Canadian Government Mulls Deporting Former Nazi Death Squad Interpreter

Oberlander, an ethnic German born in Ukraine, claims to have been a low-level interpreter who was conscripted under duress, that he never took part in killings and that he would have been shot had he tried to escape.

Heinrich Himmler, second right, chief of secret police and Dr. Wilhelm Frick, right, and other leading members of the Nazi party march along Koenigliche Platz in Munich, southern Germany, 1938.
File Photo/AP

The Canadian government must decide if it will try for a fourth time to deport a 92-year-old man who confessed to being a former member of a Nazi death squad after the nation’s Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling in his favor.

The high court’s decision last week, for which no reason was given, as is custom, boosts Helmut Oberlander’s chances of remaining in Canada, which has been trying to revoke his citizenship for 15 years.

Oberlander, an ethnic German born in Ukraine, was a member of a mobile Nazi death squad, the Einsatzkommando 10a, in the Soviet Union during World War II. He claims to have been a low-level interpreter who was conscripted under duress, that he never took part in killings and that he would have been shot had he tried to escape.

He served with the squad as an interpreter from 1941 to 1943. He later was an infantryman in the German army.

Oberlander immigrated to Canada in 1954 and became a citizen in 1960 without disclosing his wartime record. He lived in Waterloo, Ontario, southwest of Toronto. His case rose to prominence in 1995.

Citing his failure to disclose his wartime record, the Canadian Cabinet stripped him of citizenship three times from 2001 to 2012. Court rulings overturned each revocation, sending the matter back to the Cabinet.

Now that the country’s top court has declined to hear the case, it goes back to the government “to consider again, for the fourth time, whether to take away the citizenship of a man who was involved in the war against his will and who did not commit war crimes,” Oberlander’s lawyer, Barbara Jackman, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Oberlander “lied about his complicity in these atrocities and gained Canadian citizenship fraudulently,” said the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants in a joint statement.

“Based on these facts, he should be deported without further delay.”