Toronto (September 24, 2023) – Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) is deeply disturbed by the Canadian Parliament’s recognition of a Ukrainian veteran who served in a Nazi military unit during the Second World War implicated in the mass murder of Jews and others. FSWC is further outraged that parliamentarians in the House of Commons gave a standing ovation to the former soldier on Friday.
Yaroslav Hunka, a 98-year-old immigrant from Ukraine, was introduced by Anthony Rota, Speaker of the House of Commons, as “a Ukrainian Canadian war veteran from the Second World War who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians” and “a Ukrainian hero and a Canadian hero,” ignoring the horrific fact that Hunka served in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, a Nazi military unit whose crimes against humanity during the Holocaust are well-documented.
FSWC issued the following statement:
"The fact that a veteran who served in a Nazi military unit was invited to and given a standing ovation in Parliament is shocking. At a time of rising antisemitism and Holocaust distortion, it is incredibly disturbing to see Canada's Parliament rise to applaud an individual who was a member of a unit in the Waffen-SS, a Nazi military branch responsible for the murder of Jews and others and that was declared a criminal organization during the Nuremberg Trials. There should be no confusion that this unit was responsible for the mass murder of innocent civilians with a level of brutality and malice that is unimaginable.
"An apology is owed to every Holocaust survivor and veteran of the Second World War who fought the Nazis, and an explanation must be provided as to how this individual entered the hallowed halls of Canadian Parliament and received recognition from the Speaker of the House and a standing ovation."