Letters from the Finnish civil war prison camps of 1918

Johanna Hammarberg’s “Lost Letter” is an audio play installation based on twelve fictional letters describing the fates of the suspected Reds from Kotka area who were convicted in 1918 civil war prison camps.

Scriptwriter, director Johanna Hammarberg (born in Kotka) has studied actual civil war documents, on which she has based the fictional letters on. The recorded letters presented in this sound installation are each between two and three minutes long.

The ideas for the ”Lost letters” came from various sources which included Hammarberg’s own family stories, published academic research papers, online archives, and actual letters and writings found from the People’s Archives. The letters describe the prison camp conditions. The various camps shared some common features, such as hunger, diseases, executions, violence, food parcels, and correctional education offered by the Lutheran Church.

The installation includes a letter in which a young boy asks his family to send him a food parcel, and a letter in which the writer describes his longing into the nature and back to his home with his loved one.

The installation presents twelve different stories. This number correlates with the number of prison camps in which the victims from Kotka area perished. Each letter gives a personal description of the conditions that ultimately took the lives of these victims.

The names of the known victims were also presented along with the sound installation.

The letters of the installation were written by director-writer Johanna Hammarberg, read by actor Juha Valkeapää. The sound design was made by Maija Kaunismaa and recorded by Aki Sihvonen.

Links to listen to the sound installation:

FINNISH: https://soundcloud.com/johannahammarberg/kadonnut-kirje

ENGLISH: https://soundcloud.com/johannahammarberg/lost-letter-mix-290518

Johanna Hammarberg’s ”​Lost Letter” was originally presented at the Museum of Kymenlaakso, the Maritime Centre Vellamo (Kotka) May 4th – December 30th, 2018.

About the artist:

Johanna Hammarberg is a theater director, scriptwriter and holds a Master’s degree in Fine Arts. She is also a mother of three small children, TRE practitioner and Rosen bodywork student. Johanna has a soft spot in her heart for Zen Peacemakers and especially for the Bearing Witness retreats. She has been studying Zen with Frank De Waele Roshi since 2018.


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