Sweden Finns

Sweden's borders have changed many times over the course of history and Finland and Sweden have been the same country at times. Finnish-speaking people have lived in what is today Sweden for at least 1000 years. Some came here as craftsmen and traders, others to cultivate land in the forest, still others to work in mines, ironworks, sawmills, and other industries. 


When kings, like Gustav Vasa in the 1500s, thought that more peasants should live in the forests, they moved people, sometimes with the promise of tax exemption. Many who lived in Savolax, which today is in Finland, became slash and burn farmers in Sweden in the 1500s. During that time, a Finnish family who moved to Grätnäs which is located along the road to Sollefteå.


In Finland there have been more wars than in Sweden. Finland was occupied by Russia from 1713 to 1721. Those years are called the "Great Unrest" and many people fled to Sweden.


In 1808-09, Sweden and Russia were at war, but the war was fought in the eastern, i.e. Finnish side of the empire, and many fled west to what is now Sweden to escape the war.


During the Second World War, there were three wars in Finland. First, the Soviet Union tried to take Finland and in the winter of 1939-40 the Finnish Winter War was fought. Then, the Germans and the Finns fought together to get the Soviets out and finally Finland fought to get the Germans out of Finnish Lapland.


Many parents sent their children to Sweden to keep them safe, but it was very difficult for the children to go alone. Siblings were not allowed to stay together and no one understood Finnish where they went. When the war was over, they had forgotten how to speak Finnish and it was almost impossible to go back to Finland. In total, 70,000 Finnish children came to Sweden without their parents. 


Mark's family is from Österbotten. The Sweden Finns are considered one of Sweden's national minorities.