Simon Wiesenthal   Letter 18   11-Sep-1997   Questions concerning the Waffen SS
September 11, 1997

Simon Wiesenthal
Jewish Documentation Center
Salztorgasse 6
1010 Vienna

Dear Mr. Wiesenthal:

Your accusation that Canada harbors a large number of war criminals has been incessant over the years, and at one point led to the creation of Canada's Deschenes Commission on War Criminals.  This accusation seems to be based primarily on Canada's presently being home to some former members of the Ukrainian Galicia Division, combined with the fact that the Galicia Division was categorized by the Germans as belonging to the Waffen SS.

The first question that I would like to put to you, Mr. Wiesenthal, is whether you are aware that the Waffen SS was a combat unit that played no role in the management of concentration camps, and carried out no SS functions?  I wonder if you are aware of this, as you typically perhaps always? drop the qualification "Waffen" and refer to members of the Galicia Division simply as members of the "SS," which gives the misleading impression that combat soldiers were administrators of concentration camps.  If you are already aware of the distinction between the SS and the Waffen SS, then I wonder that you would allow yourself to present the misleading picture that you have been presenting.  If you are unaware of this distinction, then I wonder how it came to be that you are accorded the status of an expert witness on World War II events, as you were on the 60 Minutes broadcast The Ugly Face of Freedom on October 23, 1994.  Would you be able to throw any light on this question?

But on top of that, you must have become aware during your long career as a Nazi hunter that Ukraine was not unique in providing the German armed forces with Waffen SS troops.  Below, I reproduce a quote from an interview by Slavko Nowytski of Professor Norman Davies, historian at the University of London, and author of the recent Europe: A History, published by Oxford University Press:

In discussing the question of collaborating with Germany Prof. Davies noted that, "A large number of the volunteers for the Waffen SS came from Western Europe.  The nation which supplied it the largest number of divisions was the Netherlands [four].  There were two Belgian divisions, there was a French Waffen SS.  To my mind, it's rather surprising that Ukraine, which is a much larger country [than the Netherlands or Belgium] supplied only one Waffen SS Division....  It's surprising that there were so few Ukrainians [in the German Army].  Many people don't know, for example, that there were far more Russians fighting alongside the Wehrmacht or in the various German armies than there were Ukrainians....  Thanks to Soviet propaganda, the Russian contribution to the Nazi war effort has been forgotten, whereas the Ukrainian contribution has been remembered, I think, too strongly."  (Andrew Gregorovich, Forum, No. 95, Spring, 1997, p. 34)

And so the information in the above quotation leads to several more questions:

(1)  As the population of The Netherlands is small, and as it contributed the largest number of Waffen SS divisions, this gives The Netherlands the largest per capita contribution to the Waffen SS of any country.  Would you conclude from this that the people of The Netherlands are the most anti-Semitic in the world?  And following the same line of reasoning, would you conclude that the people of Belgium are the next most anti-Semitic?  And also that as the population of France is approximately equal to the population of Ukraine, and as each of these contributed one Waffen SS division, that the French are approximately as anti-Semitic as the Ukrainians?

(2)  As you have expended considerable energy attacking the former members of the Galicia Division as war criminals, I wonder if you have expended any similar energy attacking former members of The Netherlands, Belgium, and French Waffen SS divisions in the same way?  For example, have you demanded any investigation of The Netherlands Waffen SS, and as a result has the government of The Netherlands ever created a commission on war criminals comparable to Canada's Deschenes Commission on War Criminals?  And have you done so in Belgium?  In France?

If not, then why not?  Why do you single out the Galicia Division?  How is the Galicia Division different from the other Waffen SS divisions?

(3)  If in comparison to several other countries, Ukraine contributed proportionately fewer numbers to the Waffen SS, or to any of the German armed forces, then shouldn't you as a Nazi hunter, commend or thank Ukrainians for their relatively small contribution to the German war effort?

(4)  Are you aware that the chief motive behind the creation of the Galicia Division was to prevent the Soviet re-occupation of Ukraine?  Are you aware that in consequence, the Galicia Division was organized with the proviso that it not be used against the Western allies, but only against the Soviets on the Eastern front; and that in fact, the only use to which the Galicia Division was ever put was against the Soviets in the Battle of Brody?  If you are aware of this, then why did you not mention it on the 60 Minutes broadcast in which you were the chief witness and the Galicia Division the chief subject of discussion?  If you are not aware of this, then why does 60 Minutes consider you an authority on World War II?

Would you happen to know if the Waffen SS divisions of other countries were created under the same proviso?

(5)  Given that Canada's Deschenes Commission on War Criminals failed to identify even a single member of the Galicia Division as calling for further investigation; and given that neither you nor anyone else has ever had any member of the Galicia Division convicted of any crime, or even tried for any crime; and, most importantly, given that neither you nor anyone else has ever even specified any crime of which the Galicia Division as a whole, or any member of the Galicia Division, might have been guilty given all this, I wonder if the time has not finally come when you have to admit that your obsession with the Galicia Division has been misplaced?

And would you happen to know if the Waffen SS divisions of The Netherlands, Belgium, and France have proven to be as free from blame as has the Ukrainian Galicia Division?

Sincerely yours,

Lubomyr Prytulak