View Full Version : Stalin work camps - Looking for Johannes Aho - born December 6, 1896

13-08-18, 20:32
A Finnish relative and I have been looking for information on his Uncle, my Great Uncle, Johannes (John) Aho. John was born in Ylisatro, Finland on December 6th, 1896 (likely as Johannes Blom and then the name changed). He moved to the Monessen, PA and lived near his brother, my grandfather, who had also moved from Ylisatro.

There is a draft card and a little information on him here in the States, but there is evidence that he may have been drawn to the Soviet Union around 1933 and gained citizenship there around 1936. This was the time where many Finns were moved to Finland with promise of a better life under communism, only to find that they were pulled in to work camps and many killed under Stalin's rule. We are trying to find out what happened to him.

My Finnish relative has made inquiries to Russia, but has been denied. Any one else had relatives with similar fates and/or know how to find out information on someone in this situation? Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

June Pelo
13-08-18, 23:23
Are you familiar with the books written by Mayme Sevander.. she wrote a number of books about the Americans and Canadians who went to Russia in the 1930s and about the disappearance of many of them.. She was able to examine the Soviet files and get the names and fate of many of those people. I had 3 of her books.. she had recorded the names of many of the people in indexes in her books. Google her name and you'll find many websites to check.. many of her books are still sold. I had "They Took my Father"... "Red Exodus" and "Soviet Bondage".

14-08-18, 06:36
Hi June, Thanks for the response. I have read the book "They Took My Father". Sad story of what many experienced.

I've read accounts of the tens of thousands killed in the 1937 to 1939 timeframe. The fact that he obtained Soviet citizenship in 1936 is apparently not a good sign as I've read online that many were forced or tricked in to doing this so that they couldn't leave the county and were ultimately killed.

I've been trying to find online databases of those killed and believe I've come across a couple, but they are in Russian. I haven't been able to find any databases in English yet. I'm hoping he isn't on the list of those killed, but it would be nice to find out what happened to him.

Is anyone up on their Russian?

Here's the two that I believe contain lists of victims:




June Pelo
14-08-18, 15:43
The Finnish Genealogy group on Facebook has had several discussions about this and as I recall they posted some websites about the fate of many of them. I can't remember if they posted anything about a database.

June Pelo
14-08-18, 16:33
I looked up the discussion on Facebook, and here are some of the websites they posted:
http://www.levonius.com/Laiho_List/Laiho_List.htm Considered one of the best lists.
http://uhreja.onego.ru/index.php People killed during Stalin's regime
http://www.migrationinstitute.fi/emregfree/nimihaku_e.php Check the link Finnish Russians
http://www.arkisto.fi/en/services/sukututkijoille-3 Missing persons
http://myonecent.eget.net/.../finnish-american-exodus-to.../ Finnish American Exodus to Stalin's Soviet Union
http://www.genealogia.fi/emi/art/article151e.htm#Loppu About N. American Finns to Karelia
https://vimeo.com/20276087 Letters from Karelia
https://vimeo.com/59173638 Interview with Mayme Sevander
Book: Karelia by Lawrence & Sylvia Hokkanen and Anita Middleton by North Star Press in St. Cloud, MN

June Pelo
14-08-18, 16:38
I saw a picture on Facebook of a monument near Petroskoi: Krasnyi Bor where 1,000 North American Finns are buried. This was posted with the discussion about Karelia.