Why do we study Germans?

The actions of the Germans in Finland during Continuation War and Lapland War are an exceptional series of events, during which a foreign country peacefully took possession of large areas of land, started large-scale construction projects on them, and finally, after the end of the alliance and the beginning of the hostilities of Lapland War, destroyed a significant part of its own and Finnish constructions. With their actions, the Germans left a lasting mark on the development of airports, the landscape surrounding them, and the memories and experiences of the area's residents.

However, processing these experiences has long been perceived as difficult or even impossible. The studies of the German era at Pori Airport, which started our research project, started from the premise that the Satakunta Museum had been regularly inquired about events and memories related to the wartime and the Germans. However, there was only a little information to share, because Pori's wartime history has not been compiled in writing. The cooperation between Finland and Germany during the war was also perceived as an shameful and difficult matter, so the presence of the Germans in Pori was gladly forgotten for a long time and the memories of even close relations were hidden. 

However, recording memories and documenting the wartime ruins was considered important by the museum, even if they represent the so-called difficult or dark cultural heritage. The culture of silence seems to have partly dissipated in the wider public as well, which was discovered quite soon when looking for interviewees. While colleagues had stated that conducting interviews about Germans was still challenging in the early 2000s, now more people have signed up to be interviewed than we have been able to receive. When planning the dissertation research, we felt that it was important to actively continue the collection of wartime memories and experience while it is still possible.