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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Canada's parliament giving a standing ovation to a former SS soldier is an unconscionable disgrace

But not a surprising one.

Zelenskyy, Freeland and Trudeau enthusiastically applaud a former Nazi soldier -- image via Twitter

In case you have not heard yet, Canadian parliamentarians gave a standing ovation on Friday, September 20 to a man who was a former soldier fighting in World War II for the Nazis in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Galician). Seriously.

They did it during the visit to the Canadian parliament of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

As news of this has spread it is causing global outrage and shock and many Canadian Jewish groups are demanding an apology and explanation.

This is shaping up to be an exceptional embarrassment for Trudeau, the Canadian government, Zelenskyy and everyone involved. A ludicrous own goal and black eye. It will undoubtedly hurt the "cause" of those favouring a hawkish position on Ukraine in Canada.

Supporters of Ukraine have labeled the Russian justification that it is fighting fascism in its invasion as a lie and yet the president of Ukraine and every member of the Canadian parliament just gave an ovation to a Ukrainian Nazi. After all the well-established issues the post 2014 coup Ukraine has had with neo-Nazis and fascists in its military, militias and government.

Not a good look.

While this incredibly offensive applauding of an actual former Nazi soldier may seem shocking, in some ways it shouldn't. It is the inevitable outcome of an ongoing ideological campaign in the west and especially in Eastern Europe to rehabilitate wartime collaboration with the Nazis as part of a broader anti-Communist nationalist far right project.

And while this is being led by the far right it has had the willing and essential collaboration of liberals and social democrats.

We saw this when Canada's Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister (at the time) Chrystia Freeland was photographed holding a scarf with overtly fascist overtones at a rally in support of Ukraine in February, 2022.

First, to be clear, there is absolutely zero doubt that the man being applauded, 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka, was a Nazi.

The "1st Ukrainian Division of the Ukrainian National Army" was originally known as the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Galician) until they changed their name at the last minute when surrendering to the Allies in 1945 in large part to avoid being turned over to the Soviets for extensive war crimes..

This says everything you need to know about them, what they represented and who they were. That a member of this unit would receive a standing ovation in the Canadian parliament is an unconscionable disgrace.

As I noted previously in a piece about a monument to this vile formation that was discovered in Oakville, Canada, it is, however, a disgrace that flows from the outrageous, neo-fascist and ahistorical lie -- again, embraced by many liberals and social democrats in the west -- that seeks to equate the Nazis and the Communists.

East European nationalists and rightists are, rightly, deeply embarrassed by the horrific role their predecessors played in fighting on the side of the Nazis during World War II and their participation in the Holocaust and other war crimes. In order to seek to justify, or at least mitigate, the implications of this collaboration they have attempted to rewrite history so as to portray the USSR as equally "evil" and equivalent to the Nazis.

I looked at some of the issues around this before in the piece Secrets and Lies -- Chrystia Freeland's grandfather and collaborating with the Nazis, when Canada's then Liberal foreign minister Freeland was exposed, with ultimately no consequence, for having celebrated her Nazi collaborator grandfather's past.

These "nationalists" supported the Nazis prior to the invasion of the USSR, supported them during it and during the genocides conducted, even against their own people, and supported the Nazis against the Allies.

This is easily demonstrated and takes no effort to verify.

The only reason that so many of these collaborators and war criminals were allowed to come to North America and settle was due to their anti-communism which was useful as the Cold War began. The only reason that these narratives, which are deeply antisemitic and false, are still tolerated and justified is that they are useful for those who seek a new "cold war" against Russia and so as to discredit the anti-fascist history of the Soviet Union.

Millions of Soviet citizens of many national backgrounds, including millions of Ukrainians, gave their lives in the heroic struggle to liberate the USSR, Europe and the world from the barbarity of Nazism, Nazi Germany and its allies. Despite incoherent lies to the contrary, they did so out of a sense of the justice of their cause. The notion that the troops of the Red Army somehow resisted a military machine that conquered France in weeks solely out of fear and "terror" of the "commissars" is obviously false to anyone who understands anything about history and how societies work.

Hitler himself was certain that all they had to do was kick the door in for the allegedly "rotten structure" to crumble. That it did not turn out that way despite Nazi perfidy, initial military superiority and the huge defeats of 1941 says something very different about the USSR, its people and its system than what we are led to believe.

The structure, it turns out, was not rotten. It was stronger than anyone could have imagined and the world should be profoundly grateful that this was true.

The west has long distorted and lied about the lead up to and the nature of the Second World War. It is always conveniently forgotten how the USSR tried to build an anti-Nazi coalition and the attempts, at the same time, of the leaders of France, the UK and other countries to cozy up to Hitler. They ignore also the sympathy that many in these imperialist empires had for the Nazi cause.

What is important, though, is to understand that the purpose of trying to equate the great liberating army, the Red Army, with the Nazis is precisely to justify the collaboration of "nationalists" with invasion and genocide and to justify the lauding of these "nationalists" now in countries like Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and elsewhere. This serves to legitimize the increasingly neo-fascist nature of many of these governments, some of which overtly celebrate Nazi collaborators and which have used the Ukraine War as an excuse to intensify these efforts and to tear down monuments to the Red Army which had people from all of the nations of the USSR in it.

Collaborators with Nazis in Ukraine spent much of their time killing Ukrainians.

And the notion, as the Speaker Anthony Rota who invited Hunka claimed, that he was a "hero" fighting for "independence from the Russians" is utterly, totally false. It is an affront to the memory of countless Ukrainians who died to free Ukraine, the USSR, Eastern Europe and the world from the Nazis.

We can only hope that this incredible embarrassment will open the eyes of liberals and social democrats to the reality that the cartoonish and ignorant portrayal of our ally in the struggle against Nazism is really part of an anti-communist propaganda initiative whose entire purpose is to validate neo-fascism and far right nationalism in the here-and-now.

Anti-communism is always the ideological basis of fascism and is also its "pitch" to undermine the resolve of liberals. This was true in the 1930s and it is true today.

With the rise of far right nationalism across Europe, Eastern Europe, North America and indeed globally, the importance of fighting back against falsifications of history by rightist revisionists has never been greater.

The only positive outcome here is for this fiasco to be the "bridge too far" that will expose the rotten edifice right here in Canada of liberals and social democrats joining with the right in legitimizing fascism.



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