May 31, 2022. In light of the present day events in Ukraine, the Information Centre at the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, The Netherlands recently paid tribute to 27 known Ukrainian-Canadians buried in the cemetery.
When they asked for help to find photos of the soldiers for which none were available, or only a poor image was available, we of course said yes. My father was born in Ukraine and left shortly after his 14th birthday, one of several youths sent on an unheated cattle car in January 1941 to Germany. He was lucky. He survived the journey and the war and was able to lead a peaceful life in Canada until his death in 2012.
….Translation of Dutch placard…
Attached is a PDF of the Dutch placard (Stoepbord Oekrainse Canadezen A0) and below is a translation of the text, followed by the names of the soldiers mentioned.
“… They fought for our freedom then ~~~
Ukrainian Canadians who died for our freedom, buried in the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten.
A brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine is now sparking a war in Europe. Ukrainians desperately try to defend their freedom but are the easy targets of a ruthless aggressor. Thousands are forced to flee elsewhere to find safe shelter, warmth and food elsewhere, temporarily or perhaps even forever.
Also towards the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, many thousands of Ukrainians left their country in search of a better life. Some 170,000 of them ended up in Canada where they were offered free land to become farmers. Also around 1930 and immediately after the Second World War, a wave of refugees/expellees from Ukraine came to Canada.
At the outbreak of World War I (August 1914), Canada was on the side of the Allies. Large parts of present-day Ukraine belonged to the territory of Austria-Hungary, Germany and the Ottoman Empire, and these countries were the enemy of the Allied forces.
In Canada, at the time, there was prejudice against Ukrainians regarding their ‘race’, appearance, customs and religion. The simple fact that they came from countries with which Canada was at war meant that tens of thousands were labeled ‘enemy aliens’ and interned in labour camps.
During the Second World War, the Ukrainians were viewed completely differently. There was therefore no question that they were not the enemy, as present-day Ukraine was then part of the Soviet Union and Poland.
More than 35,000 Canadians of Ukrainian descent served in the Canadian Army during World War II. These servicemen constituted the largest group of non-British and non-French conscripts in the Canadian Forces. The soldiers were not only an integral part of the Canadian military during wartime, but also made a significant contribution to the development of Canada’s post-war policy towards displaced persons and refugees.
Many of them fought in the struggle for the liberation of Europe. We assume about 100 Ukrainian Canadians are buried in the three Canadian War Cemeteries in The Netherlands; Bergen op Zoom, Groesbeek, and Holten.
We know that at least 27 Canadian soldiers of Ukrainian descent are buried in Holten.
They fought for us back then and gave their lives….”
….Ukrainian-Canadian soldiers buried in Holten…
- Elie ANTONYSZYN, died July 15, 1945, aged 22 (no photo)
- George EWONIUK, died April 10, 1945, aged 19 (very poor photo)
- Donnie P. GNUTEL, died April 29, 1945, aged 25
- Andrew KERELCHUK, died April 19, 1945, aged 21 (no photo)
- John KENDZIERSKI, died January 18, 1945, aged 20
- George FESCHUK, died April 25, 1945, aged 21
- Nick FORSACHUK, died April 17, 1945, aged 21
- Peter HARASYMCHUK, died April 23, 1945, aged 24
- Steve HNATIW, died April 21, 1945, aged 28 (poor photo)
- Harry ILASEVICH, died April 12, 1945, aged 21
- John KIBZEY, died April 12, 1945, aged 21
- William J. KOZARICHUK, died April 20, 1945, aged 26
- William W. LOTOSKY, died April 7, 1945, aged 24
- Harry MACHURA, died April 23, 1945, aged 22 (poor photo)
- Sam MATVICHUK, died April 14, 1945, aged 19 (no photo)
- Steve MICHLOSKY, died April 8, 1945, aged 21
- Steven J. MOTKALUK, died May 2, 1945, aged 32
- Joseph PETRAK, died April 26, 1945, aged 19
- Nestor PROBIZANKSI, died April 11, 1945, aged 22
- John RUSNAK, died November 22, 1945, aged 21 (no photo)
- Alexander SEREDIUK, died April 14, 1945, aged 26
- Stanley SKULMOSKI, died April 24, 1945, aged 20
- John SLYZUK, died April 11, 1945, aged 30 (poor photo)
- Harry H. SMITH, died April 7, 1945, aged 25 (very poor photo)
- Stanley WERNIUK, died April 12, 1945, aged 23
- Peter WOZNIAK, died May 1, 1945, aged 21
- Joseph YURKIW, died April 13, 1945, aged 21 (poor photo)
Can you help with photos or information on these soldiers? Do you know of more Ukrainian-Canadian soldiers buried in Holten? Email Pieter at firstname.lastname@example.org, comment on the blog, or tweet to @researchmemori1.
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