14 Waffen SS Grenadier Division, Galician
Why would a Polish General and the Vatican intercede on behalf of Ukrainian Christians in the Galicia Division to prevent their repatriation to Russia? The recent presentation of a WW2 Ukrainian war hero to the Canadian parliament revealed he served in the 14 Waffen SS Grenadier Division, Galicia renamed the 1st Division of the Ukrainian National Army in 1944. Galicia was moved to Ukraine as part of the German/Russia non aggression pact , and was occupied by the German army in 1941.
Left facing lion, Galicia yellow/blue armshield.
In 1943 an armed unit was set up by the German Army consisting of volunteers from Galicia. Ukrainians volunteered in large numbers seeking independence for Ukraine from Stalin's murderous regime.
The 14 Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Galician) (German: 14. Waffen Grenadier Division der SS (galizische Nr.1), prior to 1944 titled the 14th SS-Volunteer Division "Galician" (German: 14. SS-Freiwilligen Division "Galizien") was a World War II German military formation initially made up of volunteers from the region of Galicia with a Ukrainian ethnic background but later also incorporated Slovaks, Czechs and Dutch volunteers and officers. From 20 November 1943 SS-Brigadier General Fritz Freitag and Captain Wolf Dietrich Heike (transferred from the Wehrmacht) was the chief of staff from January 1944. All regimental commanders were Germans. Formed in 1943, it was largely destroyed in the battle of Brody, reformed, and saw action in Slovakia, Yugoslavia/Slovenia and Austria before being renamed the first division of the Ukrainian National Army and surrendering to the Western Allies by 10 May 1945.
The division had Orthodox Christians of Ukrainian, and Polish/Galician origin with the insistence of their chaplains being integrated into the division. A guarantee of fighting only Bolsheviks was secured along with denial of Nazi associations, there was no Nazi indoctrination in the Division. The division fought at Brody, July 1944 where they were surrounded. Russian casualty figures exaggerated the demise of the Galicia. Sufficient escapees survived to reconstitutes the Division Galicia. Anti Partisan activity along the Slovak/Ukraine border followed and then along the Austrian/Slovenian border to halt the Red Army advance.
This Division became the 1st National Ukrainian Army and on surrender were interned in Rimini Italy. General Anders of Polish II Corps forces intervened to protect the Orthodox Christian Ukrainian Divisional personnel from return to Russia and certain death, the Vatican intervened successfully.
On 17 March 1945, Ukrainian émigrés established the Ukrainian National Committee to represent the interests of Ukrainians to the Third Reich. Simultaneously, the Ukrainian National Army, commanded by General Shandruk, was created. The Galician Division nominally became the 1st Division of the Ukrainian National Army, although the German Army's High command continued to list it as the Ukrainian 14th SS Grenadier Division in its order of battle. The Division surrendered to British and US forces by 10 May 1945. In 1947, former soldiers of SS "Galizien" were allowed to immigrate to Canada and to the United Kingdom. The names of c. 7,000 former soldiers of SS "Galizien" admitted to the UK were stored in the "Rimini List"
Many Galicians soldiers hid in the Carpathian mountains until late 1946 and fought their way through to the US Zone Germany by 1947 and so avoided repatriation to Russia. May 9 1945, East of Liberec Czechslovakia a unit of SS and Wehrmacht were urged to surrender by the Red Army. The SS did not, the Wehrmacht were massacred by the Russians, the SS fought to the US Zone for sanctuary.
Source: The Waffen SS, Men at Arms Series, Osprey; Hitler's Ostfront Legions, Michael Manning, Lulu