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Debate over War Deaths

A researcher has examined the demographical background of Finland's casualties during World War II. He says units from left-leaning localities suffered the greatest casualties.

Professor Jukka Kemppinen from Lappeenranta University of Technology combined lists of war casualties and their home regions and compared them to election results from the 1930s.

"It came to my notice that 'red' localities were often the ones that suffered significantly more casualties than others", Kemppinen told the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

He declines to comment on whether units from "red" localities were intentionally deployed where fighting was the fiercest. However, he says that they may have been assigned impossible missions.

Finland fought three separate wars during World War II: The Winter War against the Soviet Union from 30th Nov. 1939 to 13th March 1940; the War of Continuation against the Soviet Union from 25th June 1940 to 4th Sept. 1944; and the Lapland War to evict Nazi troops from 27th Sept. 1944 to 27th April 1945.

Professor emeritus of history Heikki Ylikangas says Kemppinen's observations should be studied in more detail. He says that one possible explanation for a higher casualty rate among "red" units could be that they were under more pressure to prove their patriotism and, therefore, took more risks than the average soldier.

Ylikangas believes that universities will launch their own studies into the subject and sees no need to appoint a investigative board of experts.

Professor Ylikangas was commissioned by the previous government to investigate war deaths in Finland from 1914 to 1922. He was also appointed to look into claims that Finland handed over Jews to Nazi Germany.

Sources: YLE24

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