'American' Finns in Soviet Army

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Peter H
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'American' Finns in Soviet Army

Post by Peter H » 17 Sep 2004 11:01

Anne Applebaum's Gulag mentions the 25,000 'American Finns' who emigrated to Soviet Karelia in the 1930s from the USA/Canada.Many ended up in the Gulag after 1935.

This link mentions a lower number than Applebaum:

http://www.genealogia.fi/emi/art/article151e.htm

This link also mentions some serving in the Red Army:

When war broke out with Nazi Germany in 1941, Finns were evacuated farther away, most to the Ural Mountains or Siberia.

After the Winter War of 1939 to 1940, in which Finland lost parts of Karelia to the Soviet Union, Finland attacked with Germany, hoping to regain the lost areas. The Soviet government did not trust its citizens of Finnish descent to remain loyal.

There were exceptions, though. Mayme Sevander was recruited for reconnaissance missions into Finland and remained in Petrozavodsk.

Ruth Niskanen, too, was deemed useful to the war effort. She worked in hospitals at the front as an interpreter, although her mother and younger brother were sent beyond the Urals, where her mother died of hunger and her brother Roy, then 12, was put in an orphanage.

Her older brother, Raymond, who graduated from the Petrozavodsk Pedagogical Institute in 1938, fought in the Soviet Army and was killed at the front.


http://www.sptimesrussia.com/archive/ti ... n_8049.htm

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Hanski
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Post by Hanski » 17 Sep 2004 16:20

Peter, thank you for these interesting links!

I must say they tell a very sad story about how propaganda can make people sacrifice the futures of their families and their own. These Finns certainly made mistakes of their lives when believing communist agitators. It would be too harsh to say they got what they deserved.

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Post by Topspeed » 17 Sep 2004 16:56

All finns in ussr between 1937-1947 were in gulags or should have been there by NKVD as enemies of the people of USSR. They even tried to jail O.W.Kuusinen as a spy of England.

rgds,

JT

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Bair
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Post by Bair » 17 Sep 2004 20:09

All finns in ussr between 1937-1947 were in gulags or should have been there by NKVD as enemies of the people of USSR. They even tried to jail O.W.Kuusinen as a spy of England.


An overstatement. Finns were not considered loyal to the Soviet regime - true, but not all were sent to GULAG - most of the Finns who had lived near the border in 1930s were moved elsewhere. But again, please do not state that every Finn was shot or sent to GULAG.

Please also remember that economic situation in Northern Finland (Suomussalmi, for example) was very bad in 1930s and Finnish people indeed believed Soviet propaganda that life in the USSR was better than in Finland. After experiencing life in lumber harvesting camp in Kintismäki ithey changed their mind their quickly. :idea:

with best regards,

Bair

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Rauli
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Post by Rauli » 17 Sep 2004 21:51

Bair wrote:
Please also remember that economic situation in Northern Finland (Suomussalmi, for example) was very bad in 1930s and Finnish people indeed believed Soviet propaganda that life in the USSR was better than in Finland. After experiencing life in lumber harvesting camp in Kintismäki ithey changed their mind their quickly.


Once again=) I´m getting curious. Are you talking about "korpikommunisti"? This battle that went through from 1945-1948?

I would appreciate all the good book references.

Best regards,

Rauli

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Post by Topspeed » 18 Sep 2004 03:35

Bair wrote:
All finns in ussr between 1937-1947 were in gulags or should have been there by NKVD as enemies of the people of USSR. They even tried to jail O.W.Kuusinen as a spy of England.


An overstatement.
--------------------

with best regards,

Bair


I don't see it as an overstatement. I just read 17 testimonies of Ingrians and finns in USSR. Some town ( after the accounting of the folks in the village )in Ingermanland had 127 people sent to Siberia. Back to the village ever came 3. It is possible that they were relocated if they managed the labour camps ( as far as in Magadan ). One ingrian woman became a doctorate degree scholar, but all his male relatives were killed in the camps after deportation of life ( that was generally the conviction to all finns or ingrians ). Only through luck, courage and God did some of them survive. Political prisoners as they were were always in worse situation than the criminal prisoners. Women for instance were personal slaves for the guards; brutally sexually abused.
A death by shooting was automatic even if you took a step on the left or right on the march to a lumber site etc.


rgds,

Juke

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Post by Topspeed » 20 Sep 2004 21:10

Bair wrote:An overstatement. Finns were not considered loyal to the Soviet regime - true, but not all were sent to GULAG - most of the Finns who had lived near the border in 1930s were moved elsewhere. But again, please do not state that every Finn was shot or sent to GULAG.


with best regards,

Bair


Okey maybe some older people and people in northern Karelia did not have to go to Gulag...agreed..sorry for being so blunt...I was just so disgusted by the faith of these fellow finns in USSR.

On one camp was the chief guard Michelson and on his account was 3 000 white russian officers death in the Crimea...and their families ( women and children ). He executed people just if they had a quarrel in cold blood.

That was the most horrifying book I ever read so far. Some of the ingrians were saved when they served well in the army and conquered Berlin. Standard procedure was to loot everything, but that Toivo passed the opportunity.

rgds,

Juke

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Post by Tero » 21 Sep 2004 07:28

By Bair

An overstatement. Finns were not considered loyal to the Soviet regime - true, but not all were sent to GULAG - most of the Finns who had lived near the border in 1930s were moved elsewhere. But again, please do not state that every Finn was shot or sent to GULAG.


This, IMO, boils down to the definition of who was a Finn in USSR.

The fact is most, virtually all, mature male Finns who emigrated from Finland or USA to USSR during the 1930's was eliminated.

Please also remember that economic situation in Northern Finland (Suomussalmi, for example) was very bad in 1930s and Finnish people indeed believed Soviet propaganda that life in the USSR was better than in Finland. After experiencing life in lumber harvesting camp in Kintismäki ithey changed their mind their quickly. :idea:


This is true. But how many of them was able to return to Finland ?

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Post by Topspeed » 21 Sep 2004 07:55

It is so horrifying the fate of these finns that it is beyond comprehensin; one couple ( from Martinniemi near Oulu ) with children got a letter from other fleers saying that everything is swell here we already have crimean fur coats etc....=> fact was that they were in a forced labour camp, but were so pissed that they couldn't tell the truth and possibly that would not have passed the cencorship either.

The "rich" american finns were on purpose told lies and when they reached URRS they were looted and massacred in a dininghall of one siberian commun with machine guns by hundreds, but not right away but after a certain period of forced labour.

Several persons said that finns (= ingrians, finns ) were classified as ENEMIES OF THE USSR and they were sentenced FOR LIFE IN DEPORTATION. So if they ever returned they had to travel back to Siberia with they own expense.

On other case is then the warcriminals after the war; Boris Björkelund was hauled from his home in 1947 for being an intelligent officer during the war. He was not only prisoned, but had to suffer solitary cell of torture, after two strokes a doctor ordered him to a forced labour camp..since he was not going to testity crimes he had not done.

That was the standard procedure of NKVD; make up fake reasons and then get them signed by torture. The ways of torturing finns were as numerous as the towns in Soviet Union.

People in the labour camps died of exhaust just in the middle of the work..like carrying railroad tracks through a swamp. Bodies in the wintertime were left on the snow, but if they were too numerous and close to the camp they were sometimes buried when sommer came ( because of the smell )..if they had not been eaten by wolfes...in somecases reindeers also chew the corpses and got sick. Some people died in the outdoor lavatories.

In several camps 1-10 died every day and if there was a day that one did not die it was memorable enough.

Go to library and borrow that Vettenniemi book : "Suomalaisia Vankileirien Saaristossa." ( Finns in the archipelago of Gulags ). It is based on his doctorate study where he compares the survivers stories. It is so appalling that I had hard time sleeping after I read it.

rgds,

Juke
Last edited by Topspeed on 21 Sep 2004 12:24, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Hanski » 21 Sep 2004 08:37

Topspeed wrote:On other case is then the warcriminals after the war; Boris Björkelund was hauled from his home in 1947 for being an intelligent officer during the war. He was not only prisoned, but had to suffer solitary cell of torture, after two strokes a doctor ordered him to a forced labour camp..since he was not going to testity crimes he had not done.


A bit off topic, but which source does this information come from? Were Finnish authorities involved, or even aware of the incident? In other words, he was transported to the Soviet Union from his home in Finland in peacetime? How about crossing the Finnish Border -- did anyone ask questions what it was all about? A strange story indeed!

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Post by Mikko H. » 21 Sep 2004 09:39

Boris Björkelund was hauled from his home in 1947 for being an intelligent officer during the war.


An intelligent officer -- what an offense! Everybody knows you should leave your brains behind once you enter the army! It's only good the Soviets decided to weed them out...

Were the Soviets out to get all the intelligent Finnish officers? Or was Boris Björkelund the only intelligent officer in the whole Finnish Army? Were the rest just plain stupid or of moderate intelligence???

Sorry, couldn't resist... :P

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Post by JariL » 21 Sep 2004 10:57

Hi,

Boris Björkelund has written his memoirs of his time in the Gulag. He belonged to a group of 20 persons that are known in our history books as "Leinon vangit". These people were arrested by the political police and handed over to the Soviets. They were flown from Malmi airport to Soviet Union almost immediately after their arrest. In due time the delivery of these persons to Soviet Union without proper authority led to a vote of non confidence to the minister of the interior Yrjö Leino (communist party) and he was forced to resign.

Nobody really knows how the persons were selected to the list, but so far it seems that Boris Björkelund was plain and simple error. He was a jeweler not an intelligence officer. His shop BTW was plundered by the political police when he was arrested and he thus not only lost his freedom but also his posessions. After returning to Finland he received some sort of compnesation for his financial losses, but nothing that came even close to the going value.

Recently there was a very interesting story about an other Finn, Unto Parvilahti-Boman who also belonged to the same group of prisoners as Björkelund. In his case the interesting part is that he was possibly seen in Helsinki during the time he was supposed to be in the gulag. It seems that he was actually a Soviet agent that the Soviets had used to get information about the Finnish SS battalion during the war. It is also possible that he was a double agent i.e. planted by Finnish intelligence service into the Soviet network. In any case the fate he describes in his book about the Gulag ("Berijan tarhat") may not be the whole truth.

Best regards,

Jari

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Post by Tero » 21 Sep 2004 11:02

Mikko H. wrote:
Boris Björkelund was hauled from his home in 1947 for being an intelligent officer during the war.


An intelligent officer -- what an offense! Everybody knows you should leave your brains behind once you enter the army! It's only good the Soviets decided to weed them out...

Were the Soviets out to get all the intelligent Finnish officers? Or was Boris Björkelund the only intelligent officer in the whole Finnish Army? Were the rest just plain stupid or of moderate intelligence???

Sorry, couldn't resist... :P


Typos like this are lethal when debating with Finns. :D

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Post by Topspeed » 21 Sep 2004 11:14

Intelligence officer suit you better ?

Tero
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Post by Tero » 21 Sep 2004 11:34

Topspeed wrote:Intelligence officer suit you better ?


As in

"Does she want it, sir ?"

"Oh ! Suit you, sir !"
?


If so, then yes. Suits me just fine. :D

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