Between 1950 and 1955, thousands of veterans from the notorious
German-led, Ukrainian 14th Waffen-SS Galicia Division emigrated to
North America with the full consent of the governments despite
immigration regulations in force at the time that forbade entry to
all who served in any branch of the SS. The Jewish community fought
a brief, but futile, battle to persuade those governments to deny
them entry, denouncing them as a "sinister legion" of "bloodthirsty
murderers"--war criminals who had engaged in the mass murder of
thousands of innocent civilians.
On the other hand, a well-organized body of Division supporters
insisted there was nothing "sinister" or "murderous" about the
young men who had volunteered to serve in its ranks. They declared
them exceptional soldiers who obeyed the international rules of
war, praised them for being dedicated soldiers who harbored no
hatred for Jews, guarded no concentration camps, and committed no
crimes against humanity.
At issue then was the nature of the Division and its war record.
Were they "pure soldiers" as many of their supporters contended, or
were they, to use Daniel Goldhagen's phrase, among Hitler's willing
"Pure Soldiers or Bloodthirsty Murderers "traces the 14th
Waffen-SS Galicia Division's fortunes from its formation in April
1943, to its surrender to the British in May 1946, from immigrant
farm workers in Britain, Canada and the USA, to Cold War CIA
assassins. Along the way, it attempts to shed some light on this
acrimonious dispute that has continued to the present day.
Sol Littman is former Canadian Director of the Simon Wiesenthal
Center, author of "War Criminal on Trial," founding editor of "The
Canadian Jewish News," the First Director of B'nai Brith Canada's
"League for Human Rights," and also served with the Anti-Defamation
League in the United States.
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