Burning street car in Helsinki during USSR air raids, 1944.

Photos of bombed, WWII Helsinki mashed up with prosperous modernity

Burning street car in Helsinki during USSR air raids, 1944.

During WWII, Finland was twice involved in military confrontation with the Soviet union. For the capital, Helsinki, the most intense air raids and bombings occurred in February 1944, a campaign which is usually referred to as The Great Raids Against Helsinki. These amazing photographs, created by the Finnish Defence Forces Combat Camera unit, mash up haunting photos of wartime destruction with modern pics from a couple years back, in nice black and white plus colour images.

The USSR was under the impression its bombing campaigns were more successful and expected Helsinki to be pretty much gone by the end of the war. The Soviets didn’t learn of the relatively limited damage until after the war when Allied Control Commissioner Andrei Zhdanov visited Helsinki.

It’s, of course, a great joy that so much of Helsinki was repaired after the war rather than being bulldozed to be replaced with modernist downtowns, which usually are pretty rubbish looking. Post-war Helsinki has mostly grown in suburbs scattered around the region, leaving the old city core that existed during the war mostly intact.

Furniture in the street beside a bombed house in Helsinki during the Great Raids Against Helsinki, 1944.

Furniture in the street beside a bombed house in Helsinki during the Great Raids Against Helsinki, 1944.

 

Bombed out wooden houses in Helsinki, 1944.

Bombed out wooden houses in Helsinki, 1944.




 

Streetscape of a bombed Yrjönkatu, Helsinki during the Contunuation war in 1944.

Streetscape of a bombed Yrjönkatu, Helsinki during the Continuation war in 1944.

 

Badly bombed houses in Helsinki, 1944.

Badly bombed houses in Helsinki, 1944.




 

The damaged Main Building of Helsinki University on Unioninkatu, beside the senate square.

The damaged Main Building of Helsinki University on Unioninkatu, beside the senate square.

 

Damaged building in Helsinki after a bomb raid during the Continuation War.

Damaged building in Helsinki after a bombing raid during the Continuation War.

 

Streetscape with bombed buildings on Porthaninkatu in Hakaniemi, in the now hip neighborhoods, greater Kallio region.

Streetscape with bombed buildings on Porthaninkatu in Hakaniemi, in the now hip neighbourhoods, greater Kallio region.




 

Kluuvikatu in the Kluuvi district in ruins after Soviet air raids during the Continuation War.

Kluuvikatu in the Kluuvi district in ruins after Soviet air raids during the Continuation War.

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Credits for colorized title photo.

Credit combination pictures: Finnish Defence Forces Combat Camera – (Tommi Kangasmaa, Markus Kontiainen, Anssi Uusitalo, Thomas Litchfield, Timo Kankkunen,Nico Stalberg, Niko Tiranis)




6 replies
    • Mark
      Mark says:

      The Soviet air force arranged heavy attacks on Helsinki in 1944 but the city was well protected and the Soviets dropped their bombs on the Baltic herrings mostly. A couple of hundred people died, the damaged buildings were quickly repaired.

      Reply
  1. Andre M
    Andre M says:

    These pictures remind me as to why the Finns didn’t care whose side they fought on, as long as they fought against the Russians.

    Reply

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