The purpose of the claim of this kind is to present Mannerheim as a great humanitarian. But even when he between the wars acted as the chairman Finnish Red Cross and Mannerheim Child Welfare Union, he did so not only for humanitarian motives but also, perhaps even primarily, in order to help the future war effort, f.ex. by creating the nurse reserve and making sure that the conscripts were able-bodied. And as we know, his double-role as a Commander-of-Chief and the spokesman of the Finnish Red Cross was fatal for the Soviet POVs, for whose high mortality he bore the highest responsibility.
In order the study the matter more, I looked on the classic study of Taimi Torvinen, Pakolaiset Suomessa Hitlerin valtakaudella (The refugees in Finland during the reign of Hitler, 1984) because nobody can hardly claim her to "biased against Finland".
There was a clear difference in the official Finnish policy how refugees from the Soviet Union were formerly treated and refugess from Nazi Germany and countries occupied of it, Jweish and political, were treated already from the 30ies (represented f.ex. Minister of Interior Kekkonen). On the other hand, the latter refugees had also defenders and helpers among Social Democratic and liberal MPs and cultural elite, especially Swedish speaking.
The Jewish congregation, Social Democratic Party and (from the summer 1943) Kommitté för för judiska flyttningar i Finland tried to get for Jewish refugee an access to Sweden, but the answer was that Finland should take care of them and Sweden would take them only in case they were threated of surrender. At that time already thousands of refugees from f.ex. Norway lived in Sweden.
The change in the Finnish policy towards refugees happened when Edwin Linkomies formed his government in March 1943 (that is, after Stalingrad when Finnish leaders knew definitely that Germany couldn’t win the war). Linkomies ordered at once that the Jews who been placed in the camp on Suursaari which was so near the war zone that their lives could anytime become in danger should be transferred. In April 17-18 refugees were carried to Jokioinen, a farm owned by the state in order to do the work there. Others had already got to Sweden or freed from of work service based on doctor’s certificate. Most of the refugees continued to live in their former repositories in Häme.
The new Minister of Interior, Leo Ehrnrooth, presented to President Ryti a list of foreigners who had applied for the Finnish citizenship, among then dozens of Jews who had come to Finland before 1939 but whose applications the former Minister of Interior, Horelli, had left to rest. Most of them were now accpeted as Finnish citizens although Valpo had given a dissenting opinion of them.
The decision was meant to be secret, but it leaked out to the public. IKL asked the govenment about the basics of the decision in the Parliament wasn't centended in Ehrnrooth's answer. IKL's paper Ajan Suunta defended Horelli's policy. Its mitigation would mean the Jewish refugees who were hostile towards the anti-Bolshevik front could hurt Finland's society. The argument of Kansallissosialisti (National Socialist) was "protecting our country must come first". Therefore the German measures also on this respect were fully understandable. On the other hand, Suomen sosialidemokraatti wote that Jews had been treated and isolated in a way that wasn’t a honor to Finland.
From now on, Valpo’s recommodations about ”dangerousness” didn’t any more prevent refugees to become Finnish citizens (which guaranteed that they couldn’t be surrended to Germany), if others authorities defended their application.
In February 1944, Anthoni was replaced by Paavo Kastari as the chief of Valpo.
After that, the conditions of the refugees were relatively good (they had formerly justly complained about them). But they were still worried, this time about the possibility that if Finland made peace with the Soviet Union, there would be a could assisted by Germany in Finland.
In May, Sweden promised to take 109 Jewish refugees (of them 80 were stateless) and, after the USA promised to pay for their upkeep, the rest 25.
Also, because of the bombings 70 Finnish Jewish children received temporarily in Sweden.
Already in February 1945, some Jewish stateless refugees wanted to return to Finland. The Finnish and Swedish authoriries approved, but Jewish congregation took a negative stance because the hard food situation in Finland (I suppose that they thought that they had helped refugees enough during the war and were exhausted).
There were also other interesting matters in Torvinen’s book: in January 1943 Germany announced to its allies, including Finland, that it begins to ”purge” Western Europe from Jews and Finland should get its citizens home until 31 March. After that the exceptional treatmens of the foreign Jews will cease and also they will be transferred to the new colonies in Eastern Europe.
The Finnish Foreign office was quite keen to care of the Finnish Jews abroad and recommended them to move to Finland, but many were reluctant to do so. It seems that also the Germans were willing to help them to leave.
The Finnish ambassador in Berlin, Kivimäki, wrote in January 1943 in his report about the harsh conditions in ghettos in Poland based on the information of a Finnish engineer. In March a diplomat wrote a report with precise details and numbers how Jews were ”purged” in Berlin.
The foreign correspondets in Berlin were forbidden to tell about ”purging” the Jews, but all of them didn’t obey. Svenska Pressen (a Swedish-speaking evening paper published in Helsinki) [/i][/i]had a single column news with a subtitle on 27 March: ”A serious intention to destroy Jews wholly from Europe.”
Kansallissosialisti wrote that the number of the Jews had been decreased in all countries which were under the German occupation. After several citations about the aversion of the Jews Kansallissosialisti made an understanding conclusion that Europe should be freed from Jews which the German leader had lately strongly emphasized.
Suomen Sosialidemokraatti told a bit later that eight provinces of Holland would be made wholly ”Aryan” and Dutches who had protected Jews had been put in the concentration camps.
Finnish newspapers also told about frantic meetings in the Western countries in order to save the Jews and try to get the International Red Cross a possibility to watch over the treatment of the Jews in the Axel countries and their allies.
It was only when the Danish Jews were arrested in order to be transferred that there were public protests in Finnish newspapers. The most famous was that of the profssor of philisophy, Eino Kaila, in Uusi Suomi on 5th October. He declared himself as a Germanophile and an understander of National Socialism but condemned the persecution of the Jews that violeted the basics of the European civilization as they were subject to the innocent and great talents.
Last edited by Anne G, on 26 Nov 2017 21:35, edited 2 times in total.