The film caused a scandal, with the Canadian House of Commons unanimously hailing Yaroslav Hanka as a “Ukrainian hero” and the epitome of Nazi Germany’s Waffen-SS. Who is this man with a troubled past who is embarrassing Justin Trudeau’s government?
Yaroslav Hanka, 98 years old, white hair, hearing aid and velvet jacket, attends a tribute in his adopted country of Canada to his native Ukraine to mark the visit of its leader Volodymyr Zelensky. A guest who might have joined the crowd if he hadn’t been congratulated by Commons Speaker Anthony Rota, who paid tribute to a “Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero” who thanked him “for his service.”
Yaroslav Hunga, a 98-year-old Ukrainian Nazi collaborator who killed Jews and others in a Nazi army unit during World War II, was met with outrage after Canada’s parliament gave Zelensky a standing ovation during a joint speech on Friday. pic.twitter.com/PFWQNEoM76
— Simon Adeba (@simonstheba) September 24, 2023
An intolerable tribute, recognized by Canadian Jewish associations, praised the old man as a former soldier of Nazi Germany. Yaroslav Hanka was actually a former member of the Waffen-SS, the military wing of the SS created by Adolf Hitler in 1939, following the recommendations of Commander Heinrich Himmler. More precisely, he belonged to the 14th Grenadier Division, known as the Galicia Division, which was made up of so-called “ethnic” Ukrainians placed under Nazi command.
Canada, a haven for ex-Nazis?
The BBC In 1985, Brian Mulroney, then Prime Minister of Canada, created the War Crimes Commission of Inquiry after a member of parliament suggested that Nazi doctor Josef Mengele might be in the country.
About 600 ex-German soldiers tried to return to the country. Among them are members of the Galician section, which is under personal control for security reasons. Jules Deschênes, head of the commission of inquiry, declared that “the war crimes charges of the Galicia division, either in 1950, when they were first filed, or in 1984, when they were renewed, or before this commission.”
However, following this controversial tribute – and reluctantly, according to the sorry Commons Speaker, given the “new information” brought to his attention – Simon Wiesenthal of the Friends of the Center for Holocaust Studies reiterated. The division “resulted in unimaginable brutality and brutal slaughter of innocent civilians”.
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