TORONTO (Dec. 16)
An Indian leader in Saskatchewan has created a stir by praising Hitler.
In a profanity-laced address at a conference last Friday, David Ahenakew said Hitler carried out his genocidal campaign against the Jews because “the Jews damn near owned all of Germany prior to the war.”
Hitler “was going to make damn sure that the Jews didn’t take over Germany or Europe,” the 69-year-old former leader of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations added.
“That’s why he fried 6 million of those guys, you know. Jews would have owned the goddamned world. And look what they’re doing. They’re killing people in Arab countries.”
Federation chief Perry Bellegarde later distanced the organization from Ahenakew’s remarks, saying they were “not an official position of anybody except Dave Ahenakew.”
Ahenakew enlisted in the Canadian army at 17 and fought in the Korean War.
Later, as a member of U.N. peacekeeping forces, he served in Egypt, Germany and Holland.
“These vicious and vile remarks stagger the mind and sicken the heart,” said Keith Landy, national president of the Canadian Jewish Congress.
Canada’s Jewish and Indian communities have long enjoyed a very good relationship, Landy added.
“Mr. Ahenakew has disgraced himself, his community and the Canadian armed forces in which he served,” Landy said. “From here on in, he ought to be relegated to the obscurity he so richly deserves.”
The Montreal Holocaust Memorial Center, which will soon open the doors of Canada’s first Holocaust museum, also had some choice words for Ahenakew.
“We think it is appalling, not to mention brutally ironic, that a public representative from a community that has suffered centuries of persecution and discrimination should praise Hitler and condone the murder of millions of innocent Jews in the Holocaust,” the center’s president, Marvin Tanner, told JTA.
“As always, we believe the best weapon against such blatant ignorance and hate is education.”
Asked how the Jewish community might educate people who shared Ahenakew’s attitudes, Tanner had one suggestion.
“We would like to publicly invite David Ahenakew to the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Museum when we open our doors this spring,” Tanner said.
“In the meantime, we call upon all Canadians to stand up and denounce such hate propaganda.”