HS Turku | A forgotten treasure was found in the museum’s warehouse – Unique color images show Finnish-occupied Eastern Karelia

After the lost war, scientific research in Eastern Karelia was kept silent for decades.

University of Turku collections of rare photographs from the Continuation War have been found in the archives of the Natural History Museum. Photos that have been forgotten for decades have now been publicly exhibited for the first time.

The photo collection is related to a docent at the University of Turku Lauri E. Karin and Professor of Botany Harry Waris for research expeditions to the conquered areas of Eastern Karelia in 1942 and 1943.

The majority of the pictures show rare plants, but there are also shots showing the villages and towns of Eastern Karelia, says the amanuensis of the plant museum Samuli Lehtonen. According to him, some of the shots can be regarded mainly as tourist pictures, which is confusing, because the color photography method used by researchers was still quite expensive during the war.

Professor Harry Waris was specialized in the study of swamps, and therefore he was sent during the war of position to familiarize himself with the nature of Karelia.

“The purpose was to find out how many swamps there were in the conquered areas that could be drained and that could have been used for farming,” says Lehtonen.

“At that time, Finland was completely dependent on Germany for food, but the hope was to break away from this connection.”

After the war, the Finnish academic community did not like to remember the research done in Eastern Karelia. So the pictures of Waris and Kari were left gathering dust in the university’s warehouse.

In the 1990s, the pictures had to be destroyed during the renovation. The museum curator saved the collection at the last minute. Researchers rediscovered the photos this year, when the plant museum was preparing for its centenary year.

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Now some of the pictures are included in the museum’s celebration exhibition. It is currently on display in Turku’s main library and will tour the province during the fall and winter. A wider sample of the collection can be found in the virtual exhibition Military botanists in Eastern Karelia.

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