Elchanan Poupko

Canada Must Bring Its Nazis to Justice

Nazi veteran Yaroslav Hunka acknowledges a standing ovation in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Onatario on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. The speaker of Canada’s House of Commons apologized Sunday, Sept. 24, for recognizing Hunka, who fought in a Nazi military unit during World War II. (Screenshot CBC; used in accordance with clause 27a of the copyright law)

It is hard to imagine a national humiliation inflicted on Canada and the West more than bringing the entire Canadian Parliament to applaud a Waffen SS Nazi officer. Yet that is exactly what happened last week when Yaroslav Hunka, 98, a former officer in the infamous 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, was applauded during a speech of Ukrainian president Zelensky in Ottowa. As Moscow is relishing and Canada is reeling from this bruising humiliation, it is time for Canada to bring its Nazis to justice. 

It is not a secret that Canada has had a Nazi problem for decades. My personal encounter with this has been vacationing in a small town in northern Ontario with its gift shop carrying Nazi memorabilia. This episode is not unique, as several other episodes of Nazi items sold in other places in Canada have been reported. In 2020, David Pugliese wrote a detailed account of how more than 2000 Nazis were deceivingly brought to Canada after the war. Another Jewish friend Vacationing in Ontario told me how their neighbors casually bragged about their grandfather being an ex-Luftwaffe combat pilot. This is not just anecdotal information. In the past, Nazi Hunter Steve Rambam has estimated the number of Nazis Canada took in after the war at five thousand. If each of those Nazis has just four grandchildren today, that’s a whole lot of people with unconfronted Nazi heritage in Canada.  

In the specific case of Hunka and the unit he belonged to, The Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada (also known as the Deschênes Commission) concluded in 1986 that. “Charges of war crimes of Galicia Division have never been substantiated,” that is, before details about the Huta Pieniacka massacre of Pols by this Nazi-Ukrainian division have been clarified, or their war crimes in other countries have been clarified. 

The shameless audacity Hunka had to show up in Ottowa and defile the sacred grounds of Canada’s seat of democracy demonstrates how much impunity has become a part of life for many of these Nazis. They have lost any semblance of shame, fear of accountability, or concern for public opinion for their role in the greatest crime in human history. The fact that forty-five thousand brave Canadians had given their lives and died while fighting the cancer of Nazism, and another fifty-five thousand Canadians had been wounded because of the evil efforts Hunka and his Nazi ilk have inflicted on humanity in WWII is another reason to expedite the legal prosecution of any remaining Nazis in Canada and the US. 


September 20th, Two days before Canadian Parliament was defiled by the presence of Yaroslav Hunka, marked the day the late Nazi Hunter Simon Wiesenthal passed away. When the Israeli Mossad asked Simon Wiesenthal to help enlist infamous Nazi Otto Skorzeny in terminating a threat to Israel’s national security, Wiesenthal refused. Why? Because there can never be forgiveness for killing six million Jews, including one and a half innocent children. While in that case, there may have been a legitimate argument for saving lives, there is no excuse in the world for Canada to not bring to justice the Nazi war criminals it is harboring. 

If Canada is serious about amending the profound damage done by having Parliament applaud the shameless and unrepentant Waffen SS Nazi officer Yaroslav Hunka, it can begin with a very simple thing: a police car can arrive in Hunka’s home today and take him in for an investigation. The same should be done to any other member of the infamous 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS residing in Canada. 

For those who do not understand the moral and historical imperative to do this, there is also a huge national security interest in doing so. If you have not seen the champaign tosses and jubilance from the Kremlin over this humiliating episode, perhaps take a look at their press releases. Having a Nazi who helped massac hundreds of Polish civilians and others sheltered in Canada is a liability Canada will pay for in high geopolitical capital. The only reason Hunka and his friends did not take an official part in the killing of one and a half million Ukrainian Jews, including members of my own family in Belarus, was because they were all dead by the time their unit was formed. 

As SS Commander Heinrich Himmler said himself while speaking to Hunka’s division: “Your homeland has become so much more beautiful since you have lost – on our initiative, I must say – those residents who were so often a dirty blemish on Galicia’s good name, namely the Jews … I know that if I ordered you to liquidate the Poles … I would be giving you permission to do what you are eager to do anyway”.


It is time for Canada to begin healing its wounded dignity, starting locally, bringing Hunka and other Nazis to justice immediately. The window of opportunity to do so is narrowing with every day that goes by. This will also achieve the goal of Holocaust education. There is no better Holocaust education Canadian children can receive than seeing old Nazis dragged out of their homes for a televised trial that will highlight their crimes against humanity and bring an end to the impunity with which they have lived their lives. 


About the Author
Rabbi Elchanan Poupko is a New England based eleventh-generation rabbi, teacher, and author. He has written Sacred Days on the Jewish Holidays, Poupko on the Parsha, and hundreds of articles published in five languages. He is the president of EITAN--The American Israeli Jewish Network.
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