Date: September 23, 2021 05:34PM
"Helmut Oberlander, 97, who served as an interpreter for a roving Nazi death squad that killed more than 20,000 people in the German-occupied eastern territories during World War II, died “surrounded by loved ones in his home” and “will be dearly missed,” his family said in a statement.
“Notwithstanding the challenges in his life, he remained strong in his faith,” his family said. “He took comfort in his family and the support of many in his community. He gave generously to charity, supported his church and was a loving family man.”
"A man believed to be Canada's last suspected Nazi war criminal has died aged 97.
"Helmut Oberlander had been fighting the Canadian government's latest effort to revoke his citizenship over his involvement with a Nazi death squad.
"He admitted to working as a translator with the squad, but maintained he had been forcibly conscripted at age 17 and did not participate in the atrocities.
"Born in Ukraine, Oberlander first became a Canadian citizen in 1960.
"His death at his home in Waterloo, Ontario, was confirmed by his family, who released a statement to local media. They portrayed the former real estate developer as a community-minded man, devoted to his family.
"Notwithstanding the challenges in his life, he remained strong in his faith. He took comfort in his family and the support of many in his community," the statement said, according to the Globe and Mail newspaper.
"Oberlander came to Canada in 1954. The country had revoked his citizenship and attempted to deport him three times since 1995. Each time he appealed.
"The government said when Oberlander first applied for citizenship he had knowingly concealed he had been an auxiliary of the Einsatzkommando, a force that operated behind the German army's front line in the Eastern occupied territories.
"The squad is responsible for killing more than two million people, many of them Jewish people."
"Helmut Oberlander (15 February 1924 – 20 September 2021) was a naturalized Canadian citizen who was a member of the Einsatzgruppen death squads of Nazi Germany in the occupied Soviet Union during World War II. Oberlander was on the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of most wanted Nazi war criminals. Beginning in 1994, the Government of Canada made several attempts to revoke Oberlander's citizenship, on the basis of his having withheld or misrepresented his involvement with Nazi war crimes."
I note that the Post states the death squad killed 20,000 people. The BBC states it was 2 million. I'd guess the latter is correct.
According to the Wiki entry, Oberlander was a "most wanted Nazi war criminal" of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
In neither article does Canada come off looking good. How does an accused, and wanted, war criminal get to live to age 97 and die "surrounded by loved ones" without having to answer the charges. Needless to say, Nazi victims didn't get to live and love and be loved for their natural life span.
It's maddening to see how slow (stagnant) our legal system is. This guy gets to live a long and seemingly pleasant life in Canada without having to answer the accusations against him, after having lied to get into the country in the first place.
I understand that all of the issues are complex, starting with the war itself and all those caught up in it.
But if a person is known to be wanted for war crimes I think we have a duty to make them available to the bodies they should answer to. Otherwise, Justice denied. Which is letting down the millions who suffered and perished due to the actions or inaction of those who could have changed the outcome.
I'm not saying I'd be courageous myself or that any puny efforts on my part could have stopped a war machine. I don't know what I'd do. I'm not lion-hearted (physically courageous) that I know of - haven't really been tested.
But in this case, if all Canada could do is hand the guy over to a judicial body to answer the charges that's what should have happened.
I never get used to the appalling spectacle of humans' injustice to humans.
One of the worst impulses is to protect the system over and above fellow humans.
Kind of like, to a much lesser degree obviously, when the missionaries withhold information from investigators, or even lie, to turn them into converts. Like the machine is everything and people are incidental and disposable.
(edited to add quotation marks and fix spacing)
Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 09/23/2021 05:42PM by Nightingale.