June is the coolest month. Cuckoo birds sing in the light nights and blooming lilacs fill the air with their fragrance. Yellow meadows and green forests blend with blue lakes. Enchanted, we drove in silence through magical scenery. Not until we passed an abandoned cottage on Lake Ladoga did we realize that something was wrong: we were alone.
|Lonely on Lake Ladoga|
|Dandelions take over the fields|
|Waste not, want not!|
|A Kolkhoz self-destructs|
When the USSR annexed this prosperous territory, it introduced centralised planning and re-introduced serfdom. When the Soviet system collapsed people grabbed what they could. Useful building material in the kolkhozes was quickly pilfered by the former farm workers and live cattle slaughtered and consumed.
|Social realism or graffiti?|
|End-game for a baracks|
|Finnish functionalism stands firm|
Rural Karelia was not only an occupied country but also an abandoned country. For anyone with some historical knowledge, seeing the current desolation of Karelia is a freightening revelation. An economist can dismally note that the systemic change (from market to planned economy) in 1944 has acted as a time machine, transporting Karelia back about 100 years in time. Living standards today are little better than then, as is industrial capital and technology. The buildings that had survived from Finnish times and were still standing in 1944 had, if cared for, stood up well. While buildings built after 1944 and ‘maintained’ with Soviet technology were often in worse shape.