UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
Chair of Ukrainian Studies
100 St. George Street Toronto, Ontario M5S3G3
September 25, 2023
“Canada’s Parliament applauds someone who fought for the Nazis.” “Why were such persons not vetted beforehand?”
“The Speaker of Parliament should resign. The Prime Minister should issue a formal apology.”
“Shame and disgrace on Canada.”
Such are the blaring television and social media headlines that have circulated since the now notorious parliament session on September 22, 2023.
A few facts may be in order.
- The Third Reich, popularly known as Nazi Germany, was a major belligerent in World War II.
- The Third Reich had an army (the Wehnnacht). The state was dominated by the Nazi political party. Not all soldiers in the German Army were Nazis, in the same way that not all soldiers in the Canadian Armed Forces are Conservatives or Liberals or adherents of any other party.
- The German Army organized military units comprised of members of the various peoples that it conquered in central and eastern Europe, including Russians and
- The unit comprised primarily of ethnic Ukrainians was known as the Galicia Division of the Waffen SS, created in 1943. The Galicia Division was intended specifically to serve within the German Armed Forces fighting against Soviet armies on the Eastern front. Its first major action came in July 1944, the beginning of the last year of the war on Soviet territory.
- After the war ended in Europe (May 1945), a number of surviving veterans of the Galicia Division found their way to Canada. The Canadian authorities vetted the members of the unit no less than three times, including during the course of Canada’s Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals (1985-1986). The Commission concluded that “charges of war crimes against members of the Galicia Division have never been substantiated, either in 1950 when they were first preferred, or in 1984 when they were renewed, or before this Commission.” (Report, 261)
- There is simply no proof that the Galicia Division engaged in war crimes connected with the Holocaust of Jews or ethnic cleansing directed against Poles.
It is not in the interest of Canada for politicians and the media to distort the
historical past and besmirch the reputation of an individual in order to gain some ostensible advantage in the Canadian political arena.
Paul Robert Magocsi, Professor
Fellow, Royal Society of Canada