Soviet POWs under Finnish 'care'

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Laurance.Robinson
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Soviet POWs under Finnish 'care'

Post by Laurance.Robinson » 27 Nov 2017 12:20

Anne G, wrote:
Laurance.Robinson wrote: We can see how he dedicates 5 pages to the Soviet PoWs in Finland and downplays the stretched resources and other factors that contributed to about 18,000 dead out of 65,000 (and very little mention of Mannerheim's personal intervention that saw massive improvements made to the camps). He tries to present the deaths as a result of Finnish malice and akin to the German's racial theories. He then dedicates 1 and a half pages to Finnish PoWs in the USSR which saw a mortality rate of 40% and attempts to ignore their poor treatment.
The new researches (f.ex. Lars Westerlund) have refuted the claim that the reason of the high mortality of the Soviet POWs in Finland was only the food shortages. While it wasn't planned like in Germany, the Finnish authorities could have made much more but didn't - just in Red camps in 1918.

Simply by not demanding heavy work from the POVs would have helped many of them to survive. Or, if the employers couldn't have new POWs to replace those they had exhausted, they would have treated them better. Also, inspecting the POV camps would have prevented the guards to steal the POV's food and shooting them for "trying to espace".

One of the problems was Mannerheim's double role as the Commander-in-Chief of the Finnish Army and the chairman of the Finnish Red Cross. He reacted only after the conditions of the POV camps had become a scandal in Sweden and elsewhere in the West and the Soviets understandable used the matter in their propagnda for their benefit.

Corrected some grammar and misunderstanding.
Thank you Anne for your input.

You are correct in that Westerlund (amongst others) have made it clear that Food shortages wasn't the primary cause of the high mortality of soviet POWs. I would like to point out that I did not state such a thing.

Westerlund's work (the SOTAVANGIT INTERNOIDUT ja SOTAVANGIT INTERNOIDUT Prisoners of War and Internees collection of Essay's. Availble here:- https://www.arkisto.fi/uploads/Julkaisu ... UT_WEB.pdf) points to various factors to the high death toll of Soviet POWs (mainly end of 1941-42). The top two being neglect on part of the Finnish Authorities, and the stretched resources of Finland. (This is why I am very curious as to Claes' praise of you comment, as my own post doesn't disagree with yours, yours only expands upon it and if Claes hadn't shut down further discussion, we could have looked deeper into this, oh well).

Neglect on part of the Finnish Authorities

This can be broken down in Political and Cultural based neglect.

As we see within higher Finnish circles we see less concern given towards Soviet POWs due to the stance Finland has taken. Westerlund points out how they even turn down intital Swedish invitations to help in this area due to the strained polictics between Sweden and Finland. Another point is how in the late 20's, early 30's the Finnish Red Cross had made it's primary wartime mission to become an extension of the Finnish Military and as such it's POW office was small and even reduced in capcity. The main handling of POWs going through the Foreign Office, which in turn neglected its role and this is generally put down to cultural points.

Your statement on Mannerheim's role is disputed by Westerlund. You are basing it on conjecture. Even Westerlund states several possibilities for Mannerheim's lack of interest at the beginning, the main factor being his role as Commander in Chief. But as you rightly point out, there was a lack of inspections and even lack of communication in regards to the conditions of the Camps. As Westerlund points out, Mannerheim took the step of going directly to the Committee of the International Red Cross (CICR) instead of going to the local or Swedish Red Crosses, and this is generally thought due to better ability to deal with the issue and to bypass any red tape. The outcry in Sweden didn't occur till later and this is also criticise in Westerlund's work because he states that the Swedish Red Cross must have known of the conditions but failed to act.

Cultural neglect is obvious. Many people in Finland cared little for the Soviets, for obvious reasons, and we see this reflected in the actions taken. This cultural 'hatred' (a strong word but I cannot think of any other at present) is shown in how the majority of POWs guards were drawn from those who would be unfit (psychologically, physically or other ways) to serve within the military in another capcity. It is this cultural neglect that most Finns and Finnish friendly folks bulk at. However, the shootings are at a low 5% of the 19,085 who died in captivity, and out of this Westerlund states
A minor part of these cases were actually homicides
Stretched resources of Finland

As Westerlund points out, that Finland was suffering from Shortages of Food in 1941-42 and that this is part of the reason why the various Red Crosses got involved in sending supplies to Finland. However, as Westerlund points out, that these various deliveries were completely insuffcient to actually help allievate the situation and that the various Red Crosses (Finland's included) share responsibility for those who died in captivity.

Also with industry being put onto a war footing and many skilled men going to the frontlines, we see resources becoming stretched. Thus camps were constructed cheaply and with the bare minimun of input. This doesn't excuse the actions but does show how easy it is for people to twist the view. Once the situation stablised, we do see things improve overall in Finland.

This is just a quick opening discussion.

I do look forward to seeing this progress. Any sources or additions are welcome. I do read Finnish, but albeit at a reduced pace, so bare with me whenever we have to look at Finnish sources.

My original position is from a book review of Claes' book. Which isn't bad, unfortunately he has taken any negative critcism of his work very poorly and has made it difficult to interact with him on a civil level. The part you are highlighting is how Claes shows favour towards the Soviet POWs in dedicating more than 5 pages to their mistreatment, ignoring numerous other factors (because nothing is singular and is always multifaceted), including exaggeration of numbers. While he shows the Finnish, who suffered a lot worse, a mere one and half pages, glosses over any pointed accusations of mistreatment or poor showing by the USSR. I hope this clears things up and opens the floor up.

I also call upon Claes to end this back and forth. I offer my hand out.

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Claes Johansen
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Re: Soviet POWs under Finnish 'care'

Post by Claes Johansen » 27 Nov 2017 14:39

@Laurance Robinson
I also call upon Claes to end this back and forth. I offer my hand out.
That's fine by me on a personal level. However, if you keep insisting that my book is "massively biased against the Finns", I simply can see no platform for further communication in discussions over Finnish matters. It has nothing to do with prima donna tendencies on my behalf or inability to take criticism, or other supposed weaknesses in my personality as you keep insisting. It is merely the fact that if you are able to misread my book to such a hugenormous degree, then there is nothing I could ever write that would have even the slightest chance of getting though to you, so why even bother?

As if to underline this you have been giving me advice on how the book should have been better balanced (in favour of Finland) and then listed examples that are simply untrue stories, as we have subsequently seen on others treads here.

Furthermore you have complained that my description of the conditions for Finnish POWs in the Soviet Union are not taking up as much space as that of the Soviet PoWs in Finland, mentioning that the Finnish casualties were 40 pct, i.e. way more than the equivalent Soviet casualties. Yet there are several essential factors here that you ignore and which would make a direct comparison a misjudgement in a book of this kind.

First, the situation in the camps in Finland will be new and unknown territory for many international readers, while the truly terrible situation in the Soviet camps is, I'm afraid to say, old hat. In fact I state very clearly at the start the chapter on the camps in the USSR:
The horrendous conditions in Soviet PoW camps during the Second World War are well documented elsewhere. Hence, this chapter concentrates on factors specifically related to Finnish war prisoners.
Second, there is the sheer numbers of casualties if we count in individuals instead of percentages. According to Westerlund the total number of casualties among prisoners in Finnish capacity was 23,681. The number of Finnish casualties in Soviet camps swings between 2,377 and 3,402.

Third, Finland is to be judged as a democratic Nordic country, meaning that a much higher humanitarian standard must be expected than we would from a dictatorial terrorist state such as the Soviet Union. In any case, my book isn't meant to be a kind of competition between Finland the the USSR in regard to "who was worse than who". We know of course that the Soviet Union was a terrible regime, what is new and interesting is to take a look at is how Finland did, viewed on the basis of it being a Nordic democratic welfare state.

This is just one of your points of criticism, but unfortunately each and every single one of them is so way off the mark I can hardly believe my eyes when I read them. Still, those other point aren't relevant to this particular thread so I shall consider placing them somewhere else.

How to go from here and reestablish some kind of communication I don't know, except from you completely rereading my book and this time reading much more slowly and carefully, not skipping anything and not reading anything into it that isn't actually there. Then if you finally begin to understand what's really going on there could be a platform to build on, but otherwise I can only imagine it would be a complete waste of time to even try.

PS. You have somehow managed to totally misread Westerlund as well. It's as if you have some uncanny ability to misinterpret anything into anything you like. Advanced trolling, maybe?
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Laurance.Robinson
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Re: Soviet POWs under Finnish 'care'

Post by Laurance.Robinson » 27 Nov 2017 15:35

Claes Johansen wrote:@Laurance Robinson
I also call upon Claes to end this back and forth. I offer my hand out.
That's fine by me on a personal level. However, if you keep insisting that my book is "massively biased against the Finns", I simply can see no platform for further communication in discussions over Finnish matters. It has nothing to do with prima donna tendencies on my behalf or inability to take criticism, or other supposed weaknesses in my personality as you keep insisting. It is merely the fact that if you are able to misread my book to such a hugenormous degree, then there is nothing I could ever write that would have even the slightest chance of getting though to you, so why even bother?

As if to underline this you have been giving me advice on how the book should have been better balanced (in favour of Finland) and then listed examples that are simply untrue stories, as we have subsequently seen on others treads here.

Furthermore you have complained that my description of the conditions for Finnish POWs in the Soviet Union are not taking up as much space as that of the Soviet PoWs in Finland, mentioning that the Finnish casualties were 40 pct, i.e. way more than the equivalent Soviet casualties. Yet there are several essential factors here that you ignore and which would make a direct comparison a misjudgement in a book of this kind.

First, the situation in the camps in Finland will be new and unknown territory for many international readers, while the truly terrible situation in the Soviet camps is, I'm afraid to say, old hat. In fact I state very clearly at the start the chapter on the camps in the USSR:
The horrendous conditions in Soviet PoW camps during the Second World War are well documented elsewhere. Hence, this chapter concentrates on factors specifically related to Finnish war prisoners.
Second, there is the sheer numbers of casualties if we count in individuals instead of percentages. According to Westerlund the total number of casualties among prisoners in Finnish capacity was 23,681. The number of Finnish casualties in Soviet camps swings between 2,377 and 3,402.

Third, Finland is to be judged as a democratic Nordic country, meaning that a much higher humanitarian standard must be expected than we would from a dictatorial terrorist state such as the Soviet Union. In any case, my book isn't meant to be a kind of competition between Finland the the USSR in regard to "who was worse than who". We know of course that the Soviet Union was a terrible regime, what is new and interesting is to take a look at is how Finland did, viewed on the basis of it being a Nordic democratic welfare state.

This is just one of your points of criticism, but unfortunately each and every single one of them is so way off the mark I can hardly believe my eyes when I read them. Still, those other point aren't relevant to this particular thread so I shall consider placing them somewhere else.

How to go from here and reestablish some kind of communication I don't know, except from you completely rereading my book and this time reading much more slowly and carefully, not skipping anything and no reading anything into it that isn't there. Then if you finally begin to understand what's really going on there could be a platform to build on, but otherwise I can only imagine it would be a complete waste of time to even try.

PS. You have somehow managed to totally misread Westerlund as well. It's as if you have some uncanny ability to misinterpret anything into anything you like. Advanced trolling, maybe?
So basically you are incapable of admitting fault and thus have rejected any form of civil discourse.

You have continued to attempt to insult me and call my own reading false.

So I have reported this for violation of rules and all further discussion with you will be halted regardless of your actions.

Please learn from this. You are very much displaying nothing but immaturity because of a negative review of your book. The fact that others on this forum have also brought up negative points upon your books shows that it isn't my inability to understand or me misreading but that you did fail to write a book that was fair and balanced.

P.S. no I haven't. It appears that you either have misread or you are being selective again and attempting to bring whatever I say into disrupt.

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Re: Soviet POWs under Finnish 'care'

Post by David Thompson » 27 Nov 2017 19:57

This thread is going nowhere pleasant, so it's locked.

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