Dina Poljakoff -Jewish nurse who was offered an Iron Cross.

The role of Finland during World War 2 is a strange one. They were part of the axis powers, not so much because they were great fans of the Nazi regime, but because they saw a powerful ally in Germany to fight the soviets.

There were about 2000 Jews in Finland during World War 2, 300 of them were refugees from Germany and Austria.


In 1941 Germany stationed troops in northern Finland and Finland then joined Germany in its attack on the Soviet Union. Some 300 Jews served in the Finnish army during the war. The German authorities requested that the
Finnish government hand over its Jewish community, but the Finns refused.
Reportedly, when SS chief Heinrich Himmler brought up the ׂJewish question
with Prime Minister Johann Wilhelm Rangell in mid-1942, Rangell replied that there was no Jewish question in Finland; he firmly stated that the country had but 2,000 respected Jewish citizens, some of who who fought in the army just like everyone else, and as such closed the issue to discussion. The Germans did not press the issue, as they were afraid to lose Finnish cooperation against the Soviets. However, later that year, Gestapo chief Heinrich Muller convinced the head of the Finnish State Police, Arno Anthoni, to deport Jewish refugees. Undertaken in secret, the deportation plan was discovered by the Finnish cabinet, which managed to stop it from being fully implemented. Nevertheless, eight Jews were handed over to the Germans. Ultimately, only one of the eight survived. Many clergymen and politicians condemned the deportation, and as a result the Finnish government refused to surrender any more Jews to the Germans. The majority of the Finnish Jews and refugees remained unharmed during the war. However they did hand over some Soviet Jewish prisoners of war over to the Nazis.

Finnish Jewish soldiers outside a field synagogue during WW2

Dina Poljakoff was a Finnish nurse. Although she was Jewish, she was offered the Iron Cross by Nazi Germany during World War II.

A native of Finland, Poljakoff was studying dentistry before the outbreak of World War II.During the war, she worked as a nurse for Lotta Svärd, an auxiliary organization associated with the White Guard. She served in the front lines of combat during World War II alongside German military units. She was not the only Jewish nurse to perform such service; her cousin, Chaje Steinbock, also worked as a nurse and accumulated a scrapbook of heartfelt messages of thanks from German soldiers who had been under her care.

Dina Poljakoff made quite an impression on her German patients, to the point that she was nominated for the Iron Cross. She was one of three Finnish Jews to be offered the award; like the other two (Leo Skurnik and Salomon Klass), she did not accept the award. Unlike the other two, she did not ask for her name to be withdrawn from the recipient list, and on the day of the awards ceremony she checked the display table to verify that her award was there, before leaving without it.

Poljakoff immigrated to Israel after the war, where she died in 2005.

sources

https://academic.oup.com/hgs/article-abstract/9/1/70/554146?redirectedFrom=PDF


https://www.tracesofwar.com/persons/77291/Poljakoff-Dina.htm

https://frankensaurus.com/Dina_Poljakoff

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