"The idea of using a 'Nazi hero'- for lack of a The Institute for Women of Aviation Worldwide came under fire this week after it chose to honour Hanna Reitsch, the first woman to fly a helicopter and a proud Nazi, as one of the women who were paid tribute to throughout a week-long international celebration of women in aviation.
Mirelle Goyer, the founder and president of WOAW, defended the Canadian organisation's decision to honour the renowned pilot who is known to have received the warm embrace of the National Socialist Party during The Second World War.
"She was an amazing pilot. I looked at everything she had accomplished in terms of piloting skill," Goyer explained. "If you're aiming to talk about her maybe controversial part in political history, to me, that's not relevant," she added.
Reitsch, who will be featured in multiple videos and posters released by the organisation to mark the celebrations, is known for her close ties to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, who awarded her with the Iron Cross First Class and Luftwaffe Pilot badges of honour, making her the first woman to ever receive the badge.
The Polish-born pilot served as an international representative for the regime during the Nazi era and is remembered for flying the last airplane out of Berlin at the close of the war.
Amanda Hohmann, the national director of the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada, told CBC that she found WOAW's choice "very troubling."
better word- as a role model for young girls and for women is absolutely, wildly inappropriate," she said.
Hohmann added that she wanted to see an apology from the organisation as well as a shift in the focus of the celebratory events. "I realise it's probably too late for them to change who they are honouring," she noted, but went on to say that "this could be a very good opportunity to educate, especially in light of the climate of antisemitism around the world growing."