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Lotta Svärd organisation:

 

Lotta Svärd-yhdistys (Lotta Svärd association) started as women's auxiliary organisation to Sk-organisation at March of 1921. The name originated from popular and quite patriotic book “Vänrikki Stoolin tarinat” (Stories of 2 nd Lieutenant Stool) containing stories located to Swedish – Russian War of 1808 - 1809 in poetic form. After name of the organisation its members were called “Lotta” (Lottas).

Rules of Lotta Svärd organisation:

“Mission of Lotta Svärd organisation is to awaken and strengthen Suojeluskunta-idea and advise Suojeluskunta-organisation to protect creed, home and fatherland.

Lotta Svärd organisation will implement this by:

•  Acting for increasing nations will to defend and for improving moral of the Suojeluskuntas.

•  Assisting medical functions of the Suojeluskuntas

•  Assisting provisioning of the Suojeluskuntas

•  Assisting fund-raising of the Suojeluskuntas

•  Assisting office functions of Suojeluskuntas and gathering funds for financing its own activities and for use of the Suojeluskunta-organisation.

The clear difference to Sk-organisation was that members of Lotta Svärd were unarmed and had no battle training as their missions didn't included taking part to battle. The new organisation gained popularity fast, at end of its first year Lotta Svärd organisation already had 428 local chapters with 33,779 members. Process of selecting members was quite similar as in Sk-organisation: Trustworthy females at least 17 years old could join. Unless the person was well known she needed recommendation of two well-known and trustworthy persons. Executive board of the local chapter made decision when it came to accepting new members. Just like in Sk-organisation members could be active members or supporting ones. Active members, who were 17-years old had right to vote and could be elected to responsible positions. Those willing to join, but younger then 17 could join to girl-units known as small-Lottas.

Development in numbers of Lotta Svärd members:

1930: 63,794

1932: 74,842

1934: 86,022

1936: 93,988

1938: 105,023

1940: 133.045

1942: 165,623

1943: 172,755

At 1943 the girl-units of Lotta Svärd had almost 49,000 additional members.

Medical branch of Lotta Svärd organisation later proved very important during WW2 as it had trained large number of assistant nurses. Training of assistant nurses was started already at 1920's by organising two-week long courses. At year 1929 the training program was made more effective and practical by lengthening the course to three weeks and adding six months long practical training period in military hospital to it. In 1930's 20 of these “3 weeks + 6 months” courses were organised in Viipuri and similar amount in Helsinki . At 1938 almost two thirds of the members of Lotta Svärd (about 8,600 out of about 13,100) medical branch had gone through training courses of assistant nurse. The medical branch of Lotta Svärd had also gathered medical equipment: At autumn of 1939 they had equipment for 8 well equipped field hospitals with 1,250 beds ready for use.

Other important branches of Lotta Svärd included provisioning, clothing supplies and financing & office branches. As the name suggests provisioning branch handled catering in events of Sk-organisation and Lotta Svärd. Clothing supply branch worked with acquisitions, manufacturing and mending clothing of Sk-organisation. Financing and office branch handled raising funds.

However, the real importance of Lotta Svärd organisation during wartime was in the ability for its active members to free equal amount of men from works of the homefront to military use and also the assistance it could give in its unarmed auxiliary role. The amount of men becoming available to Finnish Field Army this way was comparable several divisions. During Winter War about 80,000 Lotta Svärd members served in unarmed missions of Finnish defence. These missions included working as assistant nurses in field hospitals, military hospital and hospital trains. Military also benefited from air-surveillance and signal personnel crews (who had gone through radiotelegraph operator course) of the homefront organised from Lotta Svärd members. Handling food supplies for evacuated civilians and homefront troops, assisting families of reservists serving at the front and evacuated civilians were also among its missions. One could say that during the war Lotta Svärd developed from Sk-organisation auxiliary to Finnish military auxiliary organisation.

Lotta Svärd Museum - Finland

The reconciliation between social democrats and Sk-organisation at February of 1940 had its effect also to Lotta Svärd. Unlike in Sk-organisation this also showed in number of members as large number women from social democratic families started to join Lotta Svärd. During interim peace of 1940 – 1941 name of Lotta Svärd organisation was changed as “Lotta Svärd r.y.” (Lotta Svärd registered association). Winter War had relieved that number of Lottas trained as assistant nurses was much too small. Between 1941 – 1943 about 30,700 members of various Lotta Svärd branches went through training. Only armed Lotta Svärd members during WW2 were members of searchlight battery used in Helsinki during Continuation War, they had Italian Mannlicher-Carcano M/38 rifles for self-defence. Shortly said the assistance Lotta Svärd organisation gave to Finnish military during WW2 was irreplaceable. During Continuation War 661 members of Lotta Svärd died in their duty. 23rd of November 1944 also Lotta Svärd organisation was abolished for Soviet demands.

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