Project researcher Eerika Koskinen-Koivisto has studied the experiences of Finnish people visiting the Norvajärvi German cemetery, located 18 kilometers north of Rovaniemi town center. Her article “Reminder of the Dark Heritage of Humankind – Experiences of Finnish Cemetery Tourists of Visiting the Norvajärvi German Cemetery” is published in Finnish Death Studies Association’s open access journal Thanatos.
The Norvajärvi cemetery was founded in 1963 and is the only official commemoration site and monument of the WWII German presence in Finnish Lapland. In her article, Koskinen-Koivisto studied blogs in which Finnish ‘cemetery tourists’ introduce and reflect on their experiences of visiting the cemetery. She has also interviewed the person responsible for the maintenance of the city, as well as Rovaniemi city guides. The analysis is based on a phenomenological framework: attention is paid to sensual experiences and reflections.
Koskinen-Koivisto’s analysis shows that the Finnish cemetery tourists who visit Norvajärvi German cemetery are aware of the difficult history and the dark heritage of the Lapland War. The visit to the site deepens the visitor’s understanding of WWII and results in reflections over the consequences and irrationality of war. The cemetery thus acts as many other war memorials: reminding us of the contradictory history of the humankind.