Einsatzkommando Finnland was a German paramilitary unit active in northern Finland and northern Norway during World War II, while Finland was fighting the Continuation War against the Soviet Union with the support of Nazi Germany. The official name of the unit was Einsatzkommando der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD beim AOK Norwegen, Befehlsstelle Finnland, but it was often referred to as Einsatzkommando Finnland.
The existence of Einsatzkommando Finnland, until then unknown, was revealed in a 2008 doctoral dissertation by Oula Silvennoinen. The unit was subordinated to Reichssicherheitshauptamt, and Finnish security police Valpo as well as a Finnish military intelligence organization collaborated with it.
It has previously been revealed in several studies, including that of investigative journalist Elina Sana in her book Luovutetut. Suomen ihmisluovutukset Gestapolle ("The Extradited. Finland's Extraditions to the Gestapo"), that during the Continuation War roughly 3,000 POWs and civilians were extradited to Germany in exchange for Finno-Ugric Soviet POWs held by Germany. Sana's book led to the ongoing research project at the Finnish National Archives. Most of those extradited joined the Russian Liberation Army or were recruited to spy behind the Soviet lines, but 520 of them were political officers in the Red Army or otherwise active communists, and although they were presumed killed in German hands, their exact fates had been unknown.
According to Silvennoinen's research, before and during the Continuation War Finland handed over about 500 POWs and refugees to Germans operating in Northern Finland and Northern Norway, who probably executed all of them. About 10% of those handed over were Jewish, although their ethnicity seems not to have been the reason for their extradition. Extraditions began already in the summer of 1940. Additionally, a small number of Valpo officials worked as interpreters and interrogators in German POW camps with German Einsatzkommando Finnland officials, and were complicit in the executions of an unknown number of POWs.
Einsatzkommando Finnland operated in two POW camps, Stalag 322 in Elvenes, Norway and Stalag 309 in Salla, Finland (nowadays Russia). As the German advance into the Soviet Union stalled, the stream of POWs into these camps trickled, and Einsatzkommando Finnland was disbanded at the end of 1942.
Silvennoinen is a researcher at the Finnish National Archives, and his dissertation forms a part of ongoing research on prisoner-of-war deaths in Finland and people handed over to Germany and the Soviet Union by Finnish authorities between 1939 and 1955.
References and notes
- Ahtiainen, Ilkka (28 September 2008). "Finland and Germany in WW II: Brothers in arms - and partners in crime?". Helsingin Sanomat. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
- Tarkka, Jukka (24 September 2008). "Valpo luovutti 500 ihmistä kuolemaan" (in Finnish). Helsingin Sanomat. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
- Research on prisoner-of-war deaths and people handed over in Finland 1939–55 Finnish National Archives
- Thesis abstract (Scroll down to the bottom for English version)
- Väitös: Valpo syyllistyi sotarikoksiin jatkosodan aikana Aamulehti (Finnish)
- Finland deltog i Förintelsen Dagens Nyheter, 2008-09-21 (Swedish)
- Väitös: Valpo surmasi jatkosodassa saksalaisten rinnalla HELSINGIN SANOMAT (Finnish)
- Finland var med på jødeutryddelsen Aftenposten.no (Norwegian)
- One Way Journey 2004 (Earlier revelations)
- Finland's Tarnished Holocaust Record (Earlier revelations)
- Finnish-German seminar examines wartime cooperation between Finnish Valpo and Gestapo HELSINGIN SANOMAT