Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Finland - Porkkala lighthouse 26.1.1956

On this FDC is an old lighthouse stamp from Finland showing the Lighthouse and the sea map of the Porkkala Peninsula. The Rönnskär II lighthouse is located on a small island about 7.5 km (4.5 mi) north of the Porkkala lighthouse in the Gulf of Finland. Built in 1814 (and significantly heightened in 1828), it has been inactive since 1928. Approx. 27 m (89 ft) two-stage tower; the lower half is square cylindrical unpainted rubble stone, and the upper half is round cylindrical cut stone, painted white. The lantern has been removed, but radar and communications equipment is mounted atop the tower. Here are images of a stamp depicting Rönnskär II (as an active light!) and a regional map engraved by Birger Ekholm, and issued by Finland to commemorate the Soviet Union's return of the strategic Porkkala area (which it had seized during World War II) to Finland on January 26, 1956, Scott No. 335, Facit No. 457. Also, here is a photo of the lighthouse, which may now be visited by boat. At the end of the Second World War the Soviet Union secured the rights of lease to a naval base at Porkkala, in accordance with the Moscow armistice agreement that ended the Continuation War, between Finland and the Soviets on September 19, 1944. Porkkala thus replaced the peninsula of Hanko, which had been leased to the Soviets as a naval base in 1940–41. A large area centered on the peninsula, including land from the municipalities of Kirkkonummi, Siuntio and Ingå and almost the entire area of Degerby, was leased to the USSR from 29 September 1944, ten days after the armistice. It was immediately placed under a military commander, Neon Vasilyevich Antonov (1907–1948), who remained in office till June 1945, when he was transferred to command the Amur River flotilla, in preparation to the war against Japan.
According to the armistice of 1944, the area was ceded to the Soviet Union for 50 years. On February 10th, 1947, the Paris peace treaty reaffirmed Soviet Union's right to occupy this area until 1994. No Soviet civilian administration was set up; the USSR simply administered it through the military commander of Porkkala, a post held (from an unclear date) until 1 January 1956 to Sergey Ivanovich Kabanov (1901–1973), the former Commander of Hanko naval base. While the area was under Soviet occupation, Finnish passenger trains running between Helsinki and Turku were still allowed to cross the area, but with windows closed by shutters, and photography prohibited. Although the Soviet lease for Porkkala had been conceded for 50 years, agreement was reached to return it earlier. The agreement was signed on September 19th, 1955, exactly 11 years after the armistice, and control on the area was handed back to Finland on January 26th, 1956. This may be attributed to the process of Finlandization and to technological progress making coastal artillery obsolete, but the renunciation of Stalinism by the Soviet Union under Nikita Khrushchev and the fact that Finland had undertaken to adopt neutrality and so remain out of NATO were also important contributing factors. At present, the Porkkala area has one of the main bases of the Finnish Navy, located in Upinniemi near Porkkala proper. This historical and wonderful FDC was given to me by my Dear Friend Pia.

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