Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö has condemned a new report on possible war crimes committed by Finnish SS soldiers. The study was commissioned by the National Archives and completed by the Finnish Literature Society.
Writing in a blog post on Tuesday, Niinistö said that his impression of the report was that it did not provide any new evidence that Finnish SS men were guilty of wartime atrocities or persecution of Jewish people.
"This is why I think it is unjust that the shadow of doubt has been cast over them without any evidence," Niinistö declared.
The minister pointed out that the legal system abides by the principle that an individual is “innocent until proven otherwise”. He said the same precept should be applied to historical research.
The contentious report released last Friday says that Finnish volunteers serving in the Wiking Division of Germany’s Waffen SS between 1941 and 1943 "very likely" participated in the execution of Jewish people and other civilians as well as prisoners of war as alongside German troops at Germany’s eastern front.
However the National Archive said that the source material used for the report did not provide detailed enough information about the role of just over 1,400 Finnish SS volunteers.