Edmonton monument glorifies Nazi collaborator

A larger than life bust of Nazi collaborator Roman Shukhevych stands at the entrance of the Ukranian Youth Unity Complex in North Edmonton.

By Daniel Moser

(EJNews) – In the mid-1970s the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex was built in North Edmonton and along with it, a monument was erected to a Nazi collaborator. It sounds weird to say out loud, but that is the case. There is a statue of someone who commanded troops to participate in genocide during the Holocaust, in Edmonton.

Roman Shukhevych was a Ukrainian military leader during the Second World War. In parts of Ukraine, and the diaspora, he is viewed as a hero for fighting against the Soviets in the name of an independent Ukraine. This telling of history omits Shukhevych’s bloody atrocities, evil associations, and violent antisemitism. In the early 1940s Shukhevych was a leader in a radical militant group, the Bandera wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, and Nazi trained Ukrainian battalions, where he led his troops into battle committing atrocities and war crimes including massacres in Belarus and an attempt to ethnically cleanse Ukraine.

After his formal association with the Nazi Germany had ended, Shukhevych’s antisemitic murders continued. In 1943 declaring independence, but maintaining allegiance to Nazi Germany, Shukhevych was supreme commander of the newly formed Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), where creating an ethnically Ukrainian country was priority one. The UPA was responsible for the mass killing of 60,000-100,000 ethnic Poles, thousands of Jews, and many more. Many Jews fleeing the Holocaust made their way through the woods of western Ukraine, only to be lured out of hiding and murdered by the UPA.

This is a very brief history of Shukhveych; a more in-depth description can be found in Per Anders Rudling’s 2016 academic article featured in Fascism: Journal of Comparative Fascist Studies titled The Cult of Roman Shukhevych in Ukraine.

There is a statue of Roman Shukhevych in Edmonton.

“As a Jewish Edmontonian, it is very disconcerting,” said journalist and activist Paula Kirman, who recently appeared on the Progress Report podcast discussing the topic. The podcast is eye-opening, the hope is further attention will be drawn to the situation, and a reasonable outcome will be achieved. Kirman put it simply, “ideally, I think it should be removed.”

The choice should be a simple one, a country in North America, in the year 2019 should have zero tolerance for having an antisemitic murderer placed on a figurative and literal pedestal. If outright removal of the Shukhevych statue is out of the question, then at the very least an accurate historical addition should be made, explaining what exactly Shukhevych’s contributions to Ukrainian life were, and the mass murder and attempted ethnic cleansing he took part in along the way. Refusing to do so would be a whitewashing of history, and one that is often sighted as being a form of Holocaust denial.

When approached for comment in a 2018 Coda article on Russian disinformation locals associated with the Complex either denied the accusations outright, denied knowledge of Shukhevych’s atrocities, or reasoned them away claiming it was merely an alliance of convenience with Nazi Germany.

A common argument in the United States of America during debates over Confederate statues is that their removal is a way of erasing history, but the very opposite is true. Kirman explains, “This isn’t book burning – the books that outline who Shukhevych was and what he did will remain available to anyone. Monuments are about honouring someone, and a Nazi collaborator who took part in genocide does not deserve such an honour.”

The statue has been in Edmonton since the 1970s and the fact that it has been discussed so sparingly is astonishing.

“I only learned about the statue a couple years ago,” Kirman continues. “I was working on a film project (A Monumental Secret) that dealt with the topic of the Ukrainian right, and how we look at problematic monuments in light of history, with the case study being a different monument in Edmonton.”

A small amount of coverage was given to the statue in 2018, but it did not gain traction, and never really reached the public. It stands to reason that a major factor in the statue’s continued standing is a lack of outcry.

It is unclear if a serious attempt at having the statue removed, or altered has been made. The hope remains though that if it is approached in a meaningful manner by the correct parties that the easy and proper action will be taken.

“I think they should be willing to listen to criticism of the monument,” Kirman says of the Complex, “at the very least publicly acknowledge that Shukhevych was a Nazi collaborator who took part in genocide, and put a plaque of some kind explaining his role in the Holocaust…so that anyone who sees it will learn the truth.”

As defenders against antisemitism in Edmonton, the responsibility falls on leaders and members of the Jewish community to reach out to the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex and leaders in the Ukrainian community to ask the question: Why is there a statue memorializing a Nazi collaborator, who participated in genocide, in our city?

The Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex could not be reached for comment prior to the publishing of this article.

Files from CBC Radio Canada International, Coda, Progress Report

10 Comments on "Edmonton monument glorifies Nazi collaborator"

  1. Probably has something to do with this:

    /The Canadian government, with British complicity, admitted more than 2,000 members of a notorious Ukrainian Waffen-SS division in 1950, the Simon Wiesenthal Center has charged.

    In a related case, the CBS news program “60 Minutes” reported that about 1,000 SS men and Nazi collaborators, mainly from the Baltic states, moved to Canada about the same time.\

    /One way of getting into postwar Canada “was by showing the SS tattoo,” Canadian historian Irving Abella told “60 Minutes” interviewer Mike Wallace. “This proved that you were an anti-Communist.”\


  2. Ivan Lypovyk | Nov 18, 2019 at 8:33 pm | Reply

    Now I demand you guys apologize for such twisted misinformation. Author should publicly apologize to Ukrainians in Edmonton.

  3. The article is a complete lie. I studied the topic from both sides, where UPA were consider Nazis and where UPA were reconsidered as National Heroes. There’s much more evidence that proves their status of heroes fighting rotten russian communism and Nazis as well after they got supplies from them. I had a business trip to Ukraine, want to historic sites and talked with historians. There is still tons of documents on UPA resistance and Holodomor genocide classified and hidden in Moscow, which they refuse to reveal. Therefore, in a degree as well proves this historical events.

  4. Steve Rutchinski | Dec 10, 2019 at 9:01 am | Reply

    Apologize for what? Speaking the truth! It is no secret that there was a fifth column of fascist nazi collaborators throughout Europe, and in Canada and US as well, during WWII. Ukraine was no exception. What is shameful is for truth to be re-written to whitewash their crimes, the pogroms and genocide they committed and to revise history to present such butchers as “national heroes” of Ukraine.

  5. People read and know very little about the topic. Those that do read about Roman Shukhevych are biased to only one perspective. Shukevych’s “genocide” and attempt at the eradication of Jews is merely Ukraine fighting the Polish (and other surrounding countries). If they were collaborating with the Germans it was most likely our of convenience. The massacre’s committed by Roman and the UPA were often against the Polish, and their resisting forces. Ukraine was simply taking back what was originally theirs. So what if there were a few Jewish involved? There were many Jewish killed during WWII, that doesn’t necessarily mean they were specifically targeted by the UPA. Ukraine’s slaughter of the Polish people wasn’t genocide, it was war. War against two countries generally means they target one another and only one another, and enemies will do anything to eradicate each other to the point of surrender.

    • Your comment is disgusting. UPA slaughtered, and tortured unarmed women and children. How can you consider that a war? Google volhynia massacre, there is lot of martial about it.

  6. Steven Marcus | May 16, 2022 at 10:19 pm | Reply

    America knowingly admitted thousands of former Nazis into the country and that is a FACT that I as an American Jew (and also Israeli) am proud of. Why? Simple. They were brought into the country because as fervent Nazis, they were equally fervent about fighting Communists and let’s face it; Russian Communists were the new Nazis in the Cold War era.
    All those Nazis had something valuable to contribute in the Post-War era and many worked for NASA, CIA, NSA, VOA, etc.
    Canada, sadly enough, let in anybody who was a former, unrepentant Nazi. Shame on you, Canada.

  7. The foundation of ukraine is blood of women and children killed by upa oun in forrests, villages and churches 1943-1946. This current war is karma coming back to ukraine for their sins. I hope this war last for years as both russkies and upa nazis fully deserve this slaughter.

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