Immorality in Action? - Research Dealing with Delicate Questions

Keywords: women organisations, World War II, research ethics, moral behaviour, military history, war memory


On April 19th 2005 a banner headline in Helsingin Sanomat, the biggest daily newspaper in Finland, read: "A new book appears: immoral behaviour led to the sack for hundreds of Lotta women". The almost full-page story discussed only the morality of the Lotta women. This piece of news was based on my research dealing with the status of women, especially Lotta women, during the Second World War in Finland.

Moral issues were only part of the research covered in the book: otherwise it dealt with the ideology of the Lotta Svärd organisation, the Lotta women's role on the home front as well as in the theatre of operations, and the written reminiscences of these women about their personal war-time experiences. However, the newspaper was only interested in the moral aspects. I had been warned about this by the commissioner of the research: by dealing with delicate questions, even only as part of a bigger entity, I would focus the media's attention on these themes. Against my own expectations, that was exactly what happened.

Dec 31, 2006
How to Cite
Olsson, P. (2006). Immorality in Action? - Research Dealing with Delicate Questions. Ethnologia Fennica, 33, 15-23. Retrieved from