(RightWing.org) – Video footage and photographs showing President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau enthusiastically applauding a Ukrainian/Canadian veteran in Canada’s House of Commons recently circulated on global media outlets. However, questions quickly arose regarding the possibility that the two leaders had just given a standing ovation to a Nazi. Here’s what happened.
On Friday, September 22, Zelenskyy gave a speech before the Canadian Parliament as part of his North American tour. Shortly after he returned to his seat next to Trudeau, House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota called the assembly’s attention to a 98-year-old World War II veteran in the gallery. He told lawmakers that Yaroslav Hunka was a “war hero” who fought against Russian troops as part of the First Ukrainian Division.
Images showed Canadian lawmakers giving Hunka two standing ovations. Hunka can be seen saluting the chamber. Zelenskyy quickly raised his fist in the air, acknowledging the gesture.
Over the weekend, media outlets exploded with the news that Hunka actually served for the Waffen-SS, the combat arm of Hitler’s Schutzstaffell (SS) organization. Although Rota’s assertion that the elderly Ukrainian/Canadian served with the First Ukrainian Division was correct, the unit was best known as the 14th Waffen-SS Grenadier Division (14. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS [galizische Nr. 1]).
At the time, the head of the SS, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, formed units comprised of conscripts and volunteers to serve alongside the Order Police (Ordnungspolizei) and the land forces arm of the Nazi armed forces (Wehrmacht). After WWII, the Nuremberg tribunals found the Waffen-SS guilty of committing war crimes as an organization. However, it didn’t issue a determination of guilt to Hunka’s specific unit.
On September 22, in the House of Commons, I recognized an individual in the gallery. I regret my decision to do so, and accept full responsibility for my actions. Read my statement here: https://t.co/Hd9chtHFNJ
— Speaker of the HoC (@HoCSpeaker) September 24, 2023
On Sunday, Rota issued a brief press release about the incident. He claimed that no one, including the Ukrainian delegation and his fellow lawmakers, knew he planned to introduce Hunka to the chamber. Rota also extended his “deepest apologies to Jewish communities” at home and abroad.
The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies issued a statement demanding a full apology and explanation “as to how” Hunka received recognition by Rota and a standing ovation.
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