Finland will investigate evidence suggesting that soldiers of its army were involved in killing Jews during the Holocaust, the office of Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said.
The announcement about the initiation of the probe, the first of its kind in Finland, came on Wednesday in a letter to Efraim Zuroff, a hunter of Nazis for the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Earlier this month Zuroff urged Niinistö to set up an inquiry following the discovery of a written testimony by a Finnish Waffen-SS officer who said he actively participated in the mass murder of Jews in Ukraine.
“The Finnish government will, in response to the recent concerns, fund a further independent survey of the operations of the Finnish Volunteers Battalion of the Waffen-SS and particularly examine its operations in Ukraine,” Hiski Haukkala, the secretary general chief of the cabinet of the president of the Republic of Finland, wrote to Zuroff. “Should any criminal activities be uncovered they will be followed by due process,” he added.
In 1941, Finland, after being invaded by the Soviet Union in 1939, joined Germany in its attack on the Soviet Union. In the winter of 1944-1945, the Finns began fighting against the Germans.
Finland had 2,300 Jews in its territory in 1939, whom it openly refused to surrender to its German ally despite repeated requests, according to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. A police chief’s plan to deport in secret 300 non-Finnish Jews from the country was foiled and only eight were given over. Of those, only one survived the Holocaust.