TORONTO – The Canadian Polish Congress and B’nai Brith Canada are jointly calling for the removal of a memorial at Oakville’s St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Cemetery that glorifies Nazi German collaborators.
As has been widely reported, a cenotaph honouring Ukrainian volunteers of the 14th Waffen SS “Galicia” Division stands prominently on the grounds of the cemetery. Created in 1943, this division is responsible for the murders of thousands of Jews, ethnic Poles and other ethnic minorities throughout Eastern Europe. Despite this well-established historical fact, the cenotaph has been portrayed as merely a commemoration to those who fought for Ukrainian independence, in what its defenders call “the First Ukrainian Division of the Ukrainian National Army.”
The monument has been roundly condemned, including by Oakville’s mayor, Rob Burton, Chief of Police Stephen Tanner and Rabbi Stephen Wise of the local Shaarei Beth-El Congregation.
Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer 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 cenotaph is not the only affront to the memory of Canadian veterans and the victims of Nazi atrocities. 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.
“The crimes committed by the Nazi German regime must never be forgotten or downplayed.
“We call for the removal of this monument, and all others like it that glorify Nazis in Canada. Such monuments dishonour the memory of the victims and those who fought against Nazi Germany in World War II.”