Hide menu

Save the Children - a tool for Sweden's good reputation

The evacuation of Finnish children to Sweden during the Second World War could be seen as more an opportunity to strengthen the ties between Sweden and Finland than a real way of caring for the children. This is the conclusion of a thesis on Save the Children.

“Save the Children is a politically independent organisation, but it seems politics most definitely had a significant impact on the activities during the Second World War”, says Ann Nehlin, PhD at the Department of Child Studies at Linköping University, who has recently completed her thesis on the Swedish Save the Children between 1938 and 1956.

The thesis shows that Save the Children adapted their activities to the Swedish policy of neutrality and that Nordic and western European children received priority in the relief effort.

Ann Nehlin gives several examples of Save the Children's inconsistency in the relief effort. A request by The Jewish World Congress for help in transporting Jewish children from Eastern to Western Europe was rejected because it could be regarded as a political measure. At the same time Save the Children were engaged in the transport of Finnish, Norwegian, German, Belgian and French children.

There were also occasions where Polish and Jewish children were not received in Sweden, the argument being that it was inappropriate to uproot them from their own environment, an argument which did not apply to the 70,000 Finnish children evacuated to Sweden.

A few years after the war an international evaluation was carried out of how well evacuated war children had acclimatised. Save the Children International proposed to include the Finnish children in the study, but this was rejected by the Swedish Save the Children.

“The export of Swedish values, standards and expertise on child care was important. Sometimes it seems to have surpassed the humanitarian reasons for helping children”, says Ann Nehlin.

For further information please contact:

Ann Nehlin

+46 (0)13-282211, +46 (0)70-7811824


Therese Winder 2010-02-17

Page manager: therese.winder@liu.se
Last updated: 2010-03-04