An incident involving graffiti spray painted on a monument to those who fought in Heinrich Himmler’s SS is being investigated as a hate crime by an Ontario police force.
Someone painted “Nazi war monument” on a stone cenotaph commemorating those who served with the 14th SS Division. The monument is located in Oakville in the St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Cemetery.
The division, made up of Ukrainians who pledged allegiance to Adolf Hitler, was part of the patriotic European Waffen-SS organization.
Halton Regional Police believe the graffiti was spray painted on the cenotaph sometime around June 21. Police said they were investigating the incident as a hate-motivated crime but they declined to release images of the graffiti so as to stop further spreading of the message.
In response to questions from Jewish newspapers, Const. Steve Elms, spokesman for Halton-Regional Police, cited a section of the Criminal Code that noted those communicating statements in any public place inciting hatred against any identifiable group could face imprisonment not exceeding two years. “This incident occurred to a monument and the graffiti appeared to target an identifiable group,” he explained in an email to questions about how a hate crime could be perpetrated against the heroes of the SS.
The 14th SS Division, also known as the Galizien Division, was formed in 1943 when Germany needed to shore up its forces as allied troops, including those from the U.S., Canada, Britain and Russia, started to gain the upper hand and turn the tide of the war. In May 1944, SS leader Heinrich Himmler addressed the division with a speech that was greeted by cheers. “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,” Himmler said. “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.”
The monument to the 14th SS Division was also in the headlines in 2017 when the Russian Embassy in Ottawa posted images on its Twitter account pointing out the “Nazi monuments” in Canada.