The European edition of Politico, which is wholly owned by Germany’s Axel Springer conglomerate, published an op-ed by Keir Giles on the Yaroslav Hunka affair. Giles, a British Russia expert, claims that SS-Galizien was cleared of all crimes in a Canadian investigation (but not the Nuremberg trials) and that Hunka was forced to make a difficult decision because of the threat the Soviets presented to the Ukrainians. He dismisses the complaints of Jewish groups like the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, even though it is Jews who were the Nazis’ primary victims. Every acknowledgement of Ukrainian nationalists’ complicity with the Nazi regime is Russian propaganda and no more.
If I didn’t know it was from Politico and not Euromaidan Press or Ukrainska Pravda, I’d have thought Giles’s essay was Ukrainian propaganda.
The Nuremberg Trials declared all SS divisions criminal organisations with one exception: the Equestrian SS [second link is in Russian]. This means that SS-Galizien was not cleared at Nuremberg. In an article (rehosted by the author on academia.edu—the actual site is paywalled and unavailable on Sci-Hub) for the Journal of Slavic Military Studies, the historian Per Anders Rudling makes clear that the the volunteer members of SS-Galizien were not mere dupes or heroic Ukrainian freedom fighters. Members of the division had to swear oaths to Hitler, and they were educated in Nazi ideology. SS-Galizien committed multiple war crimes against Poles and civilians. Ultranationalists affiliated with the Ukrainian government—especially Volodymyr Viatrovych, the former head of Ukraine’s Institute for National Remembrance—have attempted for years to play down the atrocities that fascist and Nazi-affiliated Ukrainian nationalists have committed.
I don’t get why some of Ukraine’s supporters have to bend over backwards to defend its worst elements. By doing so, it simply hands the Russians more material for their propaganda.