Finnish soldiers fathered hundreds of children with Russian and Karelian women during the three-year occupation of Eastern Karelia in the continuation war, according to a new report.
It is impossible to put an exact figure on the number of war babies, according to researchers familiar with the child welfare records of the Eastern Karelian military administration.
“The child welfare records show that 345 children were the offspring of a Finnish man,” says researcher Marjo Koponen. “When you take into account that the fathers identity is unresolved in quite a large number of cases, and that the area was evacuated in the summer of 1944, you’re talking about at least 500 children.”
The number of children born in Eastern Karelia is being investigated as part of the National Archives’ ‘Foreign Soldiers children in Finland’ project.
It’s difficult to know the fathers of 276 babies born in Russian migrant camps in the area. Sometimes the camp administrators just wrote in the child’s name, and if the mother’s name is unknown, nothing at all is known of the baby’s father.
“Some of these must have had a Finnish father,” says Koponen. “We know that dances were organised in the camps, and the majority of these children were born out of wedlock.”
Researcher Pekka Kauppala says that substantial numbers of pregnant women were left behind when the Finns left, more than there is evidence for in the paper trail.
“I would guess that there were around 900 of these kids,” says Kauppala. Of course, some of them are still alive, as are some of the mothers, so this is not just a case for the archives.”