Minister Freeland's Grandfather,
Michael Chomiak,
the Nazi's Top
Ukrainian Propagandist:

Fake News,
Mighty Wurlitzers,
Historical Amnesia and the
(or Bear) in the Room

By Richard Sanders, editor, Press for Conversion! magazine of the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade, March 22, 2017

"It takes a village to raise a Nazi" (old African proverb, slightly modified)

1- Introduction

2 - The Liberal Government's Warm Embrace of Ukraine's Nazi Collaborators

3 - Historical Amnesia and the Blinding Effects of Propaganda

4 - The Nazis as Victims?  Sure, just Blame the Russians!

5 - Canada needs Truth and Reconciliation, not Denials and Obfuscation

6 - Historical Denial among Canada's ultranationalist Ukrainians

7 - Michael Chomiak, The Ukrainian Central Committee and its Nazi Newspapers

8 - Aryanisation and the "Mighty Wurlitzer"

9 - The Ukrainian Canadian Congress and its Fascist Roots

10 - Getting them Early: Building the ultraNationalist Cause among Children and Youth

11 - The Freeland-Chomiak Parallels in Advocacy Journalism

12 - Was Freeland an "Accidental Journalist," or Groomed for the Job?

13 - In 1989, Freeland was Declared an "Enemy of the Soviet State"

14 - A Chomiak-Freeland Fixation on Jewish Oligarchs running the Kremlin

15 - Freeland's Kremlin-Oligarch Theory goes Global with Jewish Plutarchetype

16 - Institutionalised Confidence Scams: An Open Conspiracy of Oligarchs, Politicians and Journalists

17 - Escaping the War Racket starts with Seeing the Elephant

18 - Just Following Orders?  Which Orders?

19 - Is there a Bear in the Room?  Kill it!

20 - The Collective Care and Feeding of Russophobia

21 - The Need for Truth and Reconciliation

Note that all of the Wurlitzer propaganda posters end with the line:
"Wurlitzer is working for Uncle Sam"

Press for Conversion!

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Captive Canada:
Renditions of the Peaceable Kingdom at War, from Narratives of WWI and the Red Scare to the Mass Internment of Civilians
Or, how we learned to stop worrying, keep calm and carry on loving the myths that define and confine us.

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."

The main thesis is captured here:
"The Canada Syndrome,
a Captivating Mass Psychosis"

Part 8
Aryanisation and the "Mighty Wurlitzer"

Both of the newspapers known to have been edited by Michael Chomiak were produced and distributed from the office of the Ukrainian Publishing House in Krakow.  Its office space and printing press had been stolen (aryanised) by the Nazis from a Jewish publishing company whose daily newspaper and other publications were forced to stop in 1939.  That was when the Nazi's had invaded and the Chomiaks, along with thousands of their fellow Ukrainian nationalists, had arrived.

During their four years in Nazi-occupied Poland, the Chomiak family also benefited personally from the brutal displacement of Jews.  The Chomiaks lived in not one but two aryanised Krakow apartments complete with furniture that had been appropriated from the previous Jewish occupants.  A letter written by Chomiak to Nazi authorities lists 15 pieces of furniture which he said had been left behind by "the Jew Dr. Finkelstein."  Chomiak asked permission to move all these furnishings to his second aryanised apartment.

The Chomiak's first apartment was within the stunningly beautiful Pugetow Palace complex, just a few minutes walk from the city's main plaza (which the German occupiers had recently renamed "Adolph Hitler Square"). 

The Chomiaks' second aryanised apartment, overlooking a park along the Vistula River, was a mere three-minute walk (260 metres) from his aryanised home to his newspaper office.  Both were located in Kazimierz, the formerly Jewish district of Krakow that was ethnically cleansed during the war. (If you would like to take a virtual walk along the Krakow streets between Chomiak's home and work, you can do so right now.  Just click the google map above and zoom in to use "street view" to navigate between Swietego Stanisława 7 and Elizy Orzeszkowej 7.)

Michael Chomiak displayed a sense of entitlement upon receiving his second aryanised home in Krakow, that was probably quite typical for someone of his standing in the Ukrainian community.  This is shown in another letter that he wrote to city authorities asking them to reimburse him for the expenses he had incurred in cleaning the river-view apartment.  Chomiak's rather gutsy letter stated that the

apartment I was assigned ... a former Jewish property, ... was so verminous and filthy, I was forced to refurbish and disinfect the whole apartment at my own expense.... I am forced to disinfect the apartment a second time with gas candles as not all bugs were killed during the first disinfection."[i]  

For many years, such language ‑ associating Jews with filth and pests ‑ was used so repeatedly in Nazi propaganda that it had become quite normalised among Germans and their Ukrainian allies. The aryanisation of property, apartments, neighbourhoods, cities and indeed whole countries, was seen by Nazis -- and those within their sphere of influence -- as something that was just as necessary and socially healthy as the extermination of unhealthy vermin with special "gas candles."

The fact that Nazi authorities "assigned" an apartment to the Chomiaks that had been stolen from Jewish inhabitants was not unusual.  The Nazi regime regularly bestowed many blessings upon the newly arrived, enriched and empowered Ukrainian community that the Germans welcomed into Poland during the war. These recent immigrants who had fled the Red Army's entry into Ukraine were given a charmed middle-class life in Krakow by the Nazi's General Government. 

Pawel Markiewicz, a Polish historian, cites the research of Andrzej Chwalba who has written about the Ukrainians who occupied Krakow during the war after fleeing the Soviet Army's entry into Ukraine:

"Here, as throughout the entire GG [General Government, i.e., Nazi-occupied Poland], they felt good or as a privileged Slavic people. They received residency registrations without any major problems, much easier than Poles... After the eviction of Jews, they densely inhabited Grunestrasse (today's and prewar Krakow's Jerzego Sarego street) and neighboring streets. This region was often referred to as the 'Ukrainian quarter.' The Ukrainians had in it (as well as beyond it) their own stores, service companies, restaurants and coffee houses (Viera, Casino, Poltava), bank (Ukraibank Krakau), schools and a charitable committee." (Andrzej Chwalba, Okupacyjny Krakow, 2nd ed. Krakow: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2002, p.86.)

Meanwhile, in stark contrast to the pleasantries afforded by the Nazis to the incoming Ukrainians that took over aryanised properties, the large Jewish population of Krakow was brutally removed from their homes, synagogues and businesses. They were then forced into a horribly cramped ghetto across the Vistula River where many died of starvation and disease.  For those who managed to survive the captivity and disease of the ghetto, the Nazis had a final solution, they forced them into highly-efficient gas chambers for extermination like pests.

Although these horrors were going on all around them, you wouldn't know it from reading the newspapers produced under Chomiak's watchful Ukrainian eye.  These papers were part and parcel of a massive mainstream news machine that propagated Nazi messaging not only in Krakow, and throughout occupied Poland, but throughout Greater Germany and across Nazi Europe. This kind of government-sponsored corporate media apparatus has come to be known as a "Mighty Wurlitzer."[ii]

The "Wurlitzer" moniker appropriately began with the CIA's chief of covert action, Frank Wisner, who used it as an affectionate term for the post-war, collaborationist media that he set up for use by American intelligence organisations. Wisner's CIA duties included: (1) recruiting Germans and their east European allies to continue their anticommunist efforts through new careers in US intelligence, (2) creating a vast propaganda network called Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberation from Bolshevism[iii] (RFE/RL), and (3) exerting a powerful influence on widespread public opinion by disseminating misinformation, disinformation and various forms of fake news through many of the largest mainstream media outlets in the US and around the world.[iv] These three programs were major weapons in the CIA's psychological war that was used to target America's strongest WWII ally, and biggest Cold War enemy, the Soviet Union. In the post-Soviet world after 1990, the Wurlitzer's Cold-War propaganda has all-too-often continued apace through a similar pattern of vilification aimed at Russia and its leaders in Moscow's Kremlin.

The print news venues over which Michael Chomiak held sway, did much to help official German and Ukrainian authorities to demonise their common enemies, namely Soviet communists and Jews. Chomiak presided over publications whose highly politicised fake news parroted the Nazi narration of world events, included that whopper of all whoppers ‑ Hitler's "Big Lie." Accordingly, Ukrainian newspapers joined the Third Reich's scaremongering diatribes in fabricating the myth that a villainous threat to peace-loving Europe was being posed by powerful Jewish elites lurking behind the Kremlin's evil Bolshevik bosses in Moscow and their dastardly plutocratic friends in Britain and America.

For example, the Berlin correspondent for Krakivs'ki visti drew readers attention to that commonly-hyphenated threat to civilisation that was variously pigeonholed as "Muscovite-Jewish nonhumanity," the "Jewish-Bolshevik gang," and the "Stalinist-Jewish commune." In a July 1941 article, he included a fake news story claiming that Joseph Stalin was about to abandon Moscow and run away to North America to join "his 'democratized' friend Roosevelt, where in New York millions of dollars ... await him in the safes of Jewish banks."[v]

Although Stalin did not escape to North America, thousands of Ukrainian soldiers did, after having fought in military units that supported Hitler's failed efforts to conquer the USSR and Europe. 

Sources and Notes

[i] Letter signed by Michael Chomiak to Krakow's Real Estate Trustees, September 19, 1940. Provincial Archives (Edmonton, AB), Michael Chomiak fond, 85.191, box 2 file 28.

Letter signed by Michael Chomiak to the German Department at Krakow City Hall, undated. Provincial Archives (Edmonton, AB), Michael Chomiak fond, 85.191, box 2 file 28.

Thanks to Pawel Markiewicz for providing these letters.

Thanks to Christian Manser for translating these letters.

In his translation, Christian Manser pointed out the ambiguities around the word "hinterlassen" and whether it means "bequeath" or "leave behind."  I asked Pawel Markiewicz for his interpretation and he replied (March 6, 2017):

"I think, just as you said, we have to infer that Chomiak did not know Finkelstein and that the latter simply was forced out of his apartment probably in the usual fashion, that is with one of two pieces of luggage. In other words, there was no way for such people to take their furniture with them. As a result, Germans, or in this case, Chomiak, simply inherited what was left behind as "his own." That's how I would explain it."

Below are some links to photographs of the "aryanised" building at 15 Starowislna Street in Krakow, where the Chomiaks had their first apartment. (During the war, the Nazi regime changed the street name to Komendanturstrasse.) This building was part of the Pugetow Palace complex.

[ii] Wurlitzer was a US company formed by a German immigrant in the 1850s.  Although it began by selling wind instruments to the US military, Wurlitzer later became famous for building elaborate mechanised music machines that cranked out tunes.  Its machines including orchestrions, nickelodeons and juke boxes. Frank Wisner, when referring to the CIA's formidable worldwide propaganda machine, often jokingly called it "The Mighty Wulitzer."

Hugh Wilford, The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America, 2008.

[iii] "Radio Liberation from Bolshevism" (now called "Radio Liberty" or "Radio Liberation"), was the original name for this CIA media Wurlitzer. 

"The name was changed in 1963.  American organizers of the committee, former RFE/RL president Sig Mickelson notes, 'seem to have been unaware that "Bolshevism" had been Hitler's favorite term of disparagement for the Soviet Union.' The Soviet government lost no time in pointing out the rhetorical similarity between Radio Liberation's broadcasts and those of the Nazis as well as the fact that a number of easily identified Nazi collaborators were working for the station.  According to Mickelson, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberation were eventually forced to ban the use of the term Bolshevism in their news broadcasts because of its unmistakable association with Nazi propaganda in the minds of European listeners."

Christopher Simpson, Blowback: America's Recruitment of Nazis and Its Destructive Impact on Our Domestic and Foreign Policy, 2014. 

[iv] At the close of WWII, Wisner headed the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) operations in southeastern Europe.  The OSS was the US intelligence agency from which the CIA was formed.  Wisner's work, for the OSS and CIA, involved recruiting Nazis and their collaborators from eastern Europe. He established and led Operation Mockingbird which gave the CIA tremendous influence over many major mass media outlets. By 1951, Wisner was the CIA's chief of covert action, and as such, was responsible for the Agency's clandestine operations around the world.

Christopher Simpson, Blowback: America's Recruitment of Nazis and Its Destructive Impact on Our Domestic and Foreign Policy, 2014.

Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men: The Daring Early Years of the CIA, 2012.

[v] Gennadii Kotorovych, "Svit klonyt' holovu pered trahediieiu Ukrainy," Krakivs'ki visti, July 10, 1941. Cited by John-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.