Poland wants to extradite the former Nazi officer who was honored with a “scandalous ” standing ovation in Canada’s House of Commons.
Education Minister Przemyslaw Czarnek said he made a request to extradite 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka after he was heralded by Canada’s government Friday as a “hero” who fought for the First Ukrainian Division in World War II.
“In view of the scandalous events in the Canadian Parliament, which involved honoring a member of the criminal Nazi SS Galizien Formation in the presence of [Ukrainian President Volodomyr] Zelensky, I have taken steps toward the possible extradition of this man to Poland,” Czarnek tweeted.
He also said he urged the country’s president to investigate whether Hunka is wanted for crimes against Poland and Polish Jews.
The First Ukrainian Division was also known as the Waffen-SS Galicia Division or the SS 14th Waffen Division, a voluntary unit that was under the command of the Nazis.
It was formed by Holocaust organizer Heinrich Himmler and was declared a criminal organization by the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg in 1946, which determined the Nazi group had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies says the division “was responsible for the mass murder of innocent civilians with a level of brutality and malice that is unimaginable.”
Poland’s ambassador to Canada, Witold Dzielski, told Canada’s Global News that an extradition process has not started, but Czarnek sent a request to the Institute of National Remembrance — a government body that investigates crimes committed during the Holocaust — to consider an extradition.
“I’m sure this request will be considered, and [it is] possible some steps will follow,” he said. “But at this point, it’s the first step of the request for the institute to get involved in the process.”
The Post has reached out to the Institute of National Remembrance and the Canadian Prime Minister’s office for comment.
On Wednesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized for the joint session of Parliament honoring Hunka.
“This was a mistake that has deeply embarrassed Parliament and Canada,” Trudeau told reporters, saying he would stand up in the House of Commons to formally offer Parliament’s “unreserved apologies” for what happened.
“For all of us who were present to have unknowingly recognized this individual was a terrible mistake and a violation of the memory of those who suffered grievously at the hands of the Nazi regime,” he said.
Speaker Anthony Rota also issued his own apology over the weekend before announcing he would step down from his position.
“In my remarks following the address of the President of Ukraine, I recognized an individual in the gallery. I have subsequently become aware of more information which causes me to regret my decision to do so,” Rota said in a statement Sunday.
He added that his fellow Parliament members and the Ukraine delegation were not aware of his plan to recognize Hunka, and noted that Hunka lives in his district.
“I particularly want to extend my deepest apologies to Jewish communities in Canada and around the world. I accept full responsibility for my action,” Rota said.
By Tuesday, Rota announced he would be resigning as speaker amid the embarrassment.
“This house is above any of us, therefore I must step down as your speaker,” he told Parliament, reiterating his “profound regret for my error.”
“That public recognition has caused pain to individuals and communities, including the Jewsih community in Canada and around the world, in addition to survivors of Nazi atrocities in Poland, among other nations,” Rota said.
“I accept full responsibility for my actions.”