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June Pelo
06-04-15, 23:14
In early March the remains of nearly 80 World War II-era Finnish soldiers were brought from Russia to the Finnish border town of Lappeenranta. The troops died during the Winter War of 1939-40 and the Continuation War of 1941-44 on the Karelian Isthmus and the area north of Lake Ladoga. They will be buried with military honors in May.

For the past 20 years the Taipale group of volunteers has been searching for remains of Finnish soldiers who died in Karelia during the Second World War era. So far they have repatriated the remains of 260 soldiers for burial in Finland. A majority have been buried as unknown soldiers in Lappeenranta. Others were identified by their dog tags, with the name verified through DNA testing. The identity tags are then handed over to the soldier's relatives. This winter Finland is commemorating the 75th anniversary of the three-month-long Winter War, which left nearly 27,000 Finns and 127,000 Russians dead.

One of Taipale group's most poignant incidents began with a child's pacifier. A little girl gave it to her father as he was heading back to the front after his final home leave.

More than a half a century later, the group was searching in Tali, one of the areas ceded to the Soviet Union after the war. They found the remains of the Finnish soldier - and the intact pacifier. They identified the man and decided to see if any of his relatives could be traced. They determined that his daughter had moved in the 1960s, where she still lives. They visited her and returned the memento of her father. She thanked them profusely.

FAR, April 2015