“He is a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero, and we thank him for all his service,” Ruta said as members stood in applause for him.
But on Sunday, Jewish groups condemned the honor, saying Honka was a member of a Waffen-SS unit — the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division — which was composed of ethnic Ukrainians. Heinrich Himmler, a prominent member of the Nazi Party in Germany, formed the Waffen-SS, which engaged in mass shootings, anti-partisan warfare, and supplying guards for Nazi concentration camps.
“The fact that a veteran who served in a Nazi military unit was invited to Parliament and received a standing ovation is shocking.” advertiser Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.
The case draws attention to controversial elements in Ukrainian history, when far-right nationalists such as Stepan Bandera allied with the Nazis in an attempt to oust the Soviets and gain Ukrainian sovereignty. Some Ukrainian forces participated in Nazi atrocities, but their struggle for independence has led some modern Ukrainian forces to venerate images and icons of the ancient unit. In April, for example, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense published the following: Then it was deleteda photo of a Ukrainian soldier holding a bear patch SkullNazi symbol.
Ukraine, led by a Jewish president, says it has excluded extremist elements from its ranks, most notably within the Azov Battalion. But the historical relationship remained sensitive because Russian President Vladimir Putin falsely declared Ukraine a Nazi state, a claim he used to justify his illegal invasion.
“At a time of increasing anti-Semitism and distortion of the Holocaust, it is deeply disturbing to see the Canadian Parliament paying tribute to an individual who was a member of a unit in the Waffen-SS, a Nazi military branch responsible for the murder of Jews and others and was declared a criminal organization during the Nuremberg Trials.
The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center called for an apology and an explanation of how Honka was invited to the Canadian Parliament.
On Sunday, Rutte apologized for the incident and said he took “full responsibility.” The Office of the Speaker of the House of Commons did not immediately respond to a request for comment seeking more information about the incident.
“In my statements after the speech of the President of Ukraine, I recognized a person at the exhibition. I subsequently became aware of more information that made me regret my decision to do so,” Ruta said in a statement. statement. “I especially want to extend my deepest apologies to the Jewish communities in Canada and around the world. “I take full responsibility for my actions.”
Rutte added that none of his parliamentary colleagues or members of the Ukrainian delegation participated in Honka’s call and recognition.
Anne-Clara Vaillancourt, a spokeswoman for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, issued a statement on Sunday calling Rutte’s apology “the right thing to do.”
“No prior notification was provided to the Prime Minister’s Office, nor to the Ukrainian delegation, regarding the invitation or recognition,” the statement read. “The Speaker had his own quota of guest seats for Friday’s speech, which was determined by the Speaker and his or her office alone.”
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