Memorial tablet of workers who died in the winter war

The workers of Kolho Oy wanted to show their respect to their co-workers who died in the winter war. Thus, they commissioned a memorial tablet honouring their sacrifice for the fatherland. Also Gösta Serlachius contributed to its planning.

After the winter war ended, the workers of the Kolho carpenter’s shop had organised a fundraising among them. They wanted to finance a memorial tablet for their co-workers killed in the war. Gösta Serlachius was the managing director of G. A. Serlachius Oy who owned Kolho Oy. Gösta was known for his involvement in erecting several memorials. Thus, they conducted correspondence with him on commissioning the tablet. Gösta Serlachius offered to commission an artist to design the monument. The people of Kolho, however, had already a design of their own. The draughtsman Meritähti who was working at the carpenter’s shop had drafted it.

Most importantly, the co-workers could raise enough funds to cover all costs, even though the memorial tablet would also mention the name of Kolho Oy. In a letter to Gösta Serlachius they stated that no-one expected for it to take part in the purchase costs of the tablet. They thought that the company had after all already in so many ways aided and supported the families of the men called up to the military service and of men killed in the war.

Liljeberg Oy submitted a fair tender for the manufacture of the memorial tablet. It said that a smooth tablet would have cost 1760 marks. The price of a tablet with decorative ornaments on its edges would have been 2300 marks plus three marks for each letter. In addition, fundraising had succeeded so that they could place also an order for the engraved letters. Unveiling of the memorial tablet was to take place in September 1940.

The material of the tablet is marble. It is shield-shaped, unlike the most others that are simplified war memorials. A volute-shaped relief decorates the upper part of the tablet. The relief on the lower part of the tablet contains conifer twigs on the both sides of the sacrificial chalice. Their shape refers to forest and forest industry and reminds the ones that Vilppula’s and Pohjaslahti’s municipal coats of arms later included. The marble tablet contains the names of the eleven people that had worked for Kolho Oy and the inscription: To commemorate the men who, in the fight for our common fatherland and for its people, united as nation, were killed in the battle against a common enemy erected we this. Bothers-in-arms, comrades and Kolho o/y

For many, the memorial tablets are familiar sights on the walls of Finnish schools and churches. Often they have an inscription For the Fatherland or Pro patria. Thus, many of the memorial tablets commemorate the war heroes of a relatively small community such as a school district or a company. They, on the other hand, often do not denote whose or which authority’s victims the tablet commemorates. The background community and location of the memorial tablet can have ceased to exist. Therefore, another location has had to be found for the tablet. In some municipalities they have commissioned the memorial tablet as late as in the 2000s.

Kolho Oy’s memorial tablets for the winter and continuation wars have not been on show at the Serlachius Museums. A decision was made in 2016 to return them to Kolho school. To sum up, the memorial tablets carry a special meaning for the community and they should be available for public view. So, at present they are on show at Kolho school. The memorial tablets do not belong to the Serlachius collection anymore.

Milla Sinivuori-Hakanen

Memorial table of the men killed in the winter during the World war II is located at Kolho School.
Memorial table of the men killed in the winter during the World war II is located at Kolho School.