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Canadian Parliament Honors WWII Veteran with Dark Nazi
The Speaker of the House of Commons in Canada has apologized after honoring a Ukrainian veteran of the Second World War who fought in a Nazi military unit.
During a speech on Friday as part of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s visit to the Canadian Parliament, Speaker Anthony Rota recognized 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka as a Ukrainian and Canadian veteran, praising him for his support of “Ukrainian independence in the face of Russian aggressors.”
However, several human rights and Jewish organizations have criticized this recognition, claiming that Hunka served in a Nazi military unit known as the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS.
Rota, addressing the House of Commons on Monday, reiterated his earlier statement, saying, “I have since learned more information that makes me regret recognizing this individual.” He added, “I want to apologize to the House.I really regret that my behavior and remarks have offended individuals.
In his first statement, Rota also expressed his remorse to “the Jewish community in Canada and around the world.” The 14th Waffen Grenadier Division was declared a criminal organization by the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg in 1946, which determined that the Nazi group had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Michael Mostyn, the CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, a Jewish human rights organization, stated in a release that the recognition of Hunka by the Canadian Parliament was “beyond offensive.”
“Hunka, who served in the 14th Waffen SS – a Nazi unit whose members pledged loyalty to Adolf Hitler during the Second World War – came to Canada after his service,” said Mostyn. “He was welcomed by members of Parliament and senators standing to applaud him. We cannot sanitize history… Canadian soldiers fought and died to rid the world of Nazi cruelty.”
In his statement, Mostyn also criticized Ukrainian volunteers who served in the military unit, describing them as “ultranationalist ideologues” who supported “ethnic purity.”
Human rights organizations hope for an apology from the Parliament for their recognition of Hunka.
Insisting that he represents Hunka’s electoral constituency and had no prior knowledge of Hunka’s past or views, Rota has accepted full responsibility for the recognition of Hunka.