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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

There is no place, ever, for monuments to Nazi collaborators

It really should come as no surprise, even if they have since "apologized", that the Halton Regional Police originally sought to investigate the vandalizing of a monument to Ukrainian Nazi collaborators as a "hate crime". It is actually more of a surprise that they have backed away from this position.

We could waste a lot of time "proving" that the monument in St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Cemetery in Oakville is a monument to Nazis, but there is no need. 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.

This says everything you need to know about them, what they represented and who they were. That there is a monument to them in Canada is a disgrace. The inscription on it reads "To Those Who Died For the Freedom of Ukraine", which is literally the opposite of the truth.

But it is a disgrace that flows from the outrageous, neo-fascist and ahistorical lie, 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 outrageously 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.

These issues deserve a whole other piece looking at how the right and the west has distorted and lied about the lead up to and the nature of the Second World War. How they always conveniently forget the attempts of the USSR 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.

So too should we write about what these nationalists and their military wings did and the horrific crimes they committed.

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.

The inanity of Canadian police initially investigating the vandalizing of a monument to Nazi collaborators as a "hate crime" seems to have finally woken some up to the basic inanity of celebrating or commemorating people who fought for Hitler.

We can only hope that it will also 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.

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.



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