Following a firestorm of outrage, the Institution of Women of Aviation Worldwide promised not to honour a Nazi pilot during its Women Aviation Worldwide Week event in Lachute, Quebec.
The event, honouring women’s contribution to aviation history, was scheduled to take part on March 11 and was going to include a tribute honouring Hanna Reitsch, an unrepentant Nazi and admirer of Hitler who was also the first woman to fly a helicopter.
Organizers of the event initially defended their decision to honour a Nazi who in 1944 pitched to Hitler the idea of a kamikaze-style “suicide squad” of bombers, which drew harsh criticism from B’nai Brith. However, as the criticism grew louder and after the story was picked up by the National Post, CBC, the Globe & Mail and Toronto Star, the City of Lachute issued a press release on March 9 saying it will not allow the event to take place in their area.
Following the press release from Lachute Mayor Carl Péloquin which said that the town will not offer logistical support or allow an event that extols the merits of a person associated with Nazism or any other extremist movement, the organizers announced on Thursday that they will not honour Hanna Reitsch or mention her name during the event.
“While it is significant that the organizers caved to public pressure, reversing their decision to glorify a leading Nazi propagandist,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada, “it is unfortunate that they are not taking the opportunity to produce a learning moment by educating the young women who will be in attendance against the evils of the Nazis.”
Ilana Shneider is the co-editor of CIJnews and the founding executive director of Canada-Israel Friendship Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the mutually beneficial, long-standing diplomatic, economic and cultural ties between Canada and Israel. She can be reached at [email protected]