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To the Bomb and Back: Finnish War Children Tell Their World War II Stories

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To the Bomb and Back

Finnish War Children Tell Their World War II Stories

Edited by Sue Saffle
Foreword by Kai Rosnell

326 pages, 28 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-658-2 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (June 2015)

ISBN  978-1-78920-516-9 $34.95/£27.95 Pb Published (February 2020)

eISBN 978-1-78238-659-9 eBook

Hb Pb   Buy the eBook! $34.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“…a fine collection… The book is affecting, to be read a little at a time. You won't forget it afterwards.” · Finnish American Cultural Activities.

“Over a number of years, Sue Saffle has earned the respect of the war children in Finland and Sweden… to such an extent that she has been able to tap into a great source of social and war history. In addition, for many who contributed to the research, [this book] has the added element of being a form of personal catharsis. This is an excellent book which will add a great deal to the academic study of war children past and present.” · Martin Parsons, University of Reading


Between 1939 and 1945, some 80,000 Finnish children were sent to Sweden, Denmark, and elsewhere, ostensibly to protect them from danger while their nation’s soldiers fought superior Soviet and German forces. This was the largest of all of World War II children’s transports, and although acknowledged today as “a great social-historical mistake,” it has received surprisingly little attention. This is the first English-language account of Finland’s war children and their experiences, told through the survivors’ own words. Supported by an extensive introduction, a bibliography of secondary sources, and over two dozen photographs, this book testifies to the often-lifelong traumas endured by youthful survivors of war.

Sue Saffle holds a Senior Instructorship in Virginia Tech’s Department of English. She is a winner of VT’s University Sporn Award for outstanding teaching and was inducted into the institution’s Academy of Teaching Excellence. In 2000–2001 she lived in Helsinki, where she began collecting the stories of Finland’s war children. Her articles about them have appeared in the journal Children and War and in the collection Children: The Invisible Victims of War (2008).

Subject: Memory Studies
Area: Northern Europe



Kai Rosnell


(Names in quotation marks are pseudonyms chosen by the authors)

The Work of Sorrow by Marja Hultin Barron
Unanswered Questions for a Finnpojke by Martti Kalervo Broström
A Desire to Scream by “Emmi Eskola”      
Horseshoes and Licorice Drops by Juha Hankkila      
The Last Summer in Sweden by “Karina Heino”        
Farting in Swedish by Veijo Holopainen       
Sugar Beets and Spettecaka by Soile Kiema Ilvesoksa           
Dragons in a Handbag by Veikko Inkinen        
A Good and Bad Hand by Eric Jaakkola     
The Red Shoes by Anita Jakobsson         
Bread in a Suitcase by Rauni Janser       
The Lucky Stain by Rauno Juntunen    
Paper Dolls by Sirpa Kaukinen        
The Woman in the Broad-Brimmed Hat by Kirsti Kettunen   
Swedish Toys by Helena Nyqvist Koivisto       
Goodbye to the Bombs by Anne-Maj Korpela
Someone’s Daughter by “Leena Korpi”          
To the Bomb and Back by Eeva Lindgren           
A Blonde Curly-haired Girl by Mirja Luoma        
Fishing with Ragnar by Pekka/Peter Louhimo      
Black Birds by Seppo Mälkki      
A Terror of the Dark by Marita Merilahti      
Funeral Games by “Eine Miller”         
The Woman in Black by Helena Nilsson        
Understanding Backwards by Veijo Pönniäinen Paine    
A Happier War Child Story by Virve Kaisu Kyllikki Palos      
No Easy Choices by Ossi Rahkonen        
God natt, sov Gott by Lea Rehula        
A Lifelong Exile by Kai Rosnell        
“Take the Bed Down!” by Gertrud Rullander           
Waiting for the Time to Pass by Irma Saarinen           
Children’s Prayers by Kaarina Siilasto          
“Send the Little Ones!” by Bodil Nordman Söderberg       
A Tale of Two Sisters by Marja Tähtinen     
Swedish Fish by Rolf J. E. Tarvala     
Horses in the Kitchen by Jorma Törmänen         
Rita, not Rauha by “Rita Trent”      
Repairing the Clock by Kaj Wanne         
Soldier Boy by Norman Westerberg

Appendix: A Swedish War Child Administration Form


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