The Finnish government failed to address the adverse emotional impact of war

Professor Petri Karonen on the aftermath of war:

The Finnish government failed to address the adverse emotional impact of war, instead focusing its attention on the economy and foreign policy

Finnish society managed to cope with the problems brought about by the Second World War relatively well. "In spite of instabilities in foreign and domestic policy, the state was able to make the transition from war to peace with almost no advance planning whatsoever, thus demonstrating that the state apparatus, which proved flexible during the war, was capable of solving major problems encountered as from the autumn of 1944. The Finnish government and public offices focused their attention on achieving short-term goals and tackling more essential national problems, such as directing resources to the economy and foreign policy. This, however, also failed to address such matters as minimising the adverse emotional impact of war," explains Professor Petri Karonen. Karonen heads the research project, "The War That Follows Peace. Aftermath of the Second World War in the Finnish Society c. 1944-2000", funded by the Academy of Finland.

The Second World War represents a major watershed in Finnish society. The full extent of damages caused by the conflict was not revealed until after the war, as many problems were solved during wartime by sweeping them under the carpet to wait for a solution. This is, therefore, a crisis of peace.

Post-war life may be as demanding – if not more so – on society than the war itself. It took years for the situation to stabilise in Finland. Some researchers believe that the post-war period did not come to a close until 1989; some consider that peace was already restored at the beginning of the 1950s, and others think that the process is still underway. "Any of these interpretations is probably right – the perspective from which phenomena are examined makes a great deal of difference. If the situation is looked at, for example, from the government's or Parliament's point of view, then the early 1950s would seem to be the right time period," says Karonen.

Karonen researches long-term post-war challenges facing the Finnish government. Examples of these challenges were those requiring immediate action, such as repatriation of the armed forces and its attendant political and economic problems as well as problems related to the settling of the broader society. It was necessary to reintegrate war veterans into civilian society and provide support to various groups suffering from the war. Minimising the adverse emotional impact of war was one of the most difficult problems facing the government.

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Further information: Professor Petri Karonen, University of Jyväskylä, tel. +358 14 260 1259, karonen@campus.jyu.fi

Academy of Finland Communications Communications Specialist Leena Vähäkylä, tel. +358 9 7748 8327 or +358 40 833 2978 leena.vahakyla@aka.fi


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