"Finland shot 1000 POWs"

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Mikko H.
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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Mikko H. » 31 Aug 2008 14:37

Finland joined to the Hague Convention of 1907 in 1924. While the Soviet Union did not formally adhere to the Convention, the Soviet Government did state that it will comply with the Conventions and all the agreements between Russia and the Red Cross. During the Continuation War both Finland and the USSR stated to the International Red Cross that they will comply with the Convention's rules.

According to Finland, during the war the Soviet authorities didn't comply with the rules about the treatment of POWs, and because international law was based on the principle of repiprocality, Finland was not obliged to follow the rules either. Therefore Finland was obliged to follow the principles of the Hague Convention solely because of humanitarian reasons. Finnish Supreme HQ ordered that the Hague Convention should be followed when applicable. POWs should be treated in a humane way. On 8 July 1941 Marshal Mannerheim stressed in his daily order that Finnish soldiers had the obligation of behaving in a dignified way and of maintaining discipline and order when dealing with POWs.

Finland was a signatory of the Geneva Convention of 1929, but it was never ratified by the Parliament because it was in conflict with certain clauses of Military Criminal Code. Finland did state that it will adhere to this Convention once the Finnish laws had been amended. However, the Finnish authorities never took these measures and therefore Finland didn't officially adhere to the Geneva Convention. The POW camps were informed of its rules and Finns did follow certain of them.

But in the Fall of 1943 Finland officially repudiated both the Hague and Geneva Conventions because the USSR didn't comply with the rules of Hague Convention and neither Finland or the USSR adhered to the Geneva Convention. Finally the only threaty Finland officially adhered to was the Geneva Treaty on the treatment of wounded and ill POWs.

Source Juha Kujansuu: Jatkosodan sotavankiorganisaatio, pp. 12-14, in Heikki Roiko-Jokela (ed): Vihollisen armoilla. Neuvostosotavankien kohtaloita Suomessa 1941-1948

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Juha Tompuri
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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Juha Tompuri » 31 Aug 2008 19:33

Scharf wrote:Hi,
I just want to say about russian POW's, that most of them died(dont mean shootings) because finns had not food even for own citizens. Especially 42-43 were very bad years. Later(44) situation was getting better.
David Thompson wrote:scharf -- Do you have any sources for our readers who want to know more?
Here is something about the Finnish war time food issue:
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... a&start=45

Regards, Juha

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by David Thompson » 31 Aug 2008 20:13

Thanks, Juha.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Sid Guttridge » 01 Sep 2008 15:10

Hi Guys,

There were specific conditions that applied to resignation from the Hague Conventions. The USSR, as legal successor to Imperial Russia, never complied with these and so was still technically bound by them.

If it is true both that "...in the Fall of 1943 Finland officially repudiated both the Hague and Geneva Conventions", and that "Most of died prisoners died in winter 1941-42. Then over 15000 prisoners died. Main reason was malnutrition." then Finland was in breach of Aticle 7 of the 1907 Hague Convention:

"Art. 7. The Government into whose hands prisoners of war have fallen is charged with their maintenance.
In the absence of a special agreement between the belligerents, prisoners of war shall be treated as regards board, lodging, and clothing on the same footing as the troops of the Government who captured them."

If these accusations are true then, as far as I can see, the only way that Finland can evade legal responsibility is if its own troops received the same "board, lodging, and clothing" as the Soviet prisoners who died. This would presumably be evidenced by the deaths of a similar proportion of Finnish soldiers.

This subject is definitely perception changing. Received wisdom has it that Finland fought a clean war compared with other participants on the Eastern Front. However, this information implies otherwise. Interestingly, the same explanations are being offered here as are used to explain the deaths of a couple of million Soviet POWs in German hands in the same winter of 1941-42.

If these figures are true, it appears that Finland's war was not so markedly different from that on the main Eastern Front as is usually assumed.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by David Thompson » 01 Sep 2008 15:58

Sid -- You wrote:
There were specific conditions that applied to resignation from the Hague Conventions. The USSR, as legal successor to Imperial Russia, never complied with these and so was still technically bound by them.
I don't think this is correct. The doctrine of sovereign succession, which is now generally accepted, did not apply to the formation of new and different states, such as the USSR. Furthermore, in 1917-1918 the government of the USSR denounced all Czarist treaties, reserving to themselves the right to pick and choose which treaties they would subsequently affirm. There is a (very) lengthy discussion of this problem, beginning at approximately
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 9#p1124229

However, the customs and usages of land warfare, many of which were incorporated in the 1907 Hague IV Convention and Annex, did apply to both Finland and the USSR in the WWII era. Violations of the customs and usages of war were considered war crimes even before 1907.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Sid Guttridge » 01 Sep 2008 16:46

Hi David,

The USSR claimed inheritance of everything that had been Czarist Russia. It formally signed away those bits it failed to retain by recognising their independence - Finland included. Finland, as a new state, had to readhere to the conventions in its own right. The USSR as successor to Imperial Russia, did not have to do so.

The USSR could have formally renounced the Hague Conventions, but did not do so. The Convention had within it the terms under which it could be renounced. If I remember rightly, one year's formal notification was required. This was never given.

Cheers,

Sid.

Mikko H.
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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Mikko H. » 01 Sep 2008 17:08

This subject is definitely perception changing. Received wisdom has it that Finland fought a clean war compared with other participants on the Eastern Front. However, this information implies otherwise. Interestingly, the same explanations are being offered here as are used to explain the deaths of a couple of million Soviet POWs in German hands in the same winter of 1941-42.

If these figures are true, it appears that Finland's war was not so markedly different from that on the main Eastern Front as is usually assumed.
There are certain marked differences between the way Finns and Germans treated their Soviet POWs. German authorities made the decision not to treat the Soviet POWs in a humane way -- they were 'keine kameraden'. Thus the lot of an average Soviet POW was about as abysmal throughout the war.

In Finnish case there was the intention to treat the POWs reasonably well, but in the winter of 1941/42 and spring 1942 the POW camps staff were unable to treat their charges in a prescribed way. The main reason was that Finland was critically short of food supplies, and that Finns had captured in the offensive phase more POWs that they had been prepared to supply (in December 1941 there were 56,000 POWs in FInnish camps).

While the food supply situation at the time affected the whole country, POWs were clearly the last in the supply chain to receive rations, and therefore Finland did fail to provide the POWs the same supplies as they did to their soldiers. Even the Finnish official history of the Continuation War calls the result 'hunger catastrophe'. However, again in contrast to the German way, once the Finnish Supreme HQ became aware of the full enormity of the situation, measures were taken to ease the lot of Soviet POWs, and for the rest of the war POW mortality was within reasonable limits (I can't find the exact numbers just now, but they have been given in one or several of the previous threads about this subject.)

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Scharf » 01 Sep 2008 17:13

If these figures are true, it appears that Finland's war was not so markedly different from that on the main Eastern Front as is usually assumed.
Correct, and as I said before, war is war. I know many peoples globally and especially in Finland who think that our(finnish) soldiers didnt use amphetamine, kill POWs, rape women etc. etc.
I am a finn and maybe a little bit patriotic :D , but I don't believe that kind of stories. It is truth, that finnish front wasn't like eastern front, where was a time when both sides did horrible things.
BUT, it is rubbish to say, we didnt do anything. :|

Anyway, now we can ask: Is it much, if finns shot 1000 POWS and 30 000 or more died in camps?
These things seem to be like news for those people, who hasn't read history and think there can be bloodless war :roll:

Scharf

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Mikko H. » 01 Sep 2008 18:01

Anyway, now we can ask: Is it much, if finns shot 1000 POWS and 30 000 or more died in camps?
Let's get the numbers right: of the 64,188 POWs Finns captured during the Continuation War, 18,700 died in captivity.

Source Heikki Roiko-Jokela: Neuvostoliittolaiset sotavangit Suomessa, p. 281, in Heikki Roiko-Jokela (ed): Vihollisen armoilla. Neuvostosotavankien kohtaloita Suomessa 1941-1948

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Seppo Koivisto » 01 Sep 2008 19:24

Home page of the research project "Finland, prisoners of war deaths and extraditions 1939-1955" gives e.g. the number of deaths at each prisoner of war camp:

http://kronos.narc.fi/frontpage.html

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Scharf
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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Scharf » 01 Sep 2008 19:28

Thanks Mikko H. :cry:
It should have been right there.


Scharf

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Penn44
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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Penn44 » 01 Sep 2008 20:25

Scharf wrote:Hi,
I just want to say about russian POW's, that most of them died(dont mean shootings) because finns had not food even for own citizens. Especially 42-43 were very bad years. Later(44) situation was getting better.

Scharf

During the years there was a food shortage in Finland how many Finnish citizens died from starvation or diseases associated from malnutrition?

Penn44

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Juha Tompuri
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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Juha Tompuri » 01 Sep 2008 20:49

Sid Guttridge wrote:If these figures are true, it appears that Finland's war was not so markedly different from that on the main Eastern Front as is usually assumed
Finns fought with emptier belly

Penn44 wrote:During the years there was a food shortage in Finland how many Finnish citizens died from starvation or diseases associated from malnutrition?
Hard to say as specially among the infants and elderly people the real cause of death was sometimes difficult to diagnose.
Even today when there is no lack of food:
https://oa.doria.fi/handle/10024/28176

Regards, Juha

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Scharf » 01 Sep 2008 20:52

Penn,
I dont know, and because I know your style, I am not going to start arguing with you. Sry. Good try anyway :wink:
btw, how many yanks died because of malnutrition? I just wonder, that some axis POWs died in your camps :lol:

Scharf

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by David Thompson » 01 Sep 2008 21:43

An off-topic post by Penn44, containing personal remarks about another poster, was removed by the moderator -- DT.

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