Finland | Hidden city under Helsinki in case of nuclear attack – VIDEO
Defence Redefined
Published on 18/05/2022 at 12:30

Finland may be the happiest country in the world, at least…overground and this is because the hidden underground city of Helsinki tells a different story. Beneath the capital, there is a huge network of warehouses and tunnels that stretches across the city.

There are more than 5,000 shelters in Helsinki – enough to protect more of the city’s entire population – and more than 50,000 shelters across the country, according to the Helsinki Department of Civil Defence.

The underground shelters were first built in the 1960s and the Finnish government has commissioned excavations of more than 9 million cubic meters underground. Fifty thousand buses can be parked in this area. The entrance doors of the shelters, however, are so thick that even in the event of a nuclear explosion they protect the people. 

“There is a feeling that you always have to be prepared. It may not be this generation or the next, but Russia is likely to attack Finland in some way,” said Charly Salonius-Pasternak, a lead researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.

With so much space left untapped, the city of Helsinki has turned some of its shelters into everyday public spaces. There is an underground playground, a shelter that also serves as a hockey court, and even an underground swimming pool.

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This is what it’s like to be a neighbor of Russia. The two countries share an 800-mile border and a long, complex history.

For decades, Finland has chosen not to join any military alliance in an effort to allay Russia’s security concerns. As a result, Finland had to ensure that it could defend itself. So it’s not just sheltered, as conscription is still mandatory for men and the country has about 900,000 reserves. 

“We have to take care of the people, that’s the main reason we have this system,” said Tomi Rask, a trainer at Helsinki’s Civil Defence Department. But the very scenarios for which Finland has spent years preparing are now taking place in Ukraine, where some have been living underground for weeks.

At the same time, Anna Lehtiranda, the communications manager in the municipality of Helsinki, made it clear that the Finns would not “back down” due to threats. “As a country in a neutral zone, we always felt that we had to protect ourselves and we will do it,” she said. 

“The underground shelters are being built as we have the experience of the Finnish war of 1939 and World War II. We all have acquaintances and relatives who suffered from injuries of this kind,” she added. These basements include cafes, stadiums, go-kart tracks, parking, and thousands of bunk beds.

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