From preparation to practice – Military labour in Finland 1920-1944

Otto Jussi Jalmari Aura

    Tutkimustuotos: KonferenssimateriaalitKonferenssiesitys


    In this paper I analyze the Finnish case of military labour in the WWII and how it was planned in the
    interwar-period. The focus is on the “not only soldiers” aspect of the military labour. The paper makes way
    for discussing the interwar preparations, the transnational aspects of it, and what kind of military labour
    was used in Finland during the Second World War.
    The analysis of Finnish case relies on archival sources, whereas most of interwar preparations transnational
    aspects are acquired through research literature. The transnational aspect during the interwar-period is
    examined for example through the idea of mobile actors.
    Finland did not take directly part to the Great War while being an autonomous grand duchy of imperial
    Russia. It declared independent 1917 but was torn apart by civil war in 1918, offspring of the Great War. In
    the 1920s and 1930s, also economic war preparedness got attention. The Economic War Council was
    founded in 1929 and it planned the basis of distribution of labour during crisis. Its focus had two sides, war
    industry and agriculture. Preparations had transnational aspects, which will be discussed on the paper. For
    example, collaboration with Sweden was on regular basis. Connections with Germany will also be
    In Finland’s point of view, World War II included three separate wars, the Winter War (1939-1940) alone
    against the Soviet Union and then the Continuation War (1941-1944), alongside with Germany, against
    mutual enemy, Soviet Union. The last fight was against the Germany, the Lapland war (1944-45) after peace
    treaty with Soviet Union in September 1944.
    In this paper, three categories of labour are found: the labour service men, prisoners of war (PoW), and the
    so called “shaken up”, mentally injured soldiers. Based on law, the labour service was obligatory, and there
    were circa 100 000 labour service men in Finland participating in fortification works under military
    command. The use of PoW’s as military labour was an age-old and international phenomenon. The “shaken
    up” soldiers, whose labour was put into use, was clearly an improvisation. The main tasks off all three
    groups were manual labour, spade and pickaxe.
    In the paper proposed, I will first consider the preparations for military labour during the interwar-period
    and examine its transnational aspects. After that I will turn to the WWII and analyze briefly the three
    abovementioned categories of labour. The purpose is to raise questions and discussion on national and
    transnational aspects of military labour on the basis of this paper.
    TilaJulkaistu - 15 joulukuuta 2015
    OKM-julkaisutyyppiEi sovellu
    TapahtumaELHN Conference - University of Turin, Turin, Italia
    Kesto: 14 joulukuuta 201516 joulukuuta 2015


    KonferenssiELHN Conference


    • 5201 Poliittinen historia

    Siteeraa tätä

    Aura, O. J. J. (2015). From preparation to practice – Military labour in Finland 1920-1944. Julkaisun esittämispaikka: ELHN Conference, Turin, Italia.