By TONY SEED
(July 6, 2021) – On Sunday June 13, 2021, the state funeral of former Waffen SS Galizia Division veteran Orest Vaskul, 94, took place at the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, St. Michael Golden-Domed Monastery, in Kiev.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was represented by soldiers from his personal regiment, who paid the last respects to the one who served alongside Nazi Germany. Defence Minister and former military attaché in Washington, Lieutenant General Andriy Taran, was also represented. The coffin of the former SS was covered with the Ukrainian national flag.
Other participants included Volodymyr Viatrovych, former director of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory (April 2014-2019), a central figure in Kiev’s official whitewashing of history. The centre is considered to serve as a front for the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalist, relativizing the Ukrainian Nazi collaborators’ mass murder of Poles as “the second Polish-Ukrainian war.”
The solemn procession included a Red-Black flag, the flag of the OUN and its military wing, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) that actively participated in the Holocaust and the mass murder of ethnic Poles.
Orest Vaskoul voluntarily enlisted in the SS “Galicia” division, which he joined in 1943. He fought, by choice, as a Ukrainian Nazi for the Third Reich against the Soviet Union. The division fought in Belarus and Yugoslavia – hardly “nationalist” battlefields – before surrendering in Austria to the Anglo-American forces. In April 1945 the Galician division was renamed the First Ukrainian Division of the Ukrainian National Army of the UNC in April 1945 – two weeks before the German surrender.
The Cathedral of St. Michael in the Golden Dom comes under the Primate of the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan Epiphanes (Doumenko).
The event provoked a reaction from the opposition, which asked in writing how the soldiers of the National Guard could be present at the funeral of an SS. Ukrainian media. Jewish leaders expressed their dissatisfaction. Several journalists asked whether, by this gesture, the Ukrainian state recognized Nazism as an acceptable ideology.
On April 28, a parade was held in Kiev marking the 78th anniversary of the formation of the Waffen SS Galizien Division by the Third Reich. Created, financed, trained and armed by the Nazis, the Galician SS was integral to the German military. The plan to establish a Galizian SS division originated with Otto Wächter, the “Governor” of Galicia, who proposed this to Himmler on March 1, 1943 in collaboration with the Ukrainian Central Committee headed by Volodymyr Kubijovyˇc, an enthusiastic proponent of ethnic cleansing, and the Greek Orthodox Church headed by Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky, the major figure in Ukrainian church, cultural and civic affairs who collaborated with the German Nazi occupation of Galicia during World War II and who blessed the project.
Commanded by fanatical Brigadeführer Fritz Freitag, all Ukrainian troops took a “holy oath” to Hitler administered by Rev. Dr. Vasyl Laba, member of General Staff and chaplain of the SS division assigned by Sheptytsky, at the founding ceremony:
“I swear before God this holy oath, that in the battle against Bolshevism, I will give absolute obedience to the commander in chief of the German Armed Forces Adolf Hitler, and as a brave soldier, I will always be prepared to lay down my life.”
After 1945, Laba was one of five members of the 13-member Genera Staff of the SS Galizien who sought refuge in Canada. Laba became the Ukrainian Greek Catholic vicar at the Edmonton eparchy from 1950 and honorary member of the Ukrainian War Veterans Association in Edmonton. Disregarding their collaboration with the Hitlerite regime and leadership of the SS Division, Canadian authorities allowed them to freely settle in Canada with impunity.
Since the February 2014 coup d’état of the government of Ukraine, Canada, member of the NATO bloc, has been providing training to the military and national police forces of Ukraine, including neo-Nazi battalions, members of the newly-formed National Guard.
On August 21, 2019, flanked by three officers from the Canadian training brigade code-named Operation Unifier, then-ambassador to Ukraine Roman Waschuk took part in a grotesque ceremony in the city of Sambir in Western Ukraine, unveiling a monument dedicated to executed members of the OUN and its military wing, the UPA. On June 23, 2021 Waschuk was appointed a member of the Advisory Council of the Canadian Ukrainian Congress, which holds stakeholder status with the Government of Canada. Waschuk was a prominent member of the fascist scouting organization Plast, a nursery for the OUN and which provided many of the volunteers to become officers in the SS division. It was reformed in Canada after 1945. The proud youth trained by Plast in Canada include deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland and Borys Wrzesnewskyj, former Liberal MP for Etobicoke.
In November 2020 the Trudeau Liberal government, which prides itself on its opposition to anti-semitism, once again abstained on a UN resolution condemning the revival of Nazism, the glorification of Nazi criminals, their accomplices, and those who today fuel ethnic strife and xenophobia. In approval of the resolution, 121 countries voted “Yes,” 55 countries abstained, and two countries (the U.S. and Ukraine) voted “No.” Hitherto, the Harper government openly voted with the U.S. and Ukraine.
A video of the funeral is available below:
1. Quoted by Per Anders Rudling, “‘They Defended Ukraine’: The 14. Waffen-Grenadier-Division derSS (Galizische Nr. 1) Revisited,” Journal of Slavic Military Studies, Sept. 2012, p.343
2. “The establishment of the Waffen-SS Galizien on 18 July 1943 saw much jubilation. Kost’ Pankivs’ky joined Governor Wächter and Alfred Bisanz, liaison for Ukrainian questions in the General government, in addressing the local SS leadership, the Ukrainian SS volunteers and enthusiastic young men in the blue uniforms of the nationalist scouting organization Plast, which provided many of the volunteers to become officers in the division. (Vladimi Kubijovyˇc, head of the UCC, was scheduled to address the Waffen-SS volunteers personally, but Kost’ Pankivs’kyi substituted for him for some reason.)”
Per Anders Rudling (2012): ‘They Defended Ukraine’ : The 14. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (Galizische Nr. 1) Revisited, The Journal of Slavic Military Studies, 25:3, 329-368
3. Waschuk authored “Plast – Ukrainian Youth Association of Canada – Toronto Branch” in Ukrainians in Ontario (ed. Lubomyr Luciuk and Iroida Wynnyckyj. Toronto: MHSO, 1988), 170–174. Waschuk explains “Plast defined itself, and still does, as an ‘organization of Ukrainian youth for comprehensive patriotic self-training’.” (p. 170) Plast had branches in Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Hamilton, St. Catherines, Toronto, Oshawa and Montreal.
With files and photos from Jivko Panev of Orthodoxie.com, Voltairenet, and Eduard Dolinsky, Director General of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, on Twitter
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