As a boat refugee to Sweden

Juhani Palmu's worldly journey had begun through dramatic stages. Right after he was born in July 1944, he became a boat refugee from war-torn Finland. The father, who was in the war for five years, was involved in the so-called Stella Polaris project. After the project was revealed, he led a small group that fled to Sweden via the Uusikaupunki archipelago. The men were convinced that the Soviet troops would occupy Finland and that resistance could only be made from the Swedish side in the future.

Rauni's mother gave birth to her first child in Turku on July 8 a little overtime, but immediately after the naming and baptism at the maternity hospital, the mother and her little one were happily taken to the men hiding in the Uusikaupunki archipelago. The boy's cradle on the sea island was a cardboard box.

The fugitives languished in the sky for more than two weeks until a boat was found that could be used to cross the sea to Sweden. It was only on the ulapa in the wee hours of the night that we dared to start the boat's engine. There were four men in the boat, two of whom were Estonian. They were accompanied by Juhani, who was sleeping in his mother's arms, and another woman who was very pregnant. The whole group arrived in front of Hudiksvall, Sweden, on August 6, 1944. The presence of a small baby and women in the refugee boat was noted as news in the local newspaper.

The refugees were initially sent to a labor camp, from which Juhan's father went to Umeå as a furniture polisher. We lived in Granö for more than two years. Then we moved south of Stockholm to Nyköping, where my father got a job as a polisher for the large company NK. Father also painted pictures in Sweden and went on painting and sales trips that could last several days. His conversion also happened around that time. Rauni's mother, on the other hand, often acted as an interpreter for the authorities for refugees arriving in Sweden, who came from the Baltic countries and Finland.

The Palmuje family lived in Sweden for more than six years. Contact with Finnish relatives was maintained to some extent. Mainly at the request of the father's mother, after the conditions normalized, he returned to Finland for Christmas 1950. The father got a job as a polisher at the Turku shipyard. He also worked at Musiikki-Fazer in Helsinki as a machine polisher of musical instruments. Rauni's mother stayed at home to take care of the children. There were now four boys in the family and two more girls were born in Liedo.

The significance of the early childhood spent in Sweden was profound for Juhani Palmu. Swedish became his childhood language, Nyköping's urban milieu his childhood landscape and world. Migration and citizenship of two countries were absorbed into the child's identity. Perhaps this starting point also holds the keys to Juhani Palmu's world citizenship.

From the fact that the family settled in Lithuania after returning from Sweden, one can sense the need to return to the roots of Juhan's parents. After all, their family roots were deep within the Finnish coastal area - in the middle of fishing and farming. My father's father was a mill and sawmill manager of the Nautela manor from Paattis, my mother's family is from the outer archipelago, and my father himself lived in Liedo for a long time.

Juhan's mother's mother, surnamed Hultin-Valve, was from Korppoo. Mother's father used to have a private transport company working for Arabia's factories in Helsinki, mother's hometown.

The months of the Winter War 1939-40 had been a cruel time for Rauni's mother. Her only brother and her first husband had died simultaneously in an explosion accident shortly after the war broke out and the marriage took place. Juhan's father had been in the war all the time, which was followed by the marriage of Juhan's parents towards the end of 1943. They met on the train to Turku while my father was on leave from the front.

Artistic tendencies also came to the family from the mother's side, where especially musicality manifested itself. My mother's aunt Wirginia Sarin was a well-known Sitra player and whistler: she was a diva of her time, whose Sitra is now part of the collection of the Sibelius Museum in Turku. For a long time, the mother even used to force her son to listen to classical music on the radio. The boys lay on their stomachs on the floor, humbling themselves into silence and listening. You couldn't afford constables during the music moments.

After Juhan, brother Jan was born in October 1945 in Sweden. Juhani has always had a close relationship with him, a common language. Concurrent life stages and hereditary factors must have influenced the fact that Jan Palmu also became a painter. He lives and works at home in Lieto. Among the younger brothers, Jarmo is an art dealer in Naantali, while Jouni lives in Hämeenlinna and paints in addition to his work. Sister Nina lives in Nokia. Another sister, Nanny, drowned when she was 10 years old.