What Were the Motives of the Participants to Take Part in the Child Transfers From Finland to Sweden During the Second World War 1939-1940?

Essay by Lotsis January 2006

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A. Plan of investigation

This investigation is to find out the reasons why the Finnish Government and Swedish voluntary organizations agreed to organise the broadest child evacuation operation in war-time history. I will look at the motives for the Finnish mothers who sent their mostly under school-aged children to a foreign country for evacuation, and also discuss the motives of the Swedish people to help the Finnish children.

First I will take a quick look at how it all started and then discuss what the situation was like back at that time to understand the background for events. My main sources, the research paper by Aura Korppi-Tommola and "70 000 pientä kohtaloa" (70 000 small destinies) by Pertti Kaven, will be discussed in detail later on. Besides these I also used other texts, memoirs, newspaper articles, video documents, interviews, annual reports and essays in the Internet to get a good foundation for the actual essay.

B. Summary of evidence

Child transfers away from war-going areas was not a totally new phenomenon. Already during the First World War some children had been evacuated from Central Europe to Sweden and during the Spanish Civil War and Second World War to Great Britain. In these cases, though, the children were older - under 5-year-olds were separated from their mothers only in special cases.

The initiative to transfer Finnish Children came from Centrala Finlandshjlpen in Sweden. The initial reaction of the Finnish government was negative, but after rethinking they decided to accept the offer. Already before the Winter War broke out, many children had been sent privately to stay at relatives in Sweden, which remained neutral in the war.

During the Second World War Finland engaged in three wars. The Winter War (1939-40), the Continuation War (1941-45) and the War of Lapland (1945). Separate...