Alternative Viewpoint: How the West sheltered Nazi criminals

Russia’s Ambassador to South Africa HE Ilya Rogachev. Picture: Ian Landsberg / Independent Newspapers

Russia’s Ambassador to South Africa HE Ilya Rogachev. Picture: Ian Landsberg / Independent Newspapers

Published Dec 1, 2023


By HE Ilya Rogachev

What happened two months ago in Canada, made headlines for a couple of weeks in a row, yet quickly began to fade from public discussion. In this entry we would like to elaborate on some issues mainstream media rarely talked about and that should not be left out of sight.

On September 22, 2023, Yaroslav Hunka, ethnic Ukrainian, permanently residing in Canada was invited to a special session of the country’s parliament attended by President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. Chair of the House of Commons Anthony Rota introduced Hunka as a veteran “who fought Russians” during World War II and “Ukrainian and Canadian hero”. Those present in the building including the state leaders responded with applause.

An international scandal burst out on the next day. The chair failed to specify that the veteran “fought Russians” in the ranks of the 14th Grenadier Division of the SS commonly known as “Galicia” – a volunteer Nazi military formation composed of Ukrainian collaborators, part of Waffen-SS.

Civil society voiced anger over the standing ovation for Hunka, a person who had sworn allegiance to Hitler. The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies (Canada) pointed out Galicia division in which Hunka had served was responsible for mass murder of civilians “with a level of brutality and malice that is unimaginable”. Jewish NPOs were joined by Russian and Polish officials in their indignation.

The backlash eventually led to Rota’s resignation and an apology from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on behalf of the parliament. Yet the question remains: how could this “debacle” even occur?

First of all, how come a person suspected of war crimes during WW II, who voluntarily joined the ranks of Hitlerites, isn’t serving a life sentence in jail, but lives a quiet and productive life of a respectful Canadian? The country “has a really dark history with Nazis in Canada” as the country’s Immigration Minister Marc Miller put it. Did he mean, perhaps, that the cosy relationship between former Nazis and Canadian authorities are ensured by officials like vice-PM of Canada Christya Freeland, who herself is a granddaughter of another Nazi collaborator and Goebbels associate Mykhailo Khomyak who ran a Nazi newspaper in Nazi-occupied Krakow?

After the defeat of Hitlerites in the Battle of Kursk in 1943, it became clear to many, including in Germany, that it was losing the war (despite a lot of the heaviest fighting ahead). Soviet Union’s enhancing international authority feared the West, and its ruling circles started developing policies to deter their ally. Their key provisions were later formulated by Winston Churchill in his 1946 ‘Fulton speech.’

In the upcoming Cold War, Nazi accomplices were destined to become the West’s instrument against the USSR.

As Nazi invaders were driven beyond Soviet borders, their associates, like the notorious “Galicia” division, fled westwards, too, as they knew there were no chances for them to avoid responsibility for the crimes against Soviet people if captured by the Red Army.

In May 1945, remnants of “Galicia” surrendered to British forces and were interned in Rimini (Italy). They weren’t handed over to the Soviet troops under the pretext of their Polish citizenship (division members originated from Western Ukraine annexed by Poland from Russia in 1921).

Nazi settlement in the UK

The British government then allowed the former Ukrainian SS to settle in the UK.

According to British historian Mark Felton, there were over 8,000 of them. On his YouTube channel the scholar explains why the presence of Ukrainian SS in Britain in considerable numbers went largely unnoticed for decades. The British authorities were uninterested in properly investigating the crimes committed by “Galicia” division because they recruited its former militants as agents to operate in Soviet territory.

Following a short period of detention in the UK former Nazi collaborators were granted entry to Canada and some other countries of Commonwealth. US and UK special services provided them with documents which allowed them to get legal status.

The Nuremberg Tribunal recognised Waffen-SS as a criminal organisation. The ruling stated that “SS had been utilised for the purposes which were criminal <…> involving the persecution and extermination of the Jews, brutalities and killings in concentration camps, excesses in the administration of occupied territories, the administration of the slave labour programme and the mistreatment and murder of prisoners of war.”

The judgment of the Tribunal further reads that “it was impossible to single out any one portion of the SS which had not been involved in these criminal activities”. Thus, all constituents of the SS including “Galicia” division were deemed criminal, which makes their members war criminals.

Nazi settlement in Canada

Yet Canada’s post-war government thought otherwise. Then PM Louis St. Laurent declared that Nazi accomplices would be allowed to enter Canada unless their personal involvement in war crimes was proven. However, no proper investigation was done, and as a result up to 9,000 Nazi criminals settled in Canada alone.

To illustrate, one of those who moved to Canada during that period was Vladimir Katryuk, member of the 118th Schutzmannschaft (punitive) battalion, whose direct involvement in Khatyn massacre in Belorussia was testified by his associates.

According to witnesses, in Khatyn Katryuk herded civilians in a barn, which was then set on fire, and shot people attempting to escape the flames.

Or Helmut Oberlander, a Ukrainian of German descent, who served in a Nazi death squad (part of Einsatzgruppen D) in the occupied Ukraine during World War II and was personally involved in executions of at least 23,000 people – Jews, Romans etc.

Both Katryuk and Oberlender were on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s list of the most wanted Nazi war criminals. And both of them evaded retribution, despite numerous extradition requests by the USSR and Russia, and died in Canada.

The US had its own program to deal with former Nazis. It was applicable to the likes of Werner von Braun, member of the Allgemeine SS and Nazi party, who was secretly moved to the US to become the father of the US space program. Or Otto Skorzeny, Waffen-SS officer who closely collaborated with US special services in the post-war period. Or Reinhard Gehlen, a Nazi intelligence officer who is said to have greatly influenced the very creation of the CIA in 1947. But we won’t talk about former Nazis in the US in this article as this is a separate major topic.

Back to the present

Getting back to our times, could Canadian officials be, as they claim, unaware of Hunka’s Nazi past? Hardly so. Normally, meeting a high-ranking official, especially a head of state, implies a thorough and comprehensive vetting process by a country’s special services.

Interestingly, independent journalist Rejean Venne discovered that Hunka’s family members and ex-chair of the parliament Rota have had numerous chances to cross paths over the years. For instance, one of Hunka’s sons was chief financial officer of ‘Redpath Mining’ corporation which contributed to Rota’s campaigns and Rota provided government funding for recreational facilities operated by Redpath.

Some media have quoted Canadian MPs as saying that bringing Hunka to the parliament wasn’t announced and the speaker arranged this show behind their backs. Well, even if he did, not a single participant left the session after it started.

They all were just standing there and applauding an SS criminal.


More likely, Canadian leadership simply didn’t regard it as something special amid mind-boggling Russophobia they’re obsessed with. Yet, what they had already done to rewrite history of World War II was enough for the standing ovation in honour of the Nazi to be accepted as normality by themselves and small part of the population – but not the entire globe.

Could Zelensky not know who he applauded? In no way. Former militants of the “Galicia” division, along with other Nazi collaborators, are hailed as heroes in the present-day Ukraine. And it’s too bad that today’s black-and-white perception of the situation in Ukraine doesn’t let name the “Jewish President” who he truly is: a traitor of his great-grandfather killed during Holocaust, his hero grandfather who fought Nazis, of his entire people and history of the country he leads.

At the University of Alberta (Edmonton) there’s the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies established with the support of another member of “Galicia” Peter Savaryn. The CIUS, according to Wikipedia, received a number of donations in honour of Ukrainian SS. The endowment bearing Hunka’s name amounting to $30,000 was donated to the CIUS in 2019. After the scandal broke out, the university decided to return the endowment funds to Hunka family.

However, Per Anders Rudling, Swedish expert on Ukrainian nationalism, says the University of Alberta has much larger endowments honouring other figures connected to the division, like the Volodymyr and Daria Kubijovic Memorial Endowment Fund (five times as large).

For those not in the know, Kubijovic was a devotee of Adolf Hitler, an anti-Semite and a proponent of ethnic cleansing. It was Kubijovic who initiated the formation of “Galicia” in 1943. There are great many pictures in public domain showing him in company with the highest leadership of the SS and performing Nazi salute.

Nazi Monuments

As the scandal around Hunka unfolded, people in Canada learnt there were at least two Nazi monuments in the country’s territory: one in Oakville at St.Volodymyr Ukrainian cemetery, the other in Edmonton at St.Michael’s Cemetery, both in honour of “Galicia” division.

Such memorials also exist in the UK. In St.Michael the Archangel Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in the town of Darby (northern England) there are two memorial plaques to the division. Outside the Hallmuir Ukrainian Chapel in Lockerbie (Scotland) is a stone memorial commemorating the SS-unit. In 2022 a grant of £52,777 was allocated for its restoration, the money coming from the South of Scotland Enterprise, a public body of the Scottish Government.

Eventually PM Trudeau of Canada had to apologise – when a public uproar arouse over Parliament’s shameful recognition of a Nazi associate.

Was his remorse sincere? He said he regretted about the “position Zelensky and Ukrainians were put in” by the turmoil. That’s what bothers him; he is worried that people will rightfully ask themselves: what if Kiev regime in reality not as innocent as the Western mainstream media try to sell it?

As the mainstream media keep battologising there’s no Nazism in Ukraine, Kiev propaganda portrays Ukrainians as a superior nation as compared to Russians.

Where do you think those ridiculous myths about “ancient Ukrainians” who allegedly emerged some 140,000 years ago come from? What about the ongoing discussions in Ukraine’s public domain that Russians have “slave genes” and lower mental abilities?

Have you heard statements by Ukraine’s highest political leadership that Donbass is “tumour” of Ukrainian state? What is the reason for the whole campaign to de-humanise Russians in Ukrainian media (unleashed years before the special military operation) accompanied by justification of violence towards the “inferior race”?

Present-day Nazis

What is it if not a form of Nazism? The present-day Nazis in Ukraine inherited ethnical intolerance from their ideological predecessors, and it formed the basis for their collaboration with Hitler during WW II.

Notably, Trudeau offered apologies to the Poles, Roma, LGBTQI+, disabled people, only failing to mention Russians who alongside other peoples of the USSR had suffered most during WW II: over 16 million civilians died by hands of Nazis, the likes of Yaroslav Hunka. There’s only one explanation to that – in Trudeau’s view, with regard to the Russians it is justified, and there’s no need to apologise.

Isn’t it astonishing how truly and heartily the Western elites hate Russians? So deeply that they’re ready to even welcome a Nazi as long as he is the enemy of Russia. There’s absolutely no difference for them if it is the Russian Federation, the Tsardom of Russia, or the former USSR.

Just like they have been trying over and over again to militarily defeat, weaken and destroy this country since early times, today helping kill Russians is again a “smart investment”, according to US President Joe Biden.

What currently happens is a hybrid war against Russia. Apart from arming the Nazi regime in Kiev, the collective West wages an aggressive anti-Russian propaganda campaign via mainstream media and their pet think tanks all over the world, with rewriting of history being one of its cornerstone elements. To further de-humanize Russian people and whitewash the West’s own sins, to confuse the younger generations and erase the historical truth – for instance, that it was Hitler and his accomplices who fought Russians in WW II, or that it was the USA which A-bombed Japan in August 1945, or that it was the West which spawned Nazi ideology and unleashed two world wars.

A graphic illustration of how xenophobia (‘fear of the alien’) towards Russia dominates the Western political mainstream. True, Russians are aliens to them.

Nazis are not.

* Ilya Rogachev is Russia’s ambassador to South Africa.

** The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of IOL or Independent Media.