Poland considers bid to extradite Ukrainian Nazi veteran Yaroslav Hunka, 98, after his standing ovation in Canadian parliament and is probing whether he is wanted for crimes against Polish Jews
- Yaroslav Hunka was a member of the 14th Waffen-SS ‘Galacia’ Division
- The 98-year-old was a volunteer member of the Nazi brigade during WWII
- Poland is now seeking to extradite the Nazi from Canada, where he has settled
A Polish minister has said the government is considering the extradition of Ukrainian Nazi veteran Yaroslav Hunka from Canada after the north American country’s parliament gave him a standing ovation last week.
Poland’s education minister Przemysław Czarnek said on Tuesday that he has made a request to extradite the 98-year-old accused Nazi.
He said in a post on X, formerly Twitter: ‘In view of the scandalous events in the Canadian Parliament, which involved honouring a member of the criminal Nazi SS Galizien formation in the presence of President Zelensky, I have taken steps towards the possible extradition of this man to Poland.’
The 46-year-old politician said in a statement that he had urged the country’s president to investigate whether Hunka is wanted for crimes against Poland and Polish Jews.
Poland’s ambassador to Canada, Witold Dzielski, said the move was still in a preliminary stage.
Ukrainian Nazi veteran Yaroslav Hunka (pictured) was given a standing ovation by Canadian parliamentarians
Hunka’s involvement in the 14th Waffen-SS ‘Galacia’ Division resurfaced after he was invited to Canada’s House of Commons
Canada faced international backlash after dozens of its parliamentarians, including prime minister Justin Trudeau, were seen applauding the Nazi veteran, who served in 14th Waffen-SS ‘Galacia’ Division, a voluntary unit made up mostly of ethnic Ukrainians under Nazi command.
Members of the division were accused of killing Polish and Jewish civilians during World War II.
The Nuremberg tribunals found the Waffen-SS guilty as an organisation of war crimes but not the Galicia division.
In recently unearthed blog posts dated as recently as 2011, Hunka describes 1941 to 1943 as the happiest years of his life and compares the veterans of his unit, who were scattered across the world, to Jews.
He also admits to having a ‘profitable and affluent life in Canada’ after he left Ukraine.
Hunka was invited by House of Commons speaker Anthony Rota to attend parliament as a guest while Ukraine’s president
The Nazi veteran was hailed a ‘Ukrainian hero’ and a ‘Canadian hero’
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologised on Wednesday for the embarrassing incident.
‘This was a mistake that has deeply embarrassed Parliament and Canada,’ Trudeau told reporters, saying he would shortly stand up in the House of Commons to formally offer Parliament’s ‘unreserved apologies’ for what happened.
House of Commons speaker Anthony Rota resigned after the incident on September 22, in which he called the Nazi a ‘Ukrainian hero’ and a ‘Canadian hero’.
The Liberal party said in a statement: ‘In my remarks following the address of the president of Ukraine, I recognised an individual in the gallery.
‘I have subsequently become aware of more information which causes me to regret my decision to do so.’
The praise for Hunka came after Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky (pictured left) was invited to speak at the House of Commons
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (pictured, right) was seen applauding the Nazi veteran
Mr Rota said that ‘no one, including fellow parliamentarians and the Ukraine delegation, was aware of my intention or of my remarks before I delivered them.
‘This initiative was entirely my own, the individual in question being from my riding [district] and having been brought to my attention.’
‘I particularly want to extend my deepest apologies to Jewish communities in Canada and around the world. I accept full responsibility for my actions,’ the speaker added.
Hunka isn’t the only Nazi veteran who was allowed to live in Canada after World War II.
Roughly 600 members of Hunka’s division were allowed to live in the country, a decision that has long been a source of controversy in Canada.
It was the subject of a government inquiry in the 1980s into whether Canada had become a haven for war criminals.
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