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Oakville's Nazi soldier monument removed after prolonged controversy

Ben Brown
Ben Brown

A long-standing memorial dedicated to Nazi soldiers was recently removed from an Oakville cemetery. 

On Saturday, the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) announced the removal of a monument honouring Ukrainian soldiers who served in a Nazi military unit from an Oakville cemetery. This action comes after years of advocacy by FSWC and other organizations representing the Jewish community.

The monument, dedicated to the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, a Nazi military unit predominantly composed of Ukrainian soldiers during World War II, was confirmed on March 9 to have been removed from the St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Cemetery.

Canada's Jewish community has long called for the removal of the monument, with FSWC emphasizing that such memorials distort Holocaust history while glorifying individuals involved in crimes against humanity.

Nazi Monument | Oakville News
Nazi Monument | Oakville News

Read more: Nazi monument still stands in St. Volodymyr Cemetery in Oakville

"After actively advocating for the removal of this monument for many years, we greatly welcome its elimination, albeit overdue," said Dan Panneton, director of allyship and community engagement for FSWC, in a news release.

The removal of the monument follows the international outrage sparked by the standing ovation received by Yaroslav Hunka, a veteran of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division, in Canada's House of Commons six months ago.

In an interview with Oakville News, Oakville-based Rabbi Stephen Wise said he found out about the monument around 2016 and has been working to have it removed since.

"The memorial itself was put up in 1988 but it wasn't clear -- it was sort of 'Ukranians who'd fallen in the war', but the extra wording that was added in 2016 really clarified that this is glorifying people who did serve under Nazi control for part of the war," said Wise.

The monument read, "In memory of combatants from the 1st division of UO-UNA and those who fought in defence of Brody in 1944."

This was a division of Ukrainians that fought as part of Nazi Germany's SS from 1943 to 1945.

"The church did not put it up, nor did the cemetery," Wise said. "The descendants of the people who fought in it all put money together and purchased a memorial and put it up.

"Anyone has a right to put up a cenotaph, but putting one up to represent the Nazis is not what belongs in Canada."

There were many logistics to work out in getting the monument removed, including legal discussions and consultation with the descendants who paid for it.

Wise said there was nobody interred below the monument. He added that he believes the monument is now in the possession of the descendants. 

At present, Edmonton still hosts two comparable monuments, honoring the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division and Roman Shukhevych, a Ukrainian nationalist and military figure accused of collaborating with the Nazis and involvement in massacres of Poles and Jews. FSWC is still advocating for the removal of these monuments.


Ben Brown

About the Author: Ben Brown

Ben Brown is a local news reporter from Oakville, Ontario, a graduate from WIlfrid Laurier University and a self-published author. His main focus is reporting on crime, local businesses and achievements, and general news assignments throughout town
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