A brief History of the Oberlander Case

The German-Canadian Congress Ont. has very closely observed the case against Mr. Helmut Oberlander and others. We also have come out in favour of Oberlander and received some inquiries for more information pertaining to this case; here it is:

Since 1995 the Government of Canada has accused and investigated Mr. Oberlander concerning war crimes that were committed during the Second World War. After spending countless hours and millions of Taxpayer Dollars on this investigation the Government appointed Judge, Andrew MacKay, on February 28, 2000 reported his findings: He concluded that there is absolutely no evidence that Mr. Oberlander was either, directly or indirectly, involved in committing any war crimes or any crimes against humanity. However he might have obtained his entry into Canada in 1954 by not telling the truth.

Mr. Oberlander, at age 17, was used by the German Military Forces (SS Einsatz Kommandos) as an interpreter when they entered Ukraine in 1941. The Canadian Government claims, that withholding this information is sufficient reason to strip Mr. Oberlander of his Canadian Citizenship and deport him from Canada. Mr. Oberlander says that he was never asked about his military service and numerous witnesses have since come forward informing us that they were never asked either. Neither Judge MacKay, nor the Government provided any proof that Mr. Oberlander was asked that question, but Judge Andrew MacKay ruled that "On the Balance of Probabilities" he must have been asked. Therefore, the Canadian Government and the Canadian Jewish Congress claim that Mr. Oberlander came to Canada by fraud in 1954 and should be deported.

Just think about it; the case is called "The Government of Canada against Helmut Oberlander". The Government appoints the prosecutor, it appoints the Judge and makes the final decision based on that Judges ruling, a ruling that can not be appealed; a ruling not based on facts, but "On The Balance of Probabilities". Doesn't that smell like a conflict of interest? The German Canadian Congress sees this as a violation of basic Human Rights and therefore feels obligated to defend Mr. Oberlander or anyone, whose rights are violated in a similar fashion.

Who is Helmut Oberlander?

1700/1750: The ancestors of Helmut Oberlander emigrate from Germany/Switzerland to Ukraine

Feb. 1924: Oberlander is born in Halbstadt (Molonchansk). His grandfather and his father were both physicians, his mother was a nurse.

1930: At six years of age, Oberlander looses his father due to illness.

1931/ 1941: Oberlander attends both, Russian and German schools

Oct. 1941: Molonchansk is occupied by German Troops.

Oct./Dec. 1941: All Molonchansk citizens are registered by the occupying German Forces. Because of his language skills Oberlander is used by the German military as an interpreter, but he is allowed to live at home.

Feb. 1942: Despite protests by his mother, Oberlander is required to work for the German forces. His duties are listening to and translating Russian Radio Transmissions, acting as an interpreter during negotiations between the military and the local population, and the guarding of military supplies. Most units for which Oberlander worked are so called SD (Sicherheits Dienst) Einheiten. Today SD Einheiten are accused of having committed crimes against humanity during the Second World War.

1943: The SD Einheit (Unit), Oberlander worked for, is dismantled and Oberlander is taken over by the German Army. His duties continue to be listening to and translating Russian Radio Messages.

1944: Oberlander is wounded.

1944: Oberlander's Mother applies for German citizenship for the whole family.

May/July 1945: Oberlander becomes a prisoner of war of the British forces

1945/1947: Due to the upheavals of the War and the complete destruction of the infrastructure many families are torn apart and have to search for their families, and so does Helmut Oberlander

1947: After two years of searching he finally finds his family in Korntal near Stuttgart in Germany

1950: Oberlander marries his wife Margaret

1948-1952: He starts an apprenticeship as bricklayer in Stuttgart and at the same time studies construction engineering

1952 Oberlander and his wife file an application to emigrate to Canada

Aug. 1953: Oberlander and his wife are granted an interview with Canadian immigration officers in Karlruhe, Germany. Questions are asked about experience in his trade, their status of health and were they ever involved with the Communist Party. Questions about his military service are not asked. Several persons who had their interview around the same time as Mr. and Mrs. Oberlander have since come forward to let us and the government know that they were not asked either. (A copy of the questionnaire used by Canada at that time is on file in our archives). In addition Mr. Oberlander did not belong to any category that was prohibited from coming to Canada. That list was issued by the Canadian Government and a copy is also on file at our office.

13 May, 1954: Mr. And Mrs. Oberlander arrive in Quebec City, Canada

1954 - 1958: Mr. Oberlander is employed by various construction companies in the Kitchener-Waterloo area

1958: Helmut Oberlander starts his own company, Oberlander Construction

1960: The Oberlanders apply for and receive their Canadian Citizenship

25 Jan. 1995: Two RCMP officers visit Oberlander at his home in Waterloo and question him about his military service during the Second World War.

Jan. 1995: The Canadian government accuses Oberlander of having participated in crimes against humanity during the Second World War. The then minister of justice, Alan Rock, announces, you will be surprised at the evidence on file against Mr. Oberlander at the Canadian War Crimes Commission.

Aug. 1998: The hearing of the case against Mr. Oberlander begins.

28 Feb. 2000: Finally after 1.5 years the federally appointed Judge, Andrew Mackay, clears Mr. Oberlander of all accusations. He states that there is no evidence that Mr. Oberlander was either directly or indirectly involved in any crimes against humanity. However, "On The Balance of Probability" he rules, that Oberlander did not tell the truth about his military service, when he was interviewed by immigration officials in 1953. Neither Judge MacKay, nor the Canadian government does supply any proof that this was the case. The ruling is simply based on an opinion by Judge MacKay. According to Canadian Law, based on that ruling, the Minister for Citizenship and Immigration has the right to make a recommendation to cabinet to revoke the citizenship of Mr. Oberlander and deport him.

A number of other judges have since voiced their opinion on this case and they state that Judge MacKay's ruling is without foundation and wrong.

12 July, 2001: Minister Elinor Caplan makes her recommendation to cabinet to revoke Mr. Oberlander's Canadian Citizenship, which is done.

It seems that in order to get majority support for her recommendation, Caplan waited until most cabinet members were on their summer holidays. Some members of the cabinet did not know about this decision until the 17th of July. It is also interesting that the document which was issued, was kept secret, when previous actions were announced through press releases.

We are convinced that this is a terrible violation of basic human rights. As citizens of a country that prides itself on it's human rights record we have the obligation to speak out, not only for Mr. Oberlander, but also for anyone whose human rights are violated in a similar manner.

Finally something to think about:
Mr. Oberlander called his company "Oberlander Construction". Every cheque that was written, every application that was filed, every bill that was sent out bore the name Oberlander. Does someone who is so open with his name have something to hide?

We would very much appreciate it, if you too could protest against this unfair treatment of a Canadian citizen. Please send letters of complaint to Politicians, TV and Radio Stations and Newspapers. Also call your MP and let him know about this terrible miscarriage of justice.

Sent a copy of your letters to:
German-Canadian Congress (Ont.)
455 Conestogo Road, Waterloo, Ont.
N2L 4C9
Or Fax a copy to 1-519-746-7006

You can also visit our website at: http://www.dkk-ont.net/main.htm

Board of Directors, German-Canadian Congress (Ont.)