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General Paavo Talvela says
I sat with General last night from 8 pm to midnight, that is, for four hours. There was a bottle of rum on the table. We tasted it. The colonels got to wait. We discussed the general's past stages.
. . .
This morning I got up at 6 and dictated to the lotta-typist what I had written with the General last night in pencil on brown paper. This is the material for an article about General Talvel's stages, ordered to me by the Information Detachment of the Supreme Headquarters:
”I chose a military career when I went to the Jäger Battalion from the Finnish Commercial School in 1916 as a young man who was barely nineteen years old. During the Finnish War of Independence I was promoted to commander of Battalion, and through three promotions to Major in three months. I was 21 at the time. My Battalion fought well. No one asked my age. Only after the war the High Command recognized my youth and lack of experience. So I was not given a Battalion in the actual regular forces, but was appointed as the commander of the Border Guard Battalion in Salmi. This appointment predetermined my future life mission. At first I thought I had come to the Sahara, but I found myself in a developed society among lively and friendly Karelians. East Karelia became dear to me. I heard descriptions of cross-border Karelia and its Finnish population. In particular, the blind Seise old-man, who was called Emperor of Salmi, warmed my mind to the Karelian cause by his stories.
In the spring of 1919, Major G. von Hertzen planned an expedition to Olonets Karelia. He met in my face an enthusiastic volunteer companion. I got a Battalion under my command or actually a backbone of a Battalion, about 200 men. The Battalion was to be replenished by volunteers from Olonets Karelia. Russia was in a state of chaos at the time.
My task was to march from Orusjärvi Village of Salmi towards the Pryazha Settlement and conquer it. We had battles in Tulmozero Village, Kroshnozero Village, Manga Village and Pryazha, and in eight days we had completed our task. On May Day we marched from Pryazha onwards towards Petrozavodsk.
In Vedlozero, according to the original plan, I tried to replenish the incomplete Finnish Battalion with residents of Olonets Karelia, but the elders of the village said that no one crazy would go to fight voluntarily. However, they continued: "When we are ordered, we understand better" and I immediately composed the "Law on conscription", carried out the conscription process, and before we reached Pryazha, my Battalion was, as it were, full completed.
Hertzen, meanwhile, had advanced along the coastal road to the Olonka River and even beyond it, and eventually went to the defensive. My group, the Northern Olonets group, as it was called, remained in defense in the Pryazha region. It was strengthened by the Battalion under the command of Maskula, which had advanced from Suojärvi to Pryazha.
My group gradually developed into a regiment with an artillery battery. We held a large front: 200 kilometers from Kotkozero to Munozero. In mid-June, I concentrated my forces for an offensive on Petrozavodsk. So I got seven kilometers from town. It happened in mid-June.
But then took place an enemy landing in Vidlitsa Village, in the rear of the Southern group. My regiment was forced to retreat to Syamozero Village. Fighting there for about a month, but no new forces were gained, and this attempt to liberate Olonets Karelia gradually ceased, and in the early 1920 the whole Karelia was again in the hands of the Russians.
At the final stage, I was appointed commander of the entire expedition, as well as a member of the Olonets Council. In this capacity, I worked for half a year to create a new, more powerful expedition. I wrote memorandums, formed delegations, ran in ministries and foreign missions, but everything was in vain. There was in the country not enough enthusiasm for Karelia. Thus, when the Peace of Tartu was made, we had in the East Karelia nothing other than Repola and Porajärvi, held by the activists forces. In the Peace of Tartu they were exchanged to Petsamo, but good as well.
When the men of the expedition were disbanded, I moved to army duties.
At the beginning of the winter in Eastern Karelia, the Karelians themselves rose to battle. My passionate nature did not allow me to remain a bystander. In early December, I volunteered for the front.
I was initially on patrol in the southern part of Olonets Karelia. Then I got under my command so-called Repola Battalion of two hundred men, with whom I conquered Repola and Porajärvi in ten days. After that, I got also the units in the White Sea Karelia, which were in a state of disintegration. The battle, of course, was already initially doomed to hopeless. At this stage, the Soviet Union was able to concentrate thirty thousand men in East Karelia against three thousand untrained Karelians and a small number of Finnish volunteers. The situation has become miserable. The end result could not be anything other than retreating to Finland. But I brought my people back intact.
This attempt to liberate Karelia also spilled into the sand. After this, the military liberation of Karelia remained for me, as well as for others, a dream only.
When the Academic Karelia Society was founded, I joined it. The Karelian affair, which had been almost central to my mind after the Finnish War of Independence, now became a hobby only. However, I was involved in the most various actions and tried my best to promote the issue of Karelian refugees. But the great idea of my youth could not die in my mind: security of our borders, integration of our tribe, the freedom of the Karelia. But I no longer believed in miracles.
However, a miracle happened. At July 10th, I stood in Korpiselkä and knew that I had to march to those lands of my youth. So yesterday the Olonets City was conquered and today my vanguard is approaching Svir River.
I have the original flag of the East Karelian expedition, which was sewn by the women during the battles in Olonets Karelia. It has hung on the wall of my office for twenty years. It swept during the hopeless winter battle for the East Karelia in the flagpole of my headquarters. It is with me here, and I will raise it again alongside the Finnish flag to remind once again of the courage and sacrifices of our youth. That is the end point of my military activity.”
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