When the Russians advanced into Finnish territor during the Winter War (1939-40), the Finns first evacuated their civilians to safety. Thus there were no Soviet concentration camps for Finnish civilians or deportments as occurred in the other countries the Soviets invaded. The Soviets had a huge network of camps. Many people from the countries they invaded pr partitioned (Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Romania) were arrested. Some were shot. Others were sentenced to the camps or deported to various desolate areas of Central Asia or Siberia. [Solzhenitsyn] This did not, however, happen to the Finns. When the Finnish Army advanced into East Karelia during the Continuation War (1941-44), they did encounter Soviet civilians. The Finns set up concentration camps for the civilians which theu operated until the Red Army reoccupied the area. The first camp was located at Petrozavodsk (October 24, 1940). One source estimated 4,000 people perished ther primarily because of malnourishment, most dieing during the spring and summer of 1942. [Laine] A Russian reader writes, "According to Finish sources more than 64,000 Soviet citizens were imprisoned in Finnish KZ camps and more than 18,000 of them died. We are unsure at this time what Finish organization was repoonsible for the camps and why so many people perished there. This appears to be a factual account. It is an aspect of World War II that is not often mentioned in World War II histories. The fact that Soviet actuins against civilians was even nore horrendous does no fiminish what occurred in the Finish camps. It is an aspect of World War II that most Finns would like to forget. Finnish researchers are trying to examine just what occurred. Apparently about 25 percent of about 90,000 Soviet prisoners (both soldiers and civilians) died while in Finnish custody at the camps. Most died from hunger and disease. There were about a dozen Finnish concentration camps which they later referred to as relocation camps, located in the Petrozavodsk region in Finnish-occupied Soviet Karelia. Some 24,000 Soviet citizens were held in the camps and 4,500 died. Anout one-third of the deaths were reportedly children. The mortalities were primarily the result of inadequate nutrition, however poor shelter, the lack of warm clothing and disease were also contributing factors. One sourece claims that conditions at the German camps in Finnish Lapland were better than at the Finnish camps. About 13-15 percent of the POWs died in the German camps hich was about half of the death rate in Finnish camps. [Frolov]
We have not seen a good assessment as to why this occurred. Of course there was a great deal of bitterness in Finland toward the Soviets and durung the War supplies includung food was in short supply. Many of the deaths appear to have occurred during the Winter of 1941-42 before the Finns had prperly organized the camps. Sivier policy was another factor, Apparently Stalin did not allow the civilian population evacuate. We are not sure why, but as evacuarion would have brought them into Lenningrad, with limited supplies, this may have been a factor, Stalin also ordered a scoarched erth policy. So it was Soviet policy that denied the civilians means od sustance and shelter. We do not know what the condition of the civilans were when they came into Finnish custody. While the civilians deths, especually the children reflects bady on the Finns, the POW deaths are a differentb matter. It would be useful to know what the death rate was of Finnish POWs in NKVD hands. Soviet treatment of German POWs was genocidal, but so was German treatment of Soviet POWs. We know from the Katyn massacre that the Soviets treated POWs and civilins brutally, even countries that were not involved in war crimes like Poland. The same was true when the Soviets seized control of the Baltic states as part of their early aggressions as a NAZI ally.
So it ould be useful to have informtion on Soviet treatment of Finnish POWs. There were few Finnish civilians in Soviet hands because the civilians fleed areas to be turned over to the Soviets. In countries that the Soviet Union occupied entirely or in part as a NAZI ally (Poland. Finland, Estonia. Latvia, Lithuania, and Romania as well at Soviet deportations of its own people far great attrocities were commited against far more infividuals, including children.
Laine, Antti. Suur-Suomen kahdet kasvot (Otava, 1982).
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr I. Gulag Archipelago (1973).
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