60 years ago, the Allied Control Commission arrived
|A dark moment in the history of Finland: the Allied Control Commission marches into the country at Malmi Airport on 22 September 1944.|
22 September 2004
The Continuation War ended with the preliminary peace treaty between Finland and the Soviet Union on 19 September 1944. As a consequence, the Allied Control Commission, consisting almost exclusively of Soviet representatives, arrived in Finland via Malmi Airport on 22 September 1944. The Commission set up its headquarters in Hotel Torni in Helsinki and proceeded to control Finland's path towards the Paris Peace Treaty which finally put an end to World War II and was signed on 10 February 1947. The Control Commission was led by the notorious Lt. Gen. Andrei Zhdanov, of whom the Finns already had previous experience.
The Control Commission took over Malmi Airport, and all other aviation activites were banished. The Airport was returned to the Finns only in the beginning of 1947. Until then, the civilian air traffic of the capital used Hyvinkää Airfield.
Pentti Salminen, who worked at the Airport during the war, reminisces on the days of the Control Commission in his essay "From Swamp to Main Airport in Finland":
There was a flurry of activity when the order was given to hand the Airport over to the Allied Control Commission, which in practice meant the Soviets. The Finnish Fighter Squadron 30 relocated on 21 September 1944 to Hyvinkää, and we Aero people stayed behind to collect our things. We were given a few days to follow the fighters to Hyvinkää. The aircraft were flown there, but all other stuff was scattered here and there. We stacked the archives deep into the cellars of the unfinished Sokos department store building in downtown Helsinki, and spare aircraft parts were moved to the goods platforms of Malmi railway station to wait for a freight car. The lathe, the drills and other machining tools were carried to the shed of foreman Saarisalo in Puistola while some were left under open sky in his yard. In the last minutes, a replaced wing half of the Ju-52 "Sampo" was turned over into the side of the main gate road next to the ditch without any cover at all.
Aero resumed operations to Stockholm from Hyvinkää on 2 January 1945. The Control Commission, however, put a stop to these flights already on 5 March the same year.
|A Yak-9 fighter at Malmi Airport, photographed in secret at risk of trouble during the days of the Control Commission.|
A week after the hand-over, we came back to the Airport to move stacks of timber away from the attic of Aero's former oil storage. The Soviet soldiers on guard inspected both the lorry and us, and mistrust was mutual. We were scared, but everything went all right.
The curtain came down on the Airport for a long time; not quite completely though. Technician Lauri Hannula of TVH (the Department of Road and Water Construction) and his family had been evicted from their home on the Airport to a former German military barracks in Viikki. The new masters seemed to have one problem after another as they couldn't operate the technical equipment of the Airport. Hannula was sent for by jeep, day or night.
At the end of 1946, the Airport was returned to the Finns. Technician Hannula and his team found quite a mess to behold. The windows and doors had been lifted off their hinges. All their fittings had been stripped away and transported to satisfy the endless needs of the neighboring country. A lot of work was required to restore the Airport to operational condition.