New homes in Sweden – the evacuation of Finnish war children during WWII: notions of child-parent separations and the public's willingness to help in light of Swedish politics of neutrality.

Project leader

Funding source

Forte - Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare

Project Details

Start date: 12/01/2012
End date: 31/12/2013
Funding: 3530000 SEK


During WWII around 70,000 Finnish children were evacuated to Sweden. The purpose was to protect them from the calamities of the war and provide them with food and clothing. This was a huge undertaking which had political and personal consequences. From the Finnish side the Swedish proposal was met with reluctance but the evacuations were still realized. Some children were placed in children’s homes but most of them in foster care. Sweden has a tradition of foster care and a constant demand of foster children. The evacuation of the Finnish children doubled the number of children in foster care during the period in question.Evacuation of children during World War II was also conducted in other parts of Europe. In Great Britain parent-child separations were problematized by the child experts when children were sent away from war-torn cities. Several studies were carried out and the result of these formed the basis of attachment-theory. However, in countries such as France, child-parent separations were self-evident and did not cause any discussions as in Great Britain.

The aim of this study is to explore how Swedish authorities and NGOs justified the transports of the children, their view on parent-child separations, notions of what was in the best interest of children and how the general public´s willingness to help affected how the evacuation of Finnish war children was dealt with in Sweden during 1939-1959. Focus will be on the actions of Swedish authorities, child expert’s considerations, the image of Finland provided by media and motives of the general public to open their homes. This, towards the background of Swedish politics of neutrality.The study will contribute to knowledge on Sweden´s actions during WWII seen from a child perspective. It will show children´s political role in wartime and give insight to what role authorities, social sciences, media and the general public’s have on politics about unaccompanied refugee children on a general level.

Last updated on 2017-24-03 at 12:52