BACKLASH! No hate crime, say police after cenotaph to Nazi 14th Waffen SS Division fallen is vandalized in Canada

After receiving backlash for classifying vanadlism on a Nazi memorial monument as hate crime, the Halton Police department decided to drop it.

                            BACKLASH! No hate crime, say police after cenotaph to Nazi 14th Waffen SS Division fallen is vandalized in Canada
Cenotaph displaying the emblem of 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (Lvivske/ Wikimedia Commons)

Oakville, Ontario's St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Cemetery has been making headlines ever since one of the memorials in the cemetery was defaced with graffiti. The monument is in memory of those who fought and fell fighting for the Nazi 14th SS Division in World War 2. 

According to reports, someone painted "Nazi war monument" on the cenotaph built to remember of those who fought for the Waffen SS Division. The division comprised Ukrainians who pledged their allegiance to Adolf Hitler, and were part of the Nazi's Waffen SS organization. The SS has been accused of killing thousands of Polish women and children alongside Jews during the Second World War. 

The 14th SS Division, also known as the Galizien Division, was formed in 1943. In May 1944, SS leader Heinrich Himmler gave a passionate speech where he nudged the 14th SS to "liquidate the Poles". He said, "Your homeland has become more beautiful since you have lost – on our initiative, I must say – the residents who were so often a dirty blemish on Galicia’s good name – namely the Jews. I know that if I ordered you to liquidate the Poles, I would be giving you permission to do what you are eager to do anyway.”

St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Cemetery was established in 1984 in Oakville, Ontario. In 1988, a monument called Glory of the UPA was built. The monument served as a memorial and a cenotaph to the people of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. The cenotaph had an emblem of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Galician), and an inscription dedicating it "To Those Who Died For the Freedom of Ukraine".

The Russian embassy in Ottawa claimed that the cenotaph was a "monument to Nazi collaborators", but was met with resistance from the Ukrainian Canadian congress, who called the claims "long-disproven fabrications". In June 2020, after the graffiti was discovered on the cenotaph, the Halton police decided to investigate it as a hate crime. But following the immense backlash they received for classifying the graffiti on a "Nazi monument" as a hate crime, the police decided to no longer pursue the case as a hate crime. 

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