The president of the Ukrainian National Federation of Canada is defending a Second World War veteran of a Nazi unit who was recently lauded as a hero in Canada's Parliament.
Jurij Klufas has not met 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka but says the treatment the veteran is getting is unfair.
He says Hunka was a soldier who understood he was fighting for Ukraine — not Germany — and that countries, including Canada, have cleared his division of war crimes.
Hunka received a standing ovation in the House of Commons on Sept. 22, leading to international criticism after it was revealed he had fought with a mostly volunteer unit created by the Nazis to help fight the Soviet Union.
Ivan Katchanovski, a Ukrainian-Canadian political science professor at the University of Ottawa, says the actions of Hunka's Waffen-SS Galicia Division have been whitewashed in Canada.
He says supporters have tried to present the division as a patriotic Ukrainian force despite the fact it collaborated with Nazis and was involved in a variety of atrocities, including the killings of Jews, Ukrainians and Poles.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2023.
The Canadian Press