The Björkfeldt house

The Björkfeldtska house is now the office of Curatio, an association dedicated to preserving old buildings. The house was known as Södergård, but was named ” Björkfeldt” as the same family has inhabited the house since the 18th century. Several of the family members were tailors.

Ladies at the phone central in the Björkfeldt house in 1937.

The last of the Björkfeldt family to live in the house was Emilia Elizabeth, who married Walter Rohde in 1900. Rohde became a police officer and assisted the Russian revolutionary Lenin in escaping through Pargas in December 1907. The town phone central was installed in the house in 1902.

Betty Rohde (född Björkfeldt)
Emilia (Betty) Rohde.

The house also accomodated church goers and was known to have the only “gossip mirror” in town.

Kaffebjudning år 1901 med den Björkfeldtska familjen.
Coffe-time with the Björkfeldt family in 1901.

The Pargas Telephone Company took over the property in 1951 and torn down some of the old buildings to the north of the house in order to make room for the new office building.

View to the south from the attic window of Betty Rohde.

Lenin´s escape through Pargas in 1907

Walter Rohde
Poliskontapel Walter Rohde.

In December 1907 a strange German man was passing though Pargas. The man was in fact the known Russian revolutionary, Vladimir Illitji Uljanov Lenin. Lenin claimed to be Müller, a doctor from Germany. Lenin was hiding from Russian authorities and was trying to escape to Sweden. Lenin had spent three long days at Kirjala Norrgård waiting for sufficient snowfall to fall for further travel with horse sled. Lenin was able to travel to Pargas with his escort and made a stop at the Co-operative store, to meet with the merchant, Carl Jeanson, who was supposed to take Lenin to Lillmälö from where he would cross over to Nagu. Suddenly police constable Rohde steps in through the door, interrupting the secret meeting.

Lenin år 1905.

The men partaking in the escape plan were terrified since they new Rohde was very outspoken and rash. The teacher Ludvig Lindström informs Rohde of the escape and asks for his assistance. Rohde agrees and invites the whole company home to his home for a cup of tea. Later during the same night Rohde is able to secure a horse and sled. The journey continues with Lenin, Rohde and Jeanson. They arrive at Lillmälö Västergård where Lenin is forced to spend christmas due to bad weather breaking the ice and thus making travel impossible. He was finally able to cross over to Nagu and the island of Själö from where he got onboard the steamship Stella. Lenin eventually arrived in Stockholm from where he traveled onward to southern Europe.

The steamship Stella at the pier to the left ca. 1910.

Ironically, the help Rohde had given to Lenin was of little value on the morning of February 25th, 1918 as he was apprehended by seven members of the Red Guard during the Finnish Civil War. Rohde had refused to grant them access to the phone central, which he tended to together with his wife. The soldiers took him prisoner and transported him across the frozen sea to Åbo. As they came to Kakskerta island they instead decided to execute the prisoner and shot Rohde three times in the head. Miraculously Rohde survived the ordeal but the attackers escaped and were not punished for their crime.