Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center lauded the determination of the National Archives of Finland to release its findings, even if it was “painful and uncomfortable” for Finland. He called it an “example of exemplary civic courage”.
The independent 248-page report in English – commissioned by the Finnish government and released on Friday – said 1,408 Finnish volunteers served within the SS Panzer Division Wiking during 1941-43, most of them aged between 17 and 20 years old.
“It is very likely that they (Finnish volunteers) participated in the killing of Jews, other civilians and prisoners of war as part of the German SS troops,” said Jussi Nuorteva, director-general of the National Archives. A significant part of the study’s material is based on diaries kept by 76 of the Finnish SS volunteers. The majority of them had no ideological sympathies with the Nazi regime, the report said. Historians wrote the troops likely witnessed shootings and other atrocities against Jews and other civilians by advancing Nazi troops.