Helmut Oberlander

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Helmut Oberlander
Born (1924-02-15) 15 February 1924 (age 90)
Halbstadt, Ukraine, Soviet Union
Allegiance Canada
Service/branch Einsatzkommando
Battles/wars World War II

Helmut Oberlander (born 15 February 1924) is a former Canadian citizen who has had his citizenship revoked by the Government of Canada. [1] He is on the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of most wanted Nazi war criminals.[2][3]


As an ethnic German born and living in Ukraine during World War II, he was conscripted into the German forces at the age of 17 to serve as an interpreter for the EK10A (Einsatzkommando)[4] when they entered Ukraine in 1941. His duties included listening to and translating Russian radio transmissions, acting as an interpreter during interactions between the military and the local population, and the guarding of military supplies.

His supporters say that he was not a German citizen during World War II, a Nazi Party member, or ever politically active, and never attained a rank which put him in a position to affect the actions of his unit or direct any of its wartime activities. They say that Oberlander was just a 17-year old student when he was forced by threat of death to serve as an interpreter for German occupation units in Ukraine in 1941. They state that the judicial finding that he failed to disclose his wartime record when applying for immigration to Canada was based on the balance of probabilities and that he was not likely to have been asked. They also show that Oberlander has been a model citizen since coming to Canada in 1954 and that his removal or stripping of citizenship serves only partisan political purposes and unfairly targets an innocent man.

Oberlander's critics say that even though his contributions to the German forces were purportedly minor, the government was justified in proceeding against him because the unit he was conscripted into committed war crimes. Wartime documents show that Oberlander was an ethnic German from the vicinity of Halbstadt in Ukraine, and served in the SD (the Security Service of the SS) from 1941 until 1943. The unit in which he served, Detachment 10a of Einsatzgruppe D,[5] was composed of 100 to 120 men and was responsible for annihilating thousands of persons in its areas of operation who were considered "undesirable" by the Nazi regime, particularly the Jewish, Sinti and Roma (so-called Gypsy) inhabitants. Oberlander denies that he participated in the killings and claims it was the other men in his unit that perpetrated the murders.

Life in Canada[edit]

Oberlander immigrated to Canada with his wife Margaret in 1954, where he ran a construction business and lived in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. He became a Canadian citizen in 1960. In 1995 the Government of Canada initiated a denaturalization and deportation process against him. On 28 February 2000, Judge Andrew MacKay reported his findings: he concluded that there is no evidence that Oberlander was involved, directly or indirectly, in committing any war crimes or any crimes against humanity. He might not have, however, disclosed his wartime record during his immigration interview in 1953 in Karlsruhe, Germany. The Government of Canada determined that withholding this information was sufficient reason to strip Oberlander of his Canadian Citizenship. Andrew Telegdi who was Oberlander's Member of Parliament, and who was at the time parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Citizenship of Immigration, resigned from that position in objection to this decision, arguing that the issue of deportation should be one decided by the courts, not by parliament. In October 2008 the government revoked his citizenship. In November 2009 the Federal Court of Appeal struck down this decision thus reinstating his citizenship.[2] In 2012 Oberlander was again stripped of his citizenship and remains a non-citizen.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mutimer, David (17 April 2007). Canadian Annual Review of Politics and Public Affairs. University of Toronto Press. pp. 47–. ISBN 9780802092359. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Oberlander was not a Nazi: daughter". Toronto Star. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Three new names on Wiesenthal Center's most-wanted Nazi list have Canadian links". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 20 April 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Petrou, Michael (31 October 2008). "War Criminals Old and New – The World Desk – Macleans.ca". Maclean's. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  5. ^ "ACCUSED NAZI MURDERER IS EXPELLED FROM THE UNITED STATES (press release)". United States Department of Justice. 9 May 1995. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  6. ^ http://www.therecord.com/news/local/article/860659--helmut-oberlander-stripped-of-canadian-citizenship-again

External links[edit]