July 28, 2020 – B’nai Brith Canada and the Canadian Polish Congress are jointly calling for the removal of a memorial at Oakville’s St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Cemetery that glorifies Nazi collaborators.
As the CJR and other media have reported, a cenotaph honouring Ukrainian volunteers of the 14th Waffen SS “Galicia” Division stands prominently on the grounds of the cemetery.
Created in 1943, the division was “responsible for the murders of thousands of Jews, ethnic Poles and other ethnic minorities throughout Eastern Europe,” the two organizations said in twin press statements issued July 27.
However, the cenotaph has been portrayed as a commemoration to those who fought for Ukrainian independence, in what its defenders call “the First Ukrainian Division of the Ukrainian National Army.”
The cenotaph was vandalized earlier this month with the painted words, “Nazi war monument.” Police at first said they would treat the incident as a hate crime, and following a storm of protest, backtracked to say it would be treated as a case of vandalism.
The monument has been condemned by Oakville’s mayor, Rob Burton, Halton Regional Police Chief Stephen Tanner, and Rabbi Stephen Wise of the local Shaarei Beth-El Congregation.
Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, and John Tomczak, president of the Canadian Polish Congress, issued the following joint statement:
“The legacy of the Nazi Germans and their collaborators is unambiguous. They perpetrated the most depraved human evil ever known, and that fact should never be whitewashed or forgotten. The idea that there are officials in this country who could tolerate any other interpretation of these events is extremely disturbing to most Canadians.
“Nazi Germans and their collaborators mercilessly ripped millions of people out of their loved ones’ hands and slaughtered them like cattle – for the sole crime of having a different ethnicity, religion, level of physical ability, sexual orientation or political viewpoint. Countless brave and heroic Canadians gave their lives to stop this evil. It is unfathomable that Nazi glorification be allowed to continue in this country, or that these facts not be understood,” the joint statement said.
The Oakville cenotaph, the two organizations went on, is not the only problematic one in Canada.
In the mid-1970s, a bust of Roman Shukhevych, a Nazi collaborator in Ukraine who oversaw mass atrocities against Jews, ethnic Poles, Belarussians and others, was erected at the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex in Edmonton, they noted.
They called for all monuments that glorify Nazis in Canada to be removed. “Such monuments dishonour the memory of the victims and those who fought against Nazi Germany in World War II.”