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Investigation into claims of atrocities by Finnish SS volunteers

The Office of the President says that Finland plans to investigate claims that Finnish volunteers in Nazi Germany's Waffen-SS had a part in the genocide of Jews in Ukraine during WWII.

Valkoinen ruusu holokaustissa kuolleiden juutalaisten muistomerkillä Berliinissä.
A single white rose on a monument to victims of the Holocaust in Berlin. Image: Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert / EPA

Between 1941-1943, 1408 men were recruited in Finland to serve in the Viking Division of the Waffen-SS.

Earlier this month, President Sauli Niinistö received an appeal from the chief Nazi-hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Holocaust historian Efraim Zuroff, to launch an official inquiry into the participation of Finnish volunteer Waffen-SS soldiers in war crimes during their service in Ukraine in 1941.

The request followed the release of new research by Finnish historian André Swanström.

On Wednesday, the Secretary General of the Office of the President, Hiski Haukkala replied to Zuroff, saying that in response to recent concerns the Finnish government will fund a further independent survey of the operations of the Finnish Volunteers Battalion of the Waffen-SS and particularly examine its operations in Ukraine. Haukkala added that any criminal activities uncovered will be followed by due process.

President Niinistö's Communications Director Katri Makkonen told Yle that the probe will be commissioned by the Prime Minister's Office and carried out in cooperation with the National Archives of Finland. She said that a decision in principle has been made to carry out the investigation, but details are still to be worked out.

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