A Polish deputy foreign minister, Pawel Jablonski, has raised objections to the Canadian parliament’s decision to honor a Ukrainian man living in Canada who had served in a Nazi military unit during World War Two.
In a statement to PAP (Polish Press Agency) on Monday, Jablonski emphasized the inappropriateness of paying tribute to individuals with connections to Nazi German forces, adding that such actions send the wrong message.
The controversy arose when the speaker of the Canadian House of Commons, Anthony Rota, praised Yaroslav Hunka after a speech delivered by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky before the Canadian Parliament on Friday. Hunka, aged 98, had served in a Nazi unit during World War Two.
During the war, Yaroslav Hunka was a member of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, a unit under the Waffen-SS, which played a role in the persecution and murder of Jews, Poles, and other groups.
Subsequently, Speaker Rota publicly apologized for his tribute to Hunka, acknowledging the controversy.
Jablonski stressed the importance of avoiding such situations and called for responsible conduct in honoring individuals from history. When asked whether the Polish Foreign Ministry would take action, he indicated that the matter primarily falls under the purview of Ukraine and Canada, given that the incident took place during a visit by the Ukrainian president to the Canadian parliament.
Poland’s Ambassador to Canada, Witold Dzielski, voiced strong disapproval of the incident, pointing out that the tribute had been extended to a member of the Waffen SS Galizien, a Ukrainian unit involved in the murder of thousands of Poles and Jews during WWII. He emphasized Poland’s commitment to ensuring that such historical injustices are not overlooked and awaited an apology in response to the incident.