‘Where the F… is Vuotso?’: heritage of Second World War forced movement and destruction in a Sámi reindeer herding community in Finnish Lapland

Oula Seitsonen, Eerika Koskinen-Koivisto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In this paper we discuss the heritage of the WWII evacuation and the so-called burning of Lapland' within a Sami reindeer herding community, and assess how these wartime experiences have moulded, and continue to mould, the ways people memorialise and engage with the WWII material remains. Our focus is on the village of Vuotso, which is home to the southernmost Sami community in Finland. The Nazi German troops established a large military base there in 1941, and the Germans and the villagers lived as close neighbours for several years. In 1944 the villagers were evacuated before the outbreak of the Finno-German Lapland War' of 1944-1945, in which the German troops annihilated their military installations and the civilian infrastructure. Today the ruins of demolished German military installations persist around the village as vivid reminders, and act for the villagers as important active agents in memorising this vital phase in Lapland's recent past. They also appear to facilitate nostalgia for the more independent days before traditional Sami lifeways were ruptured by stronger Finnish State intervention in the post-war decades.

Translated title of the contribution'Missä v... on Vuotso?': toisen maailmansodan pakkosiirtojen ja tuhon perintö saamelaisessa poronhoitoyhteisössä Suomen Lapissa
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)421-441
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 615 History and Archaeology
  • Material heritage
  • forced movement
  • Sami
  • Lapland
  • World War II

Cite this