As the southernmost town in Finland, Hanko was a strategic anchorage well before its founding as a town in 1874. It was also a point of emigration: between 1881 and 1931 about 250,000 Finns left for the USA, Canada and Australia via these docks.
At the end of the Winter War, the March 1940 peace treaty with Russia required the ceding of Hanko as a naval base. Its inhabitants evacuated as the Russians moved in with a garrison of 30,000 and constructed a huge network of fortifications. Hanko was isolated from the Russian front lines and eventually abandoned in December 1941. Citizens returned to see their damaged town the following spring. Learn more about this little-known but fascinating history at the Rintama Museo.