"Finland shot 1000 POWs"

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michael mills
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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by michael mills » 05 Sep 2008 06:28

Britain declared war on Finland in December 1941, at Stalin's insistence.

That meant that the country was subject to blockade by the British Navy, which cut off all food imports from outside Europe. The only remaining source of food imports to cover the deficit in food production within Finland was that part of the European continent under German control or influence, which did not produce enough food to cover its own requirements.

The only way in which Germany could provide extract food from the area of Europe under its control for export to Finland was to deprive part of the European population of food, given the aggregate shortfall in production. The part of the European population that was most deprived of food in order to provide for the needs of the majority was the Jewish minority.

If there is an aggregate food shortage, and the choice is between keeping Finns alive by supplying them with food withheld from Jews, or keeping Jews alive by supplying them with food withheld from Finns, I know which option I would choose. Maybe Penn44 would choose differently.

As it was, food imports from German-controlled Europe were not sufficient to cover the food shortage in Finland created by the cessation of food imports from outside Europe due to the British blockade. The Finnish Government ensured an adequate supply of food to the main part of the Finnish population by cutting back the supply to less-favoured groups under its control, such as Soviet POWs, with the result that there was increased mortality among those less-favoured groups, although that increase was not overwhelming.

I do not think any reasonable person would find fault with the Finnish Government for the decision it made in the situation in which it found itself, particularly as it had not chosen to go to war with Britain, but had had that war and the subsequent blockade imposed upon it.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Tero » 05 Sep 2008 07:36

By michael mills
If there is an aggregate food shortage, and the choice is between keeping Finns alive by supplying them with food withheld from Jews, or keeping Jews alive by supplying them with food withheld from Finns, I know which option I would choose.
Just pointing out that dragging in the Jews in this context is a bit misleading.
The Finnish Government ensured an adequate supply of food to the main part of the Finnish population by cutting back the supply to less-favoured groups under its control, such as Soviet POWs, with the result that there was increased mortality among those less-favoured groups, although that increase was not overwhelming.
One of the reasons for the food shortage was the fact that the bulk of the military operations took place at the time of the harvest. The harvest in the occupied territories were not gathered or the crops were destroyed in the fighting. What compounded the problem was the fact that most of the inmates were undernourished when they were captured.

EDIT: checked the article you seem to base your claim on Finnish authorities deliberately depriving certain groups nutrition. The article states the mortality rate in mental hospitals during the war was 20% while the mortality rate (to all causes) in the Finnish military was 16%. In absolute terms the normal annual mortality in the mental institutions was 400 people, during 1942 the total number was 1 400 people.

The guestion about starvation among the Finnish civilians is difficult to determine because most of the population lived in rural areas where they could gather foodstuff from the forests. Excess people were ordered from the towns to live in the country (with relatives for the most part) so they helped with the farming. Since there were no huge cities with millions of people depending on imported food widespread famines were not the norm. Thousands (70 000 - 75 000) of children were sent to Sweden and Denmark during the war.
Last edited by Tero on 05 Sep 2008 07:59, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by JariL » 05 Sep 2008 07:57

The key question is did the authorities, in this case the GHQ, make an intentional decision to let POW's die or was the situation created by decisions and circumstances without an intention? It is clear that decisions were made that put the majority of POW's into an unfavourable position. But this does not automatically mean that that position was intended to be lethal. I'll try to find some information on the war time rations so we can get a better understanding on the situation of different groups at least on paper.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Penn44 » 05 Sep 2008 08:26

JariL wrote:The key question is did the authorities, in this case the GHQ, make an intentional decision to let POW's die or was the situation created by decisions and circumstances without an intention? It is clear that decisions were made that put the majority of POW's into an unfavourable position. But this does not automatically mean that that position was intended to be lethal.
There are other "key" questions. What actions did the Finish government take when it was discovered that Soviet POWs were dying? They all didn't die overnight. Someone probably recognized what was going on and reported it. If they had any competence about them, Finnish medical officers probably investigated the situation because starvation leads to diseases, and diseases spread from the POWs to guards and then to the civilian population. In this situation, the Finnish government had several responsibilities. The Finnish government was required to adequately feed the POWs, and when starvation resulted, they were required to intervene to save the lives of the sick POWs. Failure to properly act is a war crime.

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Juha Tompuri
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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Juha Tompuri » 05 Sep 2008 08:29

Penn44 wrote:You are WRONG.

Article 11 of the 1929 Geneva Convention Relating to Prisoners of War, of which Finland was a signatory.
Neither Finland nor USSR ratified it.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Penn44 » 05 Sep 2008 08:32

Tero wrote:The guestion about starvation among the Finnish civilians is difficult to determine because most of the population lived in rural areas where they could gather foodstuff from the forests. Excess people were ordered from the towns to live in the country (with relatives for the most part) so they helped with the farming. Since there were no huge cities with millions of people depending on imported food widespread famines were not the norm. Thousands (70 000 - 75 000) of children were sent to Sweden and Denmark during the war.
So, you seem to be saying that although there may have been some hunger, there was no starvation in Finland.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by JariL » 05 Sep 2008 09:24

There are other "key" questions. What actions did the Finish government take when it was discovered that Soviet POWs were dying? They all didn't die overnight. Someone probably recognized what was going on and reported it. If they had any competence about them, Finnish medical officers probably investigated the situation because starvation leads to diseases, and diseases spread from the POWs to guards and then to the civilian population. In this situation, the Finnish government had several responsibilities. The Finnish government was required to adequately feed the POWs, and when starvation resulted, they were required to intervene to save the lives of the sick POWs. Failure to properly act is a war crime.
Hi,

Sorry for taking things for granted. We know that the authorities reacted to the deaths and after that the situation of POW's improved and dying stopped. And as already stated earlier the majority of the POW's did actually die in a pretty short time. The same applies to the civilian camp population in East Karelia. When action was taken mortality dropped and in 1943 and 1944 there was no difference in camp mortality vs. mortality of free population in East Karelia. Actually mortality in East Karelia was after the crisis slightly lower than in Finland in 1943 and 1944. So if there was anything fishy going on it happened before the crisis broke out.

Regards,

JariL

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by LWD » 05 Sep 2008 13:13

Penn44 wrote:
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.
You could you just wouldn't be logically correct. I will also point out that just because someone was killed it doesn't mean they were murdered. Nuances are important in this type of discussion.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by LWD » 05 Sep 2008 13:23

Penn44 wrote: ...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 …"
....
But that convention is between signatores of the convention. The USSR is not on the list. In particular if you look at:
ARTICLE 82.
The provisions of the present Convention must be respected by the High Contracting Parties under all circumstances.

In case, in time of war, one of the belligerents is not a party to the Convention, its provisions shall nevertheless remain in force as between the belligerents who are parties thereto.
The clear implication is the convention is not binding if between belligerents if one is not a signatory.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by michael mills » 05 Sep 2008 13:59

The crux of the matter, the one essential fact from which all the other observed occurrences flow (such as the mortality of Soviet POWs held by Finland, or the increased mortality in Finnish mental hospitals), is that the part of Europe under German control or within the German sphere of influence (ie practically the whole of the Continent) was suffering from a food shortage, due to the fact that it was only 90% self-sufficient under normal circumstances, and the importation of food had been cut off by the British blockade.

Given the aggregate food shortage, it was inevitable that some part of the population of Europe was going to starve. Which part of the population would starve was determined by the German Government and the governments of its allies. Those of Germany's allies that were net food producers, such as Hungary and Romania, ensured that their own populations were adequately provided for before exporting food to the rest of German-controlled Europe.

Since Germany itself was a net food importer, it provided for its population by extracting food from countries under its control, through the mechanism of reducing the food available to subject populations. In particular the Jewish minority in occupied Poland was made to bear the brunt of the food shortage by being placed on starvation rations, and eventually it was killed off, thereby reducing consumption by over one million mouths without impacting on food production, since the Jewish population was not involved in food production to any appreciable extent.

Finland was forced into the German economic sphere through Britain's declaration of war on it (along with Romania and Hungary) in December 1941, with the result that it became exposed to the aggregate food shortage suffered by German-controlled Europe. The deficit in the food supply caused by the cut off of food imports from outside German-controlled Europe resulting from the British blockade could partly be covered by imports from Germany, which could be made available only by denying food to parts of the population under German control, in particular the Jewish population.

Thus, in aggregate, the Finnish population did benefit from the food supplies made available by the net reduction in consumption brought about by the extermination of the Jewish population of Poland and other parts of German-controlled Europe. If that population had remained alive, the food consumed by it would then not have been available for export to Finland.

The remainder of the food deficit to which the Finnish population was exposed was covered by a reduction in food supplies to less-favoured population groups under the control of the Finnish Government, such as enemy prisoners, both military and civilian, and to inmates of prisons and mental hosptials, with a concomitant increase in mortality in those groups.

A third way in which the exposure of the Finnish population to food shortages was relieved was through the export to other countries such as Sweden of consumers who did not contribute to food production, eg children.

Thus, the reason why there was no starvation among the mainstream Finnish population was due to three measures:

1. Importation of food from elsewhere in German-controlled Europe, which was only made possible through the deprivation of parts of the population, as well as the extermination of certain population elements that were not food producers;

2. Reduction of the food supply to less-favoured population elements under the control of the Finnish Government; and

3. Export of Finnish consumers who were not food producers.

If those measures had not been undertaken, there would have been starvation among the mainstream Finnish population.

In the last analysis, the reason for the elevated mortality of Soviet prisoners and other marginalised groups under the control of the Finnish Government was the aggregate food shortage in Finland, which was due to the unprovoked imposition of war on that country by Britain and the resulting blockade which cut off food imports.

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Juha Tompuri
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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Juha Tompuri » 05 Sep 2008 21:01

Juha Tompuri wrote: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.
Don't really know how truthful these figures are, found them from a Finish discussion forum.
They were there mentioned to have been from Statistics Finland and Finnish National Archives.
http://www.tilastokeskus.fi/index_en.html
http://www.narc.fi/Arkistolaitos/eng/

1936: 49124 dead

1937: 46466 dead

1938: 46930 dead

1939: 52614 dead; 5678 of which because of military actions, normal deaths 46936

1940: 71846 dead; 21038 at war , normal deaths 50808

1941: 73334 dead; 27018 at war, normal deaths 46316

1942: 56141 dead; 9720 at war, normal deaths 46421

1943: 49634 dead; 6183 at war, normal deaths 43451

1944: 70570 dead; 22806 at war, normal deaths 47764

1945: 49406 dead; 1002 at war, normal deaths 48044

http://keskustelu.suomi24.fi/show.fcgi? ... 0036514337

Regards, Juha

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Penn44 » 06 Sep 2008 01:44

LWD wrote:
The provisions of the present Convention must be respected by the High Contracting Parties under all circumstances.

In case, in time of war, one of the belligerents is not a party to the Convention, its provisions shall nevertheless remain in force as between the belligerents who are parties thereto.
The clear implication is the convention is not binding if between belligerents if one is not a signatory.
Not true. See AHF discussion on the issue at:
Oleg Grigoryev wrote:
Declaration.
Peoples Commissar of Foreign Affairs of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, by this note declares, that Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is accepting the convention about improving life of the prisoners of war, wounded, and sick in the acting armies, signed in Geneva on June 27th 1929. In order to verify it Peoples Commissar of Foreign Affairs of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, who has all the necessary mandates and powers, signed this declaration of accepting. In accordance with a decision of Central Executive Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from May 12th 1930, this acceptance is final and does not need any further ratifications.
Done in Moscow on August 25 1930.
Signed : Litvinov.
Location of the document CAGOR SSSR fond 9501 opis 5 ed hran 7 list 22.

Consequently the stories that USSR never signed the Geneva convention now can be safely disregarded as myth
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=30523

Even if the above was not true there is also something such as the customs of war which had protected POWs for centuries, and if I am not mistaken, the concept of the customs of war was upheld by the Nuremberg Trials as a legitimate legal foundation.

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Last edited by Penn44 on 06 Sep 2008 03:41, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by David Thompson » 06 Sep 2008 14:36

This thread is locked until I can clear out the large volume of off-topic posts which have appeared recently.

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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by David Thompson » 23 Sep 2008 00:39

Having cleaned out most, if not all, of the now-deleted rubbish posts which characterized the last three pages of this thread, I'll reopen it for on-topic discussion.

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Juha Tompuri
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Re: "Finland shot 1000 POWs"

Post by Juha Tompuri » 23 Sep 2008 07:35

Thank you David.
Penn44 wrote:
LWD wrote:The clear implication is the convention is not binding if between belligerents if one is not a signatory.
Not true. See AHF discussion on the issue at:
LWD is right here.
Untrue sources, as below, don't chance the facts.
Penn44 wrote: See AHF discussion on the issue at:
Oleg Grigoryev wrote:
Declaration.
Peoples Commissar of Foreign Affairs of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, by this note declares, that Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is accepting the convention about improving life of the prisoners of war, wounded, and sick in the acting armies, signed in Geneva on June 27th 1929. In order to verify it Peoples Commissar of Foreign Affairs of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, who has all the necessary mandates and powers, signed this declaration of accepting. In accordance with a decision of Central Executive Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from May 12th 1930, this acceptance is final and does not need any further ratifications.
Done in Moscow on August 25 1930.
Signed : Litvinov.
Location of the document CAGOR SSSR fond 9501 opis 5 ed hran 7 list 22.

Consequently the stories that USSR never signed the Geneva convention now can be safely disregarded as myth
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=30523
The above is a forgery.
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 3#p1214053

Regards, Juha

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