Toronto Star | Oct. 29, 2002 | V. Halchuk

Hearing to deport Oberlander resumes

From: "V. Walter Halchuk" [email protected]
To: [email protected]

Dear Editor

Re: Hearing to deport SS death squad man resumes; October 29, 2002

Is it not obvious to Mr. Caldwell that Ottawa is resorting to guilt by association in order to justify flimsy accusations? It harks back to McCarthy style witch-hunts. Helmut Oberlander was FOUND to have lied about wartime service. Not proved, but found, and only on the basis of probability - not on proof. In this country, are we not innocent until PROVEN guilty?

Walter Halchuk
Sudbury, ON

Hearing to deport SS death squad man resumes Helmut Oberlander found to have lied about wartime service
October 29, 2002
Brian Caldwell

Helmut Oberlander maintained his innocence yesterday outside a hearing that could lead to his deportation for lying about his role with a Nazi death squad.

The retired Waterloo developer wasn't called to testify, as lawyers spent the day making arguments and presenting written submissions to the Immigration and Refugee Board in Toronto.

But in a brief interview after the hearing adjourned, Oberlander insisted he did nothing wrong while serving as an interpreter with an infamous unit that executed at least 23,000 people, mostly Jews, in Ukraine from 1941 to 1943.

"I killed no one, I hurt no one and I didn't lie when I came to Canada in 1954," he said, backed by a small group of supporters, including his wife Margret and daughter Irene Rooney.

The government is trying to deport Oberlander, 78, after a Federal Court of Canada judge found he lied about his involvement with the death squad when he applied to emigrate from Germany in the early 1950s.

The judge ruled that Oberlander failed to disclose his role as an interpreter with a German SS Einsatzkommando.

But he also found there was no evidence that Oberlander participated in atrocities, and Oberlander himself claims he was never asked about his war record in applying to come to Canada.

The federal cabinet paved the way for his expulsion by stripping him of his Canadian citizenship last year.

As has been the case since proceedings against Oberlander began more than seven years ago, his fate remains unclear amid legal wrangling.

His lawyers are seeking a judicial review of the cabinet decision, arguing it was flawed. They are also trying to put deportation proceedings on hold until that issue is settled.

The immigration hearing was allowed to resume yesterday after being suspended almost a year ago.

Barbara Jackman, a lawyer representing Oberlander, has said she will argue it would be unfair to deport her client when there is no evidence he actually committed any war crimes.

But the key to the immigration case will likely be a law in place until 1978, well after Oberlander had established his life in Canada. In effect, the law said anyone who had lived in the country as a permanent resident for at least five years could only be deported for treason, drug offences and a few other specific crimes.

Oberlander admitted he had difficulty following twists and turns in the complex case. But he and his supporters made it perfectly clear what they think of the entire process.

"We can only say this is a malicious persecution -- from Day 1," Margret Oberlander said.

Kitchener-Waterloo Record