For Your Information
War Crimes, Ukrainian Nationalists and
the Canadian State
Lubomyr Luciuk, a professor at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, writes in the Ottawa Citizen on March 9: “I’ve heard it all before. It was fake news then and still is. Allegations about ‘Nazis in Canada’ — the most recent regurgitation targeting Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland — have circulated for decades.
“Understandably, just after the war’s end, Jewish Canadians were alarmed at the prospect of ‘Ukrainian Nazis’ escaping justice by posing as Displaced Persons. In response, the Liberal government initiated high-level inquiries, ensuring no such villains resettled here. Yet claims about ‘thousands of Nazi war criminals hiding in Canada’ resurfaced in the early 1980s, resulting in a Conservative government establishing the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals, headed by Justice Jules Deschênes. Tellingly, its 1987 report rebuked those who had spread ‘increasingly large and grossly exaggerated’ figures about ‘Nazi war criminals.'”
The learned professor goes on to take credit for the fact that not a single person was ever convicted of being a “Nazi” in a Canadian criminal court. In reaction to the formation of the Deschênes “Commission of Inquiry on War Crimes” Luciuk helped create the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (UCCLA) to whitewash the war crimes of Nazi collaborators in the Ukraine. In its own words, it was founded “in 1984 to meet the defamatory accusations that ‘Ukrainian war criminals’ were being harboured in Canada.” Luciuk however never uses the word war criminal which was the prohibited class and the issue then and now.
In making this assertion, Luciuk rejects the conclusion of the United Nations War Crimes Commission (UN WCC) that the Waffen SS was a criminal organization and its members guilty of war crimes. In doing so, he rejects the decision Never Again! of the world’s people following the defeat of fascism and that aggression is the supreme international crime.
The UN WCC, the International Military Tribunal, that presided over the war crimes trials at Nuremberg, expressly declared the Waffen SS, the armed wing of the Nazi Party, to be a criminal organization. Until 1943 the Waffen Schutzstaffel (SS) was comprised only of German units. After its defeat at the Battle of Stalingrad an increasingly desperate Nazi Germany organized collaborators into Waffen SS Divisions in all occupied countries, including two Ukrainian divisions.
The UN WCC, ascribed war criminal status to members of organizations it determined to be criminal organizations. Only those who had not voluntarily joined but had been forcibly conscripted were excluded from criminal status.
In October 1947, the Polish representative on the UN WCC put forward specific charges against the members of the Ukrainian SS Galizien and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). These included the wanton devastation and destruction of property; complicity in deportation; systematic terrorism; putting hostages to death; complicity in mass murder.
The Short Statement of Facts transmitted by the Polish representative on the UN WCC states:
“The above listed persons took part in organizing — according to the instructions issued by the Hitlerite authorities — of UPA (Ukrainska Powstanesa Armia – Ukrainian Insurgent Army) and SS – Schuertzen – Galizien, later called ‘Halyczyn.’ Both were used for deportation of the civilian Polish population, for destruction of whole villages and for murdering their inhabitants.
“A letter dated November 3, 1947 to the Main Commission for the Investigation of War Crimes in Poland states that the investigation had been suspended by the United Nations War Crimes Commission in London until specific information is provided regarding the position, the level of authority, and the time span in office of the following major figures accused of committing crimes against the Polish people in several regions…” Seven individuals were named.
Surviving members of the SS Galizien surrendered to the British and were interned in Rimini, Italy, an area controlled by Polish II Corps forces (part of the British army). Although they had changed their name to First Ukrainian Division of the Ukrainian National Army, their identity as an SS unit was well known. Through the intervention of the Vatican, the SS members were not deported to the Soviet Union as required under the Yalta Agreement. Instead their status was changed from prisoners of war to surrendered enemy personnel. Later their status was again changed, this time to “displaced persons.” In 1947 they were allowed to emigrate to Britain and later to Canada. Their names have never been released, but about 7,100 members of the SS Galizien emigrated to Britain.
In 1950, all surviving members of the Waffen SS Galizien who wished to immigrate to Canada were “cleared” for immigration to Canada, despite the fact that the Waffen SS was a prohibited class and not eligible for immigration at that time.
The Ukrainian Canadian Committee (UCC) was extremely active in pressing the Canadian government to allow members of the SS Galicien to emigrate to Canada, as well as for the admission of leading members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the UPA.
The UCC was directly organized by the government of Mackenzie King following the arrest and incarceration of the leaders of the Ukrainian Labour Farmer Temple Association (ULFTA) and the declaration that the association was illegal. The presses, halls and other property of the ULFTA were handed over to the UCC.
There is indisputable evidence of the war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against the peace committed by the Waffen SS divisions, and the closely-associated and overlapping memberships of the OUN and UPA.
What inquiry if any the Canadian Commission of Inquiry on War Crimes (Deschênes Commission) conducted as to how these forces, who betrayed their own people and were responsible for countless civil deaths and the deaths of anti-fascist partisans, had been “cleared” of war criminal status is unknown. The government refused to follow the Commission’s recommendations and did not release the 560 page report of the Director of Research, Alti Rodal. The New York Timesreported that the report concluded that the U.S. had used Canada as a “dumping ground” for Nazis no longer considered useful intelligence assets. A heavily redacted version supported the conclusion that members of the Galizien Division had participated in war crimes.
There has never been an official acknowledgement that Canada acted in contempt of its own laws and the will of the Canadian people who had sacrificed so much to defeat fascism. The role of individuals and organizations such as the UCC in lobbying for admission of war criminals and Nazi collaborators has not been officially investigated either.
Anglo-American Imperialist Refusal to Prosecute War Criminals
As the 1985 Deschênes Commission reported, war crimes trials were shut down by the British and Americans as an integral part of Cold War policy. The Deschênes Report quoted a 1948 memo from the British government explaining that it would no longer prosecute war criminals on the basis of the Cold War logic that “it was now necessary to dispose of the past as soon as possible.”
The Parliamentary Summary regarding the Deschênes Commission states: “Faced with the reality of a new and dangerous enemy, the western powers became reluctant to pursue the remnants of the old. Their limited security resources were re-deployed to uncover suspected Soviet agents and Communists, rather than to identify and track down Nazi war criminals. In Canadian immigration policy, which was rapidly liberalized after the war, the restrictions against the entry of ex-enemy aliens were systematically relaxed.”
In this way world reaction, led by U.S. imperialism, declared its refusal to accept the verdict of the world’s people that a new definition of democracy had come into being which did not permit the existence of fascism. It was a negation of the demand for new arrangements on the international scale to establish that aggression was the supreme international crime and to bring to justice those guilty of war crimes, crimes against the peace and crimes against humanity.
Even the justification about not pursuing “remnants of the old” is disinformation. U.S. imperialism in particular was actively pursuing and recruiting the “remnants of the old” — that is, leading Nazis, collaborators from the countries occupied by the Nazis and war criminals. But it was not to bring them to justice; it was to secretly arrange their escape and safe passage to the U.S. and to incorporate them into the state apparatus, especially the military and intelligence services.
From the time that the tide turned with the defeat of Germany at Stalingrad, the hopes of the imperialist powers that Nazi Germany would crush the Soviet Union and its nation-building project were dashed. The Cold War signalled not the emergence of a “new and dangerous enemy” but the same agenda to smash the new which had arisen with the Great October Revolution. U.S. imperialism now assumed the mantle of Nazi Germany, incorporating top Nazi scientists, military intelligence and others into its war machine, with the aim of accomplishing what Nazi Germany had been unable to do.
Today the Cold War is over, but the danger of a new world war remains and grows more serious with each passing day. The campaign of disinformation about the past is directly related to the warmongering of the present. It is a crime against the memory of all those Canadians who sacrificed to defeat fascism. It is a grave crime against the millions of Ukrainians who fought to defeat the Nazi scourge and who as a nation suffered the loss of millions of lives.
1. Judgement of the International Military Tribunal, here.
2. “Short Statement of Facts, United Nations War Crimes Commission charges against German war criminals of Ukrainian origin registered number: 6697/P/U/1124, case number 1124 received October 23, 1947,” from Genocide and Rescue in Wolyn: Recollections of the Ukrainian Nationalist Ethnic Cleansing Campaign Against the Poles During World War II, Tadeusz Piotrowski editor, McFarland & Company (2000)
3. Tottle, Douglas, Famine, Fraud and Fascism, The Ukrainian Genocide Myth from Hitler to Harvard, Progress Books, Toronto, 1987; Daniel Foggo, the Telegraph, 22 June 2003.
4. New York Times, August 9, 1987; Per Anders Rudling, “The Honor They So Clearly Deserve:’ Legitimizing the Waffen-SS Galizien,” The Journal of Slavic Military Studies, Volume 26, 2013.
5. Serbyn, Roman, “Alleged War Criminals, the Canadian Media and the Ukrainian Community,” http://www.ukemonde.com (provides a sanitized history of the Galizien Division).
6. Kevin C. Ruffer, “Cold War Allies: The Origins of CIA’s Relationship with Ukrainian Nationalists,” Studies in Intelligence, 1998, (contains declassified CIA documents); Simpson, Christopher, Blowback, America’s Recruitment of Nazis and Its Effects on the Cold War, New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1988.