Russia Wants the World to React to Canadian Parliament’s Applause for Ex-Nazi Soldier
A recent incident in the Canadian Parliament has sparked international outrage and led to a political controversy. The incident involved an applause for Yaroslav Hunka, a former member of the SS Galician Division, a Nazi military unit accused of war crimes during the Second World War. The applause occurred shortly after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addressed the parliament. The Speaker of the assembly, Anthony Rota, who later resigned, described Hunka as a war hero. The scene was condemned by Jewish groups and criticized by the Kremlin, which found the incident outrageous.
The Figure at the Heart of Controversy
Yaroslav Hunka, now aged 98, served in the SS Galician Division during the Second World War. This division, also known as the Waffen SS Galicia Division or the SS 14th Waffen Division, was a volunteer unit under the command of the Nazis. The decision to allow about 600 members of the division to live in Canada after the Second World War has long been a source of controversy in Canada. Members of the division were accused of killing Polish and Jewish civilians. However, the Nuremberg tribunals found the Waffen SS guilty as an organization of war crimes but not the Galicia division specifically.
Reactions and Apologies
The incident elicited various reactions locally and internationally. Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, termed the episode as ‘clearly unacceptable’, adding that it was deeply embarrassing to the parliament of Canada and by extension to all Canadians. The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, both Canadian Jewish groups, expressed deep concern and disappointment over the incident, stating that an apology is owed to every Holocaust survivor and veteran of the Second World War who fought the Nazis.
The Speaker of the House, Anthony Rota, issued a statement apologising for the incident, expressing regret over his decision to recognize Hunka. Rota also accepted full responsibility for his actions and extended his deepest apologies to Jewish communities in Canada and around the world.
The Kremlin’s Response
The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, questioned the responsibility of the Speaker of the Canadian Parliament, Anthony Rota, who later resigned. Peskov emphasized the need for denunciation of Nazism by the parliament to avoid carrying a ‘stain’ forever. The Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the Canadian liberals, accusing them of flirting with Nazism.
Implications and Lessons
This incident holds significant implications, particularly concerning the understanding and interpretation of history. It highlights the importance of thorough and accurate historical education to prevent such instances of misrecognition. The incident also underscores the need for sensitivity when dealing with matters related to war crimes and atrocities, as they bear a profound impact on numerous lives and communities.
Furthermore, it serves as a reminder of the importance of maintaining higher standards of recognition and honor in the parliament. The incident has shown that recognizing individuals who served in controversial and disputed military units can lead to significant controversy and damage to the reputation of the parliament and the country.
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