Elkins Park is a quiet, suburban community in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia. It was home to Philadelphia’s early 20th-century business elite, and it is still home to gilded age mansions that once belonged to the likes of John B. Stetson, John Wanamaker, Henry W. Breyer, Jay Cooke, William Lukens Elkins, and Peter A.B. Widener. Oh, and it also has a cemetery with a large stone cross monument honoring the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS.
The 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS was a German military formation made up predominantly of Ukrainian and Slovak volunteers. The Division was commanded by German, Austrian, and Ukrainian officers, with an estimated 53,000 recruits altogether. It was deployed against Soviet and Polish partisans. It is estimated that they killed as many as 25,000 Poles and tens of thousands of Jews.
In 1994, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the unit, Ukrainian SS veteran groups in the Philadelphia area erected the monument in St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery.
Members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, a.k.a. OUN-B, which was founded and led by Ukrainian radical nationalist Stepan Bandera, joined the SS division, although Bandera himself was imprisoned in Germany through most of WW2. On May 8 this year, the new leader of OUN-B visited the monument.
— Robert Skvarla (@RobertSkvarla) May 8, 2023
On January 1 this year, Ukrainian institutions, including the parliament, commemorated Stepan Bandera’s birthday. Poland, Israel, and Germany criticized the celebrations.
Ukraine also honored another OUN-B monster, Roman Shukhevych, who led the massacre of some 100,000 Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia between 1943 and 1945. Shukhevych commanded an auxiliary police unit that was used regularly by the Nazis to murder partisans and Jews. In 2007, then President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko posthumously awarded Shukhevych and Bandera the title of “Hero of Ukraine.” A metro station in Kiev and a stadium in Ternopil have been named after Shukhevych. And in December 2022, Pushkin Street in Izium was renamed Stepan Bandera Street.