Wednesday, 19 August 2015

(At last!) Museum Mission: Siaröfortet

 I have wanted to get out here for such a long time! It takes about two hours to get here by boat though (does not have to be private, one can use Blidösundsbolaget), which came as a surprise (bad research, or maybe unfamiliarity with how big the archipelago is. Depending on the age of the boat (ours was fuelled with choal!), the trip might take even longer).
Siaröfortet is placed on Kyrkogårdsön. Yes, the island of graves: about a hundred people, dead from cholera, were buried here at a time when there were so many people dying and it was not possible to give every one of them a decent burial - and a quarantine was necessary. This number, however, is a pure estimation based on the stories from the people living around this place - it is not even known where exactly the graves are, even if there is a good guess. The name probably stems from even longer back in time, when seafarers did not want to dump the bodies of their deceased colleagues over board but stopped by here, the small island by which basically all big boats passed - and still pass, as you see.

From these Dath Vader-like helmets, one would be looking for coming ships. The architects had completely forgotten about aircrafts and Zeps.
The smooth surface was an attempt to make the place look natural and the trees were part of the disguise. In case the enemy came and had to be defeated, the plan actually was to quickly cut firs and birches down. These days, the cement hills are supposedly a paradise for skatebaorders.
But everything was not up to date and the project became more and more expensive. The build-up started in 1916, if I remember it right, and was not completed and in use until in 1928 - for one year only! This cannon is one of the more modern ones.
This very old thing (already at that time), on the other side, just can not aim right (the report about its accuracy of fire was much more delicately put) and was sent here to save a part of the budget.
The entire island is k-märkt, which is best translated as a national monument protected by the law. "Probably the only barbed wire in that is k-märkt", our guide guessed. Nevertheless, there is also a small hostel and restaurant here and people come here to swim.
I happen to know, due to a secret source, that there are still quite a few mines in the waters left from the war. (Update: even a friend who lives in an apartment in Germany learned two weeks ago that there was a bomb under the asphalt just 200 meters away.) And this, the queerish wooden shelf, was connected by wires to the mines placed outise of the island. One could - generally put - press a certain button to make a particulat mine go off. No joke: the map of the mines GOT LOST. So yes, there are mines in the waters. Probably not so many out exactly HERE, but there are mines. In the water. (And in Germany. And many other places.)
Underground, then, the military people slept (and stopped doing so when the health inspector came and took a look at the place) and TV-teams still come here to film authentic interiors. Here, the guide points at a version of an elevator that could take up the huge, still functioning, lamp à la ~5,000 W that can cast light at a distance of 6 kilometers.
So why did it take so long time to complete this project? One explanation is that it was built by an ordinary company (where the member's would prefer the bottle over the hammer) and were not allowed to see the entire floor plan at once, but had to build it piece by piece. The officer who lived in this house had this one job to prevent the workers from looking at the plan. 

For a glance further back in fortification time, when Gustav Vasa was king, pay Vaxholms fästning a visit.

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