Volume #13 - 214.|
Memorandum from Head, Consular Division|
to Acting Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs
October 16, 1947|
PROPOSAL FOR ENTRY TO CANADA OF CERTAIN UKRAINIANS|
At the Meeting of Cabinet on October 9th the Secretary of State reported that representations had been made to him on behalf of some thousands of non-communist Ukrainians who had fought in the German Army against the U.S.S.R. during the war. These persons are seeking admission to Canada.
This matter had already been brought to our attention by Mr. Panchuk17 who called at Consular Division on the morning of October 9th and left the attached memorandum (marked A)† addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. The memorandum refers only to a particular group of approximately 8,000 Ukrainian persons now in the United Kingdom who are usually referred to as "Ukrainian Surrendered Enemy Personnel." In addition, Mr. Panchuk forwarded to Mr. Chance, under date of October 11th, a copy of a memorandum (marked B)† addressed to the Department of Mines and Resources, dated October 8th, 1947. This latter memorandum proposes that a change be made in the Immigration Regulations concerning the admission to Canada of Ukrainian Displaced Persons and Refugees now in Europe.
The following information has been obtained concerning the Ukrainians in whom Mr. Panchuk and his Committee are interested:
These persons were living largely in the Polish Ukraine prior to the recent war. When that area was overrun by the Germans they were taken to Germany and became forced labour. In the latter part of 1944 the Germans sought to recruit "Free Forces" from among the nationals of various neutral and allied countries. They appealed to these Ukrainians to join the Free Ukrainian Forces. Most of the male persons with whom we are concerned agreed on condition that they would serve only on the Eastern Front, i.e., against the U.S.S.R.
It would appear that these Ukrainians were and are strongly anti-Soviet and probably to a large degree anti-communist. They are, in fact, Ukrainian nationalists whose aim was neither to fight for the Germans or the Allies but to regain for themselves the territory of the Ukraine and to establish there a Ukrainian National State under the benevolent protection of the German Reich. A number of them were formerly known as the Galician Division.
A few of these persons are probably admissible under the Near Relatives Scheme. The others to be admissible would have to come within the provisions of Orders-in-Council with respect to Displaced Persons. I am not at all sure that all of them qualify as Displaced Persons within the mandate of P.C.I.R.O. In any event, these persons are either admissible now, in which case no action need be taken, or they are not admissible and a specific Order-in-Council would have to be obtained making them admissible. Certainly it would be necessary to obtain an Order-in-Council if we wish to admit the 8,000 now living in the United Kingdom.
The Cabinet Committee on Immigration Policy made the following recommendation on September 26th, 1947:
"that regarding persons of neutral or allied nationality now seeking admission, the fact of having served in the armed forces of His Majesty's enemies during the war shall debar them unless they can establish that such service was furnished under physical compulsion."
The Cabinet Committee's recommendations were considered by Cabinet on October 9th and were referred back with respect to several points but not with respect to recommendation (e). However, a specific direction was given that the proposal for the admission of non-communist Ukrainians who had served in the German Forces be referred to the Cabinet Committee for consideration.
Political I, Political 2 and Consular Divisions have discussed the considerations which should be taken into account in making a recommendation to Mr. St.Laurent with respect to the position this Department should take at the next Meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Immigration Policy. In the meantime, an informal discussion will take place tomorrow afternoon with the Deputy Minister of Mines and Resources and the Director of Immigration in order that the two Departments may pool their information before finally deciding what recommendations to make to their respective Ministers.
The following considerations may he said to favour the entry to Canada of the Ukrainians referred to:
I. On humanitarian grounds. These people have undoubtedly suffered a great deal.
2. They will probably include a good many agriculturists and skilled tradesmen who could contribute something to the Canadian economy.
3. Ukrainians who in former years came to Canada have made good settlers.
4. These persons are strongly anti-Soviet and presumably are not communists.
The following considerations may be said to militate against permitting the entry of these persons to Canada:
1. These persons have fought in German uniform against our wartime ally the U.S.S.R. at a time when we were providing equipment through Mutual Aid for use on the Eastern Front.
2. It is possible that a number of these persons may be listed by the U.S.S.R. as . war criminals and indeed be war criminals according to our own standards.
3. Although there will be strong pressure to admit these persons on humanitarian grounds, there will undoubtedly be similar pressure exercised on behalf of those who have a better claim to our sympathy. One instance of this may be the Mennonites who have been refused entry to Canada and have gone to Paraguay.
4. Canadian public opinion, as expressed by such persons as the Representative of the Canadian Legion, may well be strongly opposed to the entry to Canada of persons who, although neutrals, wore the uniform of the German Army.
5. The memorandum to the Department of Mines and Resources requests that the medical requirements be waived in order that these persons may be admitted. This is primarily a question for the Department of National Health and Welfare and again it would be setting a precedent to permit persons to come to Canada whose health was, as Mr. Panchuk states, impaired because of the conditions under which they have live and not merely physically but also morally and psychologically.
6. The quest on of relaxing the health requirements and admitting a number of elderly persons' has a direct bearing upon the municipalities rather than the Federal Government. The Provinces and the municipalities must hear the burden of the costs of hospitalization and Old Age Pensions. Unless prior consultation with the Provinces take; place, there would in all likelihood be a great deal of recrimination.
7. Although these persons are all stated to be strongly anti-Soviet, experience would indicate that there is need for a careful screening on security grounds. Although at present these persons may not be communists, a certain percentage will undoubtedly become malcontents and a certain further percentage can be got at by bringing pressure to bear through relatives who remain in the Soviet Union. This is altogether aside from the possibility of some persons being specifically planted within these groups in order to create discontent.
The above considerations are internal but there is a further important consideration and that is the international situation which may result if we should admit these persons to Canada. At an interview between Mr. Zaroubin, the Soviet Ambassador, and Mr. J.E. Read, then Acting Under-Secretary of State, on April 30th, 1945, the question of the Canadian Ukrainian Refugee Fund was discussed.
"The Ambassador stated that Ukrainian Refugees who would not be able to return to the Ukraine were those who had left with the German Forces. They were consequently pro-fascist and the fund was therefore designed to assist tne enemies not only of the Soviet Union but of Canada and the United States as well. ... Mr. Zaroubin pointed out that this question was not one of charitable appeals only but was looked upon by the Soviet Government as a political question to which they attached a particular importance."
Our experience with respect to the attitude taken by the Government of Poland regarding Polish Displaced Persons would clearly indicate that a very bitter protest would be received from the U.S.S.R. This protest would be founded upon rnuch stronger grounds than that which we have received from the Poles and might not be so easy to answer.
Another aspect of this question which has arisen but has now, I think, been solved is the amount of recognition which can be given to the Canadian Relief Mission for Ukrainian Victims of War. P.C.I.R.O. enquired of our High Commissioner in London regarding this matter and then proceeded to enter into an agreement with the organization before we gave a reply. Under the circumstances I think we may say to I.R.O. that it is of course, entirely a matter for themselves whether they wish to enter into an agreement with any particular welfare organization. Furthermore, since they did not await our approval before entering into the agreement they cannot be heard to say that they made the agreement because of any representations on our part.
17G.R.B. Panchuk, directeur, mission de secours aux Ukrainiens victimes de la guerre. G.R.B. Panchuk, Director, Relief Mission for Ukrainian Victims of War.