There will eventually come a period of reckoning when belligerent leaders like Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy and Justin Trudeau, along with others like Donald J. Trump, Boris Johnson, Joe Biden as well as the leadership of the European Union and NATO will be judged before history. They will have to answer for their crimes in forcing the Russian government to send thousands of troops, tanks and artillery into Ukraine. Underlying the initial mask of protecting the sovereign territorial rights of Ukraine, the Ukrainian officials offered NATO the opportunity to install nuclear missile sites near the Russian border, ignoring the diplomatic protocols of previous agreements between Russian and Ukrainian governments. As one former member of the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, Lidia Powirska, has written:
Days before the recent invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin made two major declarations. First, that the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces in eastern Ukraine were independent republics, making Russia the first UN member state to recognize them. And second, that the 2014/2015 Minsk agreements—aimed at restoring peace in the region by ending the separatist war—had long been dead. On this last point, Putin was mostly correct.
The title of her blog essay was entitled “Through the Ashes of the Minsk Agreements”. However right she may be on the dead Minsk Agreements, the embers of a possible World War III are beginningto turn from embers to fires throughout the Western European world and also on the North American continent.
In the ‘honoring’ of the former Waffen-SS member, Yaroslav Hunka, in the House of Commons in Ottawa, it is important to quote at length a New York Times reporter about a terrible blunder and embarrassing mistake:
The Ukrainian man sitting in the gallery of Canada’s House of Commons was a “hero,” the speaker of the House said on Friday, drawing applause from lawmakers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who had just addressed the chamber during his first visit to Ottawa since Russia invaded his country.But several Jewish groups responded with outrage, saying that the man, Yaroslav Hunka, 98, had served in a Nazi unit known as the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, which fought alongside Germany during World War II and declared allegiance to Adolf Hitler.
On Sunday, Anthony Rota, the speaker of Canada’s House of Commons, issued a written apology, saying that he had “subsequently become aware of more information” and took “full responsibility for my actions.”
The raw question that can be asked is, what does this say about a nation’s leadership, when both the prime minister of Canada and the speaker of Canada’s House of Commons, claim to have had no prior knowledge of the insidious background of Yaroslav Hunka who served in the 14th Waffen-SS Nazi division, a division whose members were known more as killers and murderers than as actual soldiers? And how was it that Yaroslav Hunka was able to migrate to Canada without a thorough background check beingad ministered by the Canadian Government in the first place? Is it possible that Canadian intelligence knew of his war record and the atrocities that were committed by the 14th Waffen-SS Nazi division? Should we also be so naïve as to think that Zelensky did not know about the fascist history of Yaroslav Hunka, as he stood there with Trudeau applauding the so-called “hero” who also sat there in the gallery, nodding in approval at the standing ovation he received from not only Zelensky and Trudeau but the majority of those holding office in the Canadian House of Commons? Yaroslav Hunka is a very clever man, even at the age of ninety-eight, as he was shown on television in the chambers, acknowledging the ovation as he sat in the high gallery, and standing up to the applause and raising his fist in the air. However, the whole world was not entirely fooled by his pretensions as “a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero,” as Mr. Rota said in his praise of the Waffen-SS Division member living well-off in Canada. These questions must be answered fully for the decency of Canadian history. The various Jewish organizations that are outraged by the honoring of Yaroslav Hunka need to be given a full account of what Trudeau and Zelensky knew about this Ukrainian immigrant.
Now, the question that can be asked is how Yaroslav Hunka and other members of the criminal 14th Waffen-SS Division managed to enter into Canada in the first place? The answer is complex and is intertwined with the Cold War and the various leaders of the British and Canadian Commonwealth as they engaged with the problem of what to do with the remnants of the defeated fascist division, and in such a way that would benefit them in the political war against the Soviet Union, and also in a way that would help the Canadian market economy procure cheap foreign labor, in this case, cheap, fascist labor, in such a way as to build up their shattered war-time economies. As the author, Sol Littman suggested in his work PURE SOLDIERS OR SINISTER LEGION it was a lengthy process that took place without the Canadian people being fully aware of the eventual Nazi diaspora that would eventually come to their North American homeland. Littman describes the first initiative to the embarkation of the former division of the Ukrainian Waffen-SS men with this observation:
England had called on Canada to help solve a pressing problem. Canada might pout and stamp its feet but it could not ignore the wishes of the “mother country”. Therefore, when the Canadian government received the Commonwealth Secretary’s letter suggesting it take a share of the Ukrainian Division members, the Canadian government found it difficult to respond with a blunt and irrevocable “No!”.
However, it was the labor shortage in Canada that was one of the deciding factors in allowing the Waffen-SS men to immigrate to Canada, and as Littman would point out, the political pressure initiated by London on those bureaucracies in Ottawa was being to work:
Their [The Canadian Relief Commission for the Relief of Ukrainian Refugees] note [to the Honorable Walter Harris, Minister of Mines and Resources] stressed that at least half of them were agricultural workers and the rest skilled workers, laborlores and assorted “others” ---statistics sure to please a Minister of Mines and Resources seeking strong backed immigrants in a period of labor shortage. However, the Canadian decision not to admit the Division members seemed firm at the time. The Cabinet Committee on immigration, meeting in April 1948, reiterated its decision to refuse admission to “members of this group to migrate to Canada because they served the German armed forces.” But in the summer of 1948, the British began to push harder, calling on Canada to take sever hundred ofthe Division members, preferably those for whom no work had been found in England.
The nucleus or core groups that supported allowing Waffen-SS Division members to immigrate to Canada were groups such as the Ukrainian Workers League, the Ukrainian Canadian Veterans Association, and the Ukrainian National Foundation, to name but a few, while the only Ukrainian organization to fight against such a migration of former fascist, German troops was the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians. The eventual victory for the immigration of the fascist division members was consolidated in 1950 when Littman would write about the following, final tragic policy:
The switch in policy was officially announced in a brief June 6, 1950 memorandum signed by Deputy Minister Laval Fortier. It read:
At its meeting on Wednesday May 31st, the Cabinet has agreed that Ukrainians, presently residing in the United Kingdom, be admitted to Canada not withstanding their service in the German army provided they are otherwise admissible. These Ukrainians should be subject to special security screening, but should not be rejected on the grounds of their service in the Germany army.
The irony is not lost on this military historian, as well I am sure of others of my academic background, that the brief announced and signed by the Deputy Minister Laval was done on the anniversary of D-Day, only five years after the Second World War. How short is our memory of history and how easily it is for those in power in the Western World to turn a blind eye to the dark atrocities of history, such as those committed by the Ukrainian 14th Waffen-SS Division which Yaroslav Hunka so proudly participated in and about which there was great applause, not only by such men as Zelensky and Trudeau, but by members of the House of Commons in Ottawa as well. As a brilliant woman artist in Vermont stated to me, “How deep is our folly when we remain or choose to remain ignorant of history or to deliberately turn away from its lessons.” As per the news outlet, Al Jazeera:
Dominique Arel, chair of Ukrainian studies at the University of Ottawa, said the incident “is highly problematic”. “We have the issue of symbolism here, the optics of serving in a military unit whose logo is that of arguably the greatest criminal organization in the 20th century…so obviously the optics are not good,” Arel told CBC News.
The incident involving Yaroslav Hunka in the House of Commons in Ottawa was not just “highly problematic”, but profoundly vile, an example of the way fascist history has interpenetrated the politics of Canada. This incident has not only dark connotations, but also grave implications not only for Canada, for the United States, and for the world community.
If I quote factual sources from Western historians and scholars, I would also like to quote news outlets from the other side as well, such as Russia (or the former Soviet Union) who lost thousands upon thousands of Red Army soldiers on the Eastern Front, especially in the Ukraine. RT ((formerly Russia Today or Rossiya Segodnya) (Russian: Россия Сегодня)) which is an unabashedly state-controlled news outlet wrote this factual information on Yaroslav and his so-called heroic military deeds:
The World War II veteran served in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, a unit created by the Nazis from Ukrainian volunteers in 1943 as part of its occupation of the USSR. The Nuremberg Tribunal recognized the entire SS as a criminal organization, citing the scale of atrocities committed under its leadership.Rota did not mention the Nazi unit when he introduced Hunka, but his involvement was not a secret. The Associated Press photo captioned him as a former member of the First Ukrainian Division – the name preferred by the unit’s veterans.The media soon found photos of Hunka in his uniform during training in Munich and in occupied Poland. The images were published online by the unit’s veterans association in the US.
It was not that there was a lack of enthusiastic Ukrainians willing to be participants in th 14th Waffen-SS Division in which we know Yaroslav Hunka was so very proud to serve before he would eventually flee to Canadaafter the Second World War. As noted by the military historian, Michael Logusz, more than a total of estimated 53,000 Ukrainian men offered to serve in the division. At the beginning of the call-up, 42,000 Ukrainians were served notice during the first 'recruitment phase' which took place in May and June 1943 from which only 27,000 were deemed fit for military service in the ranks of the 14th Waffen-SS Division out of which 13,000 were actually enlisted.It was during the year of 1944, that the 14th Waffen-SS Division was to have its first test of combat, and this was against the Polish nationalist and underground Polish forces during the extensive ethnic cleansings of both belligerent parties. While the Polish nationalists were killing Ukrainians, the Ukrainian fascist nationalists were butchering Jew and Polish citizens alike. These brutal military engagements took place prior to the great Soviet operation, known as the Bagration Offensive, on June 22, 1944. As the political historian Pawel Markiewicz wrote succinctly in his important work UNLIKELY ALLIES:
The time to prove themselves came in May 1944 when Heinrich Himmler inspected the Ukrainian troops deemed fit for battle, and ordered their transfer to the Eastern Front. In July the Galizien forces were sent to support Wehrmacht units near the city of Brody where heavy combat was underway. The SS Galizien Division role in the battle of at Brody has been the subject of various studies and became the foundation of a romanticized myth that exist to this day. Here, however, a short overview will suffice. Even though they were outnumbered the Germans attempted to hold the Brody line against the Red Army, ordering the Galizien Division to hold a a 50-mile frontage position of it. It was here that the division experienced both its baptism of fire and rout.
This is also but a very short history of the mythology of 14th Waffen-SS Division amid a time of viscous nationalist fury during the Second War In which the former Ukrainian citizen, Yaroslav Hunka,participated, the now so-called hero of Canada. Yaroslav Hunka sat in the hall of the House of Commons in Ottawa accepting the adulation and long applause of Zelensky who is a great supporter of the Azov Battalion which I would state is a historical descendant of the 14th Waffen-SS Division, along with the applause of Zelensky’s political enabler Trudeau who claims not to have known that Yaroslav Hunka had been part of a Ukrainian nationalist fascist division. Again, I would state that the embers of Ukrainian nationalist fascism is a raging fire in the cities and countryside of Ukraine. Those who do not recognize the historic ties between what took place during World War II and what took place in the House of Commons in Ottawa on the first autumn Sunday in late September will repeat history. This is a tragic and ignorant appeasement of Ukrainian fascism and how we in North America will rue the day that such a common cause was made.
The views and informations expressed in the article are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect the views of The International. We believe in providing a platform for a range of viewpoints from the left.
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