The Commission of Inquiry on War Crimes was established in February 1985 in Canada, with the purpose of exposing and prosecuting war criminals residing in Canada. The Simon Wiesenthal Center and other Jewish groups in Canada have repeatedly denounced the Ukrainian Division Galicia as a perpetrator of war crimes. Because of these allegations, the veterans of the Division came under the scrutiny of this Commission, which during its investigation lasting several years, was not able to establish any base to the accusations. The following are some quotations from the Commission's final report:
From the Memorandum from Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, June 6, 1950:
On May 31, 1950, the Canadian Cabinet decided "that Ukrainians presently residing in United Kingdom, be admitted to Canada notwithstanding their service in the German army provided they are otherwise admissible. These Ukrainians should be subject to special security screening, but should not be rejected on the grounds of their service in the German army."
While in Italy these men were screened by Soviet and British missions and neither then nor subsequently has any evidence brought to light which would suggest that any of them fought against the Western Allies or engaged in crimes against humanity. their behaviour since they came to this country has been good and they have never indicated in any way that they are infected with any trace of Nazi ideology.
From the reports of the special mission set up by the War Office to screen these men it seems clear that they volunteered to fight against the Red Army from nationalistic motives which were given greater impetus by the behaviour of the Soviet authorities during their earlier occupation of the Western Ukraine after the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Although Communist propaganda has constantly attempted to depict these, like so many other refugees, as "quislings" and "war criminals" it is interesting to note that no specific charges of war crimes have been made by the Soviet or any other Government against any member of this group.
They volunteered for the division not because of love of the Germans but because of their hatred for the Russians and the Communist tyranny.
In 1984, Simon Wiesenthal had supplied a list of 217 former members of Galicia division who, according to him "survived the war and (were) not living in Europe". Since then the Commission has tried repeatedly to obtain incriminating evidence allegedly in Mr. Wiesenthal's possession, through various oral and written communications with Mr. Wiesenthal himself and with his solicitor, Mr. Martin Mendelsohn of Washington, DC., but to no avail: telephone calls, letters, even a meeting in New York between Mr. Wiesenthal and commission counsel on Nov 1, 1985 followed up by further direct communications, have succeeded in bringing no positive results, outside of promises. This situation is regrettable.
The investigation by the RCMP and the subsequent inquiries by this Commission were carried out quite independently; yet they reached the same results.
It is obvious that the list of 217 officers of Galicia Division furnished by Mr. Wiesenthal was nearly totally useless and put Canadian Government, through RCMP and this Commission, to a considerable amount of purposeless work. That additional information be long in coming may not be surprising, under those circumstances. As a result, evidence of participation in war crimes has remained elusive.
Finally, this is not a case for denaturalization and deportation. The members of Galicia division have never hidden their membership in the division, nor indeed could they. Canadian authorities were fully aware, in 1950, of the history of the division. When they gave the green light to the admission of its members, they knew where these members came from and what they had been through. There was, therefore, neither false representation, nor fraud, nor concealment of material circumstances; admission to Canada and subsequently, citizenship, were not tainted with any irregularity.
The Commission accordingly FINDS that:
|56-||The Galicia Division ( 14. Waffengrenadierdivision der SS [gal. #1]) should not be indicted as a group.|
|57-||The members of Galicia Division were individually screened for security purposes before admission to Canada.|
|58-||Charges of war crimes of Galicia Division have never been substantiated, either in 1950 when they were first preferred, or in 1984 when they were renewed, or before this Commission.|
|59-||Further, in the absence of evidence of participation or knowledge of specific war crimes, mere membership in the Galicia Division is insufficient to justify prosecution.|
|60-||No case can be made against members of Galicia Division for revocation of citizenship or deportation since the Canadian authorities were fully aware of the relevant facts in 1950 and admission to Canada was not granted them because of any false representation, or fraud, or concealment of material circumstances.|
|61-||In any event, of the 217 officers of the Galicia Division denounced by Mr. Simon Wiesenthal to the Canadian government, 187 (i.e., 86 percent never set foot in Canada, 11 have died in Canada, 2 have left for another country, no prima facie case has been established against 16 and the last one could not be located.|
by the veterans of the Division Galicia regarding the Wiesenthal's list of 217 officers.
Being most intimately acquainted with the circumstances surrounding the division, we developed a very plausible theory how this list came into being. It contains mostly the names of the young officers, recent graduates of the officer's schools. This list was not a result of some involved or painstaking investigative effort, but was casually compiled from records of Berlin Document Center, where the Germans, with their penchant for bureaucracy, meticulously preserved all war records. Somebody familiar with the Ukrainian last names and names of birth places in Western Ukraine, like Mr. Wiesenthal himself, who grew up in these parts, could have easily pick out all these Ukrainian names and come up with this list. As a support of this very probable assumption is that the list contains names of several officers killed during battles in the last months of war. This illustrates best the accuracy of statements made by Wiesenthal Center and the thoroughness in establishing a base of accusations of involvement in war crimes leveled against the Division.
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