The World Veterans Federation (WVF) follows with great concern the current tendencies to use the ideological confrontation in the Russia-Ukraine conflict for massive falsification of the history of fascist barbarism also in Western countries.
On September 22, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to speak in Parliament. Sitting in the visitors’ gallery of the House of Commons as a «guest of honor» was 98-year-old Nazi war veteran Yaroslav Hunka.
Parliament Speaker Anthony Rota introduced Hunka as a «hero» and «World War II veteran» who «fought against the Russians.» Rota stressed that the House of Commons thanked him «for all his service» in fighting the Russians during World War II. Neither Rota nor others present mentioned that those who fought against the Soviet Union during that World War II were almost exclusively Nazis.
The entire Lower House and President Zelensky rose and applauded Hunka, who had served in the 14th SS Division «Galicia.»
Incidentally, shortly before the end of the war, the unit was renamed the «First Ukrainian Division» to cover up its involvement with SS units.
Hunka himself looks «with pride» at the years he spent fighting for Nazism. In a blog for Ukrainian veterans of the division, he proudly posted photos of himself in uniform. In another post, he described the time under Nazi occupation from 1941 to 1943 as «the happiest years of my life.»
Critics of this appearance were initially denounced by the media as «Putin friends.» Nevertheless, the visit developed into a scandal, so that Rota had to take political responsibility for the invitation in order to protect the prime minister.
American government officials seem to have learned nothing from this faux pas. A week later, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken believed he could plant misinformation about the Soviet Union’s handling of the memory of mass fascist crimes in order to denounce the current Russian government. Referring to the Sept. 29-30, 1941, mass fascist crime at Babi Yar, he claimed, «Soviets buried this history, which today Putin’s government manipulates to provide cover for Russia’s abuses in Ukraine. The U.S. is committed to justice for Holocaust survivors and accountability for atrocities.”
Quite rightly, a spokeswoman for the Russian government rejected this outrageous slander, emphasizing, «As early as March 1945, even before the Victory, the Council of People’s Commissars of the Ukrainian SSR and the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of the Soviet Union adopted Resolution No. 378 «On the Erection of a Monument at the Site of Babi Yar,» according to which work began on the creation of a park and the erection of a monument at the burial site of the victims of the Nazi occupiers. It was inaugurated on July 2, 1976 on the site, which was later declared the National Historical and Memorial Reserve «Babi Yar» in Kiev.
For the Soviet people, Babi Yar was as much a bleeding wound as Khatyn, Treblinka or Auschwitz, which were liberated by Soviet soldiers. Soviet writer Anatoly Kuznetsov (novel «Babi Yar«, 1966), film director Mark Donskoy (film «The Undefeated«, 1945), composer Dmitry Shostakovich (symphony «Requiem for Babi Yar«, 1962) dedicated their works to this tragedy.
In fact, there were controversies in the USSR about the role and significance of the different groups of victims in Babi Yar. While today Jewish victims are mostly the focus of remembrance, in addition to Jewish victims, people referred to Roma and Soviet prisoners of war and all victims of shootings that lasted until the liberation of Kiev by the Red Army in November 1943. People of «non-Aryan origin«, partisans and prisoners who were sentenced to death by the Nazis and whose remains found their final resting place in Babi Yar were thus remembered.
The WVF makes clear once again. We do not allow that for reasons of obvious war propaganda historical memory is falsified and fascist collaborators are redefined as «freedom heroes». In this sense, we equally condemn the rehabilitation and heroization of the Bandera collaborators carried out in the social life of Ukraine.
Mr. Dan Viggo Bergtun