Don't deport Oberlander | Helene B.Schramek | May 8, 2001

Don't deport Oberlander

I must respond to the decision by Immigration Minister Elinor Caplan to seek the deportation of Waterloo resident Helmut Oberlander.

In February 2000, Federal Court Justice Andrew MacKay ruled there was no evidence Oberlander was involved in mass executions but that based on a "balance of probabilities" Oberlander had lied about his wartime activities to enter Canada. There was no evidence confirming this -- only Justice MacKay's opinion.

Beginning in the late 1940s, approximately 150,000 immigrants a year were slated for Canada, there was a backlog of 10,000 awaiting processing and there were only 11 RCMP visa control officers in Germany to screen applicants.

There was more concern about allowing communists into the country than letting in Nazis and many people have come forward to attest they also were not questioned about wartime activities.

A Canadian Jewish Congress member claims that comments by Paul Tuerr of the German-Canadian Congress regarding Caplan's decision could strain relations between ethnic groups in Canada and are destructive to the multicultural harmony of the country.

Multicultural harmony and positive ethnic relations can only exist in fair and equal situations -- not just in the interest of one group. Kitchener has already felt this multicultural harmony diminish, as I am sure the rest of the country will, if Oberlander is deported.

Look around you, at your 17-year-old sons, daughters, nieces or nephews. What would they do if someone ordered them to serve at gunpoint? Would they be strong enough to refuse?

Let us hope this will never happen again and that in 50 years' time, they will not have to answer for their actions at a young and vulnerable age.

Helene B.Schramek