I think in that case we should probably go on and look at the Finnish camps for Russian civilians and soldiers in the areas occupied by the Finnish army during the so-called Continuation War. Different sources call them different names, either concentration camps, internment camps or transit camps - and of course some of them were simply POW camps.
In August 1944, before the cessation of hostilities, an Extraordinary State Commission report was released by the Soviets, from which the following extracts are drawn.
Directly after the invasion of the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic the Fascist invaders proclaimed the Soviet people war prisoners and confined them to special concentration camps. Six such camps were set up in Petrozavodsk, with about 25,000 women, children and old people confined in them. Concentration camps for civilians were also set up in Medvezhyegorsk, near the town of Olonets, on the Ilyinskoye State Farm and in other parts of the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic.
A most brutal regime of humiliation, exhausting labour beyond
human strength, torture and violence was instituted by the Finns for the inmates of all camps. The camps were surrounded with high fences and barbed-wire entanglements. At 7 a.m. the "prisoners", irrespective of sex, age or state of health, were driven under escort to heavy, exhausting work. The "prisoner" Soviet citizens confined in the camps were issued 100 or 200 grams of bad-quality bread, and once in a while 200 grams of frozen potatoes or rotten horse-flesh sausage.
The guards of the camp, headed by Col. Rolf Schield, subjected to torture all confined Soviet citizens, without exception. The Finnish slave-owners beat up the prisoners for failure to fulfil their quotas of work, for incorrect stacking of firewood or for failure to display sufficient respect for the guards, or they were beaten or tortured without any pretext at all. As a measure of punishment prisoners were given no food for two or three days, or placed in solitary cells.
The Finnish hangmen subjected Soviet civilian "prisoners" to incredible torture. The Petrozavodsk resident Novikov, who testified before the Investigation Committee witnessed how, in Camp No. 2 the Finns selected 30 inmates, allegedly war prisoners. They drove them to Leo Tolstoy Street and subjected them there to excruciating torture, They burned the heels of the "prisoners" with a red-hot iron, beat them with rubber clubs and then shot 15 of them. The remaining 15 persons were sent back to Camp No. 2 after 25 days.
The Finnish war prisoner Private Vilkho Kurgila, of the 1st Company, 2nd Battalion of the Bicycle Brigade of the Lagussa Armoured Tank Division, stated at his interrogation:
"When we entered the town of Petrozavodsk in autumn, 1941, we found no residents there. All of them had scattered in the neighbouring forests. The Finnish authorities issued an order demanding of the population that they immediately return to the town under pain of death. Special detachments were formed to apprehend the residents and drive them back to Petrozavodsk. Thus they gathered the population and confined it into camps. One camp was set up in Kukovka, another in a place known as `The road to Solomenchugi', and a third camp was built behind the radio-station mast.
"All people, old and young, were driven under escort to perform hard work. The appearance of these people was terrible - they looked entirely wretched and harassed. Very many of them could not stand such a life, and died. While the local residents languished in the camps, we Finnish soldiers had a good time in Petrozavodsk as well as in the neighbouring villages. The entire property of the local population and large food stocks remained in their houses. All this property was proclaimed ownerless, and of course we did not waste time and took everything we liked. We sent many things to our relatives in Finland. Especially active in these doings were soldiers of the 3rd Company of our battalion, but others did not lag behind them either."
In the camps the Finns tortured not only adults but even children, who were also considered "war prisoners". The Finnish war prisoner, Private Toivo Arvid Laine, of the 13th Company, 20th Infantry Brigade, stated at his interrogation:
"Early in June 1944 I was in Petrozavodsk. At Petrozavodsk
railway station I saw a camp for Soviet children. Children from five to 15 years of age were confined there. Their appearance was terrible. These were little living skeletons, wearing rags which defied description. The children were so exhausted that they had even forgotten how to cry, and looked at everything with indifferent eyes."
The Finnish slave-owners forced the "prisoner" children along with the adults to do work beyond their strength. The Finnish Private Aho Sulo Johannes, of the 2nd Independent Battalion of Coastal Defence, witnessed how
"during summer, 1943, over 200 persons, chiefly adolescents, were driven from neighbouring villages to the area of Tolbui and the driven wharf for construction of roads. All these persons worked as prisoners guarded by Finnish soldiers."
In September 1943 the 10-year-old boy Lenya Zuyev, who was kept in Camp No. 2, tried to climb the wire fence. A Finnish sentry noticed Zuyev, fired at him without warning and wounded the boy in the leg. When Lenya fell down the Finn fired at him a second time. The wounded Zuyev with great difficulty crawled to the territory of the camp.
The witness Lakhina, who was confined in Camp No. 5, informed the Committee about the appalling living conditions of the camp inmates.
"Six or seven families lived in rooms of 15 to 20 square metres each. There was no bath-house or laundry in the camp. People took water from a ditch in which human corpses lay about. Soap was not issued at all. The `prisoners' were lice-infested. The inhuman living conditions in the camp resulted in the development of epidemic diseases such as scurvy, dysentery and typhus."
Hunger and mass epidemics caused an extremely high mortality in all concentration camps: dozens of people died daily, and their bodies were taken to a cemetery two or three times a week. Here is what a witness told about this. The eye-witness Alexei Prokofyevich Kolomensky, who was kept in Camp No. 5 in Petrozavodsk from December I, 1941, to June 28, 1944, testified
"I worked as a cart-driver, and had to carry dead from the camp to the `Peski' cemetery located five kilometres from Petrozavodsk. The dead were carried there every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. According to my records 170 men died in May 1942, 171 in June, 164 in July and 152 in August. Altogether 1,014 inmates died in our camp from May to December 31, 1942. At the beginning of 1942 there were about 7,500 prisoners in the camp, and at the moment of our liberation by the Red Army 4,500 remained there."
The Committee received a letter from former inmates of Petrozavodsk concentration camps. They wrote:
"For nearly three years we were surrounded with two rows of barbed-wire entanglements and watch-towers, and guarded by armed sentries. We were starved and beaten with lashes for the slightest fault. The Commandant of Camp No. 2, Lt.
Salavaara, also the Commandant of the Vilki Camp Lakoonen, displayed particular brutality.
"Special camps were set up in Kutizhma, Vilga and Kindosovo for 'law-breakers', chiefly children, young people and women. Living conditions here were no better than in mediaeval dungeons. Here Soviet people were starved, in winter they were driven to work in the forest wearing only torn rubber goloshes on bare feet. Here, the camp inmates ate mice, frogs and dog carrion, thousands of prisoners died of dysentery, typhus fever and pneumonia, receiving no medical assistance. The doctor-beast Kolyhmainen, instead of treating the prisoners, beat them with stick and fists, and threw typhus patients out into the frost."
This letter is signed by 146 Soviet citizens, former inmates of Petrozavodsk concentration camps.
Evidence of the inhuman brutality with which the Finnish scoundrels treated Soviet civilians confined in concentration camps is provided by the following far from solitary instance. A letter of the ex-student of Helsinki University, Private Salminen, of the 2nd Frontier Chasseurs Battalion, fell into the hands of the Committee. In this letter he wrote:
"Yesterday two Russians were shot because they refused to greet us. We shall give it to these Russians!"
As a result of forced labour, disease, torture and shootings over 7,000 Soviet citizens were exterminated in the Petrozavodsk camps. A Committee presided over by the Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., Dildenkin; the Chairman of the Petrozavodsk City Soviet, Stepanov Professor of Petrozavodsk University, Bazanov; with participation of medico-legal experts-Chief Medico-Legal Expert of the Karelian Front I Major of Medical Service, Petropavlovsky; Chief Pathologist of the Karelian Front; Lt.-Col. of Medical Service; Doctor of Medical Science, Ariel; and others - having examined the "Peski" cemetery in Petrozavodsk, discovered 39 group graves and ascertained that no less than 7,000 bodies were buried in all these graves.
As a result of the examination of exhumed bodies, the medico-legal experts ascertained that the majority of the buried persons died of exhaustion. Some bodies had wounds through their skulls inflicted by firearms.
In September 1941 the Fascist Command set up Camp No. 17 in the town of Olonets of the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic, and confined there Red Army men and junior officers taken prisoner its the Svir sector of the front. The territory of this camp was surrounded by two rows of barbed-wire fences up to two metres high. Each barrack in the camp was also fenced off from the rest by barbed wire. The number of war prisoners kept in the camp varied from 600 to 1,000.
The Camp Commandant, Lieut. Soininen Toivo, used to come to the barracks while drunk and beat up the war prisoners himself, and also ordered his subordinates to beat them. The Commandant's assistants Ingman and Salmelo, also the examining Magistrate of the camp, Lieut. Schepalis and Military Official Schmidt, without any pretext, systematically and brutally beat up Soviet war prisoners with clubs and lashes.
Soviet war prisoners who in the opinion of the Finnish-Fascist hangmen worked badly were placed on a high tree-stump with their hands stretched out, and forced to maintain this posture for 30 to 90 minutes. In winter this kind of torture of war prisoners resulted in the freezing of their extremities and in grave diseases.
The administrative personnel and guards of the camp not only tortured, tormented and starved Soviet war prisoners, but also shot them for the slightest "offence". The former Soviet war prisoner Belan stated that one of the Finnish guards shot a war prisoner with a tommy-gun burst because he approached the barbed-wire entanglement. For this murder the Camp Commandant Alapies promoted the murderer to Corporal.
According to the eye-witness Feklistov, in summer 1943, the war-prisoner Bykov on his way back from work began to pick mushrooms and fell behind his group. The Commandant Soininen and the guard Hervonen met Bykov on the road on his way back to the camp and shot him with pistols.
When the Olonets district was captured by Red Army troops a registration file for sick war prisoners was found at the hospital of the Olonets war prisoners' camp. This file supplies a vivid picture of extermination of Soviet war prisoners by the Finns. Entries in the file show that in the first six months of 1942 alone, out of a total of 1,888 registered patients, 588 died in hospital as a result of general weakness, exhaustion and oedomata. The bodies of war prisoners who died, or were tortured to death, were buried in a common trench dug specially for this purpose 100 metres from the camp.
The Committee of medico-legal experts exhumed and examined bodies which had been discovered in the cemetery near Olonets Camp No. 17. Medico-legal examination of the bodies revealed that the subcutaneous fatty cellular tissue, as well as the cellular tissue of the internal organs, was exhausted or completely absent, which testified to extreme exhaustion caused by protracted starvation. Some of the bodies had traces of shot-wounds in the head or thorax.
As a result of examination of the bodies and the testimony of witnesses it has been established that the Finnish-Fascist hangmen starved Soviet war prisoners, subjected them to torture, and also shot them.
The Extraordinary State Commission has ascertained that along with the Finnish Government and Army Command the following persons are responsible for all the crimes committed by the Finnish-Fascist invaders on the territory of the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic.
The Chief of the Administration of Eastern Karelia, Lt.-Col. Kotelainen; the Chief of Staff of the Administration of Eastern Karelia, Maj.-Gen. Arrajuri; the Commander of the 8th Division of the Finnish Army, Maj.-Gen. Polojarvi; the Commander of the 4th Finnish Infantry Regiment, 8th Division, Col. Vistora; Maj.-Gen. Pojari; Col. Rolf Schield; the Military Commandant of Petrozavodsk, Capt. Laurikainer the Assistant Commandant, Lt. Elomoa; the Commandants of concentration camps in Petrozavodsk, Vilki Lakoonen, Lt. Salavaara, Maj. Kuurema, Lt. Kallio, Lt. Tolonen Pentti, Lt. Nuotto Jussi, Errikainen, Kangas; the Assistant Commandants of camp, Ingman, Airola and Seppela; Chief of the camp office, Saraioki; the Commandants of Olonets Camp No. 17, Lt. Alapies, Lt. Soininen Toivo ; Assistants of the Camp Commandant, Salmelo, Pelkonen; the examining magistrate, Lt. Schepalis; the Military Official Schmidt; the interpreters, Karpelainen and Pistilainen; the Chief of Kindosovo Jail, Capt. Toivonen; his assistants, Kovala and Sihvonen; the Commandant of Kindosovo Camp, Sergt. Vikhula; Assistant Commandants of Camp No. 2, Sergts. Lindholm Veikko, Allagonen Penti, Sivonen Emil, Julliluomma Mati, Vuori Arvo, Kassimaki Tukio, Lamber Veikko; the guard, Hervonen, Corporal Inkel Koivosala; the guard, Jullimanola Edverd, Lt. Niemi.
All of them must appear before the court of the Soviet people and bear severe punishment for the crimes which they have committed.