During World War II the Soviet Army established the world’s only reindeer transport battalion. More than 1000 reindeer herders and 6000 reindeer were mobilized from Nenets Autonomous Okrug to the Karelian Front.
The memorial was opened on February 23, the Defender of the Fatherland’s Day. Photo: Andrey Vokuev
In addition to the Nenets, also reindeer herders from Murmansk, Arkhangelsk and Komi districts were mobilized to the front.
During 1944, the Karelian Front participated in the final offensive against Finland which led to the Soviet-Finnish armistice. In October 1944 it conducted the Petsamo-Kirkenes Operation, capturing parts of northern Finland and liberating the easternmost parts of Norway from German occupation.
The Karelian Front conducted the only successful major military operation ever undertaken in an Arctic environment in modern warfare. Reindeer proved to be very useful in Arctic operations. One reindeer can pull up to 50 kg on a sledge behind it. They transported not only food and ammunition, they also carried urgent orders to officers and they carried mail, wounded soldiers and pilots from downed aircrafts back to their lines. The reindeer were even successfully used to pull downed aircrafts back to sites and units where they could be repaired.
The Barents Region has some of the last largest areas of intact natural woodlands in Europe. Scientists, bureaucrats and environmentalists from all four Barents countries cooperate on preserving the forest, but an international initiative is needed.
August 9th, the Barents Region celebrated the UN International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The day was commemorated in several parts of the region, including Karasjok in Northern Norway and Teriberka in Northwestern Russia.