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National Memorial to the Winter War

Government Communications DepartmentMinistry of DefenceMinistry of Education and Culture 30.11.2017 17.36
Press release
National Memorial to the Winter War
The memorial was designed by sculptor Pekka Kauhanen. Photo: Finnish government

The National Memorial to the Winter War was unveiled at Kasarmitori square in Helsinki on 30 November 2017. With this memorial, Finland expresses appreciation for the valuable input of veterans and everyone else who participated in the war efforts. The last day of November was selected as the day of unveiling the memorial, as this was the day when the Winter War broke out in 1939. The memorial is also part of the Finland 100 festivities.

The memorial was designed by sculptor Pekka Kauhanen. The memorial project was initiated by the Winter War Association.

The memorial was unveiled by the patron of the project, President Martti Ahtisaari. He pointed out in his speech that Finns went through many serious crises in the wake of more extensive, international crises during the first three decades of independent Finland. 

“The Winter War was one of these crises, and has a unique character. Finns were united by their strong awareness that the struggle was about values, freedom, democracy and the existence of the rule of law.

“Defence was a common cause for the whole nation. It is therefore appropriate that the memorial unveiled today is also a common cause, achieved through joint efforts,” Ahtisaari continued.

“This work by sculptor Pekka Kauhanen is a monument worthy of the Winter War’s memory. It reminds us of the sacrifices and the heroism associated with the Winter War. I believe that it will also become a valuable work in the art collection of the City of Helsinki. We have every reason to be grateful to the Winter War Association. Equally, we thank the public authorities, the state and the City of Helsinki for the realisation of this project.”

“With its multiple holes, the memorial is still standing and pays homage to the heavy sacrifice of safeguarding independence – the more than 25,000 Finns who gave their lives for their country during the Winter War. The work reflects the single person as an agent of something much larger than one individual – the future of a whole nation, which had to be redeemed with the highest of sacrifices,” said President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö at the unveiling of the memorial.

Thanking everyone who participated in the project, Colonel (Rtd) Ossi Kettunen, Chairman of the Winter War Association, emphasised the multiple phases and the high level of professionalism required by the memorial’s creation process. Kettunen said that the selection of photographs inside the globe supplements the symbolism of the memorial, as they make up the story of Finnish men and women at war. It pays homage to the war generation’s sacrifices and work to maintain the independence of the country of their fathers. 

The event was organised by the Winter War Memorial Committee appointed by the Ministry of Education and Culture.

Memorial to be included in the collection of the Helsinki Art Museum

The National Memorial to the Winter War will be included in the collection of public sculptures kept by the Helsinki Art Museum (HAM), which has 270 sculptures throughout the city.

An exhibition presenting Pekka Kauhanen’s artwork more widely will open at HAM in December (6 December 2017–4 March 2018). The exhibition will also display the original plaster model for the National Memorial to the Winter War. The opening of the exhibition will be celebrated on the eve of Finland’s centenary of independence, on 5 December from 17.00 onwards. Entrance to the exhibition will be free all day from 11.00 to 20.00.

Inquiries:

Riitta Kaivosoja, Director General, Ministry of Education and Culture, Chair of the Winter War Memorial Committee, tel. +358 2953 30129

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Photos of the event will be available on the Government’s Flickr account 

The memorial on the website of the Helsinki Art Museum