”More about the sad memory of the Olonets expedition”

In the 185th issue of this newspaper, under the nickname ET-la, an article with the above heading was published concerning the Soldiers Ervasti and Saarenpuu who were executed in the Olonets Karelia, which article is largely misleading and even contradicting real events, and therefore requires correction.

As sad as the event is, that is how it should be, that if once matter has been made public, then it must be presented exactly as it was in reality.

The author claims that “two volunteers from Ostrobothnia fell as victims of unprecedented arbitrariness”.

However, according to the stories of the soldiers of my company, the situation was such that one night two of the above-named soldiers, together with the commander of their group and five more soldiers, visited the church in Vedlozero Village and, at least, the soldier Ervasti, by his own admission, had taken from church a large sum of money then bought tobacco and other supplies which were distributed later to the soldiers of the company. Soldier Saarenpuu also attended church.

As a result of the incident, a military court sentenced the commander of the group to death and pardoned the soldiers involved in the robbery. This verdict was exposed in public in Vedlozero Village. Subsequently, military court, taking into account that the commander of the group sentenced to death had such great merits, pardoned him, and sentenced seven soldiers who participated in the crime to death for involved in the church robbery and desertion from the front-line.

This changing of verdict of military court was not caused not by any "acquaintance of commander", but by the already mentioned merits of commander of the group and, possibly, also by the fact that commander of the group remained awaiting verdict in Vedlozero Village, when my company and the soldiers, participating in the church robbery, left without an order from Vedlozero Village in the direction of Finland, but were detained in Palalahta Village.

Such was the state of affairs when the undersigned arrived from Finland to the Palalahta Village. Seven sentenced to death from my company were kept in threshing cabin in the Palalahta Village. When I visited the aforementioned threshing cabin, when talking with the arrested, they did not deny their guilt in the church robbery, which surprised me greatly, since these soldiers were considered the best in my company and their crime must have been committed more by the childish recklessness rather than to obtain profit. Later, the prisoners asked me to come to their speeches and then made a joint request to amend the verdict of military court. Based on this, I spoke with some front-line officers, but they thought the crime was so aggravating and so damaged the reputation of all the liberation forces of the Olonets expedition in the eyes of the liberated Olonets Karelians, that this incident could be resolved by a death verdict only.

Through the regiment, to which I proposed to pardon the accused and change the verdict to corporal punishment, the military court's verdict was changed in such way that the soldier Ervasti, found guilty during the interrogation, was sentenced to shoot and one of the remaining six sentenced to shoot by lot.

The aforementioned soldiers were the most valiant and lively soldiers of my company and usually carried out their duties without barking.

Nickname E.T-la claims: that when recruiting platoon of volunteers for the Olonets Karelia, young men were “caught” “despite the prohibitions of his parents”. However, it is the case, as can be seen from the newspaper advertisements at the time, that minors were required to have the consent of their parents or of their guardian. If soldiers have forged their testimonies, the undersigned could not know about it.

In this context, I must express my surprise at the fact that respected author, being unfamiliar with the subject, can make such accusations as:
”Although the parents of the young men did not give any consent to take part in the expedition, Lieutenant Kallio took them both to his platoon and then transported them to the Olonets Karelia, where they first fighting together with other volunteers for the freedom of Olonets Karelia, then they were killed for deed that has not been proven that it was committed by them; and does the crime to deserve the such sentence.”

I ask respected author to share the names of those soldiers of my company who dare to claim, "that nothing has been taken from the church except the grain supposedly for eating by the images of the Lord, which was eaten by hungry soldiers."

As for letter from soldier Ervasti, who was shoot on July 5 in Tulomozero Village, published in the 184th issue of this newspaper, in which the executed person denies his participation in the church robbery, this matter should be understood exclusively in such way, that the executed person denies his involvement in the robbery in order to sparing his parents.

I have presented a description of the incident here, based on the stories of my front-line soldiers and my own observations. If anyone wants to know more about the case, contact the officers of the military court. For my part, I don’t want to interfere with this unfortunate case anymore for the reason that I haven’t been company commander at the time of the incident.

Sulo Kallio
Liitto -newspaper, no. 188
August 19, 1919