One focus of our research project is in cooperation with local communities and especially schools. We have held lectures on conflict archaeological research and wartime at schools in, for example, Pori, Joensuu and Ähtäri.
In 2020, together with a high school in Pori, we created the so-called Varjojen aika ("Time of Shadows") course, during which the high school students got to know their city's wartime history through lectures and tours, as well as by planning and carrying out their own conflict archaeological excavations in the area of the Luftwaffe base in Pori. At the end of the course, the high school students put together an exhibition of their discoveries and the experiences they gained during the course in Satakunta Museum. The positive feedback received from the course later encouraged repeating the concept to organize a youth archeology camp in 2021.
From the point of view of teaching, conflict archeology has its own special features. The material found during the Second World War is often easily recognizable and similar to today's objects, so identifying objects, telling stories and experiencing the lives of their owners is possible. In addition, the objects can be used to approach so-called difficult or dark cultural heritage from a new perspective. The alliance with Germany is still a difficult topic in Finland, but through the objects, German soldiers can be approached objectively from many different perspectives. The objects can tell about the soldiers as individuals and refer, for example, to everyday life lived on the home front and to the relationships formed with the local population. On the other hand, the poor conditions of prisoners of war can also be illustrated through the found material by examining, for example, the differences in the wartime diet of prisoners of war and soldiers.
If you are interested in using conflict archeology and WWII history as part of your own school's teaching, contact us and we will be happy to share our experiences! You can also read more about the Varjojen aika course here in Finnish.