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Russo-Finnish POWs

Discussion in 'Winter and Continuation Wars' started by PzJgr, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    Looking at the photos from the link that Sniper posted on the Finnish Winter War, a thought passed through my mind. How were prisoners treated on both sides? Did the Russians keep Finnish prisoners and treated them as they later did with the Germans? Just curious.
     
  2. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I´d say that the Finns were not treated that bad as the Germans during the 41-44 period but nonetheless the Soviets did not have food or other facilities for the prisoners so they were in quite a trouble to survive. Mostly their living conditions can be compared to a concentration camp I guess, as they were also used as cheap work force etc. The mean weight of the soldiers returned to Finland was 47 kgs, the lowest 37 kgs. For the first winter in Finland (41-42) the Soviet POW´s were getting quite awful treatment, as the Finns were not ready for such big numbers of POW´s. Not as big figures as the Germans were facing, but still some 18,000 Red Army POW´s died altogether between 1941-44. The Red Army soldiers were put to work in the Finnish farms because the men were at war, and the guarding of these men was quite loose to be honest. Not many escaped as they knew what waited for them in the USSR. And they were fed the same food as the people at the farm did.( believe it or not)

    Some figures:

    Winter War:

    900 Finns captured, 838 returned.
    6,000 Red Army soldiers captured, 5572 returned.

    1941-44 war:

    3,500 Finns captured, 2,000 returned.
    64,000 Soviets captured, 44,000 returned. 1,000 were shot for mutiny or escaping. 1,400 escaped to other countries than the USSR.

    Figures from Finnish articles.
     
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  3. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    Can these POW be exchanged once captured ? Finnish troops are short of humanpower for the 1941-44 war.
     
  4. edhunter76

    edhunter76 Member

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    Yes, my grandmother used to tell a lot of stories about Soviet POWs working in the fields during war time when she was a teenager. There were five POWs working in the village she was living in if I recall right. She always told that those men were hard working and seemed quite happy to be alive. They were given same food indeed what people ate themselves and guarding was non existing. There weren't any problems with them at all basically.
     
  5. Karjala

    Karjala Don Quijote

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    Not really, since most of the Finnish POW's were captured only during the last war summer 1944. The average inprisonment time for the Finns was only abt 6 months, but the mortality was still high.

    The vast majority of the soviet POW's were captured already in 1941. Their mortality was high during the first year but then normalized rapidly. Finland was initially not prepared for a long war nor such a high number of POW's. There was not a proper system to take care of them. Also there was a severe shortage of food, near famine, in Finland until the harvest 1942.

    The life for the soviet POW's at the Finnish farms from 1942 onwards was outstanding in many ways. Practically no guarding, same food at the same table as the farmers. Sometimes the life for the soviet POW's was way too good - it's been estimated, that they fathered app. 200 children...
     
  6. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    I read somewhere where I could not recall that Finnish forces received Finno-Urgic POWs from Germany whom had been captured during Barbarossa 1941 as Red Army soldiers. Numbering a few thousands, these POWs were attached to the Finnish forces. Are these observations true ? These give me an impression that the Finnish forces while gallant in combat lack enough numbers in humanpower and used an assortment of foreign machinery say in the Air forces to get by against the Red Army.
     
  7. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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  8. Karjala

    Karjala Don Quijote

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    The app. 30.000 soviet POWs captured by the Germans in Finland/Karelia are not included in the Finnish POW figures discussed in this thread earlier. The Finnish numbers include only those POWs captured by the Finns.

    That link is about one of those German POW camps in Finnish Lapland.
     
  9. Karjala

    Karjala Don Quijote

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    Yes - there was a shortage of manpower. AFAIK Finland had in 1941 and in 1944 the highest mobilization rate of all countries in the WW2.

    There were abt 3.350 Estonian volunteers (not ex-POWs) in the Finnish army and Navy, mostly from 1943 onwards. They formed IR200 (two battalions). Abt 10 % of the Finnish Navy personnel were Estonian volunteers.

    There were three detached (kinsmen) battalions for soviet ex-POWs/volunteers.

    AHSP - Olonets/Aunus (Southern part of East Karelia) Volunteer Battalion, later Separate Battalion 7 - for East Karelians
    VHSP - Viena (Northern part of East Karelia) Volunteer Battalion, later Separate Battalion 8 - for East Karelians
    HeimoP 3 - Volunteer Battalion 3 - for Ingrian Finns and other Finnic people from the USSR

    http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=101995&start=30

    Almost all of the Finnish airplanes were foreign and most of them also foreign made. Only Bristol Blenheims and Fokker XXIs were licence-built in Finland for any significant numbers .
     
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  10. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    The USSR commented during the Winter War that Finland is being helped by some other big country with guns,ammo,supplies etc. Yes indeed we said. the "joke" is that we got quite alot of military help from the destroyed USSR units. The Red Army soldiers were sent to walk in the winter forest and death but the again we had to do what had to be done.
     
  11. Karjala

    Karjala Don Quijote

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    Some additional info:

    Finland received from Germany 2.048 soviet POWs of Finnish/Finnic ethnicities. Many (most?/all?) of them joined the Finnish army.

    In exchange Germany got 2.661 POWs from Finland, mostly non-Russian ethnic minorities, commanders and political workers (politruks/commissars).
     

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