Former Nazi loses Canadian citizenship

Ben Sales

TORONTO (JTA) — A Nazi-era war-crimes suspect has lost an appeal to keep his Canadian citizenship.

In a ruling made public on Jan. 22, Canada’s Federal Court rejected the claim of Helmut Oberlander, 90, that he served Nazi Germany under duress. The court’s verdict upheld an earlier government decision.


Oberlander failed to show that he had made any effort to leave the Einsatzkommando Nazi death squad where he was an interpreter, the court ruled.

“There was no evidence that he was mistreated and no evidence that he sought to be relieved of his duties. He served the Nazi cause for three or four years [and] surrendered at the end of the war,” the court found, adding that Oberlander “has never expressed any remorse for being a member of [the death squad] or indicated that he found the activities of the organization abhorrent. There is no evidence that what he did for the organization was inconsistent with his will.”

The Canadian government launched its case against Oberlander in 1995, when it alleged he had failed to disclose his wartime past when he became a Canadian in 1960. In 2000, a judge ruled that Oberlander had lied about his wartime service to gain citizenship.

The Canadian cabinet stripped Oberlander of his citizenship twice, but both times, court rulings restored it. The government removed his citizenship a third time in 2012, which this month’s court ruling upheld.

Oberlander, who lives in Waterloo, Ontario, was a member of a mobile death squad that is estimated to have murdered more than 23,000 people, mostly Jews, in the Soviet Union during the Second World War.

He claimed to have been a low-level interpreter and that he would have been shot had he tried to escape. The court rejected that claim.

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre called on Ottawa “to immediately commence deportation proceedings against Oberlander.”