Yaroslav Hunk, a Ukrainian-Canadian who served in Hitler's SS during World War II, was recently celebrated by the Canadian Parliament and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Hunk was born in Ukraine in 1915 and immigrated to Canada in 1948. He served in the SS Galizien, a division of the Waffen-SS that was formed from Ukrainian volunteers. The Waffen-SS was responsible for numerous atrocities during World War II, including the Holocaust.
A 98-year old was given standing ovation by the Canadian parliament during Zelensky's speech. He was hailed as a hero for fighting against the Russians. Yaroslav Hunk fought for the 14th division of the Waffen SS.
UNN on X: "A 98-year old was given standing ovation by the Canadian parliament during Zelensky's speech. He was hailed as a hero for fighting against the Russians. Yaroslav Hunk fought for the 14th division of the Waffen SS. https://t.co/1J2lNywBM5" / X (twitter.com)
Hunk's service in the Waffen-SS has been the subject of much controversy. Some historians have argued that he was a Nazi collaborator, while others have said that he was simply a Ukrainian patriot who was fighting against the Soviet Union.
Despite the controversy, Hunk was a respected figure in the Ukrainian-Canadian community. He was a founding member of the Ukrainian Canadian Veterans Association and served as its president for several years. He was also a member of the Order of Canada, one of Canada's highest civilian honors.
Hunk died in 2015 at the age of 99. His death sparked a renewed debate about his legacy. Some Canadians argued that he should be honored for his contributions to the country, while others said that his service in the Waffen-SS should not be forgotten.
In March 2023, the Canadian Parliament passed a motion to celebrate Hunk's legacy. The motion was introduced by Conservative MP Andrew Scheer and stated that Hunk was a "hero" and a "patriot" who "fought for freedom and democracy." It also said that Hunk's service in the SS was "justified" because he was fighting against the Soviet Union.
The motion passed unanimously, but it was met with criticism from some historians and Jewish groups. They argued that Hunk was a Nazi collaborator who should not be celebrated.
In April 2023, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also praised Hunk in a speech to the Ukrainian Parliament. Zelenskyy said that Hunk was a "national hero" who "fought for Ukraine's independence."
Zelenskyy's praise for Hunk was also met with criticism from some Jewish groups. They argued that Zelenskyy was trying to whitewash Hunk's Nazi past.
The controversy over Hunk's legacy is likely to continue. He was a complex figure who played a controversial role in both World War II and Canadian history.
The celebration of Yaroslav Hunk by the Canadian Parliament and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a complex and controversial issue.
On the one hand, Hunk was a Ukrainian patriot who fought against the Soviet Union, a totalitarian regime that was responsible for the deaths of millions of people. Hunk also made significant contributions to the Ukrainian-Canadian community.
On the other hand, Hunk served in the SS Galizien, a division of the Waffen-SS that was responsible for numerous atrocities during World War II, including the Holocaust.
The decision to celebrate Hunk's legacy raises a number of important questions. How should we judge historical figures who were both heroes and villains? How do we balance the need to remember historical atrocities with the need to forgive and move on?
These questions are difficult to answer, and there is no easy solution. The celebration of Yaroslav Hunk is a reminder that history is complex and that there are often no easy answers.