Globe and Mail | 16Apr2011 | James Adams

Discord, accusations taint human rights museum debate

The debate over how a Canadian human rights museum should recognize the sufferings of Jews, Ukrainians and other groups in Canada and elsewhere has drawn the attention of prominent international scholars who, in an open letter this week to European newspapers, are accusing two Ukrainian Canadian organizations of “dishonesty” and “distortion.”

The seven-paragraph letter -- bearing more than 100 names, including those of at least nine Ukrainian Canadians -- says the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress are “distorting historical accounts of the Holodomor [the death by famine of millions of Ukrainians in Soviet-occupied Ukraine in 1932-33] while ... refusing to acknowledge the role [of Ukrainian nationalist movements] in the Holocaust.”

The two organizations have helped create “a competition of suffering,” the letter concludes, adding that because of their failure to “confront the historical record openly and honestly,” both should “stay out of” the debate about the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

The text of the letter was prepared by “seven or eight scholars,” all Canadian or with Canadian associations, according to one of its draftees, University of Alberta history and classics professor John Paul Himka. Seeking international support was necessary, Mr. Himka said, because “in Canada, everybody’s a prisoner of their ethnic minority.”

[W.Z. The link at
by David Hirsh dated 08Apr2011 indicates that Per Anders Rudling and Christine Chatterley were especially involved in formulating this scurrilous attack on the Ukrainian community.]

The UCCLA and the UCC have been vociferous and steadfast opponents of the plan for the museum, now under construction in Winnipeg, to have a “zone” dedicated to the Holocaust. They claim such a “zone” in a federally funded museum – it was established as a Crown corporation by the Harper government in 2008 -- “elevates” the Holocaust over other genocides and mass atrocities. The UCC has been pressing for the creation of a Holodomor gallery that receives “no less coverage” than the Holocaust, while the UCCLA feels all genocides should be explored throughout the entire museum in what it calls a “comparative, thematic and inclusive manner.”

The letter, which the UCC was quick to condemn on Friday on its website as “malicious” and rife with “prejudicial remarks,” claims the congress “at times [has] inflated the number of [Holdomor] victims to seven or even 10 million” when “all demographic studies place the number of famine deaths ... in the range of 2.6 to 3.9 million.” While a “grievous toll,” the UCC total has an obvious implication, the letter states: “seven or 10 million is more than six million [the generally agreed death count of the Holocaust]; [therefore] the Holodomor deserves more attention than the Holocaust.”

The letter, whose signatories include British Hitler biographer Sir Ian Kershaw, Israeli Holocaust studies professor Yehuda Bauer and U.S. “Final Solution” expert Christopher Browning, goes on to say both groups haven’t “fully acknowledged” the part the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and the Galicia Division, the last formed by the Nazis in 1943, played in the Holocaust and other “anti-civilian operations.” Indeed, some Ukrainian Canadians “revere” their members as “champions.”

A representative of the UCCLA said on Friday that his organization would reply to these assertions next week. However, in a brief interview, the association’s research director Lubomyr Luciuk said the letter incorrectly claims that his group and the UCC are “campaigning against ... a permanent Holocaust gallery.” While the UCCLA and the UCC differ on how the Holocaust should be represented, neither says it shouldn’t be “a major component. Of course, it must be.”

In the meantime, the UCC online said its position on the Holodomor is that “many millions died ... The exact number is less important than the scale and nature of this genocide.” At the same time, it notes that the government of Ukraine officially claims the famine “took from seven to 10 million innocent lives.” As for the military units cited in the letter, the UCC says the 1985-86 Canadian Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals “formally cleared [them] of war crimes.”

Selected Comment of Per Anders Rudling:
[W.Z. Mr. Rudling obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Alberta in 2009 under the tutelage of  a nest of Ukrainophobes, including John-Paul Himka, that has been supporting attacks on the Ukrainian community for the past two decades.]

Here, it may be important to remind the readers about the reasons for the debate. Lubomyr Luciuk's UCCLA sent out postcards which presented the supporters of the Holocaust exhibit as fat pigs with bullwhips, presenting the Holocaust exhibit in the CMHR as a tool of domination and oppression. The postcard was sent out to several Jewish organizations, caused deep offense and were widely perceived as being anti-Semitic. Now, had this been an isolated incident, it could perhaps been dismissed as yet another example of bad taste and poor judgment. Therefore, some intellectual background to Luciuk's activism. For decades, Luciuk has been involved in apologetic representations of the wartime activities of the Ukrainian extreme right. On July 4, 1983, in the OUN paper Homin Ukrainy, Luciuk defended the Ukrainian Waffen-SS Division Galizien, a deeply anti-Semitic organization under the command of Heinrich Himmler, whose officers were trained in the Dachau concentration camp, took personal oaths to Adolf Hitler, and units of which partook in war crimes, the most infamous one being the slaughter and burning of the Polish village of Huta Pienacka on February 28, 1944. Luciuk maintains that "membership in the Division has never been regarded as a cause of shame." The Ukrainian Waffen-SS veterans in Canada are constituent members of the UCC, under the euphemism The First Division of the Ukrainian National Army. They were saluted by the UCC last Remembrance Day. Last January, the UCC proposed recognition of the veterans of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and its armed wing the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN and UPA). The OUN was the leading Ukrainian fascist movement. It endorsed the Führerprinzip, totalitarianism, anti-Semitism, terrorism, and racism. Its leaders enthusiastically endorsed the Holocaust and its members organized pogroms in Western Ukraine in 1941. In 1943-44, the UPA murdered around 100,000 Polish nationals and thousands of Jews in Volhynia and Galicia. Last year, the UCC wanted the OUN and UPA veterans recognized in Canada. Whereas Luciuk endorses a narrative of diminishing or denying the crimes of the Ukrainian nationalists, he is very fond of linking communism and Soviet crimes to Jews. As late at April 2, 2011, in the Winnipeg Free Press, Luciuk mused on the overrepresentation of Jews in the Communist party, "and particularly in its secret police and Gulag concentration camp system." As if the people who took part in the Stalinist system of government did so as Jews. The idea of the Jewish communists is a cornerstone in the Ukrainian nationalist tradition. It should be remembered that it was for their alleged association with communism the OUN(b) in 1941 demanded their extermination.

When Luciuk now is trying to down-play the maliciousness of his campaign in the language that appeals to fatuous pluralist inclinations, Canadians need to be reminded of the reasons for the concerns of these now 103 scholars.

"UCCLA sent out postcards which presented the supporters of the Holocaust exhibit as fat pigs with bullwhips..."

No they didn't. They sent out a postcard showing the original cover of the Ukrainian publication of "Animal Farm" which George Orwell wrote as a critique of stalinism.

Everybody knows that.

Furthermore, it was clearly marked on the postcard that this was the cover art of "Animal Farm."

I've seen photos of this card, and to argue that it intended to insult supporters of a separate permanent Holocaust exhibit withint the CMHR is simply ridiculous.

Marsha S:
P Rudling's post is filled with the sort of racist hate that came out of the Soviet Union after WWII. I suspect this is a crafty individual who well knows the harm he is causing. Shame on him.

Jews and Ukrainians were targeted by both the Soviets and the Nazis. We have more in common than this individual cares to admit.

This post also shows why it is so important to make sure the CMHR is not one-sided.

Per Rudling is a hatemonger. If you have evidence of war criminals in Canada, you should inform the government. If not, you should not engage in smearing entire ethnic groups with hate speech.

Selected Comment of KMB47:

KMB47 2:08 PM on April 17, 2011

Why are you so surprised, Roman Serbyn? Why attack Dr. Per Rudling, who is fluent in Ukrainian, Russian, and German, and who has devoted many years of research to examining the archives and testimony pertaining to the crimes committed by the OUN and UPA? As one of the signatories of the open letter, I can assure you that I support an open and honest confrontation with the historical record, which is why those who have a vested interest in denying or obfuscating the role of Ukrainian nationalists in the mass murder of Jews and Poles do not have a legitimate voice in a debate about the representation of human rights. I suspect that Canadian WWII veterans and their families would not be pleased to know that their tax dollars have paid your salary as a professor and funded your obsessive activism in defense of the UPA and the Galician division of the SS. There are records of your statements to the effect that membership in the SS is no cause for shame. While I strongly believe that Canadians should be talking about how to represent Canada's relationship to the history of human rights, I also hope that people will recognize that Roman Serbyn and Luciuk have vested interests in diminishing the Holocaust's significance because they want to deflect public attention from Ukrainian nationalist involvement in genocide. If readers of this newspaper would look into their backgrounds, it would become immediately clear that Serbyn's and Luciuk's interventions in this campaign are not based on a desire for fair representation, but on fanatical, life-long investment in denigrating a genocide that they blame on its victims.