On 9th November, Oula Seitsonen is talking at the Calgary Finlandia Cultural Association on the topic:
Digging Lapland’s Dark Heritage: Archaeologies and Heritage of the Second World War German MILITARY PRESENCE IN FINNISH LAPLAND
Over the last decade archaeologists and other cultural heritage professionals have started paying attention to the material legacy of Nazi German presence in Finnish Lapland during the Second World War (WWII), as Finland’s co-belligerent in the fight against the Soviet Union. At the peak of their military built-up there were over 200 000 German troops and about 30 000 of multinational Prisoners-of-War and forced labourers in this thinly inhabited northern periphery of Europe. The Finno-German “comradeship-in-arms” came to an end after Finno-Soviet cease-fire in 1944, under increasing Soviet pressure, and caused the outbreak of Lapland War between Finns and Germans 1944–1945). This ended up with the retreating German troops resorting in the scorched earth tactics, and with the so-called “Burning of Lapland”. Owing to this complex history, Finno-German relations in WWII have been a sensitive, silenced and little-discussed issue throughout the post-war decades. However, there are ruins of thousands of over-grown German military sites in northern Finland, especially in Lapland’s vast wilderness areas. The question of the cultural heritage status and value of this material legacy has been raised only recently, and is still an open and ongoing debate. However, during the archaeological and ethnographic inquiries it has been highlighted how important these material traces are for the local inhabitants, as an integral part of their ancestral, embodied every-day lifeworlds. Many locals express a strong sense of ownership and custodianship towards the material remains on their “own lands”. The traces of war have become to act as important agents of the transgenerational communal memories of war, destruction, and a host of other issues beyond those, closely intertwined with contemporary questions, such as land ownership and land-use rights. These also mirror Lapland’s long colonial history and, real and perceived, marginalization by the southern authorities, and the enduring north-south confrontations.
On 10th November Oula is talking in the Chacmool conference at the University of Calgary, on the theme of “Archaeology, National Identity and Globalization”.
On Friday 10th November, Suzie Thomas is participating in the Scotland’s Community Heritage Conference, hosted at Strathclyde University, Glasgow. She will talk about “Public & community archaeologies of German PoW camps in Finnish Lapland”. The event is an annual celebration of community-based archaeology and heritage, and this year features many examples also from around the world.