Lion of Finland
Monument to the Capture of Äänislinna

Monument to the Capture of Äänislinna

In the spring of 1942, the Onega Coastal Defence Brigade held a competition to design a memorial to soldiers who had fallen in battles in the coast and islands of Onega Lake. The winner was a sketch created by Lieutenant Tapio Wirkkala (sculptor and future famous Finnish designer). The project by artilleryman Oiva Helenius (artist and sculptor, creator of the Memorial to the Battle of Ruskeala) took second place in the competition.

In the autumn of 1942, blocks of crimson quartzite were transported from Shoksha by barge to the village of Uzheselga near Äänislinna. There, during the winter of 1942-1943, the monument was being made. The stone had to be worked exclusively by hand.

On both sides of the pedestal were to be placed stone plates carved from the same crimson quartzite:

Äänislinnan valtauksen muistomerkin kivitaulu Äänislinnan valtauksen muistomerkin kivitaulu
To the brothers-in-arms,
who with their blood
defended for Finland
the shores of Onego Lake
in 1941 – 194_
Lake Onega, Gulf of Bothnia,
Aura's shores, the mouth of White Sea –
therein lies, the Finn,
a power that
no one else has!
Onega coastal
defense Brigade.
From the patriotic verse "Power of Finland" written by August Ahlqvist in 1860.

The site for the Lion of Finland was chosen on a high hill on the southern edge of Äänislinna, on the slope of which the Murmansk railway runs. However, the monument was not erected when the work was completed, because the commander of the VII Army Corps, Jäger Lieutenant-General Woldemar Hägglund, ordered that the memorial be delayed until peace has been effected.

In June 1944, the sculpture and stone plates were evacuated during the retreat by one of the last trains leaving from Äänislinna railway station.

In 1947, the Lion of Finland got a home in Suomenlinna, in the courtyard of the Naval Academy. The plates were used as a base for the statue.

In the spring of 1994, the stone plates were removed from under the sculpture. Later they were installed in the main building of the Naval Academy.