While Parliament seeks to wash its hands of the spectacle of its two standing ovations for a Nazi collaborator whose Waffen SS Division murdered hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians and Poles from 1943 to 1945, the truth is that thousands of fascist troops were brought to live in Canada, the US, and the UK as part of the Cold War. In Canada, welcoming Nazis, war criminals, and collaborators was Canadian government policy.
More than 2,000 Nazi war criminals and collaborators were brought into Canada, given jobs and citizenship for two purposes: first, to turn the public against the Soviet Union (and socialism) which had been a war time ally supported by millions of Canadians and working people around the world. The Cold War propagandists worked hard to revise history and to equate socialism and fascism as one and the same enemy. As a result, younger generations are confused about Canada’s role in World War II, with significant numbers believing that Canada fought against Russia, though 27 million Soviets died fighting Hitler fascism. Further, 4.5 million Ukrainians fought Hitler fascism in the Soviet Red army, and 250,000 more fought in the resistance movement – many times the 80,000 Nazi collaborators and volunteers in the Waffen SS Division.
These Nazi collaborators and volunteers in the Waffen SS were not fighting for Ukrainian independence, as they claim today, but were members of Ukrainian national death squads who were already killing Ukrainian, Polish, and Russian Jews and Communists when the Nazis invaded Ukraine. They were responsible for the death of 70,000 to 100,000 Poles in the 1943 Volyn massacre. And thousands more after that.
By salting these Nazis in communities across Canada, allowing formation of Nazi veterans’ organizations and facilitating their integration into public life, Canadian governments made them virtually immune from prosecution. Yaroslav Hunka, a member of the Waffen SS and a mass murderer who received a standing ovation in Parliament is an example, and so is Michael Chomiak – a Nazi collaborator whose war crimes his grand-daughter Chrystia Freeland has worked hard to whitewash.
In fact successive Liberal and Conservative governments dawdled and delayed action to extradite known Nazi collaborators and war criminals to trial in international war crimes courts, a fact that has been critically noted by these courts and by the Jewish community and others in Canada and internationally.
These war criminals were virtually immune from prosecution for their crimes against humanity from the day they arrived in Canada.
When the Allied leaders met in Yalta in February 1945, they agreed to prosecute all war criminals and collaborators in all of the occupied sectors. As we now know, the West welcomed Nazis and fascists to their countries, especially scientists and military experts. By comparison, the Soviets put all of the war criminals and collaborators in the sectors they occupied on trial.
The second reason Liberal and Tory governments gave war criminals and collaborators a free pass was to use them to attack and weaken the trade union movement in Canada and to drive Communist leaders, members, and militants out of the trade unions. In this, the Big Business parties had the full support and cooperation of the CCF. Class peace, an end to workers’ militant strikes and struggles, and a docile labour movement that took orders from the AFL-CIO was the goal.
On arrival in Canada, these fascists were sent to working class cities and towns to work in industrial plants and factories where unions were strong, and where maximum damage could be inflicted. They were union busters, strike-breakers, spies, agents and provocateurs who were welcomed and protected by their employers.
They could live their lives without fear of prosecution in Canada, provided they actively attacked socialism, the Communist Party, the Soviet Union, the trade union movement, and workers’ rights and struggles.
This is the real story of Canada’s embrace of 2,000 Nazi war criminals and Nazi collaborators. It is shocking and it must end now with government action to:
- tear down the monuments in Edmonton and Oakville and wherever else they have been erected, to the Waffen SS, and Nazi collaborators including Stepan Bandera
- extradite Yaroslav Hunka to Poland for trial for war crimes
- extradite all remaining Nazi war criminals and collaborators to the International Criminal Court for trial
- apologize to the Jewish community and all victims of Nazi and fascist atrocities
- redress government action, including seizure of property and incarceration in concentration camps of anti-fascist organizations and individuals, with public apologies and compensation
- enforce anti-hate laws and recognize in law hate groups and fascist groups as criminal organizations
- end Canada’s participation and call for an immediate ceasefire, withdrawal of all foreign troops, and negotiations leading to a peaceful political solution to the current war in Ukraine
Finally, it’s not believable that Speaker Rota did not know who he was inviting, or that Parliamentarians did not know that they were applauding a member of the Waffen SS and a war criminal. Fighting against the Russians in 1943 meant fighting with the Nazis. It’s not complicated. A quick google search of Yaroslav Hunka reveals everything. The Deputy Prime Minister certainly knew, when she stood and applauded. And so did President Zelensky who condemned a march in honour of the Waffen SS in Kiev, Ukraine in 2021. And others knew too, and either supported Hunka and his war crimes, or opted to feign ignorance. This horrendous event clearly exposes the links between anti-communism, fascism, and imperialism.
Should a government and opposition parties that applaud a Nazi war criminal be trusted with determining Canada’s foreign and defence policy today? The answer is an unequivocal NO. Canada is overdue for a Parliament with a democratic and progressive people’s government that clearly opposes reaction and fascism in Canada and globally.
Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada