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Finska barn i svenska hem: Om mobiliseringen av familjer att ta emot främmande barn under andra världskriget
Linköping University, Department of Thematic Studies, Department of Child Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Social Work. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2016 (Swedish)In: Scandia, ISSN 0036-5483, Vol. 82, no 1, 35-65 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

During the Second World War, some 70,000 Finnish children were evacuated to Sweden. Most of the children were placed in foster care, although a large number of temporary children’s homes were also opened in response to the influx. This mass evacuation would not have been possible without the support of the Swedish public. This article highlights how families rallied to invite Finnish children into their homes, almost always without any financial reward, and considers the reasons, including altruism and a sense of duty, that prompted them to welcome foreign children.

Drawing on archival material from the two organizations in charge of the evacuations (Centrala Finlandshjälpen during the Winter War and Hjälpkommittén för Finlands barn during the Continuation War) and from two newspapers, the study shows that existing local associations had a significant impact on the rapid recruitment of foster parents and the placement of a very large number of children. The study demonstrates that individuals could recruit large numbers of fosterers in small towns and villages, which suggests the significance of neighbours and social pressure. However, the willingness to accept Finnish children should not be understood as an expression of boundless solidarity, for where the literature on the Second World War tends to highlight Sweden’s sense of solidarity linked to notions of ethnicity, which led it to adopt relatively generous refugee policies towards its Nordic neighbours, we find that the solidarity shown Finnish children was conditional.

Swedes’ solidarity and altruism were governed by their own needs as much as their impression of the recipients’ needs, as evidenced by applications where the children’s age and sex were mentioned. Girls were in greater demand than boys; younger children in far greater demand than adolescents. Moreover, solidarity was founded on notions of a close relationship, be it a common professional background with the children’s parents, membership of similar associations (sport clubs, for example), or a common religious background. Ultimately, solidarity and altruism were considered to be somewhat fragile—it was thought that too much control of foster homes would risk people’s willingness to help.

All this raises the questions of the nature of volunteer work, solidarity, and altruism. How voluntary is voluntary work if it is guided by duty? Can altruists act in solidarity, and at the same time satisfy their own interests?

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 82, no 1, 35-65 p.
Keyword [en]
war children, child evacuation, foster care, altruism, Second World War
Keyword [sv]
krigsbarn, barnevakuering, fosterbarnsvård, altruism, andra världskriget
National Category
History Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-129745OAI: diva2:942884
Nya hem i Sverige - evakuering av Finska krigsbarn under andra världskriget
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2012-0344
Available from: 2016-06-27 Created: 2016-06-27 Last updated: 2016-07-01Bibliographically approved

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Sköld, Johanna
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