"Finland shot 1000 POWs"

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Juha Tompuri
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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Juha Tompuri » 03 Sep 2008 14:37

Sid Guttridge wrote: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.
Thanks for the statistics.
Few points:
During WWII both Germany and Romania (and Soviet Union) had food enough to be exported.
Finland had to rely on import.
AFAIK Romanians did also capture significant numbers of POW's from nations not mentioned at your post.
How about the Romanian treatment of German and Hungarian POW's ?
How about the Romanian treatment of Soviet civilians?

Regards, Juha

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by ThomasG » 03 Sep 2008 14:39

About the Jewish prisoners of war in Finland: (my translation)

"The Jewish congregation of Helsinki proposed to the GHQ that Jewish POWs would be segregated to their own camp. The formal reason proposed was that in doing so Jews would be able to practice their religion safely.

The congregation also promised to deliver food and take care of their health. The leadership of the Finnish army accepted the proposal with certain reservations: officers, politruks and other "special prisoners" were not transferred, neither the Jews who were needed for medical or other special tasks.

About 150 Jewish PoWs were transferred to a separate camp in October 1942. A few years ago two former Soviet PoWs arrived to Helsinki to thank the Jewish congregation for the "paradise", which was the name given to their camp."

Source: Helsingin Sanomat, 11.11.2003. The author Max Jakobson is a Finnish-Jewish diplomat of international renown and a veteran of the Continuation War.
http://www.hs.fi/kirjat/artikkeli/Sääli ... SI1KU01gfv

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by michael mills » 04 Sep 2008 07:18

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 [sic! marginalised] suffer in order to protect the majority.
The above statement contains a logical error, in that it implies that a deliberate decision made by the Finnish Government could not be the result of wartime conditions.

In fact, the high death rate among Soviet POWs and ethnic Russian civilian detainees could have been the result of both wartime conditions (ie an aggregate food shortage) and of a deliberate decision by the Finnish Government (ie to use the available food to provide an adequate diet to ethnic Finnish soldiers and civilians, and to give only what was left over to Soviet POWs and ethnic Russian civilian detainees, and other groups less deserving or important to the Finnish war effort, such as civilian prisoners or inmates of mental hospitals).

It is clear from the material posted by some Finnish contributors to this thread that the Finnish Government, or at least some of its agencies, decided to supply less food, or food of lesser nutritional value, to Soviet POWs and ethnic Russian civilian detainees (and to civilian prisoners and inmates of mental hospitals) than it it did to the ethnic Finnish population as a whole.

However, such discrimination is pardonable if there was indeed an aggregate food shortage, and there simply was not enough food available to provide every individual under the control of the Finnish Government with an adequate diet. Under such conditions, it was entirely natural for the Finnish Government to favour its own people at the expense of enemy prisoners and detainees. Providing a sufficient diet to the latter would have entailed depriving some members of the ethnic Finnish population, which no reasonable person could expect the Finnnish Government to have done.

It owuld have been an entirely different situation if the available food supplies had been adequate to provide a sufficiently nutritious diet to all persons under the control of the Finnish Government, but that government had maliciously decided to deprive certain disfavoured groups by storing food instead of distributing it to those groups, thereby exposing them to starvation.

For example, in the United States there was more than enough food to provide for everybody in the country, including all the enemy POWs and civilian detainees being held on its territory. Accordingly, there was no valid excuse for not providing an adequare diet to prisoners and detainees, and so far as I know there were no cases in the United States where POWs and ethnic Japanese and other civilian detainees were deprived of food. However, the situation in wartime Finland was entirely different, since Finland was not self-sufficient in food even in peacetime, and the war situation simply increased the difficulty of providing adequate food to the inhabitants of the country.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Peter H » 04 Sep 2008 10:22

From what I can gather Soviet prisoners totalled nearly 90,000 in Finland--64,000 military,26,000 civilians.The latter were Soviet citizens of Finnish-occupied Soviet Karelia put into 'relocation' camps.Of these civilians 4,500 died(one third being children).

That leaves around 14,500 Soviet military POWs who died,around 25% of the total.

However from what is being said elsewhere the peak of POW deaths were in the winter of 1941/1942 and the spring of 1942.The Finns had not prepared for such a large number of prisoners and had inadequate camp and support facilities to feed,clothe,provide health services at the time.The situation improved afterwards.

"The Disastrous Winter and Spring 1942"
http://www.geocities.com/finnmilpge/fmp_pow_camps.html


Later many prisoners of Finno-Ugric orTartar backgrounds were also used as farm hands and benefited as such from a better diet and conditions.

As a comparasion Soviet prisoners held by the Germans in Norway numbered 84,000(75,000 military) of which 13,000 died,around a 16% death rate.


The Shootings are also mentioned in the above link:
A total of 1.132 Soviet POWs escaped from Finnish camps and according to Finnish sources about 200 of them succeeded in returning back to USSR and most likely were sent to Soviet camps. About 1.000 Soviet POWs were shot or executed during the war in Finland. Sentries shot them during unsuccesful escape attempts or for self-defense but there have also been questionable cases. Thirteen Finnish sentries were killed in camps when POWs attacked them.

During the war hundreds of Soviet spys (secret agents), desants, partisans and soldiers in other special secret duties were captured and usually sentenced to death after examination and military trial. Enemy soldiers met in civilian clothes or in Finnish uniforms didn't have the status of POW and were executed...

After the war about 300 Finnish sentries were sentenced for the killing of Soviet POWs in unclear conditions. The proves were in most cases so weak that sentences were short or suspended.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by JariL » 04 Sep 2008 11:34

Later many prisoners of Finno-Ugric orTartar backgrounds were also used as farm hands and benefited as such from a better diet and conditions.
Also Russian prisoners were used in large numbers. My uncle for example remembers a Russian POW who was at their small farm in the Karelian Isthmus. They were given a riffle should the prisoner try to escape. As there was no man in the family the POW carried the riffle in the morning to the field and back home in the evening. Fates of Russian POW's in Finland varied a lot. Even when they were sent to work to private farms or firms some people treated them well and some less well.

Regards,

Jari

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Sid Guttridge » 04 Sep 2008 11:54

Hi Juha,

You are right. Romania was well able to feed itself and exported food to the Reich. However, unless Finnish soldiers were starving to death in a similar proportion to Soviet POWs in their hands, Finland would still be in breach of the Hague and Geneva Conventions, which required equality of food supply.

The Romanians captured tens of thousands of German and Hungarian POWs in 1944-45, but I haven't seen similar statistics on them. The Germans had to be handed over to the USSR (itself a breach of the Conventions, which prohibit POWs being handed over to third states). I do not know what became of the Hungarians.

Romanian treatment of Soviet civilians (except Jews) in areas they controlled was relatively good. In Transnistria the Romanian occupation regime was much milder and more constructive than in neighbouring German-occupied territories. There was little active resistance there for some two years, which was why Romania released most Transnistrian-born POWs.

There was a book published in the 1950s by the Rand Corporation on the Romanian occupation of Transnistria. It was by Alexander Dallin and has been reissued in the last ten years. Transnistria was of particular interest to the USA because it was the only area in the USSR where the Communist system was largely dismantled and a free market established. (The Germans kept collective farms and tightly controlled production.)

However, Romanian treatment of Soviet Jews in its areas it liberated from the USSR in 1941 was extremely bad and the majority died in concentration camps in the winter of 1941-42 of malign neglect. There is nothing like that on the Finnish record.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by LWD » 04 Sep 2008 13:06

Sid Guttridge wrote:.... However, unless Finnish soldiers were starving to death in a similar proportion to Soviet POWs in their hands, Finland would still be in breach of the Hague and Geneva Conventions, which required equality of food supply.....
I thought that the Soviets were not signatories to at least some of the conventions and thus not covered by at least some of the provisions.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Penn44 » 04 Sep 2008 15:57

michael mills wrote:
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 [sic! marginalised] suffer in order to protect the majority.
The above statement contains a logical error, in that it implies that a deliberate decision made by the Finnish Government could not be the result of wartime conditions.
There is no logical error in the statement. It does not negate that wartime food shortages existed. It does suggest, however, that that the deaths resulting from such wartime food shortages fell on some groups, but not others, and because the deaths fell on these contained, marginalized groups, it suggests it was a willful decision on part of the government. It is a distribution of food issue. It suggests that the Finnish government controlling the distribution of food gave adequate quantities of food to some sufficient for at least for survival, but not to others.

Two, Mills, don't dramatically use the (!) to nitpick on a small spelling typographical matter. I chose the Americanized use of the "z" instead of the "s". You behave like an old Queen.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by LWD » 04 Sep 2008 17:16

Penn44 wrote: ..There is no logical error in the statement. It does not negate that wartime food shortages existed. It does suggest, however, that that the deaths resulting from such wartime food shortages fell on some groups, but not others, and because the deaths fell on these contained, marginalized groups, it suggests it was a willful decision on part of the government. It is a distribution of food issue. It suggests that the Finnish government controlling the distribution of food gave adequate quantities of food to some sufficient for at least for survival, but not to others....
My reading is that the logical error is that it is way short of proof that it was a deliberate decision. Given that marginal groups suffered it could just as easily be a by product of their being marginal. They simply didn't have the voice to request/demand the attention they needed. It sort of goes along with one of the primary rules in dealing with bureaucracies: "Be not quick to ascribe to malevolance what can easily be explained by incompetance"

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Juha Tompuri » 04 Sep 2008 19:38

Peter H wrote:The Shootings are also mentioned in the above link:
A total of 1.132 Soviet POWs escaped from Finnish camps and according to Finnish sources about 200 of them succeeded in returning back to USSR and most likely were sent to Soviet camps. About 1.000 Soviet POWs were shot or executed during the war in Finland. Sentries shot them during unsuccesful escape attempts or for self-defense but there have also been questionable cases. Thirteen Finnish sentries were killed in camps when POWs attacked them.

During the war hundreds of Soviet spys (secret agents), desants, partisans and soldiers in other special secret duties were captured and usually sentenced to death after examination and military trial. Enemy soldiers met in civilian clothes or in Finnish uniforms didn't have the status of POW and were executed...

After the war about 300 Finnish sentries were sentenced for the killing of Soviet POWs in unclear conditions. The proves were in most cases so weak that sentences were short or suspended.
Heikki Roiko-Jokela Vihollisen armoilla. Neuvostosotavankien kohtaloita Suomessa 1941-1948 also mentions that in addition to the 1132 Soviet POW's that escped towards Soviet Union, ca. 1400 Soviet POW's escaped to the opposite direction (after the armistice, from not to be returned back to Soviet Union).
Also the same book mentions that after the war Finnish courts had 910 cases (1381 persons involved) about mistreats of the POW's. 723 persons were sentenced, 9 being lifetime sentenced (highest posible).
42 cases were judged to have been murders, 242 manslaughters. At seven cases by request of the POW himself.
Peter H wrote:Later many prisoners of Finno-Ugric orTartar backgrounds were also used as farm hands and benefited as such from a better diet and conditions.
A memory from the past:
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... t=#p335033


Regards, Juha

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Penn44 » 04 Sep 2008 23:50

LWD wrote:My reading is that the logical error is that it is way short of proof that it was a deliberate decision. Given that marginal groups suffered it could just as easily be a by product of their being marginal. They simply didn't have the voice to request/demand the attention they needed. It sort of goes along with one of the primary rules in dealing with bureaucracies: "Be not quick to ascribe to malevolance what can easily be explained by incompetance"
With the same logic you could say that the person who was killed wasn't really murdered he just lacked the ability to defend himself.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Scharf » 05 Sep 2008 00:13

Because it seems to be ok to mention writer's name, I have to ask: Penn, what is your point? What you wan't to hear?
There is always some subject where you are very active and now it is this. But, I can't see your point. We all know finns didnt manage to feed all russian POWs correctly and that is not a secret, so what you want to hear?

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Penn44 » 05 Sep 2008 00:37

Scharf wrote:Because it seems to be ok to mention writer's name, ...
Actually, it isn't okay, I'm just the one whose always called on.
Scharf wrote:I have to ask: Penn, what is your point? What you wan't to hear? There is always some subject where you are very active and now it is this. But, I can't see your point. We all know finns didnt manage to feed all russian POWs correctly and that is not a secret, so what you want to hear?
Scharf
Although all apparently acknowledge there was a food shortage in Finland, several have refused to acknowledge it was Finland's responsibility to feed the Soviet POWs the same as their own troops regardless of the food shortage. On another point, several others have claimed the Soviet POWs were not fed adequately on account of a transportation problem. Given that other marginalized groups were also not adequately fed, it suggests a willful policy on the part of the Finnish government not to feed these POWs, and not some consequence of war.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by michael mills » 05 Sep 2008 01:14

Given that other marginalized groups were also not adequately fed, it suggests a willful policy on the part of the Finnish government not to feed these POWs, and not some consequence of war.
It was indeed a consequence of war, in that there was an aggregate food shortage caused by wartime conditions, namely an inability to import enough food to cover the deficit that existed even in peacetime.

It is clear that the Finnish Government made a decision to provide less food to certain marginalised groups, such as Soviet POWs, Soviet civilian detainees, inmates of mental hospitals, in order to maintain an adequate diet for the bulk of the Finnish population, both soldiers and civilians.

The legal requirement to provide adequate food to enemy POWs depends on the ability of the government holding them to do so, ie its having sufficent resoureces to feed both its own population and the POWs. It is unreasonable to demand that a government deprive its own population of food in order to feed enemy POWs or detainees. The requirements under international law are intended to prevent a government wilfully and maliciously mistreating enemy personnel in its power in a situation where it has the ability to provide proper treatment, not to impose impossible burdens on a country at war and in a desperate situation itself.

A comparison may be made with the situation in Leningrad during the siege. In that case, there was an aggregate food shortage caused by the German siege, which reduced the supply of food to the city to a trickle brought in over the frozen lake Ladoga. The Soviet authorities reacted to that shortage by dividing the city population into groups according to their usefulness to the defence of the city, with the highest rations being provided to soldiers and workers in armaments industries, and the lowest, below subsistence level, being provided to non-workers. As a result, there was a large mortality from malnutrition among the less-favoured population groups. But the accounts of the siege that I have read do not accuse the Soviet authorities of committing a crime against the citizens of Leningrad; rather the responsibility for the high civilian death toll is placed upon the German besiegers.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Penn44 » 05 Sep 2008 04:00

michael mills wrote:It is clear that the Finnish Government made a decision to provide less food to certain marginalised groups, such as Soviet POWs, Soviet civilian detainees, inmates of mental hospitals, in order to maintain an adequate diet for the bulk of the Finnish population, both soldiers and civilians.
You are correct. You are always correct when you agree with me. Some of other readers need to reach the same conclusion.
michael mills wrote:The legal requirement to provide adequate food to enemy POWs depends on the ability of the government holding them to do so, ie its having sufficent resoureces to feed both its own population and the POWs.
You are WRONG.

Article 11 of the 1929 Geneva Convention Relating to Prisoners of War, of which Finland was a signatory, states:
The food ration of prisoners of war shall be equal in quantity and quality to that of troops at base camps.
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/geneva02.htm

Nowhere within the 1929 Geneva Convention does it state that the Detaining Power has the discretion of properly feeding POWs or not. The convention clearly states "shall be equal in quantity and quality …"

Shall I cite to you the Geneva Convention articles related to comparable shelter and medical care?
michael mills wrote:It is unreasonable to demand that a government deprive its own population of food in order to feed enemy POWs or detainees. The requirements under international law are intended to prevent a government wilfully and maliciously mistreating enemy personnel in its power in a situation where it has the ability to provide proper treatment, not to impose impossible burdens on a country at war and in a desperate situation itself.
The framers and signers of the 1929 Geneva thought not. Although I accept that some sections of the Finnish population faced some food shortages, was no one has provided any reliable evidence to support your claim that Finland was in a "desperate situation."
michael mills wrote:A comparison may be made with the situation in Leningrad during the siege.
Such a comparison cannot be made and is ludicrous; you are comparing two incomparable situations.
michael mills wrote:It was indeed a consequence of war, in that there was an aggregate food shortage caused by wartime conditions, namely an inability to import enough food to cover the deficit that existed even in peacetime.
The overall shortage of food was indeed a consequence of war, however, the Finnish decision not to feed the Soviet POWs adequate food was not a consequence of war; it was the consequence of the Finnish decision not to comply with the Geneva Convention article requiring comparable feeding. In this situation, "military necessity" is not a legal defense.

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