"Finland shot 1000 POWs"

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Penn44
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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Penn44 » 01 Sep 2008 22:20

Scharf wrote: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
In order to adequately answer the question of the role of Finland in the deaths of these Soviet POWs we need to establish some yardsticks in order to measure the alleged crime. The claim that Finns suffered from wartime food shortages has been made, and this claim was evidently made as a rationale for the deaths of Soviet POWs in Finnish captivity. If there were wartime shortages of food in Finland, how many Finns died of starvation or from diseases associated with starvation? The answer to my question may very well shed some light on the relative guilt and commensurate shame of Finland for their alleged mistreatment of Soviet POWs.

The question at hand deals with Finland and its actions during the war, and not the actions of "Yanks." The use of deflecting argument tactics for the sake of apologetics is not appropriate.

Penn44

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by David Thompson » 01 Sep 2008 23:17

Another off-topic post from Penn44, containing personal references to another poster, was removed by the moderator -- DT.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Ypenburg » 02 Sep 2008 01:23

= = = The use of deflecting argument tactics = = =

Says someone who uses them every 2nd posting'. But back to the question: "If there were wartime shortages of food in Finland, how many Finns died of starvation or from diseases associated with starvation?"

The fact that you're asking this question to "shed some light on the relative guilt and commensurate shame of Finland for their alleged mistreatment of Soviet POWs" is B.S. There is no correct answer, and you know it and that's why you ask it. Not for the answer, but to make the deflecting "shed some light etc." You only want to make the point that the Finns according to you mistreated Sovjet POW's, are quilty and should be ashamed". You only put it in a nice package by using a question that cann't be answered.

Holland 1944-1945 1000-s died of starvation or from diseases associated with starvation. The only problem being "when do you stop counting". The consequenses of diseases caused by starvation on the long term had never been studied appropriatly untill some years ago. Suffering from starvation, but surviving it in the last round, means f.e. that many little children didn't get what they needed to grow and develop, and that many addults suffert from the consequences when much older. It is known that starvation influences the health of the body and brain on the long run. So when do we stop counting?? 10 years after the war? 20 years after the war? Back then it wasn't known that starvation has its influence on f.e. the DNA etc. So people dying of diseases years after the war weren't connected to the starvation-winter in Holland. One could only wonder why someone suddenly got ill and died. Only the last few years people start to realise that the starvation of f.e. the pregnant women caused diseases to the un-born that only showed years after they were born. So if you claim to know so much (and I must admit I do have my doubts because you call a donkey an ass, while we all know they don't look-a-like but only sometimes sound-a-like :P ), you already new there is no correct answer to the question. And to me that sounds like "The use of deflecting argument tactics".

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Penn44 » 02 Sep 2008 01:44

Ypenburg, if you have an answer to my question regarding how many Finns died of starvation please answer it; otherwise, desist in your efforts in hijacking this thread for yet uncertain purposes.

One wonders why I can't get a straight answer to a very straight question regarding deaths by starvation and associated diseases in Finland during the war?

The Netherlands had a modern public health system and medical authorities of this system made medical determinations regarding cause of death and they kept records. This is what these authorities get paid to do. No doubt Finland had some form of public health system in the 1940s also with medical authorities making medical determinations and their keeping records on these matters. If someone knows the answer they should answer and refrain from taking potshots at me or going off on tangents.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by David Thompson » 02 Sep 2008 02:33

Is there an answer to Penn44's question as to how many Finns died of starvation during the period in question, or isn't there? Neither the readers nor I appreciate the evasions we've seen so far. The question is straightforward enough, so why can't we get an answer to match?

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Mikko H. » 02 Sep 2008 06:44

Is there an answer to Penn44's question as to how many Finns died of starvation during the period in question, or isn't there? Neither the readers nor I appreciate the evasions we've seen so far. The question is straightforward enough, so why can't we get an answer to match?
There was no outright starvation at any point among the civilian population. The worst was avoided by buying grain from Germans, but it came close. As I'm at work at the moment I don't have any sources at hand, so can't comment any further for now.

Besides, I suspect this whole subject isn't much discussed outside specialist works. Hopefully someone who has ready access to the official Jatkosodan historia can check what it has to say about the food supply situation and how it exactly affected the POW mortality in the turn of 1941/42. Less 'sexy' subjects like these don't get much coverage in popular history books...

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Juha Tompuri » 02 Sep 2008 07:28

During WWII also Finns died of hunger and hunger related diseases.
Penn44 wrote: how many Finns died of starvation or from diseases associated with starvation?
I don't have the exact numbers at the moment, but if someone has access to the numbers of mortality rate before WWII and those of (civilian) mortality rate during the WWII, that would shed some light here.
At least at Finnish civilian(mental) hospitals the increase of death cases in 1942 was ca. 1000 persons.
According to this article the main reasons for the increase were hunger and hunger related diseases.
http://www.ilkka.fi/teemat/teematarticl ... cle=334829

Regards, Juha

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Penn44 » 02 Sep 2008 07:50

Juha Tompuri wrote:During WWII also Finns died of hunger and hunger related diseases.
Juha Tompuri wrote:At least at Finnish civilian(mental) hospitals the increase of death cases in 1942 was ca. 1000 persons. According to this article the main reasons for the increase were hunger and hunger related diseases.
http://www.ilkka.fi/teemat/teematarticl ... cle=334829

Regards, Juha
I assume the deaths of Finnish mental patients due to starvation and starvation related diseases was a Finnish gov't policy as it was in Germany in WWI and the mid- to late 1930s to rid themselves of this "unwanted" population.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Mikko H. » 02 Sep 2008 08:56

I assume the deaths of Finnish mental patients due to starvation and starvation related diseases was a Finnish gov't policy as it was in Germany in WWI and the mid- to late 1930s to rid themselves of this "unwanted" population.
Well, you have the right to assume whatever you want.

A couple of years ago similar accusations were leveled also here in Finland. This caused some discussion, but the end result was that nobody could find any facts to support these allegations. IIRC, the reasons behind the mortality rates were similar to the ones behind those of Soviet POWs at the turn of 1941/42: the whole nation was short of food supplies.

I'd like to find out what studies are there about the food supply situation in 1941/42. What were the priorities in food distribution, how were they decided and by whom?

Mauno Jokipii in Jatkosodan synty discusses the situation before the harvest came in in 1941 (which already then caused worries for the decision-makers), but his treatment of the subject ends at the outbreak of the Continuation War.
Last edited by Mikko H. on 02 Sep 2008 09:22, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by JariL » 02 Sep 2008 08:57

Hi,

Penn asked about the mortality increase. During the winter 1941-42 mortality went up among the Finnish population but the increase wasn't anything like among POW's. Especially young children and elderly died in greater numbers than in normal times. This is an indication that famine was already knocking on the door. I can check the exact numbers but we are not talking about full percentages as was the case with POW's but promilles. More like mortality increasing to 16 promille from 13, which meas about 10.000 extra deaths among the civilian population of about 3 million. On top of this came the military casualties.

In some closed hospitals, usually either for elderly or mentally ill, food situation became catastrophic and mortality rose. As far as I know this subject has not been researched in full but for example one hospital near Helsinki (Nikkilä) is known to have suffered in similar proportions as some POW camps. Hospital cook committed suicide because she could not do anyting about the situation.

None of the rations that could be delivered before new harvest 1942 were really what they were supposed to be on paper. Even if calories were there nutritious content was often very one sided an especially vitamins and fats were lacking. As Finland was very agrarian society those days most people could get at least a little extra from their own sources (hunting, fishing, own garden, own pig/rabbits etc.) and the wealthier in the cities resorted to black market. Relatives in the country side rose also to new value. In general, people managed through the period by using all available means and social connections. People without these, like those confined into hospitals, were in a very vulnerable position.

Rations provided for Finnish soldiers were not sufficient given the physical and mental strain they had to carry. Men often lost 5 to 10 kg of their weight. However, they were sufficient to keep the army going and far greater than those provided for other population groups.

POW's were initially given rations that corresponded those given to non working population. However, in many cases POW's had to work and often it was hard work. Given the disparity between the rations and work and taking into account that same problems that applied to rations in general also applied to POW rations, it was no wonder that the POW's got weaker, became sick and died in great numbers. POW's usually did not have any contacts outside of the camps and thus could not get any extra food anywhere.

If we look at the reasons why things went as they did, the most important was most likely that initially there was no centralised administration for POW's. Instead, Civil Guard was given the task and it had to organise very quickly a large number of camps for POW's. General Headquarters gave orders on food rations and certain other issues but did not have control or responsibility over POW's in general. This meant that a lot depended on the capabilities of the local Civil Guard personnel to organise things properly and what their attitude to the whole affair was. The new book that triggered off this discussion seems to indicate that there were extremely big differences between POW camps in this respect, but as I have not read the book yet I cannot say anything further.

The general headquarters took over administration of POW camps when the full extent of problems finally became clear and POWs started to die in great numbers February/March 1942. This coincided with a lull in the activity in the front, which perhaps explains why GHQ had not already previously intervened. In any case, the remedy was fairly quick and simple. Large number of POW's were sent to work to the country side as spring was approaching fast. This gave the prisoners the possibility to get more and better food. Official rations were also increased. It is noteworthy that even at the height of the catastrophe, based on explicit order of GHQ the International Red Cross was informed about the deaths. Help was also asked but given the war situation Red Cross could not do much.

What comes to attitudes, it is clear that many Finns hated Russians and that it showed in treatment of POW's.It is also clear that different groups of POW's were treated differently based on their "nationality" and that this was based on explicit orders. At the same time the expectation was that the war would be over by Christmas and thus POW's could be sent back to Russia. Nobody seems to have prepared for the long time solution that was eventually needed.

It is also clear that some rules and regulations applied to POW's were not in line with international law nor the agreements that Finland had signed. Especially the withdrawal of rations or diminishing them based on the behaviour of the POW were questionable methods to say the least given general lack of food.

So far at least no one has been able to find any evidence that the deaths of POWs' or civilians in the Russian Karelia under very similar circumstances, would have been the result of intentional policy. The ultimate reason seems to have been expectation of a short war, the failure of which brought Finland very close to famine because the government had not taken into account the supply problems that a long war brought with it. Later it was said that since the great famine of 1866-68, which was also partly caused by inability of the government to asses the situation correctly, Finnish population has never been as close to famine as in the winter 1941-42.

Regards,

JariL

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Penn44 » 02 Sep 2008 09:52

Mikko H. wrote:
I assume the deaths of Finnish mental patients due to starvation and starvation related diseases was a Finnish gov't policy as it was in Germany in WWI and the mid- to late 1930s to rid themselves of this "unwanted" population.
Well, you have the right to assume whatever you want.

A couple of years ago similar accusations were leveled also here in Finland. This caused some discussion, but the end result was that nobody could find any facts to support these allegations. IIRC, the reasons behind the mortality rates were similar to the ones behind those of Soviet POWs at the turn of 1941/42: the whole nation was short of food supplies.
If the mentally ill in state mental hospitals are public wards, and most probably are, the state has the responsibility of feeding them. In a sense, POWs are public wards, too, dependent on the state to feed them. In either case, if the state wants to feed them, they get fed and they live. If the state doesn't want to feed them, they don't get fed, and they die of starvation or starvation related diseases.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Penn44 » 02 Sep 2008 09:54

Does anyone have the numbers of Finnish POWs in Soviet captivity by year?

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Mikko H. » 02 Sep 2008 10:31

If the mentally ill in state mental hospitals are public wards, and most probably are, the state has the responsibility of feeding them. In a sense, POWs are public wards, too, dependent on the state to feed them. In either case, if the state wants to feed them, they get fed and they live. If the state doesn't want to feed them, they don't get fed, and they die of starvation or starvation related diseases.
That's how it works in principle. In practice 'the state' is not a monolithic entity that has one will and purpose. There are functionaries in different levels of administration, some are more competent that others, some have better resources available than others. Some decisions are made in a centralized fashion, others are delegated to the lower layers of administration. The relevant question here, IMHO, is the one I already posed earlier: What were the priorities in food distribution, how were they decided and by whom?

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Mikko H. » 02 Sep 2008 10:36

Does anyone have the numbers of Finnish POWs in Soviet captivity by year?
FWIW Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_pr ... viet_Union) has this to say:
During the Continuation War (1941-1944) Finland lost 3401 men as prisoners of war.[3] From those, 2476 were registered by NKVD, of which 1972 were handled by POW camps with the majority handled by Camp no. 158 in Cherepovets, Vologda Oblast, and its subcamps.[2]

From all captured, 582 were captured during the Finnish offensive at 1941, 506 during 1942-3 and 2313 during the Soviet offensive of 1944. In addition 289 persons switched sides voluntarily, and 76 of those returned to Finland as spies during the war.

1954 prisoners were returned after the war. Nearly all of them were returned home by the end of 1945, with the exception of convicted and several men who decided to stay in the Soviet Union.[2]

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by JariL » 02 Sep 2008 11:48

In Finland a special ministry, kansanhuoltoministeriö, was set up with the task of regulating war time society. It was responsible for example for food distribution. The ministry was established 1939 and it ceased to exist 1949. Defence forces were not under the control of kansanhuoltoministeriö and certain key branches like transport and metal industry were under military administration.

On local level kansanhuoltoministeriö had 13 districts and each municipality (ca. 600?) had a special board (kansanhuoltolautakunta) that implemented regulation on local level.

As already stated earlier, on paper rations looked ok. In practise kansanhuoltoministeriö had at times great difficulties in fullfilling nutritional requirements and it had to resort to using unconventional (from peace time point of view) resources.

For those who understand Finnish a book called "Kun kansa eli kortilla" by Aake Jermo sheds light on how the ministry operated and how life was during the war.

POW's were under military administration that delegated the job initially to Civil Guards. Kansanhuoltoministeriö was thus not responsible for their care but it was responsible for hospitals and other civilian institutions.

Regards,

Jari L

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