On September 22, after Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the Canadian Parliament, Speaker Anthony Rota praised Yaroslav Hunka, 98, “who fought [for] the Ukrainian independence against the Russians and continues to support the troops today.” The Speaker, a member of the Liberal Party, was a big fan.
“I’m proud to say that he [Hunka] is from North Bay and from my riding of Nipissing-Timiskaming” and according to Rota, Hunka “is a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero, and we thank him for all his service.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and New Democratic Party (NDP) boss Jagmeet Singh joined Rota and their respective parties in honoring Hunka with two standing ovations. As Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and other Jewish groups pointed, Yaroslav Hunka was a strange sort of hero.
Hunka served under Nazi command with the Waffen-SS Galicia Division, a voluntary unit also known as the SS 14th Waffen Division or the First Ukrainian Division. During World War II, Hunka’s unit committed atrocities against the Polish resistance and in the village of Huta Pieniacka massacred adults and children alike. The International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg declared Hunka’s unit a criminal organization.
Canadians had a right to wonder what this Nazi was doing in Canada and how his murderous past remained hidden for so long. As the people might recall, key historical issues are in play.
On August 23, 1939, Stalin and Hitler signed their Pact and the next month both totalitarian powers invaded Poland, effectively starting World War II. Canada was involved from the start and gained great experience fighting Nazis. The able bodied who declined to fight were known as “zombies,” and future Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was one of them.
During Canada’s Covid crackdown, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused Conservative politicians who supported the protesting truckers of standing with “people who wave swastikas.” Trudeau fils was not alone.
Liberal member of Parliament Ya’ara Saks claimed that the truckers’ “honk honk” meant “heil Hitler.” Saks, who serves as “Mental Health and Addictions Minister,” was among those cheering Hunka. His case recalls Kurt Waldheim, fourth Secretary General of the United Nations.
Waldheim had been a member of the Nationalsozialistiche Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, the National Socialist German Workers Party. During World War II, Waldheim served in the Sturmabteilung or SA, also known as Sturmtruppen, storm troopers, or Braunhemden, brownshirts, for the color of their uniform.
Waldheim also served in an intelligence unit known for transport of civilians to slave labor camps, deportation of Jews to death camps, reprisal execution of hostages, and massacres of partisans and civilians in the Balkans.
This record escaped revelation when Waldheim was tapped to head the United Nations, where he served from 1972-1981. The truth only emerged in the mid-1980s, when the Nazi veteran ran for president of Austria. The U.S. Department of Justice put Waldheim’s name on a watchlist, which barred him from entering the United States.
Comics quipped that the former UN boss suffered from “Waldheimer’s Disease,” which made him forget he was a Nazi. A Waldheimer’s Variant is now spreading on both sides of the border where, as Saul Bellow said, the need for illusion is deep.
The Variant fosters ignorance of National Socialism, the most-documented totalitarian and anti-Semitic movement of modern times. Those stricken with the Variant are unable to conduct research on Nazi war criminals, and can even wind up applauding them in public. The Waldheimer variant also causes people to brand their political opponents as Nazis, but there’s more to it.
The children, grandchildren, friends and relatives of Canadian WWII veterans joined in the “freedom convoy” to protest Trudeau’s Covid lockdowns that harmed their ability to make a living. Trudeau, Saks et al called them Nazis. That is about as bad as it gets – except for applauding an actual Nazi, as Speaker Rota said, as a “Canadian hero.”
If you want a Canadian hero, find a member of Canada’s Eighth Reconnaissance Regiment, known for being “first in, last out.” On April 12, 1945, the regiment’s C company liberated the Westerbork transit camp, which had sent thousands of Dutch Jews to Auschwitz and Sobibor. The 876 who remained were glad to see the Canadians.
If you want a Canadian hero, find a member of the First Special Services Force (FSSF). In their first combat assignment, these Canadian and American commandos scaled Monte la Difensa at night, in the rain. In fierce fighting, the FSSF took down a heavily armed Nazi force.
The FSSF also defeated Nazi forces at Monte Majo, Hill 720, Monte Rementana, Radicosa, the Anzio beachhead, Artena, Colleferro and Rome. They cleared the way for the Allies to move north through Italy. As of last year, four Canadian and 17 American FSSF members remained.
Instead of honoring authentic Canadian heroes, Trudeau’s Liberal-NDP axis cheers Nazi veteran Yaroslav Hunka. Rota has apologized and stepped down, but the rot goes right to the top.
As Edward Gibbon noted, hereditary rule is always the most risible, and apart from the family connection, Canadians would be hard pressed to find any merit in Justin Trudeau. The former blackface performer, an admirer of China’s “basic dictatorship,” should resign and call an election. To paraphrase French Resistance fighter Charles de Gaulle, vive le Canada libre!