Last modified: 2013-07-23 by zoltán horváth
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The organisation expanded during the 1920s and it included 60 000 members in 1930. By 1944 it included 242 000 volunteers, the largest voluntary auxiliary organisation in the world, while the total population of Finland was less than four million. During the war some 100 000 men whose jobs were taken over by "Lottas" were freed for military service. The Lottas worked in hospitals, at air-raid warning posts and other auxiliary tasks in conjunction with the armed forces. The Lottas, however, were officially unarmed. The only exception was a voluntary anti-aircraft battery in Helsinki in the summer of 1944, composed of Lotta Svärd members. The battery operated the AA search-lights. The unit was issued rifles for self-protection, thus being the only armed female military unit of the Finnish Defence Forces history.
When the Continuation War ended, the Soviet Union demanded that all organisations
considered by them to be paramilitary, fascist or semi-fascist be
banned. Thus, the Lotta Svärd organisation was one of the groups which
was disbanded. This happened November 23, 1944. However, a new
organisation called Suomen Naisten Huoltosäätiö (Support Foundation of
Finnish Women) was started which took over much of the old property.
This organisation still exists by the name of Lotta Svärd Säätiö
(Lotta Svärd Foundation).
The Finnish Lotta Svärd organisation has inspired similar
organisations in other countries and there is still a Lotta Svärd
organisation in Sweden (Lottorna); the same model is also used in Denmark and Norway.
Esteban Rivera, 13 July 2009