Wednesday 6 December 2023

'Waffen SS' WW2 memorial standing proud in Scotland!



A monument bearing the insignia of a World War 2, Waffen-SS unit - men who swore loyalty to Adolf Hitler and his genocidal, rascist, Nazi doctrine - is standing proud in Scotland.

Even more unbelievably perhaps, in 2022 a quango founded by the Scottish Government agreed to provide a grant for £52,777.00 to upgrade the site and allow for the development of a small visitor centre. 

During the Nuremburg Trials at the end of WW2 the entire Waffen -'SS' organisation, the military arm of Hitler's Nazi party, was declared a “criminal organisation” guilty of war crimes and genocide. 

The site at Hallmuir near Lockerbie, just off the busy M74 motorway, was a former WW2 POW camp, when, in 1947, over 450 Ukranian speaking former members of the 14th Waffen-SS Galician (or Galizien, historians use both spellings) Division arrived to begin their assimilation into British society. They were sent to work on farms and forestry in the area. A small chapel had been created in one of the military huts by Italian POWs during the war. The men of the Galizien Waffen-SS converted it to a chapel suitable for their faith – the Ukranian Greek Catholic Church. 
In May 2022, a body called the South of Scotland Enterprise Board, which is funded by the Scottish Government, agreed to provide finance to secure the chapel's future, a 'category B listed property' which had fallen into disrepair, allow for the development of a small visitor centre and raise the profile of the chapel. 
 I visited Hallmuir on December 2nd 2023. The site is well signposted from the road, although 'Ukranian POW Camp' is perhaps a slur on the memory of the Seven Million Ukranians who fought for the Red Army - ie on the same side as us - during WW2. Perhaps 'Ukranian Waffen-SS internment camp' would be more truthful? 
Upon arriving at Hallmuir, visitors are greeted by a quite remarkable stone (see pics above) which bears the badges and insignia of Ukranian military units, including the 'SS-Galizien', who served on the German side during WW2.  

From left to right – the badge of the Ukranian National Army - which the SS Galizien and other Ukranian units morphed into in the last few weeks of the war, just in time to surrender to the British and Americans - the Ukranian 'Golden Trident' and the former 'SS' Galician Regimental badge. 

The door to the chapel was locked but a look through the windows revealed a dry interior in good condition. Presumably the Scottish tax-payer funded repairs had been carried out? 

Beside the chapel, a newish looking information sign showed old photos of the SS-men arriving at the camp, playing games and 'enjoying' their first Christmas together in Scotland. Text on the sign described the chapel as a “living memorial” to Ukranian POWs in Scotland “as the famous Italian chapel in Orkney reminds us of their prisoners of war in WW2” it stated. 
Drawing comparisons with Italian POWs are we? I personally know of no instance where Italian troops stand accused of herding civilians, mainly women and children by many accounts, into barns at gun point, baring the doors and burning everybody alive – unlike members of the 'SS' Galizien Division! 
More on this is a moment... The sign also states: “It was clear that the Ukrainian prisoners would not be able to return to what was then the U.S.S.R. without facing the risk of execution or exile to Siberia” 

The chapel interior.
In 1943, as the Germans began losing the initiative on the Eastern Front to the Red Army, Nazi supremo and architect of the Holocaust Heinrich Himmler gave the go-ahead for the creation of a Waffen-SS Division made up almost entirely of Ukrainian speaking volunteers. 
At the time Ukraine did not exist as a nation. The area – modern western Ukraine – had been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire between 1772 and 1918 as a region known as 'Galicia'. Following WW1 it became part of Poland. 
Himmler decided to refer to the new unit as the 'Galizien' Division and tens of thousands of young Ukranian speaking men, aged between 18 and 30, rushed to volunteer. During the recruitment process, one of the main Ukrainian initiators of the Waffen-SS Galizien, a man called Volodymr Kubijovc, publically called upon its volunteers to “help exterminate the Jewish-Bolshevik pestilence”. ('The Honour They So Clearly Deserve: Legitimizing the Waffen SS Galizien” by Per Anders Rudling, 2013)
According to Wikipedia the first recruits began leaving for training in July 1943 and were seen off by a rally of over 50,000 people in the city of Lviv. The training was initially done at the notorious Heidelager camp in Poland. This was an 'SS' complex with a Nazi concentration camp attached. German instructors noted that the Ukranian volunteers were “enthusiastic and dedicated”. During their training the recruits received two-hours per week of 'political education' in National Socialism (Nazi dogma) to “instill in them a firm belief in the inevitable victory of the Third Reich” (Wikipedia) 
The Ukranian recruits swore a “holy oath of absolute obedience” to the Commander in Chief of the German armed forces, Adolf Hitler. This oath was obligatory until the last few weeks of the war, when, with a resounding Allied victory in Europe looming and a march west to surrender to the British and Americans no doubt infinitely preferable than a capitulation to the rapidly advancing Red Army, the 'SS' Galizien unit was renamed 'The First Division of the Ukranian National Army'. Henceforth members took an oath no longer to Hitler but “to Almighty God, his Holy Gospel and our fatherland Ukraine”. (Per Anders Rudling of Lund University, Sweden) 
In the early 2000s, both Polish and Ukranian historical commissions set up to investigate alleged WW2 atrocities agreed that men from the Galizien Division had been involved in the mass slaughter and destruction of the Polish village of Huta Pieniacka in February, 1944. The only disagreement was over the number of victims. 
The Ukranian Commission estimated that nearly 500 civilians were killed. The Polish Institute gave a higher number – 700 to 1500 people.
 In 2008 the Polish newspaper 'Gazeta Polska' interviewed the few remaining survivors of the Huta Pieniacka massacre. Wikipedia records that an elderly lady called Filomena Franczukowska who was 20 at the time of the massacre, said the SS-Galician soldiers came to the village at 4am and began shooting everybody. She said her father was beaten before being executed and one of his attackers said loudly in Ukranian: “Now you have your Poland and your England”. 
Franczukowska lost both parents and three younger siblings in the massacre. She said the murderers deliberately did not kill two twin boys, aged 4, and were laughing at the children who were trying to wake up their dead mother. Franczukowska was forced, with other people, into a barn which was locked and set on fire. She somehow managed to crawl out the back with her one surviving brother and escape to the forest.
 On March 4th, 1944, men of the Waffen-'SS' Galizien Division were reported as conducting a 'pacification' of the Polish village of Vitsyn. It appears to have been part of a series of assaults on Polish villages.
 Father Waclaw Svtelnicki reported on an attack on the Dominican Monastry at Podkamien on March 4th. “The attacks on Polish villages grew more frequent and more intense the closer the Red Army approached” wrote Father Waclaw. “On Sunday March 4 a combined force including the 'SS' Galizien volunteer division rounded up some 2,000 people who were hiding in the Dominican Monastry. Fr. Stanislaw Fialkowski and three Dominican priests were murdered. Altogether they killed 600 people in the villages of Palikrowy, Malinska and Czernicy.” 
Sworn eyewitness testimonies also place members of the SS Galizien Division at another massacre on March 12, 1944, in the village of Palikrowy. A total of 385 Polish civilians are believed to have been murdered, according to Ukranian sources. (Per Anders Rudling)
Polish sources report that in April 1944, soldiers of the Waffen-SS Galizien burned the village of Iasenytsia Pol'ska in the district of Kamionka Strumilowa. During the second half of April 1944 units of the Waffen-'SS' Galizien burned the Polish village Budki Nieznanowskie in the district of Kamionka Strumilowa and the village of Pavlow in the Radziechowsk district. 
Eye witness statements also describe how, on April 7th 1944, a sub-division of Waffen- SS Galizien soldiers murdered 22 people in the village of Chatki. Again the victims were apparently mainly women and children.
In addition to the issues of slaughtering civilians and burning villages, the SS Galizien unit's involvement in anti-Jewish actions remains an open question. Dieter Pohl, in his detailed study of the Holocaust in Galicia concluded that there was “a strong probability” that soldiers of the Galizien Division took part in the round up for Jews for extermination during 1944. 
“The Division was led by German officers who had been directly involved in the perpetration of the Holocaust and atrocities against civilians” wrote Pers Anders Rudling in his 2014 study: 'They Defended Unkraine. The 14th Waffen-Grenadier Division SS'. “Their commander from October 20, 1943 until the end of the war was SS-Oberfuhrer Fritz Freitag, a fanatical National Socialist” he wrote.
On May 16, 1944, Heinrich Himmler, addressed officers of the Waffen-SS Galizien and congratulated them on their work. He shared with them his satisfaction “with how the land had improved after it lost, through our intervention, those inhabitants who often sullied the name of Galicia, namely the Jews”. (Wikipedia) 
Himmler added: “I know that if I ordered the Division to exterminate the Poles in this or that area, I would be a very popular man”. 
Himmler meeting Waffen-SS Galician troops, May 1944.
The battle of Brody from 16 to 22 July, 1944 was perhaps a defining moment in the Galizien Division's history and certainly the unit's most significant military engagement of the war. In open combat with the Red Army, which by now included seven million Ukrainians who had presumably decided that life under Stalin was infinitely preferable and certainly the lesser of two evils compared to subjugation by the Nazis, the Galizien Division was routed. 
Of the 11,000 Galizien Division soldiers deployed at Brody, 7,400 were listed as “missing in action”. The 3,000 who survived were soon joined by more volunteers and recruits from western Ukraine and redeployed to Slovakia where the unit took part in anti-Partisan counter-insurgency operations and the brutal suppression of a national uprising in Autumn 1944. (Per Anders Rudling) 
The Waffen-SS Galizien Division never 'squared up' to the Red Army again. 
 Expelled from Slovakia as the Red Army advanced, the Division continued fighting anti-Nazi partisans in Slovenia from January 1945 until the end of the war. 
After its surrender to British and American forces on May 10, 1945, the Division was intered at a camp in Rimini, Italy. At the prompting of the Greek Orthodox Catholic Church, Pope Pius X11 appealed to the western allies to spare the survivors of the Ist Ukranian Division, describing them as “good Catholics and fervent anti-communists”. As a result of the Vatican's intervention, the Ukrainians at Rimni had their status changed from POWs to “surrendered enemy personnel”. 
The men were subsequently offered the option of being settled in the UK or Canada. Over 7,000 chose to come to the UK. Up to 2,000 of the SS Galizien veterans eventually emigrated to Canada. 
The Canadian authorities were relying on the British to conduct background screening of the veterans. While the British officials tasked with the job estimated that it would take months to screen the Waffen-SS Galizien veterans, they were infact given less than one month to complete the task. The result was only a basic cross-section of the Ukranians were questioned. Only a fraction of the 8,272 men intered at Rimini were examined.
A British official named Haldane Porter, who investigated the Waffen-SS Galizien veterans for the Special Refuge Commission was deeply skeptical about the historical account of the division which, he noted, had been put together “entirely by the Ukrainians themselves.” 
In the 1980s, a Canadian Commission tasked with investigating war crimes accusations leveled at SS Galizien veterans who had become Canadian citizens, perhaps echoed the thoughts of Haldane Porter and lamented the inadequecy of the original British screenings.(Per Anders Rudling) 
Sign pointing the way to the POW camp at Hallmuir near Lockerbie

In September 2023, a veteran of the Waffen-SS Galicia Division called Yaroslav Hunka was praised by the speaker of the Canadian Parliament for being “a Ukrainian-Canadian veteran from the Second World War who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians”. Hunka (98) who was present in Parliament by invite, received two standing ovations from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and MPs of all parties. 
Interestingly, In 2011 Hunka published a personal online blog in which he wrote about his early life in western Ukraine and his service with the Waffen-SS Galicia entitled 'My Generation. Memories'. The blog can still be found online if you look hard enough. 
In the blog, Hunka writes of a happy childhood growing up in the village of Urman near the town of Berezhany (around 90km (56m) from Lviv. He talks of the OUN (the notorious Organisation of Ukranian Nationalists, its members subsequently responsible for mass pogroms of Ukranian Jews and massacres of Polish civilians) of having “considerable influence on people's behavior and the general life of the village.” 
September 1939 and the German army invades Poland. “September, 1939 - I am fourteen years old” writes Hunka. “ The Polish army and the civilian population are fleeing along the road in the direction of Berezhany in a continuous caravan. German planes catch up with them from time to time”. Hunka talks of looking “impatiently” west every day with his friends “with the hope that those mystical German knights who give 'bullets' to the hated Poless will appear.” However, he noted that “a column of horsemen with red stars on their caps arrived” instead. The Red Army had rolled into town.
Waffen-SS Galician veteran Yaroslav Hunka receiving two standing ovations in Canada's Parliament.
Hunka remarks how education under the Soviets became free at the school in Berezhany so his father sent him there. 
“In my sixth grade, out of forty students, there were six Ukrainians, two Poles, and the rest were Jewish children of refugees from Poland. We wondered why they were running away from such a civilized Western nation as the Germans” he wrote.  
In July 1941 following the launch of 'Operation Barbarosssa', the German army's invasion of the Soviet Union, German troops occupied Berezhany. “We welcomed the German soldiers with joy” wrote Hunka. “I just turned 16, and the next two years were the happiest years of my life. I had no idea that what I experienced in those two years would fill me with love for my native city in such a way that it would be enough for me for the rest of my life.” 
Hunka makes no mention of the horrific pogroms which were taking place in in towns and cities in western Ukraine at this time, including his beloved Berezhany. Thousands of Jews, often women and children, were brutally murdered by mobs in the street. 
Do a YouTube search of 'Lviv Pogroms 1941' for a more detailed picture if you feel the need. The woman being chased by the boys is one of the most horrific things I have ever seen. The horror on the poor women's faces, the wolf like frenzy of their assailants. All in a public place with many people around enjoying the show. Have a look if you must and count the German uniforms. 
1943 comes around. Hunka writes that “The German armies are doing their 'planned' retreat to the west. Time and events said it was my generations turn to follow in the footsteps of its predecessors. And it went for the sake of Cathedral Ukraine.” 
Hunka talks of friends and peers joining the ranks of the Ukranian Insurgent Army at the call of the OUN while he and others “went as volunteers to the 'Galichyna' division. In two weeks, eighty thousand volunteers volunteered to join the division, including many students of the Berezhany Gymnasium. None of us asked what our reward would be, what our provision would be, or even what our tomorrow would be. We felt our duty to our native land - and left!”
Hunka says nothing about his Waffen-SS training or the alleged war crimes committed by members of his Division against Polish civilians. Nor does he mention the parade before Heinrich Himmler in 1944. His first mention of military deployment is “many students of the Berezhany Gymnasium died a heroic death in the ranks of the UPA, in the "Galichyna" division”, a possible reference to the Battle of Brody in July 1944. 
After surrendering to the British, Hunka recalls a reunion with many old friends in the POW camp in Italy. “ I met many boys from different villages of the Berezhan region” he said. 
Talking of the SS Galizien 'diaspora' after the war, Hunka compares himself and his comrades to the “tribe of Israel” forgetting to add, perhaps, that whereas the jews were escaping persecution, men of the SS Galizien Division were escaping prosecution.
 Of the Holcaust he says very little. “I do not want the reader to think that my entire generation was ideologically motivated and spritually conscious” he wrote. "In a bag of healthy apples, there are also rotten ones.' It will depend on the relationship between those two qualities of apples in the course of a given generation.” 
I sincerely hope there were 'good apples' among the Ukrainian inmates at Hallmuir Camp, near Lockerbie. There used to be a Ukrainian 'club' in Galashiels, the town I grew up in, which is not too far from Lockerbie. It is highly possible that the 'club' was created by former SS members who had  secured work in the town's many (then) textile mills after they were released from Hallmuir in the early 1950s.
Back in my late teenage years in the 1980s, friends and I sometimes frequented the Ukrainian club in Galashiels to sample their famous (locally anyway) home made cherry vodka. 
I really hope the old guy serving behind the counter was 'a good apple'. I sincerely hope he was someone who had long ago rejected the violence and narcassistic, nationalist hubris of his past. 
Perhaps he never really wanted to be there when the slaughter started and never really shot to kill. Maybe he was there when that young Polish lass was fleeing the burning barn with her brother. 
Maybe he saw them but let them get away. Maybe... 
Or perhaps he was like Yaroslav Hunka – proud, defiant and unrepentant until the end. 
The SS insignia at Hallmuir is, I think, an affront to decent people everywhere, and to the memory of those who passed before us, not least in Scotland and the UK where so many of our Grandparents and older relatives fought, and often perished, in the struggle to free Europe from Hitler's 'National Socialism'. 
Surely, and especially, given these 'WOKE', virtue signalling times, it is only right for the Scottish Government (and its South of Scotland Enterprise Board) to pay for an explanatory plaque to be erected beside the SS memorial stone, detailing at least some of the atrocities outlined above. At the very, very least we owe it to our Polish and Jewish communties who have contributed so much to our society. Surely? Peace!


  1. Hi Jimi
    What a great article. You have put in a lot of research and time. Anyone with a reasonable non partisan knowledge of WW2 will know that what you have written is factually based.
    Many of us can perhaps understand fighting Stalin and bolschivism in Eastern Europe might have initially made some sense but not the brutality of the SS and, as you say, it is the hubris that still sticks in the throat. Did you ever imagine it would be the woke 'left' that would support 21st century nazism? Mind you, we have some young people in the UK who apparently believe we were fighting Russia in WW2!
    I think Scotland could be well on the way to out-woking Canada. When you think Canada has such strong historic and cultural links with Scotland perhaps the two countries are doomed to woke hell together - rewriting history and shutting down contrary views. You will be tarred with being 'far right wing' despite highlighting the Scottish government seemingly commemorating a SS division. Is this sinister or is it just a total ignorance of history within the great and good running these Scottish institutions?
    Jimi, you should think about submitting this article for wider publication as there are so many facets that relate to the world we live in today as well as the historical aspects. Also, I think a back story regarding the negativity from the Scottish media is an interesting one but that could be for a later date. I know someone who has connections with 'the Spectator' and maybe he could provide some guidance.

    Anyway, keep up the good work.
    Take care

    1. Thanks for the feedback Peter. Always appreciated. Cheers.

  2. Ewan D. H. Brown.16 January 2024 at 11:36

    Shocking. Thanks for shining a light on this Jimmy.

    1. Appreciate your comment, Ewan. Cheers.

  3. A fascinating and appalling blog which perhaps deserves to go viral. I emailed a link to the online journos at 'The Ferret'. Maybe they'll run with it.

  4. Yes, it’s an odd one, especially as the men of the Wehrmacht’s Cossack divisions were handed back to Stalin by the Americans. Doubt if you are getting much traction for removing the ‘monument' just now. Excellent blog though, well done.

  5. After reading this surely it is only a matter of time until some form of protest is carried out? Perhaps similar to what happened to the Hess memorial at Eaglesham? You really have to wonder about the people in public positions who make these decisions. Also representatives of our so called 'free press'. Very poor show.

  6. One of the dangers of 'Russia phobia', the media/deep state induced paranoia and insanity, currently griping the western world, is that it blinds us to reality and truth.
    Logically there is no reason on earth which could justify American, British, Canadian, Polish, French etc etc politicians supporting Banderite extremists in western Ukraine. Logically it makes no sense whatsoever.
    This is the disease that is Russia phobia. We have been infected with an alternative reality virus which screams at us 'everything about Russia is bad'. 'Anyone who seeks to harm Russia is good', even if that means Nazis. Tragic.
    The antidote to this disease is the truth.
    I am a retired US Marine Lieutenant Colonel. I am proud of my Scottish roots. I salute your efforts to call out the hypocrisy of your own Government in Scotland and also. politicians in general across the wider western world. Well done. I will be sharing widely.