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Jakub Paulík
August 25, 2022, 11:00am
Reading time: 7:34

After 30 Doses Of Meth, He Walked 400 Kilometres In 14 Days. Aimo Koivunen Was Eating Raw Meat, His Leg Was Torn Apart By a Mine.

He took a huge amount of meth, escaped his unit and flew through the enemy's camp on skis.

Jakub Paulík
August 25, 2022, 11:00am
Reading time: 7:34
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After 30 Doses Of Meth, He Walked 400 Kilometres In 14 Days. Aimo Koivunen Was Eating Raw Meat, His Leg Was Torn Apart By a Mine.
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After 30 doses of meth and a major memory loss, he walked 100 kilometres. The Finnish soldier Aimo Koivunen escaped not only from the Soviet pursuers, but also lost himself from his unit. After two weeks in the freezing nature of Lapland, he ate pine buds and raw meat from local birds, experienced a ski chase with Red Army soldiers, almost unintentionally set himself on fire and ended up lost in a minefield, where an explosive tore his leg apart.


Source: Wikimedia/Kazvamsemartin


The Soviet soldiers could not catch up with the drugged Finn

The "Ivans", as Aimo Koivunen called them, rushed at them from all sides. They got into a firefight with the Soviets on March 18, 1944 at approximately 10 a.m. After about 10 minutes of fighting, the Finnish explorers realized that they wanted to surround them, so they had to retreat. Even though they covered many kilometers on skis, members of the Red Army were still on their trail. Aimo Koivunen was not in control, he was running out of strength. He ate one small sandwich throughout the whole day and they had been running away from the enemies for several hours. "Aimo, don't sleep!" one of the men yelled at him.

Koivunen decided then - he must take meth. When their unit stocked up on drugs before the mission, he was adamantly against using. Aimo's son Mika, while reminiscing about his father's adventures, thought that precisely because of his responsible, or rather negative attitude towards drugs, it was he who was entrusted with the meth for safekeeping, reports the Finnish website Yleisradio Oy.


"Pervitin and methamphetamine proved to be stimulants, thanks to which the soldiers had more energy, courage, had faster reactions and did not need to sleep as much." - Jakub Drábik from the Historical Institute of the Slovak Republic


But now their lives were at stake, so he decided to choose the lesser evil. He wanted to take just one dose, but it was impossible with thick gloves. In the end, he accidentally took exactly 30 tablets of the drug. The soldier's fatigue soon disappeared and was replaced by abnormal stamina. However, side effects in the form of hallucinations also appeared shortly afterwards. Koivunen became troublesome, so the men from his unit took away his ammunition. Two weeks later and 400 kilometers away, he woke up in the hospital, where his heart rate was measured at almost 200 beats per minute. He could be glad that he survived at all - and not only because of taking an excessive amount of drugs.

"The lethal dose in a person is very individual. In any case, those 30 doses was indeed a lot, and the concentration of the drug could not have been small at all. During the war, drugs were produced in such a way that soldiers could withstand fatigue and lose their vigilance, the better they could bear risks, overestimate their strength and be more resistant to physical exertion. The soldier was lucky to survive. Apparently his blood vessels were fine and he was still relatively young. A brain hemorrhage and subsequent death could easily have occurred," Ľubomír Okruhlica, director of the Center for the Treatment of Drug Addictions, told us.


Source: jenikirbyhistory.getarchive.net

After 100 kilometers he realised that he was lost

Koivunen had questions in his head that he didn't know the answer to: "Why am I all alone? Where are the others? How did I get here?” The last thing he remembered was getting high on meth while fleeing the Soviets. However, the rest of the journey through the territory of Lapland remained a mystery to him.

In the first moments, Koivunen did not realise this, but in the drug intoxication he moved so fast and for so long that he escaped not only the Soviets, but also his unit. Psychosis stopped only after about 100 kilometres. He was left alone, surrounded by snow, the surrounding nature, without any supplies of food or ammunition, the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reports.


He didn't even remember at the time, that because of his problematic behaviour they had to take the cartridges from his gun. He had no choice but to ski on and hope to run into his allies. At that time, Koivunen did not know that he would have to travel another 300 kilometers.

"At high doses of meth, there are changes in consciousness, psychosis, for example, feelings of persecution and a general change in the perception of reality. However, meth is not a typical hallucinogen. The soldier's big blackout was definitely because he took an excessive amount of the drug. High blood pressure is a big problem with meth. With such a large dose, a so-called hypertonic crisis probably occurred, which would explain the subsequent memory loss," continued Okruhlica.


Source: Picryl

The Soviets must have thought he was playing a prank on them

Aimo Koivunen may have traveled 400 kilometres, but he was still in enemy territory. There was a threat that he would run into Soviet troops, which he had to quietly avoid. However, it didn't always work out as he expected.


As the soldier recounted in his memoirs (there's an English translation on Reddit), which he wrote in 1978 and aptly titled Pervitiini-partio (Pervitine Patrol), shortly after the first escape he thought he saw an Allied camp. But in reality he ran into the Soviets, and allegedly even the same ones who started chasing his unit on March 18. Unfortunately, he got too close to the Soviet soldiers, didn't have time to turn around and skied through the middle of their camp.


At first, the Soviets must have thought he was one of them, because they quickly moved their shoes to make way for him. Not long after, however, they realized their mistake, put on overalls and started chasing Koivunen again. The Finnish soldier remembers this bizarre experience as "the scariest race of his life".

At that time, however, apparently meth was no longer in effect. According to Okruhlic, drug intoxication can last for several hours. Of course, it also depends on how big a dose the individual took. In the case of the soldier, the effect could have been a bit longer, but the drug was most pronounced in the first hours.

During the wild chase, the Soviets were sometimes less than 100 meters from Koivunen. “Even now in my old age I get chills thinking about this race – how could I have endured it, the pace must have been high!” he wrote in his memoirs.


Hypothetically, Red Army soldiers could also be drug-enhanced at that time. In their case, however, during the Second World War, they used dinitrophenol or alcohol, says Jakub Drábik from the Historical Institute of the Slovak Republic. “All armies in all wars will use whatever means their commanders think will help them win, including drugs. The Soviet Red Army was no exception. Although the Soviet soldiers became 'famous' for their significantly excessive use of alcohol, especially vodka, the Red Army also used drugs, for example, the use of dinitrophenol is known." 


Source: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis/Getty Images

Tree branch fight and needle broth

Koivunen eventually escaped from the Soviet soldiers again. Sleeping after such a crazy experience probably brought him terrifying and rather vivid dreams. He dreamed that a wolverine was attacking him, and he woke up to hitting a tree with one hand. In the same hand, unfortunately, he was clutching a compass, which he accidentally smashed. The amount of drugs, excessive physical exertion and lack of food caused the soldier's mind to constantly jump between waking, vivid dreams and hallucinations.

He is said to have spent one whole night skiing to a place he thought was a lighted cabin. However, he later found out that he was chasing the glow from Polaris. Even though the meth suppressed his appetite for a while, sooner or later his stomach was bound to speak up.

Most of the time he ate pine buds. In addition, he boiled snow in a pot to replenish liquids, and tried to make broth from needles. In any case, it was not exactly a full-fledged, balanced diet, which ultimately contributed to his weight. By the time he returned to civilization, he weighed only 43 kilograms, writes Daily Mail.


He slept the first time in a long time in an abandoned log cabin, where he almost unintentionally burned himself alive. To warm himself, in a disorientated state, he decided to start a fire directly on the floor and then went to lie down. He woke up to the flames coming towards him, but instead of quickly putting out the fire or running away, he just moved a little further and fell asleep again.

However, the imaginary happiness soon left the soldier. Soon after leaving the cabin, he spotted a camp of German soldiers, Finland's allies at the time. The place was abandoned a long time ago, but thoroughly mined, as the soldier saw for himself soon after. The initial joy was replaced by a huge explosion.


Source: Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Bones and flesh were sticking out of his leg

A booby-trapped explosive tore off one of Koivunen's lower limbs. "I began to examine my leg, which looked extremely hideous: the bones were twisted in different directions and the muscles looked like they had been shredded," the Finn described his gruesome first impressions. Although he could not continue with such an injury, he would increase his chances of survival if he hid from the low temperatures in a nearby trench cover.

He decided to crawl another 100 meters, but another mine crossed his path, the explosion of which allegedly threw him a tens of meters further. Exhausted and wounded, the Finnish soldier began to realize that perhaps his end had come. A long uncontrollable cry broke out in his dark thoughts. Afterwards, however, he calmed down and started rationally considering what to do next. It occurred to him that if he were to be captured by the Soviets, he would rather crawl to another mine and commit suicide.


Fortunately, he was discovered by the Finns. However, as they needed to transport the wounded commander and did not have enough men to take care of Koivunen as well, the wounded soldier had to wait for more troops to arrive. Many thoughts swirled in his head. Although he was hoping for an early rescue, he was also beginning to doubt that it would come. For a moment he thought that the Finnish soldiers were just his hallucination.

He spent several more days in the ditch. Perhaps he was saved from impending death by a jay that flew to him. However, since he no longer had anything to start a fire with, he had to consume it raw.


“I hit the bird with a ski pole, pulled off most of its feathers and started eating it. I didn't believe I could eat it raw, but it was delicious - I was even surprised by how much I liked it," Koivunen wrote. The jay was his last meal before help finally arrived.


During the transport to the village of Salla, he fainted. After a two-week exhausting pilgrimage and 400 kilometers, he woke up in the hospital on April 1. This time it was no longer a hallucination. Although he thought he was going to die in a cold trench in March 1944, he ended up living to a respectable 71 years old and raised nine children with his wife. He died in 1989.


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Thumbnail: Wikimedia/Kazvamsemartin
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