Excavating General Sergei Kabanovs "luxurious" underground command post.
Was general Sergei Kabanov leading the defence of Hanko from a re-inforced and fortified underground shelter or was the reality possibly something very different?
Sergei Kabanov (1901-1973).
General Kabanov arrived in Hanko on the 13th of May 1941. When hostilities between Nazi Germany, Finland and the Soviet Union broke out in June 1941 Kabanov ordered a new underground command post to be built. Kabanov proudly describes the work in his memoirs:
"We had another joy at the headquarters: in fifteen days they built a new command post in the park, with water supply, chemical protection, steam heating and a three-meter-high roof made of reinforced concrete. True, we hurried to get into it: the concrete, solidifying, gave off heat and for two weeks it was hot like in a bath; I even allowed everyone to work in shorts.
Rasskin and I chose a small cabin next to the operations department, where the operational duty officer was also located... we were in danger always and everywhere”
(Kabanov 1971, p. 180)
Soviet propaganda picture of General Sergei Kabanov in 1942.
Hanko was re-taken by Finnish and Swedish soldiers in early December 1941. There are many short descriptions of events that took place when the underground command post was discovered. In the book ”Hanko saarrettuna” from 1942 Finnish lieutenant Pentti Nikulinen speaks about the experience:
The shelter was discovered in December 1942. Photo SA-kuva.
”Near Hanko Casino is a grand underground bunker with ten chimneys on the roof, strongly built and with green doors. … This must with all probability have been the bunker of the commendant of Hanko and his staff. At least according to the stories told by Soviet POW´s it should have been in this direction”.
According to the soldiers who entered the command post immediately after it was abandoned it had chandeliers hanging from the roof and cabinets made of mahogany (Lappalainen 1987: 205–222).
The remains of the underground shelter were partly dismantled and covered up in 1948 and only very few reliable eyewitness accounts or descriptions of it exist today. As no photos or a floor plan of it´s interior have survived. conflict archaeology is the only way to find out more about how the shelter was constructed, used and inhabited by the high ranking Soviet officers in 1941.
The exvations started today... Stay tuned!