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When an individual suspected of taking part in the Second World War murder of Jews in western Ukraine applied for admission to Canada in 1951, immigration officials did not follow up with potential witnesses who might have provided crucial details.

In another case, a Slovak leader hoping to unite émigrés under his leadership was allowed to visit Canada repeatedly in the 1950s and '60s, despite a record of war crimes.

In 1962, the RCMP learned that a Soviet trial of concentration camp guards in what is now called Belarus had named two people living in Canada as active participants in the execution of civilians during the war.

These are among several unsettling vignettes in the latest, more revealing version of a September 1986 study prepared for a landmark federal commission of inquiry on war crimes.

Even though the cases are labelled with letters of the alphabet, not names of suspects, they were excised from the original version of researcher Alti Rodal's study, initially released under the Access to Information Act in heavily censored form in 1987.

B'nai Brith Canada used the access law to obtain the most recent, fuller iteration last summer. "There was no reason not to disclose it originally," said David Matas, senior legal counsel for the group.

Rodal's archival research and case analysis — including the once-hidden elements — are finding new relevance amid a push for greater transparency about how Canada has dealt with suspected Nazi war criminals and collaborators.

Yaroslav Hunka, who fought for the Waffen-SS Galicia Division, a voluntary unit created by the Nazis to help fight the Soviet Union, was welcomed to the House of Commons last month to hear a speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Liberal MP Anthony Rota, who invited the 98-year-old Hunka and introduced him as a hero, resigned as Speaker of the House over his decision.

War crimes inquiry research sheds fresh light on Canadian screening, policies. #CDNPoli #WarCrimes

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also apologized on behalf of Parliament.

The episode sparked fresh calls for the full release of records from the inquiry on war criminals led by Jules Deschênes, including 822 opinions on individual cases.

The commission recommended in 1986 that Canada take appropriate action in 20 files of alleged Nazi war criminals and to investigate dozens of others.

In his public report, Deschênes said the Galicia Division should not be indicted as a group, stating that charges of war crimes against members had never been substantiated. "Further, in the absence of evidence of participation in or knowledge of specific war crimes, mere membership in the Galicia Division is insufficient to justify prosecution."

Trudeau said last week that public servants were carefully weighing the question of disclosing additional Deschênes commission records and would make recommendations to the government.

Rodal's research for the commission was intended to provide insight into the post-war policies of the government concerning immigration, refugees and war criminals, including how they evolved over the years.

Rodal noted that in order to carry out their massive program of extermination, the Nazis would have had to rely — and indeed did rely — on extensive co-operation from non-Germans in various parts of Europe.

"While many may very well have been forcibly conscripted into Waffen-SS units, a considerable number did volunteer to assist in the Nazi campaign, not only against Communism, but also in the destruction of populations deemed undesirable."

Throughout the 1950s, there was a progressive relaxation of security-screening guidelines to permit legal entry for former members of Nazi organizations and for Nazi collaborators — the groups most likely to have included persons who had been involved in war crimes, Rodal found.

The predominant concern of screening policy and practice in the postwar decade was, in fact, not to identify Nazis, but to weed out possible Communist infiltrators and spies, now seen as the primary security threat, she wrote.

Rodal concluded that in the decade following the war, there was "ample opportunity" for war criminals and Nazi collaborators to enter Canada.

"The inclination of policy and practice with regard to a background of collaboration with the Nazis and possible involvement in war crimes was toward leniency rather than rigour," the study says.

"Special dispensation, particularly for those who were of preferred ethnic background, was provided in the regulations for persons guilty mainly of collaboration with the Nazis."

Where screening was not waived, it was "in significant measure ineffectual," the study adds.

"Understaffed screening posts, manned by persons with the most rudimentary training and knowledge with respect to wartime events in the lands from which the prospective immigrants came, were overwhelmed by the large numbers of persons displaced by the war."

People presented meagre, sometimes falsified, documentation, and much of the processing and screening of refugees and displaced individuals was done by international agencies whose role was to repatriate or resettle as many people in as short a time as possible, the study says.

Canadian security screening officers in Germany, finding little information about the personal histories of displaced persons, checked only "suspicious characters" for a Nazi criminal background.

In addition, there were no fingerprinting requirements, application forms did not include written questions about wartime military service until 1953 and official lists of war criminals compiled by the United Nations and others were not consulted, Rodal's study says.

Directives were issued to screening officers to ignore SS tattoo marks for Baltic Waffen-SS cases as early as 1948, she found. Indeed, members of the Nazi Party and the Waffen-SS were admissible to Canada by 1950-51.

A determining factor in Allied war crimes policy was the utilization, against the Soviet Union, of former Nazis and Nazi collaborators by American, British and French intelligence agencies and by the Vatican, and subsequent help in resettling such individuals, the study notes.

Rodal cites April 1953 correspondence that said Canada's interdepartmental committee on defectors would require assurances in any case involving a German defector or ex-agent that "the subject's past political connections, particularly with the Nazi Party, will not be of such a nature that disclosure here might prove embarrassing."

Even so, RCMP checks on the background of an Estonian who entered Canada as a defector in 1957 revealed that he had served in a police battalion in 1941-42 and later joined the Waffen-SS.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 11, 2023.

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In short, very quickly after World War II ended, we decided immigrants with Nazi or Nazi collaboration pasts were suitable to become Canadian citizens?? Injustice has a long tail, often because the perpetrators of that injustice deny their past deeds but don't let go of the ideology that allowed them to comment the injustice.

I'm wondering what role the admission of so many with fascistic tendencies or right wing beliefs may have had on Canadian politics? Has it helped in the war on unions?? The continuation of libertarian ideas?? The fear of social democratic parties committed to eqaulity and social justice??

We hide what we're ashamed of, we erase what we got away with but shouldn't have. I for one want to know how many racists we were willing to wink at and accept.......because we feared the beliefs of a countr that helped us defeat Hitler.
I'm not proud of what I'm learning about the Canadian rulers in the fifties, but I do want to know more. The decisions should all be made public...with the caveat that many who came into Canada under these policies may well have gone on to become good Canadian citizens.
Still, winking at Nazi collaboration seems a dangerous precedent to me. What perpetrators of genocidal war crimes are we thinking of accepting tomorrow?? How do we make sure the mistakes of the past aren't repeated?

Apparently, Yaroslav Hunka and number of other Ukrainians also fought the Russians as part of the Waffen-SS Galicia Division as an alternate choice to joining the Russians and fight the Germans. Based on a background check by another military historian group, Yaroslav Hunka did not commit any war crimes.

Just because you fought with the Nazis, doesn't make you a war criminal. This has been nothing but a witch hunt by a certain group and the opposition parties only because it's involving the Liberal party whom they bash needlessly 24/7. The entire thing was political nonsense and grandstanding cooked up by the conservatives.

So, if Yaroslav Hunka is being accused of being a war criminal, then I guess it is only fair to say, a number of Ukrainians are also considered war criminals. That then brings up the question, then why is the Liberal party and opposition parties so pro Ukrainian and providing support to help Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky against Russia? Isn't that no different than what they did under the Nazis banner in WWII?

It is fair to say that even the British and American soldiers were known to have committed atrocities during WWII. So, what aren't they being sought out for war crimes? The answer, because it doesn't involve a certain group of people persecuted by the Nazis in WWII. Double standard if you ask me.

During WWII, many countries and people made a choice to either be occupied by Russia or side with the Germany as the lessor of two evils. Not an easy choice, but just because you decided Germany, doesn't make you a Nazis or war criminal, especially if you were not involved with atrocities committed by certain groups under Hitler.

But if we continue along the same lines as being taken with Yaroslav Hunka, then you better condemn the entire German population living here in Canada for just being German and by association to the atrocities committed by Hitler and his henchman. That would include Ukrainians and Italians who fought under the German banner in WWII.

Germany invaded Russia. Not the other way around. See link:
If you're a German foot soldier a thousand miles inside the Russian border, you can't tell me you're innocent -- not during your invasion nor anytime after...including now.

Let us not forget that the Nazis invaded Ukraine not nine years after Stalin's Holodomor, a pogrom that brought starvation and death to millions of Ukrainians in 1932-33. That was just one aspect of the mistreatment of Ukrainians and Eastern Europeans by the Russian-dominated Soviet Union.

The Nazis were initially seen by millions of Ukrainians as liberators from Russian rule. That does not excuse the murder of Jews, Roma, Tartars, etc., through ethnic hatred, but it certainly explains Ukrainian thinking during the late 1930s and early 1940s.

I have an ethnographic map of Buchovina, where my paternal roots come from. The province used to straddle what is now the Ukrainian-Romanian border. My grandfather emigrated to Canada in 1902, therein escaping what was to come, first by the Russians, and then by the Nazis. The closest city to his farming village is Chernivitsi in Western Ukraine. That city was about 30% Jewish prior to 1941. Within three years that population disappeared through direct action by German Nazis with some local help. Sad.

Today, Ukraine is led with great courage by a Jew in a war against the Russian Empire invaders, at best today's Pabulum brand envisioned by the Little Napoleon known as Putin. Ukraine is winning with a little help from its friends in the multi-ethnic West.

What a difference a century makes.