There were two waves of the Finnish prisoners of war in the Soviet Union during World War II: POWs during the Winter War and the Continuation War.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union (USSR) and Finland. It began with a Soviet invasion of Finland on 30 November 1939, three months after the outbreak of World War II, and ended three and a half months later with the Moscow Peace Treaty on 13 March 1940. The League of Nations deemed the attack illegal and expelled the Soviet Union from the organisation.
The Continuation War was a conflict fought by Finland and Nazi Germany, as co-belligerents, against the Soviet Union (USSR) from 1941 to 1944, during World War II. In Russian historiography, the war is called the Soviet–Finnish Front of the Great Patriotic War. Germany regarded its operations in the region as part of its overall war efforts on the Eastern Front and provided Finland with critical material support and military assistance.
Before the Winter War (1939–1940), the Soviet Union established the main camp for Finnish POWs within the former monastery near Gryazovets in Vologda Oblast, Russia. The NKVD expected the war to result in many POWs and planned nine camps to handle about 25,000 men. However, over the whole of the Winter War there were only about 900 Finnish POWs, about 600 of who were placed in the Gryazivets camp. A total of 838 Finnish POWs were returned to Finland. The last party of Finns left Russia on April 20, 1940.
Gryazovets is a town and the administrative center of Gryazovetsky District in Vologda Oblast, Russia, located on the Rzhavka River, 47 kilometers (29 mi) south of Vologda, the administrative center of the oblast. Population: 15,528 (2010 Census); 16,172 (2002 Census); 16,424 (1989 Census).
Vologda Oblast is a federal subject of Russia. Its administrative center is Vologda. Population: 1,202,444. The largest city is Cherepovets, the home of the Severstal metallurgical plant, the largest industrial enterprise in the oblast.
Russia, officially the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and North Asia. At 17,125,200 square kilometres (6,612,100 sq mi), Russia is by far or by a considerable margin the largest country in the world by area, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, and the ninth most populous, with about 146.77 million people as of 2019, including Crimea. About 77% of the population live in the western, European part of the country. Russia's capital, Moscow, is one of the largest cities in the world; other major cities include Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod. Extending across the entirety of Northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans eleven time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It shares maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the U.S. state of Alaska across the Bering Strait. However, Russia recognises two more countries that border it, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which are internationally recognized as parts of Georgia.
The number of Finnish prisoners of war during the Continuation War (1941–1944) is estimated from 2,377 to 3,500 persons.
According to the official Soviet statistics, Finland lost 2,377 men as prisoners of war, and their mortality rate was 17 percent.
Mortality rate, or death rate, is a measure of the number of deaths in a particular population, scaled to the size of that population, per unit of time. Mortality rate is typically expressed in units of deaths per 1,000 individuals per year; thus, a mortality rate of 9.5 in a population of 1,000 would mean 9.5 deaths per year in that entire population, or 0.95% out of the total. It is distinct from "morbidity", which is either the prevalence or incidence of a disease, and also from the incidence rate.
According to Russian historian Viktor Konasov, 2,476 Finns were registered by the NKVD (People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs), of which 1,972 were handled by POW camps with the majority handled by Camp no. 158 in Cherepovets, Vologda Oblast, and its subcamps.Of all captured, 582 were from the Finnish offensive in 1941, 506 during 1942–1943 and 2,313 during the Soviet offensive of 1944.
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs, abbreviated NKVD, was the interior ministry of the Soviet Union.
Cherepovets is a city in Vologda Oblast, Russia, located in the west of the oblast on the banks of the Sheksna River and on the shores of the Rybinsk Reservoir. As of the 2010 Census, its population was 312,310, making it the most populous city in the oblast.
Finnish historians estimate the number of prisoners was around 3,500 persons, of whom five were women. The number of deceased is estimated around 1,500 persons. Approximately 2,000 persons returned home. It is estimated that the mortality rate was even 40 percent. The result is different from the Soviet statistics, where officials mainly checked only prisoners who survived to reach a prison camp. Finnish studies have tracked individuals and their fates. Most common causes of death were hunger, cold and oppressive transportation.
In law, medicine, and statistics, cause of death is an official determination of conditions resulting in a human's death, which may be recorded on a death certificate. A cause of death is determined by a medical examiner.
In the beginning of capture, executions of Finnish prisoners of war were mainly done by the Soviet partisans. The partisans operated deep inside Finnish territory and they mainly executed their soldier and civilian POWs after a minor interrogation. Usually Finnish officer POWs had a chance to survive until arriving for a major interrogation at the headquarters of Soviet Karelian partisans or the Karelian Front, or quarters of the NKVD. After this, a Finnish POW had a much better chance to stay alive until the end of the war.
The high mortality rate of prisoners of war had objective issues, such as huge territory losses in the beginning of the war and high number of POWs. There were shortages of food and medicine, and POWs had to work exhausting duties in labor camps. Furthermore, medical treatment was of a very low standard. However, overall the treatment of Finnish POWs was humane being war time.
In 1992 a memorial monument was established at Cherepovets cemetery, where Finnish POWs were buried.
The Mannerheim Line was a defensive fortification line on the Karelian Isthmus built by Finland against the Soviet Union. During the Winter War it became known as the Mannerheim Line, after Field Marshal Baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim. The line was constructed in two phases: 1920–1924 and 1932–1939. By November 1939, when the Winter War began, the line was by no means complete.
Leningrad Oblast is a federal subject of Russia. It was established on August 1, 1927, although it was not until 1946 that the oblast's borders had been mostly settled in their present position. The oblast was named after the city of Leningrad. Unlike the city, the oblast retains the name of Leningrad.
Greater Finland is an irredentist and nationalist idea that emphasized territorial expansion of Finland. The most common conception of Greater Finland was defined by natural borders encompassing the territories inhabited by Finns and Karelians, ranging from the White Sea to Lake Onega and along the Svir River and Neva River—or, more modestly, the Sestra River—to the Gulf of Finland. Some proponents also included the Kola Peninsula, Finnmark, Torne Valley, Ingria, and Estonia.
Italian prisoners of war in the Soviet union is the narrative of POWs from the Italian Army in Russia and of their fate in Stalin's Soviet Union during and after World War II.
War crimes perpetrated by the Soviet Union and its armed forces from 1919 to 1991 include acts committed by the Red Army as well as the NKVD, including the NKVD's Internal Troops. In some cases, these acts were committed upon the orders of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in pursuance of the early Soviet Government's policy of Red Terror, in other instances they were committed without orders by Soviet troops against prisoners of war or civilians of countries that had been in armed conflict with the USSR, or they were committed during partisan warfare.
The Battle of Tienhaara was a part of Continuation War between Finland and the Soviet Union fought north of Viipuri on June 22, 1944, after the Red Army had captured Viipuri. Having lost Viipuri Finns concentrated their defense to the Tienhaara region which offered favourable area for defense with nearby waterway cutting the already narrow battlefield into several islands.
Systematic POW labor in the Soviet Union is associated primarily with the outcomes of World War II and covers the period of 1939-1956, from the official formation of the first POW camps, to the repatriation of the last POWs, from the Kwantung Army.
After World War II there were from 560,000 to 760,000 Japanese personnel in the Soviet Union and Mongolia interned to work in labor camps as POWs. Of them, it is estimated that between 60,000-347,000 died in captivity.
The Main Administration for Affairs of Prisoners of War and Internees was a department of NKVD in charge of handling of foreign civilian internees and POWs in the Soviet Union during and in the aftermath of World War II (1939–1953).
Einsatzkommando Finnland was a German paramilitary unit active in northern Finland and northern Norway during World War II, while Finland was fighting 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 GULAG Operation was a German military operation in which German and Soviet anti-communist troops were to create an anti-Soviet resistance movement in Siberia during World War II by liberating and recruiting prisoners of the Soviet GULAG system. Despite ambitious plans, only a small group of former Soviet POWs was airlifted to the Komi Republic in June 1943. Members of the group were captured or killed days after landing.
Victims of Yalta or The Secret Betrayal is a 1977 book by Nikolai Tolstoy that chronicles the fate of Soviet citizens who had been under German control during World War II and at its end fallen into the hands of the Western Allies. According to the secret Moscow agreement from 1944 that was confirmed at the 1945 Yalta conference, all citizens of the Soviet Union were to be repatriated without choice—a death sentence for many by execution or extermination through labour.
Approximately three million German prisoners of war were captured by the Soviet Union during World War II, most of them during the great advances of the Red Army in the last year of the war. The POWs were employed as forced labor in the Soviet wartime economy and post-war reconstruction. By 1950 almost all surviving POWs had been released, with the last prisoner returning from the USSR in 1956. According to Soviet records 381,067 German Wehrmacht POWs died in NKVD camps. German historian Rüdiger Overmans maintains that it seems entirely plausible, while not provable, that one million died in Soviet custody. He also believes that there were men who actually died as POWs amongst those listed as missing-in-action (MIA).
East Karelian concentration camps were special internment camps in the areas of the Soviet Union occupied by the Finnish military administration during the Continuation War. These camps were organized by the armed forces supreme commander Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim. The camps were intended to hold camp detainees for future exchange with the Finnic population from the rest of Russia. The mortality rate of civilians in the camps was high due to famine and diseases.
The Aftermath of the Winter War covers historical events and comments after the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union from 30 November 1939 to 13 March 1940. The short period after the war and before the next, the Continuation War, is known as the Interim Peace.
The Finnish military administration in Eastern Karelia was an interim administrative system established in those areas of the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic (KFSSR) of the Soviet Union which were occupied by the Finnish army during the Continuation War. The military administration was set up on July 15, 1941 and it ended during the summer of 1944. The goal of the administration was to prepare the region for eventual annexation into Finland.
Soviet prisoners of war in Finland during World War II were captured in two Soviet-Finnish conflicts of that period: the Winter War and the Continuation War. The Finns took about 5,700 POWs during the Winter War, and due to the short length of the war they survived relatively well. However, during the Continuation War the Finns took 64,000 POWs, of whom almost 30 percent died.
The Soviet partisans in Finland were an irregular military force which attacked Finnish military and civilian targets during the Continuation War, a sub-theater of World War II active between 1941 and 1944. They were based in East Karelia in the Soviet territory and conducted long-range penetration reconnaissance and raids inside Finnish borders, often attacking weak targets such as remote border villages or ambushing vehicles. Around 170 Finnish civilians were killed and 50 wounded in the raids.