Germany’s ambassador to Canada, Sabine Sparwasser, has come under fire for her participation in the standing ovations given to Ukrainian World War II veteran Yaroslav Hunka, who was a member of the Waffen SS. The German Foreign Office has defended Sparwasser, claiming that she was unaware of Hunka’s Nazi affiliation when she joined in applauding him.
The incident took place during a visit by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to Canada. When House Speaker Anthony Rota introduced Hunka to the crowd, he described him as someone who “fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians.” This statement implied that Hunka served on the side of the fascist Axis powers.
Sparwasser’s participation in the ovations has been widely criticized, and Rota resigned from his position and apologized for his mistake. Hunka served as a volunteer in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, a Ukrainian unit that committed atrocities against Jews and Poles on the Eastern Front.
Foreign Office spokesman Sebastian Fischer admitted that the incident was unacceptable but claimed that Sparwasser and others were not aware of Hunka’s true identity because his attendance at the event was not announced beforehand. He also suggested that there could be other explanations for Hunka’s role in the war, such as his potential involvement in the Polish Home Army, which fought against German and Russian forces.
However, it is important to note that Ukrainian Nazi collaborators were responsible for the slaughter of thousands of Poles during World War II. Despite this, thousands of Ukrainian fighters, including Hunka, were allowed to emigrate to the UK and Canada after the war, even though they may have participated in war crimes.
The incident has sparked outrage, with Moscow calling it a cynical abuse of the memory of the victims of Nazism and an example of blatant Russophobia. Russia has even suggested that it may launch a probe into potential war crimes and request the extradition of Hunka. Poland, a staunch supporter of Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, has also called for an investigation into Hunka’s potential war crimes.
In light of these developments, it is crucial that the German Foreign Office takes appropriate action to address the issue and ensure that such incidents do not happen again in the future. It is imperative that diplomats have a thorough understanding of the backgrounds and affiliations of individuals they are honoring to avoid inadvertently glorifying those with Nazi ties.
Germany must also work closely with other countries, particularly those affected by Ukrainian Nazi collaborators, to investigate and bring to justice any individuals implicated in war crimes. It is essential that the memory of the victims of Nazism is respected and that those responsible for atrocities are held accountable for their actions.
In conclusion, the participation of Germany’s ambassador to Canada in applauding a Ukrainian Waffen SS veteran has sparked controversy and condemnation. While the Foreign Office claims that she was unaware of his Nazi affiliation, it is crucial that steps are taken to ensure such incidents do not happen again and that investigations into potential war crimes are conducted. The memory of the victims of Nazism must be respected, and those responsible for atrocities must be held accountable.