War in Independent Finland
Ever since Finland gained its independence, Southern Savo has not actually been a theatre of war. Even so, the wars fought in the 20th century had an impact on life in the region and Mikkeli, in particular, played a major role in the wars. Mikkeli, Savonlinna and Pieksämäki were bombed during the Winter War. Mikkeli served as the headquarters of the White Army in April 1918 and of the Finnish Army during the Winter, Continuation and the Lapland Wars from 1939 to 1945.
Mannerheim's headquarters in Mikkeli
The renovated headquarters of Mannerheim are located at the Headquarters Museum in the Päämäjä (“Headquarters”) School in Mikkeli. Mannerheim’s office and the Office of Land Operations of the Department of Operations have been restored to the way they looked during the Continuation War. Mannerheim worked intensively at the headquarters: he usually arrived at his office at 9 a.m. and left late at night, around 10:30 p.m. During the day, he took 2 long breaks to eat. The fact that the headquarters were located in Mikkeli was quite visible on the streets, as it employed 2,500 people at its height, whereas the population of Mikkeli at that point in time was approximately 10,000.
Communications Centre Lokki, which occupies an area blasted out of the rock next to the Headquarters Museum. Lokki has been partially restored to the way it looked during the Continuation War. All communication to and from headquarters went through Lokki, thus making it vital to the army’s operating effectively. It is no wonder then that it was shielded by many metres of thick layers of rock!
Mikkeli Railway Station is home to Mannerheim’s salon car, which he used when travelling to the front, etc. The car’s sleeping compartments and salon have been restored to what they looked like before the Continuation War. Although the car sleeps 8, when the Marshal of Finland was travelling, no more than 5 people slept there. Mannerheim used the sleeping compartment closest to the salon. The next compartment over was used by Heinrichs, Nenonen and Airo. Mannerheim’s adjutants slept next to the galley.