At least 25 former members of a notorious Nazi special unit rumored to have committed unthinkable atrocities are living free in Britain, including two ex-lieutenants who drew the interest of a famed Nazi hunter, The Sun reported.
The newspaper found more than two dozen soldiers who served in the Ukrainian-bred SS Galizien division, formed in 1943 to be one of Adolf Hitler’s elite paramilitary units. Most of the men interviewed by The Sun said they saw little, if any, fighting, or were only hoping to gain Ukrainian independence from The Soviet Union. But two of the former Nazis, 90-year-old Myron Tabora and 92-year-old Ostap Kykawec, were named persons of interest by Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. Two others were alleged by the U.S.S.R. to have committed war crimes.
“Being a fragile old man must never be a reason to gift an amnesty to a murderer,” Holocaust researcher Dr. Stephen Ankier told The Sun.
In all, 8,528 ex-SS Galizien soldiers were in British custody after the war. But, though the U.K. found screening the men to be a nearly impossible task, Britain rejected sending the men to the Soviets.
“We only have their own word for it that they have not committed atrocities or war crimes,” Brigadier General Fitzroy Maclean said at the time.
The SS Galizien is accused of burning Polish villagers alive in February 1944 as they liquidated Huta Pieniacka. The following month, the division is said to have attacked a monastery and killed 150 people in Pidkamin.
One of the men, though he denied ever firing a rifle, sought to justify the actions of the group.
“But what is a war crime with what the Russians did?” said Tabora, one of the men Wiesenthal sought. “I heard about Polish people being killed in Ukraine, but Poles were killing Ukrainians just the same.”
Added Tabora: “It was mutual. And what about the British Empire killing people?”