Re­port: Finns may have helped kill Jews

Govern­ment had com­mis­sioned the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - NATION & WORLD - BY JARI TAN­NER

HELSINKI — An Is­raeli Holo­caust his­to­rian praised au­thor­i­ties in Fin­land on Sun­day for pub­lish­ing a re­port that con­cluded Fin­nish vol­un­teers serv­ing with Nazi Ger­many’s Waf­fen-SS “very likely” took part in World War II atroc­i­ties, in­clud­ing the mass mur­der of Jews.

Efraim Zuroff of the Si­mon Wiesen­thal Cen­ter lauded the de­ter­mi­na­tion of the Na­tional Ar­chives of Fin­land to re­lease the find­ings even if do­ing so was “painful and un­com­fort­able” for Fin­land.

Zuroff called the de­ci­sion an “ex­am­ple of unique and ex­em­plary civic courage.”

Fin­land’s govern­ment com­mis­sioned the in­de­pen­dent 248-page in­ves­tiga­tive re­port, which was made pub­lic Fri­day. It said 1,408 Fin­nish vol­un­teers served with the SS Panzer Di­vi­sion Wik­ing dur­ing 1941-43, most of them 17 to 20 years old.

“It is very likely that they (Fin­nish vol­un­teers) par­tic­i­pated in the killing of Jews, other civil­ians and pris­on­ers of war as part of the Ger­man SS troops,” said Jussi Nuorteva, di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Na­tional Ar­chives.

A sig­nif­i­cant part of the study was based on diaries kept by 76 of the Fin­nish SS vol­un­teers. Eight of the Fin­nish SS vol­un­teers are still alive, Nuorteva said.

Fin­land was in­vaded by the So­viet Union in Novem­ber 1939. The fight­ing in what be­came known as the Fin­nish-So­viet Win­ter War lasted un­til March 1940, when an over­whelmed and out­num­bered Fin­land agreed to a bit­ter peace treaty. The small Nordic coun­try lost sev­eral ter­ri­to­ries but main­tained its in­de­pen­dence.

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