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How Did We Arrive at Cheering an Old Nazi in Canada's Parliament?
by Gary Porter - Canada is now world famous for parliament's rousing applause for an old Ukrainian Nazi. Fittingly, it was during President Zelensky's second visit to Ottawa seeking more weapons, not peace. Was this all just a very unfortunate misunderstanding, a failure by the Speaker to do a background check, or did the government really think they could get away with it. Did they believe that celebrating a former member of the hated Waffen SS, a volunteer in the Ukrainian division that murdered thousands of Poles, Jews and Nazi fighting Ukrainians would go by unnoticed. In the Anti Russian fever that has been stocked by the collective imperialist west, are even Nazis, who murdered at least 27 million Russians and Ukrainians in an extermination campaign, now redeemed. In Nuremberg, the entire SS was branded a criminal organization. Does the honest mistake story have any credibility.
Scott Ritter, a former US Marine officer and weapons inspector, famous for insisting prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, tells a story. He says that he once testified before a committee of the Canadian Parliament. Before he did his background was thoroughly checked by CSIS and The RCMP. It was clear, he said, “they knew everything about me”. This may not always be true for visitors to the parliamentary gallery, but this particular old Nazi, Yaroslav Hunka, was introduced to Trudeau and Zelensky, privately, before the parliamentary session commenced. This according to his granddaughter who published a picture of grandpa Hunka in the antechamber waiting for his meeting. That meeting,with two heads of state, simply could not have happened on god’s green earth without a thorough background check from the cops and spies, the RCMP and CSIS. So they knew. It was a collective decision involving Trudeau and doubtless Deputy Prime Minister Christia Freeland, a well known right wing Ukrainian nationalist with a Nazi heritage in her own right. He grandfather was a Nazi propagandist in Poland.
It turns out that Canada, since 1945 has been working with the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS), later renamed CIA, to salvage, legitimize and hide the histories and reputations of the Ukrainian Nazis. Of course most are aware of the rehabilitation of the famous leading Nazi, Werner von Braun of rocketry fame who. BuiltV1 and V2 bombs using slave labour in Germany. But collaboration with nazis was widespread. We should also shine a light on a foreign policy entangled with fascistic groups in many places. But politicians and media, as well as many on the left, have minimized the most salient points of NaziGate. leftists have made the fascist threat principally about the danger to Canadians. Many have posted about how Canada opened its door to far-right Ukrainians to undermine the once large Ukrainian Canadian left and to break workers strikes during rise of the CIO in post war years. This is, of course, important history as it points to the constant openness of Canadian politicians and capitalists to fascism
But Hunka’s admission to Canada was primarily linked to the west’s bid to weaken the Soviet Union. At the time senior Foreign Affairs staffer Robert Mackay wrote that “Ukrainian nationalism was deserving of support … to break up the Soviet Union into a large number of successor states.” In referring to the establishment of the CBC’s International Service Ukraine’s section in 1952 Mackay wrote that “Canada’s large Ukrainian community would provide good propaganda material.” A similar dynamic has been at play in recent years. Since independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, Canada has invested heavily supporting anti-Russian forces in Ukraine, including directly bolstering far right groups. During the Maidan protests that toppled elected president Viktor Yanukovich in 2014 the Canadian Embassy was used as a base by the far right C14. Subsequently, the Canadian military was repeatedly caught training the neo-Nazi Azov Regiment, which was fighting Russian-aligned forces in the Donbass.
The veteran, Yaroslav Hunka, fought with the 14th Waffen SS Galicia Division, writing in a 2011 blog post that he gladly volunteered to fight with the Nazi unit during the Second World War. The division was formed in 1943 when the Nazis needed extra volunteers to bolster its forces against the Allies. The Polish government said this week it is taking steps to extradite Hunka.
Despite the apology from Trudeau, a common claim circulating on social media this week has been that the unit to which Hunka belonged was exonerated of war crimes by a Canadian commission in 1986, and that therefore all veterans of the unit, including Hunka, are automatically innocent.
This narrative suggests that Ukrainian volunteers in the SS unit were simply nationalists who during the Second World War took the opportunity to fight with the Nazis against their sworn enemy, the Soviet Union, and did not hold any allegiance to Nazi ideology. This claim is commonly argued by modern day Ukrainian nationalist groups.
However, the International Military Tribunal (IMT) at Nuremberg in 1946 declared the entire SS to be a criminal organization. This fact was not addressed in the 1986 commission's ruling on the Galicia Division. The IMT's criminal charge did not apply to individuals who left the SS before the end of the war, or those who were conscripted.
In February 1985, the Brian Mulroney government set up the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada to investigate allegations that Canada had become a safe haven for Nazi war criminals, including Joseph Mengele. It became known as the Deschênes Commission, named after retired Quebec Superior Court judge Jules Deschênes, who led the commission.
Parts of the 1986 commission work , dubbed the “Deschênes Commission,” remain secret. Jewish advocacy groups yesterday called on the federal government to release all the remaining documents.
Justice Deschenes decided not to visit Eastern Europe where the war crimes have been committed or to request records. He decided, against the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg that mere membership in the Calicia Division of the 14th SS (Ukrainian) was not a crime. Hunka was not drafted, he was an eager volunteer. After a few half hearted efforts at prosecution of these nais, all of which failed, they did extradite a few, but most were untouched, in essence exonerated. Jewish organizations made great efforts to get the issue taken more seriously, but in the end to no avail.
Canadian foreign policy’s alliance with the far right is not unique to Ukraine, From Haiti to Venezuela, Hong Kong to Israel, it’s almost a principle of Canadian foreign policy to support fascistic, far right, groups. This flows directly from the basic fact that Canada does not stand for freedom and democracy, but for colonial subjugation, dictatorship and endless wars.
Where does Canada stand on actively pursuing Nazi war criminals and bringing them to justice? An article reproved from The Maple takes up that question and demonstrates a clear willingness to let Nazis immigrate into Canada, and a clear lack of will on Canada’s part to punish Nazi war criminals.
Photo: A photo of Heinrich Himmler meeting soldiers in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS. Source.