Ukrainian Jaroslav Hunka: what happened and why did a political scandal erupt in Canada?
A political scandal has erupted in Canada over the honoring of a Ukrainian who served in a German unit during World War II. Find out who Jaroslav Hunka is and why Anthony Rota was forced to apologize for his words
On September 22, during a meeting of the Canadian Parliament on the occasion of Volodymyr Zelenskyy's visit, the Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada, Anthony Rota, congratulated and honored 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka. The speaker said that Hunka "was a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero, and we thank him for all his service." The veteran was greeted with loud applause. This gesture eventually led to a political scandal in Canada.
Who is Jarosław Hunka and why Rota was eventually forced to apologize for his words are described in the article below.
Yaroslav Hunka and SS Galicia: why did a Ukrainian cause a scandal in Canada?
During World War II, Ukrainian Jaroslav Hunka served in the 14th Waffen-SS Grenadier Division, also known as the Galicia Division. And despite the fact that the military unit was not part of the Allgemeine SS, which took part in the Holocaust and other punitive operations in the occupied territories, the Canadian Jewish organization CIJA responded to Roth's words and expressed "deep concern" about the veteran's greeting.
The Galicia Division was part of the so-called Waffen SS and was assigned to fight alongside the Wehrmacht at the front. When recruiting Galicians (Ukrainians) to join the division, German propagandists used the rhetoric of "a joint struggle against the most dangerous enemy of the Ukrainian nation, the Bolsheviks, and the fight for Ukraine together with the Germans."
In 1944, the division was completely defeated by the Soviet Red Army in the battle of Brody. Out of 11,000 Ukrainians, 8,000 were killed in action, and about 3,000 fighters escaped from the encirclement, of whom about 1,500 retreated under German command and then returned to the camps. This was the first and last battle of Galicia. Most of the survivors later joined the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.
In 1945, after being re-equipped, the division took part in battles in Slovakia, Slovenia, and Austria for some time, but after the German surrender, Galicia surrendered to the Anglo-American forces and was interned. In 1948, after the liberation, the division members were received in Canada, the United States, Britain, and other countries.
According to the results of the study of archival materials and interrogation of witnesses, none of the members of the Galicia Division has been found guilty of committing war crimes during World War II, but russian propagandists still use information about the division to spread fakes about "nazi Ukraine".
Therefore, there is no official evidence of Jarosław Hunka's involvement in the murders of Polish and Jewish civilians, of which he was accused by CIJA.
Anthony Roth's apology
After the scandal broke out in Canada, Anthony Rota said that it was solely his initiative, and no one present knew about his intentions.
"Later I received additional information, and now I regret my decision. I especially want to apologize to the Jewish communities in Canada and around the world," he added.
In response to the speaker's statement, the CIJA noted that it appreciated the apology, but at the same time emphasized that "proper vetting is necessary to ensure that such an unacceptable incident does not happen again."
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