Why did they move?

How were the children chosen?

The Committee for Childrens’ Evacuation set out a list of criteria for chosen the children to be sent:

  1. Children from Karelia
  2. Children from homes destroyed in the bombings
  3. Children of invalids
  4. Children of soldiers who died in battle.

Ad 1 These were children of parents who had been evacuated from eastern Finland at the beginning of the war but were sent to rebuild the homes when the area was temporarliy won back. Karelia was a disputed region on both sids of the old border which meant that the war childres operation had a link to “the Greater Finland” ideology.

In the end, these criteria were stretched so that all children whose mothers wanted to send them could do so. One reason for widening the criteria was the fact that Finland suffered from a shortage of workers and when working mothers were not forced to take care of their children they could be working in the factories.

At first, only small numbers of children were sent to Sweden. The final decision to send the children was always made by the family, but the state actively encouraged it. For example, to underline the temporary nature of the transfer, Finnish official ordered that parents signed a written commitment not to leave their children in Sweden.