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In and around the barracks of the Air Reconnaissance Regiment

  • In and around the barracks of the Air Reconnaissance Regiment. Photo: A. Torvinen

    In and around the barracks of the Air Reconnaissance Regiment. Photo: A. Torvinen

In and around the barracks of the Air Reconnaissance Regiment

During the Continuation War, the Ounasvaara area of Rovaniemi was used extensively by the Germans. The area included several barracks, a hospital, bakery, veterinary and transport corps, prison camp used by the security services, front line headquarters, canteen for service personnel and, of course, Rommel's field.

The area above the children's home and Ranuantie on the southwest slope of Ounasvaara hosted a fairly large barracks camp built by the Luftwaffe in 1942 and 1943. A part of the Luftnachtrichten-Regiment 56 transferred to Rovaniemi in December 1941. The accommodation barracks of its new radar unit, II./Flugmelde-Meß-Abteilung, formed in April 1943, was located on the slope of Ounasvaara. At the bottom of the slope were the buildings of the regional headquarters of Fliegerführers Nord, which was transferred to Rovaniemi in December 1940. The headquarters of Fliegerführers Nord were later moved to Kirkenes in Norway. In addition, there was at least one barracks building in the area for Finnish auxiliary workers, Finnische Hilfskräfte. We are now on the remains of a rather large building, which used to serve as housing for the Air Reconnaissance Regiment. The building was about six and a half by 28 metres in size. This barracks was completed in autumn 1943 and was likely built from plank wood or sheets. The barracks had accommodation for about twenty people. The barracks were sometimes heated with masonry stoves, but most commonly with simple iron stoves. Especially in winter, the need for firewood was high, both for heating but also as fuel for carbon monoxide trucks. This may have been an officers' barracks. The barracks was fairly modestly furnished and typically only included bunk beds, a table, chairs and some cupboards.

For entertainment, the Germans were supplied with books and magazines, records and, of course, a turntable and radio. Popular singers among German troops included Lale Andersen, who recorded the famous song Lili Marlen, Ilse Werner – who was also a famous actress and who sent special greetings to the troops in Lapland on her tour of Finland, even as she did not travel up north to Rovaniemi – and the Chilean nightingale Rosita Serrano and Zarah Leander and Sickan Carlsson of Sweden. To the northwest of this building is a shrapnel shelter for protection against bombing raids, which is today nearly entirely covered by vegetation. However, this area was never bombed.

The terrain in Ounasvaara was slightly different during the war compared to present times, as there were somewhat fewer trees than today. There were no trees next to or around the barracks, nor on what were then service roads that have now narrowed to fitness trails. Many of the trails in the area date back to the German era. Nearly all the trees that can be seen on the southwest slope today have sprouted since the war. Below this building on the slope are also the remnants of other barracks used for housing, as well as the remains of storage buildings, latrines and a well. For fire safety reasons, the buildings were placed at a distance of at least thirty metres from one another whenever possible.

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  • Latitude: 66.4994871341442
  • Longitude: 25.7626315946746

Nearby destinations

  • Germans in Ounasvaara – A historical tour of the landscapes of the Continuation War
    Ounasvaara is known as the hub for sports and recreation in Rovaniemi but did you know that between 1941 and 1944, it was also the site of a barracks camp used by the German military, especially the German Air Force Luftwaffe? This walking tour takes you virtually or physically to see the remains of the German wartime camp in the Ounasvaara and Lähteentie areas. The route is 4.2 kilometres long and takes about three hours to get around on foot. The route and locations of the sights along the route and their descriptions and photos can be found in this service...

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