Ukrainian Canadian stripped of citizenship over connection to Nazi killing unit
Published on Thursday December 27, 2012
Mathew McCarthy/Waterloo Regional Record file photo
Helmut Oberlander, right, has been at the centre of a legal wrangle for years over his alleged involvement in Nazi war crimes.
An 88-year-old Ukrainian Canadian has once more been stripped of his Canadian citizenship by the federal government and is facing possible deportation over his connection to a Nazi killing unit.
The government filed an order in council in late December at Federal Court in Toronto quietly stripping Helmut Oberlander of his citizenship.
Now, the only thing that stands between him and deportation is the possibility of yet another judicial review.
Oberlander has been at the centre of a legal wrangle for years over his alleged involvement in Nazi war crimes.
In 2009 the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that federal cabinet must revisit a prior decision to strip Oberlander of his citizenship and consider whether or not he was forced to join the Nazis under duress.
Oberlander and his family have always maintained that he was conscripted into a Nazi death squad — the EK10A, which operated behind the German army’s front line in the eastern occupied territories during World War II — under duress.
His family says he wasn’t a Nazi and has never been charged with any war crime by Ottawa.
He has always maintained that he served only as a translator in the unit and never participated in any killings.
The retired Waterloo real estate developer has been fighting attempts to strip him of his citizenship and deport him since 1995.
Oberlander and his wife came to Canada in 1954. He did not disclose his wartime experience when he applied to emigrate or when he sought citizenship.
Oberlander’s has long held the attention of the Jewish community, said Bernie Farber, the former CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress.
“Everyone who participated in this unit helped to ensure the machinery of genocide worked properly. There were less than 400 men in the unit. It was hard for anyone to say they didn’t know what was going on. This unit had one function: to kill Jews,” said Farber.