Do not doubt me. That's the theme after Politico debased itself on Monday by publishing an explainer defending the Waffen SS.
Why, you might be asking, would a major press outlet choose to do such a thing? It all started when the Canadian parliament, Justin Trudeau, and Volodymyr Zelensky gave a standing ovation to a former member of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division. Part of the broader 1st Galician Division that was manned by Ukrainians and German conscripts during World War II, the group's primary mission was to hunt down and murder partisans while terrorizing anyone who opposed Adolf Hitler's regime.
With that background, you can see why giving a standing ovation to one of its former members would be problematic. That's especially true given it was announced by the parliament's speaker that the former soldier in question fought the Russians. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of history should have immediately understood what that meant.
At the time, I made the following prediction:
We are going to get a wave of "yeah, well, the 14th Waffen SS weren't actually convicted of war crimes" apologetics. Get ready.— Bonchie (@bonchieredstate) September 25, 2023
It took a few days, but your boy has been proven right.
How much did I nail this? The article makes the exact defense that I predicted, namely that the 14th Waffen SS wasn't convicted of war crimes.
According to Russia’s ambassador in Canada, Hunka’s unit “committed multiple war crimes, including mass murder, against the Russian people, ethnic Russians. This is a proven fact.” But whenever a Russian official calls something a “proven fact,” it should set off alarms. And sure enough, here too the facts were invented out of thin air. Repeated exhaustive investigations — including by not only the Nuremberg trials but also the British, Canadian and even Soviet authorities — led to the conclusion that no war crimes or atrocities had been committed by this particular unit.
I feel like I should win something.
You have to love how the author's argument basically comes down to, "Russia says it, so it must be wrong." For someone who wants to lecture on how history is complicated, that's pretty contradictory.
Did Russia use the standing ovation for the nazi in Canada as propaganda? Yes, but that doesn't mean the guy wasn't a nazi and the Waffen SS, including the 14th Grenadier Division, weren't doing really awful things during the war. Is there evidence they directly participated in the Nazi death camps? Apparently not, but there's plenty of evidence they raped and murdered civilians (including Jews) in order to keep the population in line. That includes the infamous massacre of Huta, a village in Poland that was literally wiped out by the 14th Grenadier Division, with somewhere around a thousand women and children killed.
Something that’s untrue but simple is far more persuasive than a complicated, nuanced truth — a major problem for Western democracies trying to fight disinformation and propaganda by countering it with the truth, and one reason why fact-checking and debunking are only of limited use for doing so.
Nothing was untrue, though. Once again, those who scream the loudest about disinformation are guilty of spreading it. In this case, you could not join the Waffen SS without being a Nazi. Therefore, all Waffen SS members were Nazis.
Hilariously, Politico actually got community-noted over the matter.
Politico gets nuked by Community Notes pic.twitter.com/LxBA14Kevb— End Wokeness (@EndWokeness) October 2, 2023
This is what happens when the need to virtue signal in the present day runs into the dark realities of history. Just because Russia wrongly invaded Ukraine in 2022, that does not mean that the Waffen SS were actually just regular soldiers valiantly fighting the Soviet menace in 1944. Were there no good guys? Perhaps, and that's all the more reason you don't give anyone involved a standing ovation.
What an absolute embarrassment for Politico.