Politics

Veterans Affairs bungles VE-Day video by showing Nazis

Veterans Affairs Canada quickly deletes a video it posted online this week, to celebrate the 74th anniversary of VE-Day, upon realizing it showed images of the German Wehrmacht, the unified Nazi forces in the Second World War.

Unclear if any Canadian troops visible amid footage of German forces

German soldiers can be seen in this short video from Veterans Affairs Canada commemorating the efforts of Canadian soldiers in the Second World War. (Veterans Affairs Canada)

Veterans Affairs Canada quickly deleted an online video it posted — on Wednesday, to celebrate the 74th anniversary of VE-Day — upon realizing it showed images of the German Wehrmacht, the unified Nazi forces in the Second World War.

On Twitter, the message said: "74 years ago, crowds celebrated Victory in Europe (V-E) Day across the Allied nations. Today, we remember the service and sacrifice of those who fought for peace and freedom during the Second World War." The war in Europe ended on May 8, 1945. 

Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay appears on screen to present the short video explaining that "more than a million Canadian men and women served in this bitter conflict."

The sound of MacAulay's voice describing the war effort is then played over images of the German troops ending on the line: "Lest we forget."

Veterans Affairs pulled this video off social media after it was revealed that instead of showing Canadian troops during the Second World War it was showing soldiers in the German Wehrmacht, the unified Nazi forces in in the Second World War. 0:40

Walter Dorn, a professor of defence studies at the Canadian Forces College and at the Royal Military College told CBC News it's unclear if there are any Canadian troops in the footage. 

"Some of the images show German uniforms," Dorn said. "What's most notable is the eagle just above a Nazi symbol worn just above the right brevet."

Dorn said that while the depiction of German troops may offend some, he says the video was clearly made in error. He notes that many Germans, who are now our allies, died senselessly as victims of the Nazi regime, as did Allied forces. 

"Such a glaring error has to be corrected as soon as possible and so I am glad they took it off," he said. 

A spokesperson from Veterans Affairs said the video, which was posted to the department's social media platforms, was "unacceptable" and was removed as soon as the mistake was noticed. 

"Minister MacAulay has asked his deputy minister to review the approval process to ensure a similar mistake does not happen in the future," the spokesperson said. 

Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay reacts after his department put out an online video celebrating the achievement of Canadian troops during the Second World War that featured Nazi soldiers. 1:11

The issue erupted in question period Friday when Conservative MP Dane Lloyd demanded to know how the video was cleared for posting.

"How many levels of vetting did these ads go through, and how could the minister and his office allow these careless and offensive ads to go forward?" he asked.

MacAulay apologized and said he hopes the mishap doesn't detract from the government's message about the role played by Canadian soldiers in liberating Europe.

"This was a completely unacceptable mistake and the video was removed immediately," he told the Commons. "I can assure you that I and the people involved are very concerned and we are taking steps to make sure this does not happen again."

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