The Finnish fortification works 1940–1941 as an example of military labour

Otto Jussi Jalmari Aura

    Tutkimustuotos: KonferenssimateriaalitKonferenssiesitys


    In this proposed paper I present the Finnish fortification works 1940–1941 as an example of military labour. 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 Soviet Union. The last war was against the Germany, the Lapland war (1944-45) after peace treaty with Soviet Union in September 1944. The time between Winter War and Continuation War, the so-called Interim Peace, is the timing of this paper.

    Just after the Winter War ended, Finnish High Command decided that the new borders of Moscow Peace Treaty had to be fortified. Finland had over 1000 kilometres of shared border with the Soviet Union. The area seen as most vulnerable was to be heavily fortified with concrete fortifications (as was done in France, Belgium etc.). The task was enormous and needed quite a lot of labour. The highest peak at a certain moment was 35 000 and the cumulative number was somewhere near 50 000. This labour had twofold meaning. It was for national defence and also a cure for unemployment.

    This was on type of military labour. It was contracted by the High Commands Fortification Office and the salaries were standardised. Work was either hard manual work or something that needed occupational specialisation (e.g. stone- and concrete workers). The gendered division of labour was quite clear. The management, professionals and odd-job men and were almost all-male whereas typists and other office assistants were women - and catering was provided by all-female Lotta Svärd –organization. Labour was free to move but was also under some restrictions.

    In the summer of 1941 began the so-called Continuation War as Finland started the offensive against the Soviets, alongside with Germany. This meant a sudden shift for the fortification workers as wartime legislature was implemented. A high amount of the labourers was called to arms; the rest were kept in their work under the law on obligatory work. In the proposed paper I will present how the military labour of fortification works transformed from free to unfree military labour.

    In the proposed paper, I will present one example of military labour. I will start at the Winter War’s experiences and move forward to take a look on different aspects of fortification works in Finland, for example how was it organized, how did the military get the labourers needed, the division of gender, and skilled-unskilled labour. The ending point is the beginning of the Continuation War and the turn from free to unfree labour.
    TilaJulkaistu - 3 marraskuuta 2017
    TapahtumaEuropean Labour History Network: 2nd ELHN Conference 2017 - Pariisi
    Kesto: 2 marraskuuta 20174 marraskuuta 2017


    KonferenssiEuropean Labour History Network: 2nd ELHN Conference 2017


    • 5201 Poliittinen historia
    • military labour history

    Siteeraa tätä

    Aura, O. J. J. (2017). The Finnish fortification works 1940–1941 as an example of military labour. 236. Julkaisun esittämispaikka: European Labour History Network: 2nd ELHN Conference 2017, Pariisi, .