Until now, the Picture Archive of the Finnish Defence Forces has kept a number of images taken by staff photographers of scenes in the Winter War and Continuation War in a safe, away from prying eyes.
The decision to withhold the images from publication or use has been justified on political grounds or out of respect for the relatives of the dead.
Now that the 1981 decision has run its natural course, and there is no possibility under current openness legislation to continue the ban, consideration of what to do with the pictures passes to the media. Helsingin Sanomat is here publishing seven of the roughly 300 images. The justification offered for this action is not simply to expand our readers' understanding of the war but also to show what sort of images were deemed to be sensitive in Finland until today.
As in the case of pictures of foreign wars made available by the international news agencies, HS decided not to publish the most exceptionally graphic and gruesome images, for example of dead civilians.
In the selection made, attention was paid both to the protection of the individual but also to the time that has passed since the events took place.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 19.11.2006
The writer heads Helsingin Sanomat's Sunday section.