(September 17, 2019 / JNS) Canadian officials are receiving backlash from the Jewish community for honoring members of Ukrainian organizations that helped the Nazis in World War II.
A new monument in Sambir, Ukraine, honors members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA)—two groups that supported the Nazis, and helped round up and execute Jews after the Germans invaded Ukraine, according to historians. In 1943, the UPA started massacring Polish civilians, killing an estimated 100,000 people.
The statue is situated at the edge of a cemetery where more than 1,200 Jews, murdered by the Nazis and Ukrainian collaborators, are buried.
Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine Roman Waschuk, speaking at the monument’s unveiling on Aug. 21, said the statue is a memorial to 17 OUN members who Ukrainians say were killed by the Nazis. Military personnel from the Canadian Forces also attended the event at the request of the Canadian embassy in Ukraine.
The event was condemned by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Director general of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee Eduard Dolinsky called the monument a desecration and a “double murder of the Jewish victims.”
“It’s like putting a monument to killers on the top of the graves of their victims,” he explained. “All Jews of Sambir were murdered by Nazis and their collaborators from OUN and UPA.”
The Canadian government department Global Affairs Canada said that the Sambir event and Washchuk’s attendance were aimed at helping efforts by Canada’s Jewish community and Ukraine build public support for creating a memorial for the town’s Jewish cemetery.
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