Forging a master narrative for a nation: Finnish history as a script during the Second World War

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In our article, we study how Finnish historians produced historical texts to be applied inside the Finnish army to give lessons, speeches, and informal talks to the rank-and-file soldiers during two periods: first during the Winter War of 1939–40 and then in the last stages of the Continuation War in 1944. Employing narratological methodology to this task, we examine the purposeful construction of a master narrative of the national past by telling the story of ‘Finland’ and the ‘Finnish people’ in their perpetual, existential fight against Russia. We approach the history texts as emergent scripts that were offered to the particular audience of soldiers so that they would internalize the historical framework of their current situation and experiences. The history texts underline the inevitable continuity and teleology of Finnish history. This is done by constructing a vast historical context into which the hardships of the present moment are embedded through repeating crucial past images and analogues, which reserved the role of sufferer and experiencer for the Finnish people. The historians’ wartime accounts offer a case where the master narrative is purposefully built and propagated under official auspices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-105
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • FInland
  • historiography
  • master narrative
  • script
  • narratology. narrative studies
  • propaganda
  • World War II
  • theory of history

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 3


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