19:13 GMT +313 December 2019
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    Finnish Volunteer Battalion of the Waffen-SS

    Finland Admits Its Volunteer SS Troops ‘Very Likely’ Involved in WWII Massacres

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    HELSINKI (Sputnik) - The Finnish volunteer soldiers, who served in the Waffen-SS Wiking division during World War II, "very likely" participated in the mass killings of Jews, civilians and prisoners of war, a report by the National Archives of Finland said on Friday.

    The Finnish Volunteers’ Battalion of the Waffen-SS operated on the German Eastern Front in 1941-1943. It was part of the Waffen-SS Wiking division, which also included volunteers from Scandinavian and Baltic countries, the Dutch and Ukrainians. The report into Finns' involvement in WWII crimes was commissioned by the prime minister's office after Efraim Zuroff, the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, requested President Sauli Niinisto in January 2018 to launch a relevant official inquiry.

    "The report complements the information available on the systematic killing of Jews and other civilians as part of Germany’s attack against the Soviet Union in June 1941," the prime minister’s office said, publishing the report on its official website.

    Jussi Nuorteva, the director-general of the National Archives of Finland, noted that Finns were "very likely" to blame for part of Nazi crimes, claiming that they had not been initially in the know of the Germans’ goals.

    "At the beginning of the attack, Finns were unaware of the Germans’ goal of eradicating the Jews. It is very likely that they participated in the killing of Jews, other civilians and prisoners of war as part of the German SS troops. Primarily, Finns had a negative view on these actions," Nuorteva said, as quoted in the office's statement.

    Nuorteva went on to claim that "the starting point for Finns’ involvement was different compared to most other countries joining SS foreign volunteers."

    "Finns were above all interested in fighting against the Soviet Union. This was due to experiences of the Winter War and the perceived threat caused by the Soviet Union … Finland’s aim was to provide the country’s troops with military training," he added.

    READ MORE: Latvian Parliament Equates Status of WWII Soviet, Nazi Participants

    The report is based on "significant complementary materials" from foreign archives in Russia, Ukraine, Germany, the Netherlands and the northern European countries, according to the statement.

    The document, published in English, is available on the website of the National Archives of Finland.

    READ MORE: Helsinki to Study Role of Finnish SS Volunteers in Mass Killings During WWII

    Tags:
    jews, Waffen-SS, World War II, Nazi Germany, Soviet Union, Finland
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