Studia Historica Septentrionalia 63


Henry Oinas-Kukkonen, Fotofighter Thérèse Bonney as a Winter War Heroine in True Comics

In July 1944 True Comics’ published a ”Photo-Fighter” comic strip, which presented the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland in 1939–1940 as the early part of the ongoing World War II. An American photojournalist Thérèse Mabel Bonney was presented in the comic strip as a role model, whose enthusiasm was to boost American military efforts. Her story could not be presented well without describing the photojournalistic scoop Bonney made a few years earlier during the Finnish-Russo Winter War. Only about four years after the event, the Winter War recollections were presented to American children and their parents as part of the comic strip. The ”Photo-Fighter” may be considered to understand the Finnish, but it did not ride over the Soviet Union either. The Soviets were the allies of the U.S.A. at the time whereas Finland was a friend of the German enemy. As the German eastern front began to collapse, Finns were pressured to switch sides.

The unmatched heroine in ”Photo-Fighter” was Thérèse Bonney, whose first so called “truth raid” was the Winter War. This truth raid seemed to have made a deep and lasting impact. This could be noticed in her later works, publications, exhibitions and deeds. Bonney came to Finland as a secret OSS agent in 1942 to persuade Finns to stop warring against the Soviet Union. Her personal memories, which intertwined with the larger context of world politics and state secrets, could not be presented in the ”Photo-Fighter” comic strip. The significance of Bonney’s personal experience can be concluded by comparing the ”Photo-Fighter” comic strip with the news items and eminent publications and cultural events at the time in the United States. The ”Photo-Fighter” comic strip did not attempt to describe the resonance that the memory of the Winter War actually had for Bonney’s life or the U.S–Finnish relations.

Takaisin Studia Historica Septentrionalia 63