Lotta Svärd organisation:
(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
“Mission of Lotta
Svärd organisation is to awaken and strengthen Suojeluskunta-idea
and advise Suojeluskunta-organisation to protect creed, home
organisation will implement this by:
for increasing nations will to defend and for improving moral
of the Suojeluskuntas.
medical functions of the Suojeluskuntas
provisioning of the Suojeluskuntas
fund-raising of the Suojeluskuntas
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:
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.
Museum - Finland
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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