"Finland shot 1000 POWs"

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Penn44
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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Penn44 » 02 Sep 2008 16:29

Mikko H. wrote: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
Would not a Soviet POW that was starving or suffering diseases associated with starving fall under the heading of "ill POWs"?

Apparently, the Finns did not do what they said they would.

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Last edited by Penn44 on 03 Sep 2008 01:20, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Mikko H. » 02 Sep 2008 16:43

Apparently, the Finns did not do what they said they would.
Well, if you've been reading this thread, it's been pretty obvious all along that the Finnish treatment of Soviet POWs wasn't always exemplary, especially in the winter of 1941/42 and the spring of 1942, treaties or no treaties.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Penn44 » 02 Sep 2008 17:44

Mikko H. wrote:
Apparently, the Finns did not do what they said they would.
Well, if you've been reading this thread, it's been pretty obvious all along that the Finnish treatment of Soviet POWs wasn't always exemplary, especially in the winter of 1941/42 and the spring of 1942, treaties or no treaties.
With 1000 shot and 18,000 plus dying in the camps to say it wasn't always exemplary is an understatement.

I've read this thread and I have observed the obfuscations of many. The nature of the Finnish treatment of Soviet POWs is not clear to all and there are those who won't acknowledge it.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by David Thompson » 02 Sep 2008 18:05

Posts by Scharf and Penn44, containing personal comments about other posters, were removed by the moderator -- DT.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Mikko H. » 02 Sep 2008 18:49

With 1000 shot and 18,000 plus dying in the camps to say it wasn't always exemplary is an understatement.
As it was meant to be. Just my way of making a point. BTW, AFAIK the 1000 shot are included in the 18,700 dead.
I've read this thread and I have observed the obfuscations of many. The nature of the Finnish treatment of Soviet POWs is not clear to all and there are those who won't acknowledge it.
I'd like to hear what are the obfuscations you have observed.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by David Thompson » 02 Sep 2008 19:15

Let's stick to discussing the topic at hand.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Scharf » 02 Sep 2008 19:23

I though I wrote same thing as Mikko H..." Penn should read whole thread..." If I dint, or there was some mistakes, sorry.
My style is not going to personal. Sorry. :oops:

Scharf

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Juha Hujanen » 02 Sep 2008 19:35

David Thompson wrote: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?
Don't have figures for civilians but starvation was accute in Finnish prisons too.27 inmates died directly to starvation between 41-44.Uncertain deaths of starvation were 14.Indirect deaths of starvation were not complied to statistics but deaths in prisons rose to alarming levels.Most of deaths occured in 41-42.

Source:Jussi Nuorteva - Suomen Vankeinhoidon Historiaa Osa 4.Vangit-Vankilat-Sota.Suomen Vankeinhoitolaitos Toisen Maailmansodan Aikana.

Regards/Juha

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Harri » 02 Sep 2008 19:49

I'd point out that during the winter 1941/42 there were major logistical problems in Finland which was behind the malnutrition. There were major areal differences. The situation was worst in the cities which run out of potatoes already in February/March 1942, for example in Helsinki. Those potatoes left were usualy somewhere else and due to bad transportation they froze.

My mother and father who lived in the countryside have told me they don't remember any malnutrition. But children perhaps don't remember such things and they were given all what parents have. Anyway berries and mushrooms were picked all over Finland from forests during the war and still afterwards. Hunting was also important. From my point of view this yearly job seemed stupid in the 1960's and 1970's because everything could be bought from the shop. But those who had met the malnutrition continued the old habbit until they died.

Finland had ordered grain from Germany but the Baltic Sea froze up to the Gothland island and ships could not reach Finnish harbours until later in April 1942.

The food rations were different for those who worked and for those who didn't which exlain part of the catastrophy. For example my grandfather's brother died on tuberculosis in 1942. We still don't know where he was buried because the note on his death arrived weeks after the burial and was missed later.

The lack of medicines and vitamins, not well working healthcare and the low quality of food were perhaps the main reasons for malnutrition. Many POWs were also wounded or suffered from deseases and malnutrition already before capturing. The supply of Red Army wasn't among the best in 1941 either and Soviet soldiers ate rather simple food. The "starting level" of POWs was thus very weak which sped up their fate. Finnish civilians were better fed from the start and could stand alive longer periods (some months) with worse food. As far as I known there was no dramatic changes in the dying rate of the Finnish civilians in the early 1940's.

The high dying rates of the Soviet POWs have never been any secrets in Finland and this is no new information to any Finns. Unlike suspected by Penn Finnish healthcare system was on a relatively good level already in the 1940's but its resources were tied for the Army which was in top priority - like also in Food supply. Soviet POWs and Interned ones were mainly treated by Soviet medical personnel and doctors supervised by the Finns. Also their medicals were usually taken from the captured Soviet stocks. It is written that the Soviet POWs who died mostly looked quite healthy until they suddenly turned dead which is typical if someone has eaten weak quality food for several months. This actually surprised Finns but the critical overall food situation didn't allow rapid improvements until after the next harvest.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Penn44 » 03 Sep 2008 00:02

Harri wrote:I'd point out that during the winter 1941/42 there were major logistical problems in Finland which was behind the malnutrition. There were major areal differences. The situation was worst in the cities which run out of potatoes already in February/March 1942, for example in Helsinki. Those potatoes left were usualy somewhere else and due to bad transportation they froze.
Hard for me to believe that the Finns, who are accustomed to cold weather conditions failed to have facilities on hand to protect these potatoes.

Whose in charge there?
Harri wrote:My mother and father who lived in the countryside have told me they don't remember any malnutrition. But children perhaps don't remember such things and they were given all what parents have.
This is no big mystery. Generally, when the transportation system is the cause of the food shortage it is the cities that suffer not the countryside as the food is grown in the countryside.
Harri wrote:Anyway berries and mushrooms were picked all over Finland from forests during the war and still afterwards. Hunting was also important. From my point of view this yearly job seemed stupid in the 1960's and 1970's because everything could be bought from the shop. But those who had met the malnutrition continued the old habbit until they died.
Berry and mushroom picking and hunting did not occur before the war? In many lands in normal conditions people who reside in the countryside are hunters and gathers.
Harri wrote:The food rations were different for those who worked and for those who didn't which exlain part of the catastrophy.
You don't explain this or support it with evidence.
Harri wrote:For example my grandfather's brother died on tuberculosis in 1942. We still don't know where he was buried because the note on his death arrived weeks after the burial and was missed later.
This proves what? That Finns tend to mislay their dead?
Harri wrote:The lack of medicines and vitamins, not well working healthcare and the low quality of food were perhaps the main reasons for malnutrition. Many POWs were also wounded or suffered from deseases and malnutrition already before capturing. The supply of Red Army wasn't among the best in 1941 either and Soviet soldiers ate rather simple food. The "starting level" of POWs was thus very weak which sped up their fate. Finnish civilians were better fed from the start and could stand alive longer periods (some months) with worse food. As far as I known there was no dramatic changes in the dying rate of the Finnish civilians in the early 1940's.
POWs are to receive the same rations and medical care as the Detaining Power's zone of the interior soldiers. If the Soviet POWs were sick, the Finns were responsible for providing sufficient medical care to restore their health. The high death rate of Soviet soldiers is somewhat comparable to the high number of deaths among Soviet civilians in Finnish detention camps. Were the Soviet civilians in the same poor state of health as the Soviet soldiers when they went into the Finnish camps, or is there another excuse to cover this?
Harri wrote:Unlike suspected by Penn Finnish healthcare system was on a relatively good level already in the 1940's but its resources were tied for the Army which was in top priority - like also in Food supply.


I never disparaged the Finnish health care system.

Preceived "military necessity" is not an adequate excuse for not complying with the Geneva Convention. If the Soviet POW was sick, the Soviet POW should have received comparable medical care available to Finnish soldiers.
Harri wrote:Soviet POWs and Interned ones were mainly treated by Soviet medical personnel and doctors supervised by the Finns. Also their medicals were usually taken from the captured Soviet stocks.
It is fully appropriate to use Soviet medical personnel and supplies to accomplish this requirements, however, if there are any shortfalls in the care, the Detaining Power is required to make up the shortfall.
Harri wrote:It is written that the Soviet POWs who died mostly looked quite healthy until they suddenly turned dead which is typical if someone has eaten weak quality food for several months.
Who wrote that? Is that from the Finnish healthcare system?
Harri wrote:The high dying rates of the Soviet POWs have never been any secrets in Finland and this is no new information to any Finns.

Given that the Finns have known this for sometime, you would think the excuses would be more polished.

What you have offered above is a consistently unsourced, long-winded excuse.

Penn44

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by David Thompson » 03 Sep 2008 00:09

Let's get back on topic. Our readers have little tolerance for long-winded commentaries on some other poster's allegedly long-winded answer.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Penn44 » 03 Sep 2008 00:21

Juha Hujanen wrote:
David Thompson wrote: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?
Don't have figures for civilians but starvation was accute in Finnish prisons too.27 inmates died directly to starvation between 41-44.Uncertain deaths of starvation were 14.Indirect deaths of starvation were not complied to statistics but deaths in prisons rose to alarming levels.Most of deaths occured in 41-42.

Source:Jussi Nuorteva - Suomen Vankeinhoidon Historiaa Osa 4.Vangit-Vankilat-Sota.Suomen Vankeinhoitolaitos Toisen Maailmansodan Aikana.

Regards/Juha
So far, we have the members of the following groups dying from starvation:
- The institutionalized mentally ill patient,
- the prison inmate,
- the Soviet POW.

All three of the above are marginalized, powerless groups under the "protection" of the Finnish government.

Seems like the starvation deaths fell upon certain groups and not others. The evidence is growing that the deaths of Soviet POWs was no unfortunate consequence due to wartime conditions, but the result of a deliberate decision by the Finnish government to let the marginalize suffer in order to protect the majority.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Juha Tompuri » 03 Sep 2008 10:49

Penn44 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.
Wrong again.
Wonder where you have invented that.
Penn44 wrote:Given that the Finns have known this for sometime, you would think the excuses would be more polished.
Polished?
Not a habit here.



Penn44 wrote:So far, we have the members of the following groups dying from starvation:
- The institutionalized mentally ill patient,
- the prison inmate,
- the Soviet POW.
Either you haven't read the thread, you haven't understood or you deliberately have "forgot" something.
Penn44 wrote: The evidence is growing that the deaths of Soviet POWs was no unfortunate consequence due to wartime conditions, but the result of a deliberate decision by the Finnish government to let the marginalize suffer in order to protect the majority.
Evidence?
Penn44 wrote: deliberate decision by the Finnish government to let the marginalize suffer in order to protect the majority
Wasn't that exactly what for instance your governmet did during the WWII

Regards, Juha

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Sid Guttridge » 03 Sep 2008 11:47

Hi Guys,

I have here the figures for Soviet POWs in Romanian hands. Although not directly comparable to the Finnish figures, they do allow a few generalized comparisons to be made.

Captured: 82,090
Died in Captivity: 5,221
Escaped: 3,331
Released: 13,682
Still held 23/8/44: 59,856

Captured: Where Romanian divisions were subordinate to German higher formations, their prisoners were sometimes passed back to the Germans. For example, 3rd Army, which was always subordinate to the Germans, recorded the taking of 87,715 prisoners in the first year of the war and 4th Army recorded 16,000 mostly local Transnistrian (to use the Romanian term) prisoners at Odessa in 1941 alone. VI Corps, again subordinate to the Germans, took 26,432 Soviet prisoners at Kharkov in May-June 1942. As late as 7 December 1943 6th Cavalry and 3rd Mountain Divisions took 1,570 Soviet prisoners at Eltigen in the Crimea.

The figure of 82,090 is therefore a considerable understatement of the total actually captured, and only represents those actually retained by the Romanians.

Died in Captivity: 5,221 is 6.4% of the total POWs retained by the Romanians.

Escaped: Many Transnistrian POWs were held in the territory and found it relatively easy to escape into the local population. 3,331 is 4.1% of the total. For cynics who choose to believe “escaped” is a euphemism for “killed”, the Died + Escaped total equals 10.5%.

In 1943 the Romanians released most remaining Transnistrian-born POWs. Transnistria was under Romanian administration and largely passive.

The Romanians also captured 1,123 US and 39 British aircrew. A few died of wounds suffered when their aircraft was downed, but none died in later captivity. However, they mostly only spent between one and five months in Romanian hands and none significantly longer than a year. With the war going badly, the Romanians made a point of treating them well. Soviet POWs were mostly held for nearly three years.

The Romanians also held 496 Italian POWs, mostly naval personnel taken when Italy left the Axis in September 1943. Two of them died.

The source for the above is Third Axis, Fourth Ally by Axworthy, Scafes and Craciunoiu (Hailer, Florida, 2007).

It thus looks as though the Romanians treated Soviet POWs worse than Western POWs. However, they seem to have treated them better than either the Germans or the Finns.

Cheers,

Sid

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by JariL » 03 Sep 2008 14:24

Dear Penn,
The evidence is growing that the deaths of Soviet POWs was no unfortunate consequence due to wartime conditions, but the result of a deliberate decision by the Finnish government to let the marginalize suffer in order to protect the majority.
I think that if we change the above into the form "Deaths of Soviet POW's were a result of decisions made by Finnish General Headquarters and unfortunate wartime conditions" we are pretty close to the mark. Finnish GHQ was the administrative body that was responsible for both POW's and civilian prisoners in East Karelia. It also gave orders on rules and quidelines concerning camps and was responsible for setting food quotas. Finnish civilian government including the president were naturally ultimately responsible but their say in military matters was very limited. This sgregation of miliatry and political/civilian matters was created during Winter War and continued until August 1944 when marshall Mannerheim became president.

GHQ decided early on that both POW's and civilians in East Karelia would be segregated by nationality. "Finns" were placed highest on the scale and "Russians" lowest. Other nationalities were then in between these. This segregation was also a basis for the food rations that were highest for "Finns" and lowest for "Russians". At least on paper all groups were to receive enough in order to keep them alive but "Russians" were pretty close to the minimum. Segregation served a political purpose as it was intended to create good will among the "Finnish" population in East Karelia and help Finnish intelligence service to get information from POW's and hopefully to make them change sides. The results in this respect proved to be pretty insignificant. The draw back, in my opinion, was that segregation automatically created a situation which was bound to confirm any negative stereotypies Finns had about "Russians". This goes a long way explaining why 1000 POW's got shot and how POW's in some cases could be forced to work under apalling conditions and also how they could die in thousands before the GHQ took action. On the other hand it was entirely possible to manage things properly under the set framework. All camps and POW's did not suffer equally.

The unfortunate conditions came into play with general food shortage. When scarcity is the norm, people do not behave as they do in normal times. I am pretty sure that food went astray already on its way to the camps. Food with inferior quality was also delivered as good. It is also evident that dicipline in the camps was often so bad that there was no way of making sure that every prisoner received what he/she was due and that the law of the jungle ruled in many places. Up to a certain point it is possible that the GHQ was not aware what was going on. What comes to POW's the catastrophy was very quick, over 11.000 of the vitims died in February/March 1942. GHQ reacted to this by taking the camps directly under it's control and sending many prisoners to work into private farms. Food rations were also increased but this happened only after the crisis was already over. Mortality dropped pretty quickly and by the summer of 1942 situation was normal for the POW's.

In Eastern Karelia civilian mortality on the other hand peaked during the summer before the new harvest. Civilian camp population had a mortality around 13 % while mortality of the free populations was around 2 %. The high mortality is explained partly by the age structure that was centered in young and old age groups. Practically all men under 55 and women without children had been evacuated by the Soviets leaving only elders and young children with their mothers into the area. Both young and old are especially vulnerable to effects of undernurishment. The decision to confine "Russians" (about half of them) into the camps made some sense militarily as they lived mainly in areas behind the front. On the other hand it also exposed them to the same factors as the POW's and the prisoners paid a high price for this. Camp rules were strict and no interaction between the prisoners and free population or Finnish soldiers was allowed. One of the first measures to stop people from dying was actually to let them work outside of the camps. In East Karelia mortality dropped back to normal level first with the new harvest in 1942.

For the military the well being of prisoners was probably not very high on the agenda when fighting was going on. GHQ possibly relied too much on the Civil Guard being able to organise things and when it could not, reacted too late. But it should be remembered that GHQ created a framework that made it possible for camp leaders and guards to treat prisoners badly if they chose to do so. However, bad treatment does not seem to have been the goal, rather the dangerousness of the prisoners was inflated and the guards were given too much power to counter the threat. With hindsight civilian authorities might have been better suited to handle the situation allthough their resources were also stretched very thin due to the massive mobilisation of the nation (over 16 % of the population was mobilised).

Segregation lasted in certain matters, like work permits and wages, till the end of the war. Segregation of food rations was abolished after the crisis.

Interestingly enough the international agreements and changes in them described in earlier posts did not play a significant role. Actually the situation of the prisoners got better at the same pace as their judicial status got worse.

Regards,

Jari

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