False: Canada sent a tank to Ukraine painted with the Germany Iron Cross symbol worn by Hitler.

By: Ishita Goel
February 14 2023

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False: Canada sent a tank to Ukraine painted with the Germany Iron Cross symbol worn by Hitler.


The Verdict False

The Leopard 2A4 tank sent by Canada doesn't have an iron cross symbol painted on it. The image being shared is of Germany's tank Leopard 2 A7V.

Claim ID d09abc22


Several nations have been sending military aid to war-torn Ukraine, including Canada, as the war approaches its one-year mark. On January 25, Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand announced that the federal government would donate four of the Canadian Armed Forces' Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine. On February 6, Anand tweeted, "The first Canadian Leopard 2 main battle tank that we've donated to Ukraine has now arrived in Poland. Alongside our allies, we'll soon be training the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the use of this equipment," with images of the tank inside the aircraft.

The same day, Canadian news outlet CTV News took to Twitter to share their report, "First tank sent by Canada for Ukrainian forces arrives in Poland," along with an image of a tank and a link to their article.

However, users shared a screenshot of this tweet and questioned why Canada had sent tanks to Ukraine with iron cross symbols painted on them. They also cropped out the black and white cross painted on the tank and shared photos. A LinkedIn user wrote, "Why do Canadian tanks have the same German Iron Cross on the side that Hitler wore", adding, "did Nazi forces inside the Ukrainian military do some redecorating on Canadian tanks." The post also carried a photo of Hitler wearing a badge in the shape of a cross.

In Fact

A reverse image search of the tank from the CTV News tweet led us to Alamy, a photo-hosting website, which credited the photo to Daniel Karmann. The caption stated that the photo had been captured on February 3 at Pfreimd, Germany, and showed a new German Army Leopard 2 A7V tank. The caption further said that "the suffix 2 A7V refers to the 7th development stage of the Leopard 2," adding that the "V" stands for "improved." AP Images also published a similar photo and a few others captured from different angles on the same day. We also noted the presence of the cross on the tank in these images.

However, we found that the CTV News report itself did not carry the tank image shared in the tweet. The report spoke about the announcement made by Anand on February 6 and included her tweet as well, which carried the photo of the tank inside an aircraft. The tweet by the organization used a photo of the wrong tank.

On February 5, Anand shared two posts on Instagram regarding the departure of the tanks in the Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft from Halifax. One post carried images of the tank, and the other showed the tank being boarded in the plane. On comparing the tank from the CTV News tweet, we found the tank sent by Canada does not have a German iron cross symbol on the tank and is painted in a different color as well. 

Further, a news report by the Canadian news outlet CBC specified that the tank sent by Canada to Ukraine was a Leopard 2 A4. The Government of Canada website states that the "Leopard 2 Family of Vehicles (FOV) are the main battle tanks (MBT) of the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as several NATO countries" and notes there are three variants of Leopard 2 tanks, namely 'Leopard 2A4, 2A4M, and 2A6M.' Therefore, the tank seen in the image in the CTV News tweet and the tank Canada sent to Ukraine are two completely different tanks. Though Leopard A4 tanks are German-made, designed, and manufactured by the Company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, the one in the photo used by CTV News is a German Army tank, while Canada sent a different tank used by the Canadian Armed Forces.

A report by the New York Times published on January 24, 2023, states that Germany's Leopard 2A7V tanks are emblazoned with the Iron Cross. The Iron Cross is one of Germany's most famous military insignia, and while Adolf Hitler and other Nazis were among those who wore the medal, the emblem dates back to 1813, according to The Independent. At the time, King Frederick Wilhelm III introduced it as a medal for Prussian soldiers engaged in battle against Napoleon. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Nazi regime in Germany superimposed a swastika on the emblem in the 1930s. However, The Independent reported that the Iron Cross is now used by the German armed forces on their tanks, aircraft, and warships, with the swastika replaced by oak leaves according to a 1957 ruling from the West German government. Further, ADL notes that while the Iron Cross was interpreted as a Nazi symbol, without a swastika, it should not be seen as a hate symbol. The website for the Bundeswehr, the armed forces of Germany, states that the "Iron Cross and the various versions of the Badge of Honour of the Bundeswehr stand for bravery, honor, and a love of freedom."

Therefore, the claim that a Canadian military tank sent to Ukraine was emblazoned with the same symbol that Hitler wore is false. CTV News used an incorrect image in a tweet, which has since made its way around social media with the false context.

The Verdict

Canada sent Leopard 2 A4 tanks to Ukraine, and the image of a tank with the Iron Cross is the Leopard 2 A7V. The latter is a German military tank painted with the emblem used by the German armed forces. The images shared of Leopard 2 A4 do not show any such symbol on the tank. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

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