Hate crimes unit investigating vandalism of Nazi collaborator war criminal statue in Edmonton

In December of 2019, the statue of Roman Shukhevych outside of the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex was vandalized with red tape and spray-painted with the words “Nazi Scum.” According to both the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex and B’nai Brith this act is being investigated by the Edmonton Police Service’s hate crimes unit. The Edmonton Police Service has refused to reply to inquiries from the Progress Report on this matter.

Shukhevych was trained by Nazi intelligence and was a commanding officer under the Nazis of military units that massacred around 100,000 people. Among the dead were thousands of Jews and tens of thousands of Poles according to independent scholarship on the issue.  

The issue of Nazi collaborator monuments has been in the news recently with the revelation that the vandalism of a monument in Oakville, Ontario dedicated to the 14th Waffen SS division with the words “Nazi war monument” was being investigated by the local police as a hate crime. The local police chief eventually decided that it would no longer be investigated as a hate crime after public backlash

Michael Mostyn, the CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, a prominent Jewish organization that calls itself a leader in combating antisemitism, also recently released a statement calling for the “removal of any monuments glorifying military units, political organizations or individuals that collaborated with the Nazis in World War II.”

There is no place for such monuments in Canada,” said Mostyn.

Abe Silverman is the Alberta manager of public affairs for B’nai Brith. “If you deface a statue like that you can be charged with mischief and even a hate crime, but how can you be convicted if the statue is in honour of a war criminal responsible for the deaths of thousands of people?” said Silverman.  

According to Silverman, the hate crimes unit is investigating the vandalism as mischief that may eventually lead to people being charged under hate crimes laws.

In a statement to Progress Alberta on July 2, representatives of the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex denied that there was any reliable evidence Shukhevych had committed war crimes, and that any evidence that does exist of war crimes committed by Shukhevych was manufactured by the KGB. 

“The statue of Roman Shukhevych is on private property,” reads the statement signed by Taras Podislky, president of the Edmonton branch of the League of Ukrainian Canadians and Irene Kolomijchuk, president of the Ukrainian Youth Unity Council. “These accusations and recent hateful vandalism on our property are now part of a police hate crimes unit investigation.” 

The Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex received a $75,000 grant from the Alberta government when it opened in 1973. The Ukrainian Youth Unity Council also received more than $279,000 in a grant from Western Economic Diversification Canada in 2015 in order to repair the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex.  

Edmonton is home to another monument dedicated to glorifying a military unit that collaborated with the Nazis in World War II. In St. Michael’s Cemetery in north Edmonton is a monument that is dedicated to several Ukrainian military units, one of them being the 14th Waffen SS Division – a unit that later became the 1st Ukrainian Division in the Ukrainian National Army.

The 14th Waffen SS Division swore an oath to Hitler, were personally addressed by Heinrich Himmler, and took part in the Huta Pieniacka Massacre according to both the Polish Institute of National Remembrance and the Institute of History at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. According to historians in both the Polish and Ukrainian investigations, 172 farmsteads were burned down.

The Polish Institute of National Remembrance’s investigation into the massacre concluded that:

“The crime was committed by the 4th battalion of the 14th division on February 28. On that day, early in the morning, soldiers of this division, dressed in white, masking outfits, surrounded the village. The village was cross-fired by artillery. SS-men of the 14th Division of the SS “Galizien” entered the village, shooting the civilians rounded up at a church. The civilians, mostly women and children, were divided and locked in barns that were set on fire. Those who tried to run away were killed. Witnesses interrogated by the prosecutors of the Head Commission described the morbid details of the act. The crime was committed against women, children, and newborn babies.”

The Edmonton Police Service refused multiple inquiries from the Progress Report, deeming us not to be a legitimate media organization and to submit our media bonafides to their lawyer.