the HQ of the Red Army marines division, and the small red star at Vikträsk in the west indicates the location of a training centre for frontier guard officers. Another star can be found at the top right-hand corner of the map, at Majvik. This was an intelligence and espionage centre.   
As can be seen, a railway line (in fact the line connecting Helsinki and Turku) runs east-west through the area. 
      After an initial period when they were diverted via Hyvinkää, trains to and from Turku were allowed to pass through, but with one significant proviso: blinds covered the windows of all Finnish trains, and photography was expressly forbidden in what was described as "the world's longest railway tunnel". 
      The wooden shutters were put up and removed at either end.
Kirkkonummi, now a relatively thriving rural community to the west of Espoo, was taken over for residential purposes.
      A number of other places familiar to local residents today would have been inside the closed zone, for instance the Ericsson offices and production facilities in Jorvas (at the end of the Outer Ring Road) and the Peuramaa golf and skiing centre south of Kirkkonummi.
      The bridge at Kivenlahti, which now marks the western end of the Westway (Länsiväylä) urban motorway through Espoo, was the frontier.  Evacuees in 1944 had their belongings dumped here; from here on, they were on their own.
After the iron curtain came down on it, Porkkala was a so-called "white spot" on the map, and it is not until relatively recently that any information has been made public on the area while it was under Soviet occupation.
      Very little was left behind when the Soviet forces left gradually from late 1955 onwards.  All that remains today are a few examples of cyrillic script on walls, and occasional finds of military parts and debris as farmers plough up fields. 
Note: It may be easier to open the map in a separate window. Right-click on the small map and choose "open in new window". In this way the text and illustration can be seen side-by-side.

More on this subject:
 Sixty years ago: Parliament within range of Soviet guns
 "We were all pawns in the great historical game"


Helsingin Sanomat

  5.10.2004 - THIS WEEK

Back to Top ^