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Collective Traumas

Memories of War and Conflict in 20th-Century Europe


Edited By Conny Mithander, John Sundholm and Maria Holmgren Troy

Collective Traumas is about the traumatic European history of the 20 th century – war, genocide, dictatorship, ethnic cleansing – and how individuals, communities and nations have dealt with their dark past through remembrance, historiography and legal settlements. Memories, and especially collective memories, serve as foundations for national identities and are politically charged. Regardless whether memory is used to support or to challenge established ideologies, it is inevitably subject to political tensions. Consequently, memory, history and amnesia tend to be used and abused for different political and ideological purposes. From the perspectives of historical, literary and visual studies the essays focus on how the experiences of war and profound conflict have been represented and remembered in different national cultures and communities.
This volume is a vital contribution to memory studies and trauma theory.
Collective Traumas is a result of the multidisciplinary research project on Memory Culture that was initiated in 2002 at Karlstad University, Sweden. A previous publication with Peter Lang is Memory Work: The Theory and Practice of Memory (2005).


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“The Unknown Soldier.” Film as a Founding Trauma and National Monument (John Sundholm) 111


111 “The Unknown Soldier” Film as a Founding Trauma and National Monument John SUNDHOLM One of the most dramatic events in the history of the young nation of Finland is the defeat against the Soviet Union (and the Allies) in the Second World War. Finland had hardly recovered, mentally or econo- mically, from the bloody civil war that the longed-for independence of 1917 had given rise to, when the country was plunged into war again.1 What happened during the Second World War is treated, and conceptualised, as two different wars in Finland: the Winter War (1939- 40) and the Continuation War (1941-44). In August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, declaring Finland, Estonia, and Latvia as part of the Soviet sphere of interest. Germany laid claims to Lithuania, while Poland was divided between the two big powers. In September 1939, Germany entered Poland, and the Soviet Union did the same shortly thereafter. On 30 November 1939, the Soviet Union also attacked Finland, which was thus forced to defend itself. As a consequence, the Winter War has always been depicted as a heroic defensive struggle, but the Continuation War has been a more embarrassing affair for Finland and the national collective conscious- ness.2 It is really only recent historiography that has been able to convey to the public that the Continuation War also was a war of aggression, with Germany as an ally and functioning as a part of Operation Barbarossa, where Finland’s aim was to reconquer...

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