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Värtsilä

Arms of Värtsilä

In 1939 well-known Finish archeologist Sakari Pälsi found near the Jänisjoki River the place of an ancient settlement, dated back to about the year 1000 BC. Already in the beginning of the first millenium AC Värtsilä territory was inhabited by Karelian tribes.

Growing influence from The Novgorod the Great led to mass Orthodox baptism of Karelians and, later, to unification of Karelian principalities with Novgorod state.

The earliest written mention about Värtsilä can be found in 1499-1500 tax census book. At that time Värtsilä had 3 households and was a part of an Orthodox Nikolo-Serdobol parish of Korela uesd (municipality) of Vot fifth (county) of the Novgorod the Great.

In 1617 according to Stolbovsky Treaty all the territory of Korela uesd became Swedish. Most Orthodox Karelians moved to Russia and was gradually replaced by Lutheran Karelians, mostly from Savo. The Värtsilä village became a part of Tohmajärvi volost (municipality), established in 1651.

As a result of The Northern War according to the 1721 Uusikaupunki Peace Treaty the near-Ladoga Karelia became Russian. Värtsilä became a border village (on the Swedish side) with some of its agricultural lands belonging to Russia.

First attempt to industrialize Värtsilä was done in 1780, when the crown fogt Gabriel Wallenius got the permission for his 14-years son to organize saw mill. But in 1784 the production was stopped because the dam became an objection to timber float.

In 1808 Finland became The Autonomous Grand Duchy within The Russian Empire. In 1811 Near-Ladoga Karelia was included to Finland again.

In April 12th 1834 pastor Gustaf Löfström got the permission from The Senate to built two-saw sawmill on Juvanjoki River. Löfström was thought to be a commercial agent of well-known Finnish businessman Nils Ludvig Arppe. At least already in 1836 the sawmill became a full property of Arppe.

At best times up to 20 Värtsilä inhabitants worked at the sawmill.

In 1850 Arppe got from the Senate the permission to build in Värtsilä two blast-furnaces to process the lake and marsh ore. Processing works were built in 1852 on the shore of Juvanjoki River.

In 1857 Arppe with the family moved to Värtsilä. In 1859 he supported building of the public school in Värtsilä (the first in Tohmajärvi volost).

During 1859-1861 a puddle-furnaces and rolling-mill were built. The works became biggest in Finland with up-to-date technology.

In 1865 a works parish was founded. In 1867 there was built a wooden church by the project of Paul Hendunen.

In 1870 metal works employed 122 workers.

In 1885 an open-heart furnace, the world first to use lake ore, was built. It produced 7.5 metric tons of steel daily.

In 1894 a 133 kilometers railroad Sortavala-Joensuu went through Värtsilä and in the next year a 4 kilometers brunch to iron works was finished.

There were 1 069 inhabutants in Värtsilä in 1900.

In 1907 a joint-stock society Aktiebolaget Wärtsilä was founded.

In the same year a joint education school was opened.

In 1909 a separate church circuit was established in Värtsilä.

In 1910 a second open-heart furnace was built.

In September 1919 Värtsilä municipality was organized and separated from Tohmajärvi one. There were 4 691 inhabitants in the new municipality.

In 1920 a public library was opened in Värtsilä.

In 1921 Finnish president Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg visited Värtsilä.

In the same year the third open-heart furnace was built.

In 1929 a wire galvanization shop was built.

In 1931 the People House was built. The joint education school was transformed to the state secondary school.

In 1932 after enlargement of the wire galvanization shop all country needs in the product were fully covered.

In April 12th 1934 a centenary of Wärtsilä was celebrated. President of Finland Pehr Evind Svinhufvud visited the occasion.

In 1939 Värtsilä commune had 6 500 inhabitants, around 1000 of them was working at metal processing works.

Before the Winter War 9 Blackburn Ripon hydroplanes were based at Värtsilä. In winter they shifted floats for skis. Soviet aviation regularly raided Värtsilä after beginnig of the war and in December 24th 1939 a squadron of Fokker fighter was moved here.

According to March 12th 1940 Moscow Peace treaty 2/3 of Värtsilä municipality territory went to the USSR. The border was set so, that the metal works, the railway station and bigger part of the settlement went to Soviet side. The inhabitants had to be evacuated by 14.00 March 25th 1940.

In 1941 the active actions near Värtsilä started in July 10th. From Soviet side defense was held by 367th infantry regiment (under command of Major F.Litvinov) from 71st infantry division (commanded by Colonel Vasily Fedorov). Finnish offensive along the line Soanlahti-Suistamo was accomplished by 11th infantry division (under command of Colonel Kaarlo Aleksanteri Heiskanen) from VI army corps (commanded by Major-General Paavo Juho Talvela).

At the end of the first day of action Soviet 367th infantry regiment left Värtsilä and retreated to the South-East.

In July 18th 1941 Finnish Commander-in-Chief Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim arrived to the Värtsilä railway station. He cheered the moving forward troops and had a meeting with their commanders.

Most of the settlement, including wooden church, was destroyed. With the return of inhabitants the restoration began.

Värtsilä airfield was used by bombers.

According to September 19th 1944 Armistice Agreement Värtsilä again became Soviet. One week was given for evacuation of inhabitants.

Metal works were transferred to the responsibility of the Chief Administration of Industrial Building Camps. For faster restoration in May 7th 1946 a working correction camp was set in Värtsilä.

The works were restored in 1947 (February, 14). There were up to 2300 prisoners working at furnaces and producing barbed wire.

Värtsilä working correction camp was dismissed in April 29th 1953.

Open-heart furnace processing was soon stopped due to unprofitability and the works transferred to production of wire and derivatives.

In August 9th 1992 on the place of the burnt church former Värtsilä inhabitants set a memorial with inscription on Finnish and Russian:
"On this place there in 1868-1941 stood Värtsilä church and here also was a graveyard of 1918, 1939-1940 and 1941-1944 Finnish war heroes.
Time for war and time for peace
Ecclesiastes 3:8"

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