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Fiskars during World War II

During the war years, 1939-1945, private factories such as Fiskars, were under government supervision. Products manufactured at the factories were needed for the war. The entire steel production at Fiskars was geared for the defence force. Parts for different bullets and munitions were made out of steel. In addition, parts for grenades were made. Although demand for these products was high, lack of raw materials, machinery, tools, fuel and workforce caused economic troubles for Fiskars.

The village of Fiskars was not in itself part of the war, but certain events caused worry among the people of the ironworks. Since Hanko was part of the war area, bombers flew over Fiskars, and the inhabitants looked for shelter in, for example, cellars. In February 1940, bombers shot towards two people who were taking manure to the Gästerby fields. Many at the ironworks were afraid of Russian spies, especially after one was found in Inkoo in 1941.

Times of Scarcity

Lack of raw materials in Finland during the World War II, led to the rationing of food and other commodities in 1939-1954. Food producers, such as the Fiskars farming office, had to give a certain amount of raw materials to kansanhuolto, a government organisation which tried to ensure the livelihood of the people during the war. Consumers were given coupons, with which they were able to buy a limited amount of products from shops pointed out by the government. Rationed products included sugar, coffee, flour, butter, milk, meat and eggs. The sale of shoes, clothes and soap was also limited. Thanks to its effective farming, Fiskars could both give a livelihood to its own people and give out significantly larger amounts of groceries than it was required to.

Required amounts in 1946
Fiskars: 376,490 units
Shipments: 835,098 units

After the war

After the war, Fiskars manufactured many products to pay for war reparations. The organised payment of war reparations created skilled labour and supported the development of new technology. Fiskars experienced an upsurge in metal industry, and became a concern consisting of seven enterprises. In 1949, the parent company of Fiskars Oy consisted of the Fiskars ironworks and machine workshop, plough factory and cutlery mill, the Pohjankuru string factory, the Åminnefors steel and rolling mill, the Skogby steam sawmill and the Inha ironworks. Its subsidiaries were Oy Billnäs Ab, Oy Ferraria Ab, Suomen Pultti Oy, Salo electricity and machine factory and the Rauma nail factory.

One of the most successful products was the Fiskars plough. In the 1940’s, 13,000 ploughs were manufactured annually, which was enough to cover the whole of domestic need. New products on the market were tractor drawn plougs and ploughs for settlers.

After the post-war relocation of people

A land reform, which came into effect in 1945, was meant to help relocate people who had been evacuated during the war, as well as soldiers who had been on the battlefront. According to the law, farms with over 100 hectares were obligated to give 45 %, and farms with 800 hectares 80 % of their land for populating. To lose as little as possible of the land vital for the functioning of the ironworks, Fiskars bought extra land and cleared new land. If there were special plants cultivated on the land, then it could be kept, and so Fiskars cultivated tobacco, dandelion for rubber, and oil and medicinal plants. In 1950, the relocation was completed. What was left was to help the company’s own workers to build homes by splitting lots and granting interest-free loans. The new residential areas were made in Gästerby, Åminnefors and Pohjankuru.

Published sources:

Carlson, C.E: Fiskars 350 (1999)
Holmström, Laura: Minnen från Fiskars  (1994)
Klevdal, Nils (Red.): Fiskars i dag och för 300 år sedan (1949)
Takeva, E.A:  Fiskars dess jordbruk och ladugårdsskötsel (1945)



Unpublished sources:

Email correspondence with Margaretha Gripenberg (11.3.2013). Fiskars museum
Interview about Fiskars, LBA 32. Pohja local history archive