Chrystia Freeland (lead image), appointed last week to be the new Canadian Foreign Minister, claims that her maternal family were the Ukrainian victims of Russian persecution, who fled their home in 1939, after Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin agreed on a non-aggression pact and the division of Poland between Germany and the Soviet Union. She claims her mother was born in a camp for refugees before finding safe haven in Alberta, Canada. Freeland is lying.
The records now being opened by the Polish government in Warsaw reveal that Freeland’s maternal grandfather Michael (Mikhailo) Chomiak was a Nazi collaborator from the beginning to the end of the war. He was given a powerful post, money, home and car by the German Army in Cracow, then the capital of the German administration of the Galician region. His principal job was editor in chief and publisher of a newspaper the Nazis created. His printing plant and other assets had been stolen from a Jewish newspaper publisher, who was then sent to die in the Belzec concentration camp. During the German Army’s winning phase of the war, Chomiak celebrated in print the Wehrmacht’s “success” at killing thousands of US Army troops. As the German Army was forced into retreat by the Soviet counter-offensive, Chomiak was taken by the Germans to Vienna, where he continued to publish his Nazi propaganda, at the same time informing for the Germans on other Ukrainians. They included fellow Galician Stepan Bandera, whose racism against Russians Freeland has celebrated in print, and whom the current regime in Kiev has turned into a national hero.
Just before Vienna fell to the Soviet forces in March 1945, Chomiak evacuated with the German Army into Germany, ending up near Munich at Bad Worishofen. On September 2, 1946, when Freeland says her mother was born in a refugee camp, she was actually in a well-known spa resort for wealthy Bavarians. The US Army then controlled that part of Germany; they operated an Army hospital at Bad Worishofen and accommodated Chomiak at a spa hotel. US Army records have yet to reveal what the Americans learned about Chomiak’s war record, and how he was employed by US Army Intelligence, after he had switched from the Wehrmacht. It took Chomiak another two years before the government in Ottawa allowed the family to enter Canada.
The reason the Polish Government is now investigating Freeland is that Chomiak’s wartime record not only victimized Galician Jews, but also the Polish citizens of Cracow. In a salute to Freeland as a “great friend of Poland” by the Polish Embassy in Ottawa last week, Warsaw officials now believe a mistake was made.
Last July, Freeland, then trade minister, was in a large delegation of Canadians accompanying Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on a visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in southern Poland. Freeland is not included in the press photographs; Trudeau wept. A statement issued by one of the Canadian Jewish organizations in the delegation said: “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau signifies the importance of remembering the six million Jews and countless others who died at hands of the Nazi regime. The Holocaust will forever stand as the ultimate expression of human hatred. That is why every Canadian should use this as an opportunity to reflect upon their personal role in combating the forces of antisemitism, racism and bigotry wherever they are found.”
Trudeau (above) and his staff, as well as Foreign Minister at the time Stephane Dion, and the Jewish representatives appear not to have known this was familiar territory for Freeland and her family. Michael Chomiak and his wife Alexandra, parents to Freeland’s mother Halyna, spent the war from 1939 to 1945 working and living just 68 kilometres away in Cracow.
According to the autobiographical details Freeland has provided herself to the Canadian media, Freeland’s family were victims of war. “My maternal grandparents,” she wrote in May 2015, “fled western Ukraine after Hitler and Stalin signed their non-aggression pact in 1939… they saw themselves as political exiles with a responsibility to keep alive the idea of an independent Ukraine.” In November 2015 Freeland told the Toronto Star: “Michael Chomiak was a lawyer and journalist before the Second World War, but they knew the Soviets would invade western Ukraine (and) fled … and, like a lot of Ukrainians, ended up after the war in a displaced persons camp in Germany where my mother was born.”
Centre: Michael Chomiak and wife Alexandra, with their children in Canada in 1952. Freeland’s mother Halyna is second from left. Source: thestar.com
According to Freeland, “they were also committed to the idea, like most in the (Ukrainian) diaspora, that Ukraine would one day be independent and that the community had a responsibility to the country they had been forced to flee … to keep that flame alive.”
The Edmonton, Alberta, newspaper obituary for Halyna Chomiak Freeland says she had been “born on September 2, 1946 in Bad Worishofen, Germany in a displaced person’s camp.” The Alberta provincial government library reports it holds Michael Chomiak’s papers. He is described as having “graduated from Lviv University with master’s degree in law and political science. In 1928, as a journalist, he started work in the Ukrainian daily Dilo, and from 1934 to 1939 he served on the editorial staff. During the Nazi occupation, he was the editor of Krakivski Visti, published first in Cracow and then in Vienna.”
There is much more to the story which Freeland has not revealed. The details can be found in Polish and Ukrainian sources; from the archived files of Krakivski Visti (“Cracow News”); and from the evidence of Jewish Holocaust museums around the world. Chomiak was editor in chief of the newspaper after a Jewish editor was removed. The newspaper itself was set up in January 1940, publishing three times weekly in Cracow, until October 8, 1944. It was then published in Vienna from October 16, 1944, until March 29, 1945. The precision of the dates is important. They coincide with the movement of the German Army into Cracow, and then out of the city and into Vienna. The newspaper itself was established by the German Army; and supervised by German intelligence. Chomiak was employed by an officer named Emil Gassner (above). His title in German indicates he was the German administrator in charge of press in the region. When Gassner moved from Cracow to Vienna, he took Chomiak with him.
Chomiak’s publication was an official one of the German administration in Galicia, known at the time as the General Gouvernement. The printing press, offices and other assets which provided Chomiak with his work, salary, and benefits had been confiscated by the Germans from a Jewish publisher, Moshe Kafner. Kafner was a native of the region; he and his family were well educated and well known until the Germans arrived, and replaced Kanfer with Chomiak. Kanfer was forced to flee Cracow for Lviv. From there he was taken by the Germans to the Belzec concentration, where he was murdered some time in 1942. From Chomiak’s office to Belzec the distance was 300 kilometres.
Left: SS guards at Belzec; right: Ukrainian guards about to kill a Belzec inmate
Krakivsti Visti was “the most important newspaper to appear in the Ukrainian language under the German occupation during World War II,” according to this history from the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, published in 1998. Chomiak — reports the Harvard history by John-Paul Hinka from a contemporary source — “had the ability to sense what could be written and how in the severe German reality, and he gained some trust among the German officials, without which the work would have been impossible.”
In print, according to this archive of Krakivsti Visti, when Chomiak was in charge, there were reports of the “success” of the German Navy in killing 13,000 US Army soldiers, when their transports were torpedoed and sunk in the Atlantic enroute to England. Chomiak editorialized: “this last German attack [was] a smashing blow to the solar plexus of the alliance.”
Chomiak also reported the US “colonization” of Australia and Canada . “Americans who are now living in Australia believe that the economic possibilities of Australia are even much better than those of the USA, and many US soldiers are thinking about staying in Australia after the war… as they feel much better there than in their own Fatherland… There are such close relations between the USA and Canada and Australia that there will be a special trade and tax [agreement] between these countries after the war. In other words, the United States does not hide the intention of the US to begin full economic penetration of Canada and Australia.”
By the standard of Trudeau at Auschwitz, Freeland’s grandfather also produced race hatred to Nazi order, including antisemitism and racism against several other nationalities, including Americans, Poles and Russians.
Chomiak not only justified the death camps surrounding Cracow. He attempted to foster Ukrainian sentiment against the Poles in the region. The German objective was to support the Ukrainian takeover of Galicia and cleanse it of its Jewish and Polish populations. For this reason Chomiak and his newspaper were given special favour by the German administration; Chomiak himself was reportedly held in high esteem by the Nazis. In the Harvard history it is reported “there can be no doubt that Krakivs’ki visti enjoyed more autonomy than any other legal Ukrainian-language publication under the German occupation.”
Himka, a Ukrainian-Canadian academic, composed his history of Krakivtsi Visti from Chomiak’s personal papers in Alberta. He mentions the newspaper’s backing for ethnic cleansing of Poles. He omits to mention Jews. Chomiak’s antisemitic record can be found in the files of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. For details, read this.
Chomiak didn’t flee from the Ukraine in 1939, as Freeland claims. Five years were to elapse before he left Cracow; that was when the German Army pulled out in defeat, as the Soviet Army advanced from the east to liberate the city. Gassner was moving the media operation to his home town, Vienna.
Chomiak closed down Krakivsti Visti in Vienna in March of 1945 for the same reason. The Soviet Army was days away, and a new Austrian government replaced the Third Reich in April of that year. With the retreating Wehrmacht Chomiak then moved westwards into Germany. But a full year is missing from the official records available publicly. That’s between March of 1945 and April of 1946, when the displaced persons camp was opened in the Bavarian town of Bad Worishofen, where Freeland says her mother was born.
As the name indicates, Bad Worishofen was (still is) a thermal waters resort for wealthy Bavarians and day-trippers from Munich. Freeland claims her mother was born as a victim in a refugee camp. In fact, she was born in a hospital administered by the US Army, while her parents were living in a spa hotel managed by a US Army intelligence unit.
A US Army parade in Bad Worishofen after the US took the town on April 27, 1945
During the war there had been a Luftwaffe training aerodrome at Bad Worishofen. But it was so insignificant operationally, it wasn’t bombed by the allies. More or less intact, along with the spa hotels, the town welcomed new paying guests from the US Army when they arrived in April of 1945.
According to US records, a US Army Intelligence “training unit” was established, as well as a US Army hospital. The trainees weren’t Americans; they were East Europeans, including Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Poles and others who had been fighting on the German side.
On June 28, 1945, the 2nd Hospitalization Unit of the 30th Field Hospital left a forward position at Ebsenee, Austria, where it had been caring for the survivors of the Ebensee-Matthausen concentration camp.
The war in Europe now over, the hospitalization unit regrouped in the rear at Bad Wörishofen, where its role was to support the 80th Infantry Division. The unit history says: “As usual, living quarters proved excellent (buildings), with many conveniences added to make living conditions very comfortable.” Among the people the American Army doctors now cared for were Mr and Mrs Chomiak.
The camp for displaced persons or refugees at Bad Worishofen was not formally established for another year, until April 1946. Ukrainians who were there at the time say the camp housed mostly Lithuanians, and also 490 Ukrainians. The term camp is a misnomer. The records show that many of the Ukrainians were living in spa hotels when they were subject to the administration of the camp. Although the subsequent records of the Ukrainians are voluble on what happened there between 1946 and 1948, including testimony from Ukrainians who moved on to the US and Australia, there is no reference to the Chomiak family at all.
“All the camps in Bad Worishofen were liquidated in May 1948 due to consolidation of the various camps by IRO (International Relief Organization),” remembers this Ukrainian.
It is not (yet) known when Chomiak presented himself to US Army Intelligence, offering the same services he had been performing for Gassner and the Wehrmacht. Journalism, however, wasn’t what the US occupation authorities wanted from him. In return, Chomiak received accommodation; living expenses; and the hospitalization which produced Freeland’s mother in September of 1946.
Two years were to elapse before Chomiak left Bad Worishofen for Canada, arriving there in October 1948. He already had a sister in Canada, but no job of a professional kind to which his university education and experience qualified him. In Alberta Chomiak worked as a manual labourer. Why the Americans didn’t offer him intelligence and propaganda employment in the US may be revealed in the Chomiak files in Washington. The Canadian government file on his admission in 1948 is likely to include some of the details Chomiak revealed about his work with the Americans. Unless he kept that secret.
Last week the Polish Embassy in Ottawa issued this tweet in celebration of Freeland’s promotion:
This week Polish political analyst and journalist Stanislas Balcerac has opened the dossier on Freeland and Chomiak. The Polish Foreign Minister, Witold Waszczykowski, has been asked to investigate, and to decide if, according to Balcerac, “the circumstances and family loyalties of Mrs Freeland may affect the support that Canada provides the pro-Bandera Government of Ukraine, so they can have a direct impact on Polish interests.”
Regarding Bandera (right), the record of Chomiak’s involvement with him when they were under German, then US supervision, Freeland did not reveal in the Financial Times when she reported Bandera as one of the Ukraine’s all-time heroes. “Yaroslav the Wise, the 11th-century prince of Kievan Rus, was named the winner in a last-minute surge, edging out western Ukrainian partisan leader Stepan Bandera, who led a guerrilla war against the Nazis and the Soviets and was poisoned on orders from Moscow in 1959….The Soviet portrayal of Bandera as a traitor still lingers. That would be a mistake.”
Freeland was asked directly to clarify her own claims about Grandfather Chomiak’s war record. Her press spokesman, Chantal Gagnon, asked for more time, but then the two of them refused to answer.
“The sins of the grandfather can hardly be attributed to the granddaughter,” says Polish investigator Balcerac, “—except for two, race hatred and lying. Chomiak made a lucrative war selling hatred of Jews, Poles and Russians. Freeland is doing the same preaching race hatred of Russians. To mask what she’s doing, she has lied about the Nazi record of her family. The Chomiaks weren’t victims; they were aggressors.”
A Washington source adds: “Chomiak was recruited by US intelligence to wage war in the Ukraine against the Russians. Let’s see what the US Army and intelligence files reveal about his role, and let’s compare that to the one Freeland is now playing in Canada.”