The University of Alberta says it is reviewing other donations it has received after returning $30,000 from the family of Yaroslav Hunka, a Waffen SS veteran who got a standing ovation in Parliament during a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last month.
The university is facing calls to return hundreds of thousands of dollars in endowments in the names of Ukrainians linked to the Waffen SS Galicia division, who were admitted to Canada after the Second World War. They include an endowment of about $430,000 in the name of Volodymyr Kubijovych, who played a key role in the SS unit’s establishment in 1943.
Per Anders Rudling, an expert in the Waffen SS Galicia division, who studied at the University of Alberta, said for the sake of “consistency” the university should return other donations from SS veterans to fund Ukrainian studies, including an endowment for research into Ukraine during the Second World War.
He said it did not make sense just to return $30,000 from the family of Mr. Hunka, who was a teenager at the time he volunteered to fight with the Waffen SS division, while keeping money from more senior figures.
House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota resigned after he paid tribute to the 98-year-old Mr. Hunka, whom he had invited to sit in the visitors’ gallery during Mr. Zelensky’s visit. MPs and ministers gave him a standing ovation.
University of Alberta spokesman Michael Brown said last week it has decided to “close the endowment fund that existed in Mr. Hunka’s name and return the funds to the donor.”
“We are currently reviewing other endowments, and our general naming policies and procedures, including those for endowments, to ensure alignment with our values,” he said in a statement.
Dan Panneton, of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human-rights organization, commended the university for cancelling the endowment fund named after Mr. Hunka.
“It must also address the several other endowment funds it has named after former members of the Waffen SS and acknowledge that the university has had people with ties to the Waffen SS involved with the university for many years,” he said.
Prof. Rudling, who has studied the history of the SS unit of Ukrainian volunteers, said Mr. Hunka played a minor role compared to Mr. Kubijovych who was instrumental in convincing the Nazi regime to create the Waffen SS division in Ukraine.
Prof. Rudling of Lund University in Sweden said he has found evidence that Mr. Kubijovych collaborated with Hans Frank, the personal legal adviser to Adolf Hitler and a member of his cabinet, who was appointed governor of occupied Poland and implicated in the mass murder of Jews.
He said Mr. Kubijovych, who settled in France after the Second World War, also corresponded with Adolf Eichmann, the high-ranking Nazi official who was hanged after the war in Israel for playing a key role in the Third Reich’s killing of Jews.
A photograph of a parade in Lviv, Ukraine, in July, 1943, shows Mr. Kubijovych making a Nazi salute alongside Otto Wächter, a senior member of the SS who also served as governor of Galicia and Krakow. Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal alleged that Mr. Wächter oversaw the transportation of thousands of Jews to extermination camps.
Mr. Kubijovych became a prominent member of the Ukrainian community who edited the Encyclopedia of Ukraine. The Volodymyr and Daria Kubijovych Memorial Endowment Fund was established in 1986 and, according to a link to a website the university has now taken down, is worth $437,757.
“If they can’t have the Hunka endowment but are hanging on to an endowment for $430,000 from the founder of the Waffen SS Galician, it’s very problematic,” Prof. Rudling said.
He said the university should also return donations in the names of other former Waffen SS veterans, including $50,000 from the family of Levko Babij. His donation was designed to fund the study of 20th-century Ukrainian history, especially during the Second World War. Prof. Rudling said Mr. Babij was a former president of the Ukrainian veterans association.
The university also received a $15,000 donation from Roman Kolisnyk, whom Prof. Rudling said was an officer with the rank of untersturmführer in the Galicia Waffen SS division, and editor of the journal of the Ukrainian Waffen SS veterans. After the war he settled in Toronto.
Established in 2011 by Mr. Kolisnyk, the fund is worth around $100,900 and supports translations and publications of Ukrainian literary works, memoirs and diaries.
The university’s Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, which their donations helped fund, refers in past newsletters to their service with the SS Galicia division.
Veterans of the SS regiment have also held positions at the University of Alberta. They include Peter Savaryn, who became its chancellor. In 1987, Mr. Savaryn was named to the Order of Canada by the governor-general. He was also president of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta.
In Canada, members of the Ukrainian diaspora have striven to depict the SS Galicia division, which was made up of volunteers from Western Ukraine, as freedom fighters. It was founded after the German defeat at Stalingrad in 1943 in an attempt to push back the advancing Soviets.
Myroslav Shkandrij, author of In the Maelstrom: The Waffen-SS ‘Galicia’ Division and Its Legacy, said the division’s spokespeople have had to deal with the “opprobrium generated by their association with a regime as repugnant as the Third Reich.”
“In the decades after the Second World War the division’s veterans debated whether creation of the formation had been a mistake, whether their idea of breaking from the Germans at the war’s end and becoming the core of a Ukrainian army had been a fantasy, and whether they had in fact been a German and not a Ukrainian army,” he said.