Lottas, 2022

Back in 1918 when the old “Grand Duchy of Finland” had forcibly separated itself from the husk of the dying Russian Empire before the USSR became a thing, it had to fight a short but brutal civil war between Whites and Reds for the future of the country.

Red Guards in Helsinki, 1918. On January 27 socialists in the capital declared a revolution, beginning the Finnish Civil War. Note the Mosin rifles and tobaggans.

General Carl Mannerheim, (center with white cap) the Commander of the Finnish White Army, greeting Commander of the German Composite Division in Finland, in Helsingfors (Helsinki), May 1918.

The Whites at the time formed a female auxiliary, the Lotta Svärd (basically, Charlotte Sword), to serve in nursing and support roles, freeing up men for the front lines.

The group continued to survive as an adjunct to the Finnish Civil Guard, basically a volunteer preparedness/militia force, during the 1920s and 1930s then, in the Winter War (1939-40) and Continuation War (1941-45) against the Soviets, grew to over 240,000 volunteers. They served as air raid wardens, spotters, cooks, clerks, drivers, and hospital staff. Affectionately called Lotta sisters, no less than 291 were killed during the WWII era, mostly in air raids and artillery strikes.

Ilmavalvontalotan kuvaus Lahdenpohjan ilmavalvontatornissa (vrt. JSdia158). Tiedot teoksesta Sodan värit. Valokuvia Suomesta vuosilta 1941-1944 (WSOY 2000), s. 23.

Sankarihautajaiset. Sankarivainajien muistopäivän tilaisuus Joensuussa 19.5.1940.

Forcibly disbanded in 1944 to comply with the armistice with the Soviets, the Lotties reformed as the less militaristic Suomen Naisten Huoltosäätiö (Finnish Women’s Welfare Foundation), then the Lotta Svärd Säätiö (Lotta Svard Foundation), a female-centric welfare group much like the Red Cross.

However, in 1997, a rebirth of the “old” Lottas came about with the purple-hatted Naisten Valmiusliitto ry (Women’s Readiness Association), which has been slowly training and preparing women for national and civil defense.

The demand for training with the Naisten Valmiusliitto ry is skyrocketing recently, for obvious reasons.

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