Canadian Supreme Court Declines to Hear Citizenship Appeal of Ex-Nazi Death Squad Member
The Supreme Court of Canada on Thursday declined to hear the appeal of an ex-Nazi death squad member to restore his Canadian citizenship, which was revoked after the Canadian government learned of his wartime activities.
Helmut Oberlander, 95, was born in Ukraine and became a German citizen during World War Two, serving first as a translator for Nazi death squads and later as an infantryman in the German army, court documents from 2018 state.
“He was found to have significantly misrepresented his wartime activities to Canadian immigration and citizenship officials when he applied to enter Canada” in 1952, according to the Supreme Court’s case summary.
He obtained Canadian citizenship in 1960 and was initially stripped of it in 1995, after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police began an investigation into his involvement in war crimes.
Oberlander has testified he was forced to join one of the Nazis’ Einsatzkommando mobile killing squads at age 17, and did not take part in any atrocities, the court documents from 2018 show.
The government did not find proof of conscription, according to court documents.
The squads murdered a total of more than 2 million people in eastern Europe, most of them Jewish people, Reuters previously reported.
Ronald Poulton, one of Oberlander’s lawyers, said he was outraged at the decision.
“It’s such an injustice. It’s politics over law,” Poulton said, pointing out that his client had won three times in the Federal Court of Appeals, a record which he said was “unheard of.”
Any potential deportation order will be fought over “tooth and nail,” he said.
The Canadian government was “pleased” with the Supreme Court’s decision, Nancy Caron, spokeswoman for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, said in an email.
The government is “determined to deny safe haven in Canada to war criminals and persons believed to have committed or been complicit in war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide,” Caron added.
Edit Kuper, co-president of the Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants, said the Supreme Court made the right decision. The government had attempted to revoke Oberlander’s citizenship three times prior and been rejected by the courts each time until its latest attempt.
“We are pained by the thought that there are still Nazi war criminals who conceal their past and live among us,” Kuper said in a statement.
The Supreme Court did not provide reasons for its dismissal of Oberlander’s application for leave to appeal his citizenship revocation.