Ovations for WWII Ukrainian Division Member Stir Controversy in Canada


In the midst of the Second World War, a portion of Ukrainian volunteers were gathered under the banner of Nazi Germany to combat the Soviet Union. This armed group was known as the First Ukrainian Division, but it was also called the Waffen-SS Galicia Division and the SS 14th Waffen Division. Fighting took place across Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia and former Yugoslavia.

Critically, the members of this division were implicated in mass killings of Jews, Poles, and Ukrainians during the war, with many committing these acts even before joining the division. According to Ivan Katchanovski, a political science professor from the University of Ottawa, they are seen as collaborators with the Nazis but are not seen as heroes in Ukraine by the current Ukrainian government.

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Fast forward nearly 80 years and the division, which was disbanded in 1945, is causing new controversy. This comes after a 98-year-old former member, Yaroslav Hunka, received two standing ovations in Canada’s House of Commons during a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

From his home in North Bay, Ontario, Hunka now lives as a Canadian citizen. He was invited to the House of Commons by local MP and former Speaker Anthony Rota. However, this invitation sparked an upheaval that led to Rota’s resignation from his prestigious role.

Originally, the division was formed by the Nazis in 1943 with volunteers from Galicia in Western Ukraine. This was a strategic move by Ukrainians nationalists who sought to liberate their country from Soviet rule. Katchanovski has exposed the division’s guilt in about a thousand civilian deaths in Poland and Ukraine, referring to the group’s activities as mass murder with little justification.

Although Hunka was a part of the unit, his role is unclear and allegations of war crimes against the division are not universally confirmed. Katchanovski has revealed blog posts supposedly authored by Hunka, which depict his life in Ukraine during the country’s occupation by Soviet and German forces and his subsequent enrollment in the SS Galicia Division in 1943.

Nazi Germany’s infamous SS paramilitary group directed the division, which was designated as a criminal organization by the International Military Tribunal after the war. Katchanovski pointed out that the SS Galicia Division participated in further acts of violence, including the anti-Nazi uprising in Slovakia and suppressing the anti-Nazi partisan movement in Yugoslavia.

Now, let’s take a break from this dark chapter of history and lighten the mood a bit. We at West Island Blog are well aware that life isn’t all about history lessons, which is why we also keep our readers up-to-date on more leisurely interests. One such interest that is growing in popularity is the world of online casinos.

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