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Officers' club and cultural activities during the war

  • Officers' club and cultural activities during the war. Photo: A. Torvinen

    Officers' club and cultural activities during the war. Photo: A. Torvinen

Officers' club and cultural activities during the war

On this spot, sheltered by earth ramparts, probably stood the local officers' club, which the Germans called the casino. The club wasn't actually a casino, however. The servicemen had their own canteen along the present-day Lukkarinkatu and possibly elsewhere, too. The officers' club was a place of leisure for officers, hosting song nights and occasional guest performers such as singers or magicians. Other leisure activities for both officers and crew included movies. The Germans supplied the camps with film projectors and reels in mobile motor units. The Germans also went to see films at Kino Inari's screenings and at the Haus der Kameradschaft. The most popular flicks included the colour films Die goldene Stadt, Immensee and Münchhausen, which attracted huge audiences wherever they were screened.

In addition to films, the Haus der Kameradschaft also hosted numerous concerts, dance performances, operas, magic shows, comedy and theatre. One of the most popular opera performances was The Marriage of Figaro, which was performed no less than 35 times to a full house at the Haus der Kameradschaft. In total, the performances were seen by 12,000 viewers. The most famous performers who visited Ounasvaara were the singer Lizzi Waldmüller, dancer Daisy Spies and her dance troupe, dancer-singer Marika Rökk, Swiss tenor Herbert Ernst Groh and Swedish opera singer Lisa Tunell-Scharner. Finnish artists also performed at events in the Haus der Kameradschaft, including dance duo Lucia Nifontova and Alexander Saxelin and pianist Kerttu Bernhardt. Performers at the servicemen's evening hosted by Finns included soprano Anna Mutanen, accordionist Onni Laihonen and comedian Siiri Angerkoski. Finns were also able to participate in events at the Haus der Kameradschaft. In 1943 and 1944, Rovaniemi enjoyed a cultural life never seen before. Especially for schoolchildren, going to the movies was a memorable event. Children got in for free if there was room.

Alcohol also played a major role among the German troops, who were homesick and unused to the dark and long winter. In the north, the Germans had very good stocks of both food supplies and alcohol, including beer, wines and occasionally cognac. The Germans also brought their own tableware and cutlery.


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