The building site of fortress was one of the biggest sites ever in Finland. Building of fortifications were supervised by Russian engineer officers, but most of the workers were Finnish employees which got paid for working. There was not enough local workers, after war industry started and more employees were taken with coerce from countryside of Finland. Beside that over 3000 prisoners from Far East (for example from China) were brought to Finland. They worked just a short period of time mostly as lumberjacks. Prisoners had very poor equipment for weather conditions in Finland and soon most of them were sent away. Despite of that these odd strangers left great amount of stories in Finland. Nowadays many people think that the Chinese built every fortifications in Helsinki.
Oriental exotic in fortress area. Prisoners from far east and their Russian guards. There are some pictures in archives about Chinese prisoners but probably any pictures about 100,000 Finnish fortification workers. (Photo: Espoo City Museum)
It is impossible to say exact number of fortification workers in Helsinki area, but one calculation is 15,000 workers. During the fist world war there were in all 100,000 men in the fortification work in Finland. After building of the fortifications were ended in year 1917 there was a big unemployment. It caused dissatisfaction and scarcity, which partly influenced on breaking out of the civil war.
Cement has hardened in barrels. Wooden constructions have rotted away. You can still find old barrel-shape concrete blocks at unfinished fortress areas. Photo: Kurkimäki, object VII:3. (1999)
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