Juhani Tasihin, Erik Heinrichs’ June 20th 1944 order enhancing steps taken against deserters
and its consequences.
One of the results of the Soviet Union’s fourth strategic offensive on the Karelian Isthmus on June 9th
and 10th,1944, was that 72 Finnish soldiers ended up in their commander’s office in Viipuri for outright
refusing to return to their units. On June 17th, 1944 these objectors were sent under arrest from Viipuri to
Mikkeli, where they arrived on June 19th.
On the next day, June 20th, 1944, an order enhancing the steps taken against deserters was issued by
General of Infantry Erik Heinrichs upon approval by Marshal of Finland Gustaf Mannerheim. Captain Rolf
Franck and Captain Erkki Partanen, both of whom had degrees in law, interpreted the order as declaring
that those who refused their duty were to be shot.
Only Captain Matti Nikula, commander of a Military Police Company, refused to obey the order and,
despite being repeatedly ordered to, also refused to create an internment area for deserters in Armila folk
school in Lappeenranta.
This research examines all the possible and certain shootings which were carried out as a result of
the June 20th 1944 order. Three new instances of shootings, which were initially covered up, have been
found. The most indisputable of these is the execution of a corporal in Tienhaara, Viipuri, by Colonel Alpo
Marttinen, commander of the 61st Infantry Regiment.
In spite of this research, the question of how many objectors and deserters were actually shot by the
Finnish army during the summer of 1944 remains unanswered.