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Frontleitstelle 42 barracks camp area

  • Frontleitstelle 42 barracks camp area. Photo: A. Torvinen

    Frontleitstelle 42 barracks camp area. Photo: A. Torvinen

Frontleitstelle 42 barracks camp area

In this area between the railroad and Lähteentie was the Ounasvaara barracks camp of the front line headquarters, Frontleitsstelle 42, commissioned on 15 March 1943. The camp included numerous housing and storage barracks, apparently a large office building, garage, potato cellar, sauna and dressing room and several toilets – about thirty buildings in total.

The area had a central square measuring approximately 10 by 60 metres, surrounded by four fairly large buildings. A shuttle transport to the camp was arranged from Rovaniemi railway station. Trucks travelled to the camp via Ranuantie and pedestrians over the Ounaskoski railway bridge and along a marked path next to the bridge. A section of this path is still visible today. The camp was intended as a place for soldiers going on and returning from leave and members of detachments to report to duty, as well as for accommodation if necessary. Units passing through Rovaniemi were also housed here temporarily. According to the camp plan, the building whose remains we can see now was a fairly large communal sauna. This building has a sturdy concrete floor, which most buildings in the camp lacked. Germans knew nothing about saunas before coming to FInland, but fell in love with the concept quickly. The Germans prioritised building a sauna in nearly all their camps, which was of course necessary for both hygiene and recreation. Germans also visited the public saunas found in the centre of Rovaniemi in the day, marching to town in formation.
There was also a delousing station over where the campsite is located today. Among other purposes, it was used to clean soldiers returning from the front and their equipment from lice before going on leave. The delousing station had a capacity of about 500 people a day. There were several delousing stations behind the front lines, and in the transit camps, cleaning was mainly done with steam and in saunas. After delousing, soldiers going on leave travelled to transit camps such as the Frontleitselle mustering centre, stay there for a day or two and continue on to Germany. Because Germany had so many troops in northern Finland, tens of thousands of soldiers passed through these delousing stations and transit camps during the war.

The Germans blew up the buildings in this area as well, leaving only one residential barracks and a toilet building that have since been demolished. Some remains of buildings, trenches and explosion holes are still visible, although the area is almost entirely overgrown with forest and any remains are hidden under a layer of peat. After the war, there was also an unfortunate incident where apparently a mine exploded while children were playing with explosives they had found, killing one child and injuring several others.

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  • Latitude: 66.4982439032326
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