Minister Freeland's Grandfather,
"It takes a village to raise a Nazi" (old African proverb, slightly modified)
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This issue (#68) deals with the mass internment of Ukrainian Canadians, this community's left-right split and the mainstream racist, xenophobic anti-communism of progressive "Social Gospellers" (like the CCF's J.S. Woodsworth) who were so captivated by their false beliefs that they carried out the genocide of First Nations and turned a blind eye to government repression during the 20th-century "Red Scare."
One popularised narrative about the Nuremberg Trials is that it they taught us that "just following orders" is no excuse for having collaborated with war criminals. But what does it mean to follow orders? On a simple level, orders are just oral or written commands issued by authorities. But orders can also refer to religious, economic or political structures which hold people firmly in place, and direct their beliefs and actions in certain predetermined directions. These are the social orders that command and control the way a people will act and interact within the boundaries established by their culture. These orders also separate people into social groups based on their class, race, ethnicity, nationality or other cultural constructs. Social orders also come with ideological frameworks that impose belief systems which govern people's understandings of social reality and their place within the established order.
Simple orders or commands may then be of far less importance than the ordered systems of social mores and the ideological structures that individuals absorb during a lifetime full of diverse forms of cultural programming.
Ideally, from the propagandists' point of view, authorities do not even need to issue outright commands. If people have been properly enculturated into the propagandists' worldview, they will not have to be told what to do. They will respond intuitively, as if by second nature. That way if a newspaper headline tells villagers that "The barbarians are at the gate!" they will immediately know what is required of them. Physical coercion is useful to state authorities, but only a last resort. Much preferred is a docile, thoroughly propagandised community who will carry out the expectations of their social order without actually having to receive any explicit orders.
The Nazi propaganda Wurlitzer over which Chrystia Freeland's grandfather exercised leadership did not literally order Ukrainians to go out and murder people. Or did it? The flagship Nazi-Ukrainian newspaper under his management, Krakivs'ki visti, did actually join German authorities and the Ukrainian churches in their coercive 1943 recruitment campaign which persuaded tens of thousands of young Ukrainian men to sign up for Germany's infamous Waffen SS Galician division. The appeal by Chomiak's boss, Ukrainian Central Committee leader Volodymyr Kubijovych, which was printed in Krakivs'ki visti, wasn't just a casual suggestion. It literally said: "You must stand shoulder to shoulder with the invincible German army and destroy, once and for all, the Bolshevik beast."[i] (Emphasis added.)
The issuance of this literal command aside, the real indictment of Chomiak is that day after day, year after year, page after page, his collaborationist newspapers dutifully churned out the Nazi's spin on the war. His papers turned out fake news about a monstrous Judaeo-Bolshevik "beast" based in the Kremlin that the Nazis and their Ukrainian allies so loved to hate. The Committee's newspapers were among the main devices used to provoke Ukrainian villagers' mortal fears with terrifying stories of a fiendishly authoritarian "monster" coming at them from Moscow.
The antiSemitic-anticommunist lenses ‑ through which many Ukrainians had already been trained to see the social world ‑ became even more polished, thanks to daily newspaper propaganda stories. These Nazified Ukrainian lenses magnified the seeming appearance of a Jewish-Communist "beast" looming just outside their village gate. German and Ukrainian propaganda also fixated villagers' gaze on the ethnic and political vermin which had supposedly infested their clean, peaceable village. Thus programmed, many Ukrainians were psychologically prepared with the rationalisations that allowed them to turn a blind eye towards, if not aid and abet, the international crimes later condemned at Nuremberg.
There should be no doubt that Chomiak was indeed a Nazi collaborator. Some however may still try to deny this, as Freeland's office did when asked outright by the Globe and Mail on March 6.[ii] But since that tactic is ludicrous, Freeland's supporters in the media, government and ultranationalist Ukrainian community are rallying around her with rationalisations. Some will shrug and say that it was all so very long ago that it doesn't really matter anymore. Others will follow the paper trail of narratives that Freeland herself has fabricated over many years, in preparation perhaps for the day when her grandfather's complicity in Nazi crimes would be made public. That paper trail is her carefully-crafted, oft-repeated narrative about his war experiences. It focuses on the underlying idea that her grandfather was a poor victim of war forced to flee from the enemy, i.e., the Soviets, and find shelter in Germany.
This line of attack, which excuses Nazi collaboration as mere opposition to the Soviets, fits well with the now-prevailing official narrative that Russia, and its authoritarian leader Putin, is the world's biggest threat. This means that anyone who dares perpetrate the truth about Freeland's maternal grandfather should be labelled as an enemy of Canada. This offensive defence strategy is designed to put a chill on democratic debate. Freeland, her community of ultranationalist Ukrainians, and their friends in the politico-economic-media Wurlitzer, are hoping that loyal Canadians will back down from exposing or even considering the truth, because they fear being seen as unpatriotic, or worse, as agents of Canada's officially-appointed enemy, Russia.
Others will argue that Chomiak was forced by the Nazis to work for five years as their most prized Ukrainian-language propagandist. He was just following orders after all, working against his will in an aryanised office, living against his will in two nicely-furnished aryanised apartments, and drawing a respectable salary for his role as the most important Ukrainian propagandist spinning the Nazi's mighty Wurlitzer. Meanwhile, all around this charmed little community of Ukrainians living under the protective military bubble of Nazism, tens of millions of Jews, Poles and Soviets were being brutally and systematically wiped off the face of the earth.
Freeland, like her Ukrainian grandfather, built much of her influential career as an advocacy journalist in the mainstream media, by spinning what many see as antiRussian stories. Her contributions to the mighty corporate Wurlitzer have included churning out scores of highly-prized big business news pieces for newspapers, providing gatekeeping services as an editor for various huge media corporations, writing books fixating public attention on the apparent preponderance of Russian and American oligarchs who somehow mostly happen to be Jewish, and exercising her gifts as an orator echoing these themes on the lucrative lecture circuit. That these contributions have been one-sided, opinionated and propagandistic seems blatantly obvious to many observers. Others however will no doubt deny that her work even resembles propaganda. They will claim that Freeland has offered the world a fine example of objective journalism which merely reports the pure and simple truth.[iii]
Whether we see Freeland as a propagandist, or as an objective purveyor of reality, is largely contingent on our political perspective. As usual, it's all in "the eye of the beholder." Similarly, how we perceive the problem of Freeland's refusal to acknowledge the Nazi in the room, will depend on the lenses with which we have been provided through a lifetime of cultural programming.
But does this mean that there is no objective truth, and that everything is simply a matter of mere opinion? Are there not objective ways to determine the truth? Our legal system thinks there are. We have courts that regularly decide the "truth" on many matters. An example of this occurred at Nuremberg when judges there found various people guilty of international crimes.
Among those sentenced to death was Julius Streicher, the editor of a German newspaper called Der Stürmer. The judges' ruling against Streicher included these statements:
"For his 25 years of speaking, writing and preaching hatred of the Jews, Streicher was widely known as 'Jew-Baiter Number One.' In his speeches and articles, week after week, month after month, he infected the German mind with the virus of anti-Semitism, and incited the German people to active persecution. ... Streicher's incitement to murder and extermination at the time when Jews in the East were being killed under the most horrible conditions clearly constitutes persecution on political and racial grounds in connection with war crimes, as defined by the Charter, and constitutes a crime against humanity."[iv]
Streicher's antiSemitic propaganda was certainly more extreme than Chomiak's newspapers. However, this isn't saying much because Der Stürmer was the worst of the worst. Krakivs'ki visti and Kholmska zemlia were both still guilty of promulgating Nazi hate speech against Jews. As John Paul Himka, Freeland's uncle, has stated about the daily newspaper, Krakivs'ki vist, that listed his father-in-law Michael Chomiak as editor in chief:
"It is clear ... that the anti-Semitic propaganda of the paper contributed to create an atmosphere conducive to the mass murder of the Jews that was already underway. It should not be forgotten in what context Krakivs'ki visti was lamenting its victims and inflaming passions against Jews."[v]
Kent (Conservative MP, Thornhill),* a former journalist
himself, said in March 2017 that the collaboration of Freeland's grandfather
with the Nazis has "probably
been misrepresented." Perhaps before saying this he should
have checked the facts. Then, Kent said that the story "has nothing to do
with her ability to represent Canada."[vi]
Ironically, however, the evidence in this case demonstrates that, for many years, it
was Chrystia Freeland who "misrepresented" the truth about her grandfather's life.
Does an ability to accept and to convey the truth have any bearing on
one's ability to be a journalist or politician? Apparently not,
at least according to some journalists, politicians, and
In the ongoing debate over the significance or insignificance of truth and reconciliation, Canadians will have to decide which social order they will follow. If told that revelations about the Freeland-Chomiak connection are evidence that the Russians are at the gates of our "Peaceable Kingdom" and are trying to undermine "Canadian values" like democracy, will they march obediently in step with such "fake news" narratives?
(Continue reading this article)
* Peter Kent's
speech at the 25th anniversary of Ukrainian Independence (August 29, 2016)
was covered by the website of League of Ukrainian Canadians (LUC).
LUC is the official organisation representing the Bandera faction of the
Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, i.e., the OUN(B). Its armed
division was the UPA. The Baturyn marching band of the LUC's youth
affiliate, the Ukrainian Youth
Association, played the Canadian and Ukrainian anthems at this event.
Click below for their narrative of this event, Bandera and the OUN-UPA.
These organisation revere Stepan Bandera as a national hero of Ukraine.
Do Kent and others even realise the company they are keeping?
Volodomyr Kubijovych, "Appeal
to Ukrainian Citizens and Youth,"
Krakivski visti, on May 16, 1943. Cited by
Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide in the
Second Republic, 1918-1947,
1998, p.226, and footnote 359 on p.372.
Robert Fife, "Freeland warns Canadians to beware of Russian
disinformation," Globe and Mail, March 6, 2017.
[iii] But "the truth," said journalist, playwright and novelist, Oscar Wilde, "is rarely pure and never simple.” To illustrate this simple meta-truth, one need only examine Wilde's virulent antiSemitism.
Anti-Semitism of Oscar Wilde
[v] Paul Himka, "Ethnicity and the Reporting of Mass Murder: Krakivs'ki visti, the NKVD Murders of 1941, and the Vinnytsia Exhumation," Shatterzone of Empires: Coexistence and Violence in the German, Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman Borderlands, (Omer Bartov and Eric D. Weitz, editors), 2013.