Operation Stella Polaris

Operation Stella Polaris was the cover name for activity in which Finnish signals intelligence records, equipment and personnel were transported into Sweden after the ending of the Continuation War in 1944[1] so that the signals intelligence activities could continue in Sweden and the equipment would not end up in the hands of the Soviet Union. The threat of Soviet occupation was considered too likely and an operation was formed to support guerrilla warfare in Finland after occupation. The operation had its base in the small fishing village of Nämpnäs in Närpes, Ostrobothnia, where the archives were shipped to the Swedish ports. The leaders of the operation was Colonel Aladár Paasonen, chief of the Finnish military intelligence and Colonel Reino Hallamaa, head of the Finnish signals intelligence section.[2]

Transportation to Sweden

On 20 September 1944 a very large part of the Finnish signal intelligence was moved to Sweden.[2] From the Swedish side it was Major Carl Petersén, head of the Defense Staff's intelligence section C-byrån, which was responsible for the operation. Approximately 750 people were transported through Finland and were transported on three ships across the Gulf of Bothnia from Närpes to Härnösand and one ship from Uusikaupunki to Gävle. The ships were also loaded with wooden boxes of archives and signals intelligence equipment.[3]

After the Soviet Union ceded parts of Karelia and Salla in Finland after the Moscow Armistice on 19 September 1944, the majority of the Finnish personnel and their families returned home, except those hired by the FRA. They were on their own to cross the border at Torne River in secret. Sweden offered to take over the equipment and some of the documents. The National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) had thus access to technical equipment and seven file boxes, which became important in the foundation of the newly established activities of the FRA.[4]

Operation Stella Polaris led to Sweden being given access to a large amount of qualified materials as well as knowledge from signal technicians, which in some cases were also hired. For Finland, the deal means domestic political entanglements, and, as a result of the Finnish People's Democratic League strong influence in government, examples were enacted against several of the so-called "anti-Soviet" involved in the operation, with prison sentences as a result.[5]

The processing in Sweden

From October 1944 the intelligence material was moved to the basement of the Hotel Aston in Stockholm. There the Finnish operation leader Reino Hallamaa microfilmed the material, which he sold to several countries' intelligence agencies. Later the material was transported away by the FRA. Large parts of the material was then stored by Carl C:son Bonde at Hörningsholm Castle and 29 boxes by Svante Påhlson at Rottneros Manor from the 20 March 1945. Seven boxes of material had previously been submitted to the FRA. In the early 1960s, the secret documents from Operation Stella Polaris were burned at Lövsta garbage dump in Stockholm on the instruction of the then Director-General of FRA, Gustaf Tham, and the now retired general Carl August Ehrensvärd.[6]

The Finns involved in Operation Stella Polaris were persecuted and arrested after the return to Finland by the Communists dominated State Police. Not until the early 1950s, the Finnish Chancellor of Justice declared those who participated in Operation Stella Polaris was not relevant to accuse of war crimes.

Later events

In Nämpnäs there is a memorial of the operation. 15-20 Finnish signal technician who came to Sweden in Operation Stella Polaris were immediately made Swedish citizens and remained as FRA employees in Sweden. The Finnish military intelligence chief Aladár Paasonen, who together with Reino Hallamaa had the main responsibility for the operation, lived until the 1970 in the United States. Reino Hallamaa moved to Spain, where he started a construction company.

See also


  1. Aid, Matthew (September 2002). "Stella polaris and the secret code battle in postwar Europe". Journal of Intelligence and National Security. 17 (3): 17–86.
  2. 1 2 West, Nigel (2012). Historical Dictionary of Signals Intelligence. The Scarcrow Press, Inc. pp. 208–210. ISBN 978-0810871878.
  3. Bremmer, Fatima (28 August 2015). "Min pappa var en hemlig finsk spion" [My dad was a secret Finnish spy]. Expressen (in Swedish). Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  4. Arwidsson, Thorulf (2009-04-30). "Spaningsarkiv öppnade för FRA". Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 2009-05-01.
  5. Rosell, Marianne; Ljungqvist, Arne; Åhgren, Åsa, eds. (1992). Försvarets radioanstalt 50 år: 1942-1992 [Defence Radio Establishment 50 years: 1942-1992] (PDF) (in Swedish). Bromma: Försvarets radioanstalt (FRA). p. 27. LIBRIS 1499703.
  6. McKay, C. G.; Beckman, Bengt (2003). Swedish signal intelligence, 1900-1945. Cass series--studies in intelligence. London: Frank Cass. pp. 211–212. ISBN 0-7146-5211-3.

Further reading

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