ONE FAMILY'S STORY OF SURVIVAL
An eyewitness account of Finland's peril during World War II
From 1939 to 1945, Finland fought three wars: the Winter War of 1939, when the Soviet Union attacked the country; the Continuation War, when Finland fought the Soviet Union alongside Germany; and the Lapland War of 1944-45 against Germany.
Stina Katchadourian's memoir, The Lapp King's Daughter, tells the story of how these three wars uprooted the lives of one Finnish family. The book draws the author's childhood memories and also on the correspondence between her parents, who were separated during most of World War II, with the father on the front, fighting the Soviets.
In 1944, the mother took her two daughters from their home in Helsinki and moved them to the presumed safety of a farm in Finnish Lapland. A pawn in the power play between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, Finland had allied itself with Germany, hoping to stave off a Russian occupation. But in the summer of 1944, Finland could no longer fight, and so concluded a separate ceasefire with the Soviets. The peace conditions were harsh. No one knew what the Red Army would do next.
Stina's father's letters from the front urged the family to bide their time in the Arctic Circle. If things got worse, he hinted, they could flee across the river to neutral Sweden. Meanwhile, he continued to send them packages of food whenever he could.
Things did get worse. Strongly urged by the Russians, the Finns attacked the Germans in Lapland. This conflict was preceded by a mass evacuation of the population of Finnish Lapland (100,000 people and their livestock), as the retreating Germans, using the scorched-earth tactic, burned down all of Finnish Lapland.
Sixty years later, after both her parents had passed away, Stina Katchadourian read their wartime correspondence for the first time, while she was a resident at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. Through those carefully saved and chronologically bundled letters emerges a little girl who, sheltered by her parents' love, never realized how close to the brink she and her country had come.
Very little has previously been written about Finland's dramatic political history during World War II. How this small country retained its independence despite facing occupation by the Soviet Union or domination by Nazi Germany is told in riveting detail in this eyewitness account, which also includes family photos, maps, historical photos and other unique material from Swedish and Finnish archives.