By Matthew Clark
Sadly, in a session of Parliament during the week of September 25-29, the Canadian Lower House of Commons paid tribute to a Fascist Warrior. On two occassions this assembly experienced every one of it's members standing up so they could give an ovation to Yaroslav Hunka, who had served in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the S.S. Nazi military unit during World War II. (Trudeau Apologizes after Nazi Honoured in Canada's Parliament, Aljazeera, September 27, 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com). While many people have seen it as an indicator of the dysfunction within the Canadian government, few have examined, (at least publicly) why Hunka was so honoured.
He was given such a tribute because he fought against the Russian (dominated) Soviet Union! When NAZI Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941 Hunka joined the Waffen S.S. to fight against the Soviets, thereby also indirectly fighting against the Soviets ally, Canada! Canada, as part of the Western Alliance, was at war with Fascist Germany. When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union the Soviets became allies of Canada. Yet despite these historical facts Canadian lawmakers still applauded Hunka! Antipathy to Russia has so clouded their judgement as to engender sympathy to their own nations mortal enemy.
From June 1941 until May 1945 the Germans and (mostly Russian) Soviets fought one of the most epic, bloody, if not the bloodiest, armed campaigns in history. By May 1945, at the conclusion of the war in Europe, 4.1 million German military personnel were killed by Soviet Forces. During the same period 900,000 German armed forces were killed by Western Allied members (Did the Soviets or Allies kill more Germans in World War 2, M Raza, PHD in economist History, University of British Columbis, Quora.com)
Twenty four million Soviet citizens died in the 2nd Great War, close to 11 million of them being members of the Armed Forces. Canada during this same period suffered 45,000 dead, 100 of them being civillians, the rest being the nations warriors. (Research starters: Worldwide Deaths in World WarII. The National WWII Museum, https://www.nationalww2museum.org)
Canadians rightly honour their warriors, fallen and otherwise, who fought at Dieppe, Falaise Pocket, Ortana, D-Day, the Netherlands, etc. Yet as substantial as these actions were they pale in comparison to what the Soviet Union accomplished against Fascist Germany. This is not a statement in support of communism. For the record the author is libertarian in sympathy. It is a statement of fact. Facts are facts. Without the heroic determination of the Soviet Union, from top to bottom, Hitler would more than likely have succeedeed in at least achieving many of his goals. Great Britain might today be a lonely outpost facing NAZI Europe, with North America completely shut off from the Old World. Soviet, led by Russian, heroism assisted in preventing this dystopia.
Nor was this the first instance that the Russians have made major contributions to victory over a Great Power(s) who threatened the West! During the First World War Tsarist Russia was part of the Triple Entente (France, Great Britain, Russia) Alliance which fought the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, Bulgaria). The Brusilov Offensive (4 June-10 August, 1916), named after the Russian General Aleksev Brusilov, inflicted a defeat on the Austria-Hungarian forces from which that empire never recovered. Kaiser Germany was forced to divert forces from the Western Front, where they were critically needed. At battles end the Russians suffered 500,000-1,000,000 dead, wounded, or captured. Austria-Hungarian casualties were 1,500,000, German 350,000, Ottomon (Turkey) 12,000. (Brusilov Offensive, John Swift, Britannica, https://www.britannica.com)
Canadians made many courageous contributions to the Allied War Effort in WWI. First Battle of Ypres, Vimy Ridge, Passchendale, the last 100 Days, to give examples. During the 4 year course of the war 66,000 Canadian servicemen died, with 172,000 wounded. (First World War, https://www.veterans.gc.ca) A significant bestowal by Canada's brave warriors, yet not nearly as vast as the Russian effort.
As well there is the superlative Russian effort at defeating Napleon in another Global Conflict, the "Napleonic War." Napleon Bonaparte ran wild over Europe, and beyond, for the better part of 15 years. His June (June again) 1812 invasion of Tsarist Russia led to his eventual demise. Napleon invaded Russia with 650,000 troops, of whom only approxiametely 100,000 made it out of Russia by campaigns end. (Why Napleon's Invasion of Russia was the Beginning of the End, Jesse Greenspan, August 11, 2023, History Channel, https://www.history.com) Russia for her part lost more than 200,000 people. (June 24, 1812 CE, Napleon Invades Russia, National Geographical Society, https://education.nationalgeographic.org)
In the geopolitical world nations do not have friends, only other nations with similar interests, (Lord Acton), or adversaries with contrary intrigues. Nevertheless the people of Russia have suffered horribly tragic human losses in an effort to defeat enemies who were often Canada's enemies as well! Canada's lawmakers, by paying tribute to Hunka, soiled their personnel
reputation, and that of the nation. It was a shameful act, borne out of a counter productive hatred of Russia. This hatred was truly blind, as most of the men, and women, who applauded, had no knowledge of the history they were applauding. All of these politicians should study the past history of Canada/Russia relations. Our parliamentarians might find they have more to admire of the Russians, while less of what they can be critical of. Perhaps this is what they fear. Better the comfort of ignorance, than the questions which arise from knowledge.