US/World News

Ukrainian teacher praises Hitler, performs Nazi salute with students

(JTA) – A public school teacher in Ukraine allegedly posted birthday greetings to Adolf Hitler on Facebook and taught her students the Nazi salute. Marjana Batjuk, who teaches at a school in Lviv and also is a councilwoman, posted her greeting on April 20, the Nazi leader’s birthday, Eduard Dolinsky, director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, told JTA. She also took some of her students to meet far-right activists who over the weekend marched on the city’s streets while wearing the uniform of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, an elite Nazi unite with many ethnic Ukrainians also known as the 1st Galician. Batjuk, 28, a member of the far-right Svoboda party, called Hitler “a great man” and quoted from his book Mein Kampf in her Facebook post, Dolinsky said. She later claimed that her Facebook account was hacked and deleted the post, but the Strana news site found that she had a history of posting Nazi imagery on social networks. She also posted pictures of children she said were her students performing the Nazi salute with her.

Dolinsky called the veneration of SS soldiers whom some historians say participated in atrocities against Jews and Poles “an outrageous desecration of the memory of the victims.” Education Ministry officials have started a disciplinary review of her conduct, the KP news site reported.

Separately, in the town of Poltava, in eastern Ukraine, Dolinsky said a swastika and the words “heil Hitler” were spray-painted Friday on a monument for victims of the Holocaust. The vandals, who have not been identified, also wrote “Death to the kikes.” In Odessa, a large graffiti reading “Jews into the sea” was written on the beachfront wall of a hotel. “The common factor between all of these incidents is government inaction, which ensures they will continue happening,” Dolinsky said.

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