Sept. 23, 2021
TORONTO – B’nai Brith Canada is expressing frustration with the country’s failure to deport a former translator for a Nazi death squad, who entered Canada after lying about his wartime past.
Helmut Oberlander, an ethnic German from modern Ukraine, died at age 97 in the Waterloo area on Wednesday. Oberlander served as a translator for the SS Einsatzkommando 10a (Ek10a), which was responsible for the murder of over 90,000 Jewish men, women, and children during the Holocaust.
In 1954, he immigrated to Canada while hiding his wartime activities from officials, though Canadian authorities became aware of his past as early as 1963. In 1995, nine years after the Deschênes Commission had recommended Oberlander’s citizenship be revoked, Ottawa finally did so, leading to a first revocation of his citizenship in 2000. This sparked a series of appeals and further revocations that were finally exhausted in 2019.
Oberlander was in the midst of a deportation hearing at the time of his death, after Ottawa had failed to deport him immediately, as B’nai Brith had demanded.
“The peaceful demise of Helmut Oberlander on Canadian soil is a stain on our national conscience,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “The fact is that this country slammed its doors on Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis, then allowed some of their tormentors into Canada and failed to deport them.
“We at B’nai Brith are proud of our decades-long fight on the Oberlander file, and will continue the struggle to ensure that those who have attacked Jews and lied about it in order to enter Canada cannot remain in this country.”
“This is a sorry record,” said David Matas, Senior Legal Counsel at B’nai Brith Canada. “The delays in these cases were unconscionable. The result was justice for victims of the crimes addressed in these cases was denied.”
While Oberlander is believed to be the last known Nazi collaborator living in Canada, other individuals who contributed to anti-Jewish violence and immigrated to the country afterward remain before the courts. For example, Issam al-Yamani, a former member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a designated terrorist entity, continues to contest his removal order in Federal Court.