Why Canada patronizes SS veterans


Sooner or later it was bound to happen. The torch processions in Ukraine, painfully reminiscent of Nazi Germany, the emblems of the wolf hook, the glorification of the UNA-UNSO, the glorification of Stepan Bandera, the parades of veterans of nationalist formations and other fascinations with Nazi symbols were, in the opinion of the West, just symbols of the struggle for independence of Ukraine. The West simply turned a blind eye to this. But when Canada invited a veteran of the SS division Galicia to meet Zelensky in parliament, the scandal became so loud that it was impossible to ignore it. The fascination with Nazi ideology in Ukraine naturally led to the fact that an elderly SS man was invited to meet with Zelensky. The circle was closed. 

But let's go in order. During his visit to Canada, a 98-year-old Canadian of Ukrainian descent, Yaroslav Gunko, was invited to a ceremonial meeting of the Canadian Parliament in honor of the President of Ukraine. Speaker of the House of Commons Anthony Rota, announcing Gunko's presence in the hall, called him a "Ukrainian-Canadian veteran of World War II who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians», a «Ukrainian and Canadian hero», thanking him for his «service». The hall gave a standing ovation to this so-called hero sitting in a wheelchair. Zelensky and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the applause. Zelensky waved his hand at the «veteran» and raised his fist as a greeting. Western propagandists were pleased, they thought it was very beautiful, a kind of link between the times, when a veteran of the struggle against the USSR welcomes the current «freedom fighter»against Russia.

So who were welcomed by Trudeau and Zelensky? It turned out that Gunko actually served in the SS division Galicia, which fought against the Red Army as part of the forces of Nazi Germany. In fact, the volunteer division Galicia was made up of Ukrainian nationalists and not only fought the Red Army, but also committed atrocities against Jews, Poles, Belarusians and Slovaks. It was used against partisans, it was involved in the extermination of civilians in Poland, for which Poles have a special hatred for Galicians, and the account goes on thousands of innocent victims, and there is already talk that Poland may demand the extradition of Gunko.

Naturally, a huge scandal broke out. First, it was simply shameful that the parliamentarians of Canada, a country that fought in the anti-Hitler coalition, stood up and applauded one of the SS punishers. Second, Ukraine, which constantly fights off accusations that it pursues a policy similar to that of the Third Reich towards its Russian population, looked unattractive, and here its president is cheerfully greeting an SS man. Third, this incident showed that in the propaganda fight with Russia, the West is ready to drag even Nazi soldiers into the light under the guise of fighters for Ukraine's independence. 

The scandal could not be swept under the rug also because Jewish organizations voiced a strong protest. «At a time of growing anti-Semitism and misrepresentation of the Holocaust, the picture of the Canadian Parliament standing up to applaud an individual who was a member of a Waffen-SS unit, a Nazi military formation responsible for the murder of Jews and others is extremely disturbing», reads a statement from the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which investigates Nazi crimes. 

And then it was up to the Speaker of the House of Commons, Anthony Rota, who apologized for inviting Gunko to Parliament, saying he didn't know who Gunko really was.

A Canadian acquaintance of Gunko's family, Bonafan, said that his relatives did not know about the Canadian authorities' plan to give him a public reception in parliament. They thought that he would be in the same room with President Zelensky, away from the eyes of the public, but, apparently, the PR staff of the Canadian authorities decided to make a propaganda show out of it. 

Of course, immediately there were exculpatory versions of what happened: they say that young people work in the protocol service of the Canadian Parliament, who failed to check who Gunko was. Although it was not difficult to do so. 

According to reports, the Russian ambassador in Ottawa Oleg Stepanov said: our diplomats noticed that Yaroslav Gunko is not only a former fighter of Galicia, but he also has a personal foundation. This foundation donates money to spread Ukrainian nationalism. In 2019, the «Ukrainian Research Foundation of Yaroslav and Margarita Gunko» transferred $30,097 in favor of the Canadian Institute for Ukrainian Studies, which is based at the University of Alberta (Edmonton). That is, he was not hiding in the underground, ashamed of his Nazi past, but was actively helping Ukrainian nationalists, who are firmly established in Canada. 

Personally, I absolutely understand the logic of Canadian propagandists: Zelensky is coming to us, he is the president of a country that is fighting Russia for freedom, so we should invite an ancient, from the last century freedom fighter of Ukraine. And it will be so beautiful! So propagandistic spectacular, such a link of times: the freedom fighter of Ukraine of the 21st century takes the baton from the freedom fighter of the 20th century. Only after the applause for the ancient Nazi, questions arose to President Zelensky himself. 

It came to the point that Polish Ambassador to Canada Witold Dzielski demanded an apology. And if we take into account that recently Poland and Ukraine have had a lot of tensions, the incident in the Canadian parliament has raised questions in Warsaw, which for a long time turned a blind eye to the honoring of the UNA in Ukraine. The issues of the Volhynia massacre and terror on the part of Galicia towards Poles are not mentioned there now. Why should they? Now for Poles it is more important that Ukraine is fighting Russia. But when Gunko appeared in the Canadian parliament under applause, even the Poles could not stand it.

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, realizing he had gotten himself into an embarrassing situation, first apologized, saying: 

«The Speaker of the House is fully responsible for inviting and honoring this man. He has fully admitted his guilt and resigned. This mistake dishonored not only Parliament but all Canada. All of us in the House of Commons that day deeply regret that we honoured him with a standing ovation, even though we did not know the full circumstances. It was a monstrous abuse of millions of people who perished in the Holocaust. It caused deep pain to the Jewish people, but also to the Poles, the Roma people, the LGBT community, people with disabilities, racial minorities and the millions who were victims of the Nazi genocide».

That is, he was correct - he mentioned everyone. But Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova doubted in her telegram channel that Trudeau knew nothing about the past of Gunko and the Galicia division. 

«The Canadian authorities continue to create a spectacle. Prime Minister Trudeau made the most ‘sincere’ apologies. He says, «not my fault, I didn't know, I'm sorry». This, of course, is a lie. Everyone knew everything», Zakharova wrote. 

In her opinion, it is difficult to assume that Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, a loyal and longtime supporter of the Ukrainian Congress of Canada and the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC), granddaughter of the criminal Mykhaylo Khomyak, who worked for the Nazis, did not know about the inglorious past of «a friend of the Ukrainian Congress of Canada» and its longtime sponsor Gunko. In addition, she pointed out that the granddaughter of the Nazi Teresa Gunko published a photo where her grandfather is waiting to meet with Trudeau and Zelensky in the reception hall. 

«Before you get abroad as a guest of honor at an event with Zelensky, you need to be checked by the intelligence services from A to Z. Moreover, not only Ukraine and Canada, but also by the United States, Britain and a number of other countries», - said Zakharova. In addition, according to her information, «the meeting with Gunko was a separate point in the program of Zelensky's visit, and his name is well known to Kiev».

Zakharova also admitted that she was «shocked by the silence of the Israeli Foreign Ministry on the international honoring of the SS man».

«I would like to hope that this is an unfortunate misunderstanding that will be corrected. There can be no greater disrespect for the memory of the victims of the Holocaust», she added. 

And after his apology, Trudeau made an original political somersault, he suggested that the incident should be quickly forgotten so as not to «play along with Russian propaganda».

«It is now very important that we all fight back against Russian propaganda, Russian disinformation, and continue our steadfast and unequivocal support for Ukraine», Trudeau said. It is good that he did not accuse the Kremlin's «agents» of bringing the SS man to parliament. In other words, Canadian parliamentarians and President Zelensky greeted the Nazi punisher with applause, but Russian propaganda is to blame. But in this case, it was not possible to blame everything on Russian intrigues. The scandal quickly went international, for example, it was immediately noticed in India, which now has tense relations with Canada because of the murder of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in which Ottawa accuses Delhi. Even Ukraine's staunch ally Poland could not remain silent, as we wrote earlier. 

«Poland is Ukraine's best friend, but it will never agree to whitewash such villains. As Poland's ambassador to Canada, I expect an apology», Ambassador Witold Dzielski wrote in his microblog on social network X, attaching a photo of Zelensky and Trudeau giving Gunko a standing ovation. 

But I am sure that inviting a veteran of the SS Galicia division is not an accidental mistake made by the protocol service of the Canadian parliament. Rather, it is an attempt by the Ukrainian diaspora of the Maple Leaf country to rehabilitate the actions of Ukrainian collaborators during World War II. They seem to have decided that now is the perfect time to legalize Nazi henchmen, many of whom Canada sheltered after World War II by granting them asylum. 

But because of the international scandal this attempt has now failed. For how long? After all, the Ukrainian authorities have not commented on this scandal so far, not even condemning the actions of people like Gunko. And I think we can't expect a normal reaction from it, since Ukraine not only honors Nazis, but also puts monuments to them, publicly glorifying them. Okay, suppose Canadian parliamentarians - simple bearded lumberjacks - did not know who the veterans of SS Galicia were, but Zelensky, a Jew himself, whose grandfather fought in the Red Army, knew very well about the deeds of the Galicians. But he gave them a standing ovation. Although I'm not sure that he would still be alive if he had met Gunko during World War II. 

What to say, if now the whole West suffers from collective amnesia. For example, German Bundestag deputy Sevim Dagdelen sent a request to the German Foreign Ministry to clarify its position on Ukrainian extremists. But the ministry refused to classify the Bandera members as Nazis. Although the issue of the activities of Ukrainian nationalists has long been studied. Here, for example, is what the American-Canadian scholar John Paul Himka, one of the most authoritative experts on the history of the OUN, its participation in the Holocaust and in the fierce war against the Soviet Union, writes: «The organization of Ukrainian nationalists fought not just for some kind of state independence. They fought for what they themselves called 'Ukraine for Ukrainians'. In this country, Russians, Poles and Jews would simply be annihilated».

«In fact, we are facing a challenge to the results of international scientific research on the Holocaust, justified by alleged lack of information - a phenomenon of the same order as the honoring of former SS fighter Yaroslav Gunko in the Canadian Parliament, about which we simply have no words. And this honoring took place, by the way, in a NATO member state, Canada. It was there that the Nazi was called a Ukrainian hero». This is how Bundestag deputy Sevim Dagdelen commented on this situation.

That is, the West is conducting a campaign to whitewash Nazi collaborators out of purely Russophobic motives. By the way, Canada has been moving towards this for a long time, having become a safe haven for Nazi criminals of all stripes after the war. In Canada, they are not persecuted or extradited. Here they live perfectly well in retirement as good Canadian citizens. 

«Canada is a place where Nazis gathered. Canada is a Nazi safe haven unknown to the masses. Everybody knows about Argentina, but nobody knows about Canada», famous war crimes investigator Steve Rambam told the Los Angeles Times in 1997.

In the late 1940s, the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) was active in asking authorities in Ottawa to closely monitor refugee flows from Eastern Europe. The organization believed that many former Nazi collaborators were entering the country in this way under false pretenses and false names.

These warnings were almost completely ignored. And, by the CJC's conservative estimate, 2,000 war criminals were able to settle in Canada. There, most of them lived - and are living - openly without fear of prosecution.

In 1986, the government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney established the Commission of Inquiry into War Criminals in Canada with the intention of finding out how many Nazi war criminals Canada had allowed to infiltrate the country. In the course of its investigation, the Commission, informally known as the Deschenes Commission, found that about one hundred suspected war criminals from the Axis countries were living in Canada, and another 90 were already dead. Moreover, the Commission found that the federal government had only very limited options to bring them to justice.

The organization's report also stated that there were several thousand former Nazis living in Canada whose involvement in war crimes could not be proven on the basis of the available evidence.

This was the outcome of the investigation into the Galicia Division, a Ukrainian Waffen SS unit whose veteran is Yaroslav Gunko.

While many former Nazis became Canadians by giving themselves false names or deciding to lie about their military past, veterans of the Galicia Division were allowed into the country en masse and openly in 1950 by special permission granted at the cabinet level. The division surrendered to the Western Allies at the end of World War II, and after a brief detention in Britain, its soldiers were allowed to enter Canada on the grounds that they had allegedly joined the SS to fight communism, rather than out of their own pro-Nazi sentiments.

So how did the Gunko invitation scandal end, apart from the resignation of the Speaker of the House of Commons, Anthony Rota? It ended with nothing. The West continues to turn a blind eye to the fact that nationalism, based on the ideology and «deeds» of the SS Galicia, has become the state ideology in Ukraine. 

And what about Gunko himself? After the scandal he went into hiding with his family and said that he would go to Latin America, fearing that he would be extradited to Poland or Russia. It's logical. It was in Latin America where Nazis were hiding, fleeing there by rat trails. 78 years later, history repeats itself. Although Gunko can safely move to Ukraine, people like him are national heroes there now.