Helmut Oberlander is a Canadian citizen whose citizenship have been the source of much controversy. This is because of his past behavior during WW II.
Oberlander immigrated to Canada in 1954 and was awarded citizenship six years later. However, he was not honest about his past during the citizenship process. In 1995, the Canadian government started to put the pieces together when they learned Oberlander was an interpreter with Einsatzkommando 10a (EK 10a). The Einsatzkommandos were infamous Nazi killing units that carried out the murder of tens of thousands of Jews (and other victims). Upon the discovery of Oberlander’s past, a deportation process was initiated against the Ukraine-born German due to his failure to be forthcoming about this information. He is currently 92 years of age, and maintains his innocence.
Finally in 2001, Oberlander, had his citizenship rescinded, but that was short-lived as he reclaimed it after an appeal. A similar process was launched in 2008 when a judge declared that Oberlander had always been aware of EK 10a’s purposes and activities, and that being drafted into the group was not a relevant or valid excuse.
Oberlander claims that he never took part in the murders and that he had been drafted under duress. The Canadian government is actively looking into the case again because Oberlander won another reprieve after the Federal Court of Appeal rendered a ruling against him.
Not surprisingly the CEO of CIJA, Shimon Koffler Fogel, feels Oberlander became a citizen of Canada in an illegal manner. Therefore, in his mind it should be a simple decision to revoke his citizenship. To Fogel there is no question that Oberlander lied about his wartime activities to illegally gain entry in the country. In other words, he falsified immigration documents, which means that, under the law, his citizenship should not remain valid.
Allowing this to matter to go unpunished and “contriving to abuse the judicial system to avoid responsibility and accountability” is “offensive and undermines the integrity of our immigration process,” Fogel said.
To make matters worse (or at least more controversial) Oberlander has not voiced one ounce of remorse for his actions during the genocide. Fogel feels strongly that he should be forced to leave Canada, and that if he wishes to prove his innocence of wartime crimes he should do so in Germany.
The co-president of CJHSD, Sidney Zoltask, makes a valid point as well. He explained that it is “particularly stressful for members of our survivor community, who are law-abiding and responsible citizens, to know that a member of the vicious killing unit Einsatzkommando 10a remains in Canada illegally.”
Members of both the CIJA and CJHSD are encouraging concerned Canadians to do their part by signing the letter to persuade Minister McCallum to deport Oberlander as soon as possible. Thus far, the letter has been signed by a few big names including B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn.
Ultimately, this initiative is intended to demonstrate that there is no expiration date on seeking justice for one of the worst genocides the world has ever seen. This is an attempt to speak as a united front on behalf of all those victims and survivors of the barbaric Nazi tactics. There may not be many survivors alive today, but the ones that remain living still matter.
They remember the brutality and feel the immeasurable loss of their loved ones, killed at the hands of Nazi units like the Einsatzkommando 10a. These murders were unprovoked, and inaction on this manner would only perpetuate the suffering. A ruling in favor of the CIJA and CJHSD would be a symbolic victory that won’t undo the horrors of the past, but will make moving forward that much easier for those who remain living with these painful memories.