Published On Thu Nov 26 2009
OTTAWA–The family of Helmut Oberlander says he was never a Nazi and he has not been charged by the federal government with any war crime.
The Federal Court of Appeal released a ruling recently that ordered the federal cabinet to revisit its decision to strip Oberlander of his Canadian citizenship.
A news report on that ruling said he was an accused Nazi war criminal, but his daughter said that is not the case.
In an email responding to the report, daughter Irene Rooney said the federal government has not charged him with being a war criminal. Rooney also says he was never a Nazi, never adhered to their philosophy and "abhors being labelled as such."
He was, however, an auxiliary in a Nazi death squad.
Oberlander, now in his 80s, argues he was conscripted into duty and was part of the Nazi death squad, Ek 10a, under duress because the penalty for desertion was death.
Ek 10a operated behind the German army’s front line in the eastern-occupied territories during World War II.
Oberlander says he served only as a translator and never participated in any killings. He was 17 in 1941 when German troops came to his home in Ukraine.
In a 2-1 decision made public last week, the Federal Court of Appeal told cabinet to reconsider the issue of whether the retired real-estate developer from Waterloo was a willing member of his military unit, given the penalty for desertion was execution.
Oberlander has been fighting attempts to strip his citizenship and deport him since 1995.
Oberlander and his wife came to Canada in 1954. He became a Canadian citizen six years later. He did not disclose his wartime experience when he applied to emigrate, upon entering Canada or when seeking citizenship.
Canadian Jewish Congress president Mark Freiman said last week, the issue is not how Oberlander came to be attached to the unit, but rather that he lied about it to gain entry into Canada and to obtain Canadian citizenship.
The Canadian Press