Sind wir noch Freunde?
Exhibition “Wir waren Freunde / Olimme ystäviä” in Arktikum, Provincial Museum of Lapland, Finland. c) Lapland Dark Heritage
Displaying the Difficult History of the German presence in Finnish Lapland, 1941-44
In the Second World War, Finland allied with Germany in the war against Soviet Union. The end of the alliance lead to a conflict. Still after 70 years, Finns face difficulties in acknowledging and engaging with this period of time. This is illustrated particularly well in the recent exhibition “Wir waren Freunde / Olimme ystäviä” (in English “We were friends”) at the Provincial Museum of Lapland in Arktikum, Rovaniemi. The exhibition covered the experiences of both local residents and the German soldiers posted in Lapland from 1940-44, and ran from April 2015 to January 2016. The exhibition received mainly positive feedback from both media and museum visitors, but also other, equally strong but negative (and sometimes surprising) reactions.
Example of the military material that can be found in Finland. c) Lapland Dark Heritage
However, the marketing material of the exhibition included matchboxes with the text “Wir waren Freunde”; the box colored black with the text itself in old-style red font. The matchboxes inspired powerful reactions in local people, and were banned after the mayor of Rovaniemi had asked the museum to cease distributing the matchboxes. In this presentation, we discuss the exhibition process and its critical points, which are reflected in interviews with the museum staff as well as in the responses to the exhibition, which were collected in the form of visitor exit survey that resulted over 400 answers. We discuss the case as dark heritage and difficult history that continues to be sensitive issue in the local cultural heritage politics.
Dr. Suzie Thomas is university lecturer in museology at the University of Helsinki. On this project, Suzie is particularly interested in researching the collecting, retrieval and trade of objects and material connected to the German presence in Lapland.
Dr. Eerika Koskinen-Koivisto is an ethnologist / folklorist and works as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Jyväskylä. In this project Eerika interviews local people about their knowledge on German sites and remains, and observes sites, objects, and landscapes of Lapland.
Mirkka Hekkurainen, BA, is a post-graduate student at the University of Helsinki. Mirkka is an ethnologist who handles the social media of the project and is interested in participatory ethnography.
darkheritagelapland[at]gmail.com / http://blogs.helsinki.fi/lapland-dark-heritage/