Finland’s defence forces have admitted having a secret list of all the places around the country where there could still be munitions left over from the Second World War.
The database is managed by Keuruu’s Pioneer Regiment, and information is only given out to bodies such as construction firms when necessary.
Lt Col Timo Iltanen claimed the list had to be kept a secret because souvenir hunters would flock to the location of munitions stores, placing themselves in real danger. He added that it was a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils, explaining that most of the ammo stores were well out of the way in places where only the occasional mushroom picker might stumble across them.
The database has information about old battlefields and ammunition dumps and may also show where the Germans left explosives as they retreated to the north during the Lapland War. Although there are no minefields in Finland, there may still be unexploded devices buried on old battlefields.
The army is continuing to clear munitions as discretely as possible. After the war, it was common practice to sink explosives into lakes where it was assumed they were out of harm’s way. In 2007, the navy began clearing explosives from the Gulf of Finland.
According to Major Sauli Hongisto, most of the mines are being cleared from the sea bed and, although around 100 have already been destroyed, thousands still remain.