Canadian Jews Denounce ‘Obscene Abuse’ of Justice System as Alleged Nazi War Criminal Again Delays Deportation Hearing
Canadian Jewish organizations on Monday reacted furiously to a further delay in a deportation hearing for an alleged Nazi war criminal who served with a death squad unit responsible for the murder of more than 90,000 people in Russia and Ukraine during World War II.
In a legal wrangle that lasted for more than 25 years, Helmut Oberlander — who is now 96 — had his Canadian citizenship stripped on four separate occasions by lower courts, but those decisions were reversed in three appeals.
Last December, Canada’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal to restore his citizenship, which Oberlander obtained in 1960, paving the way for his final deportation.
But Oberlander’s legal team on Monday successfully secured a delay until at least next month of any deportation hearing.
Oberlander — who arrived in Canada in 1954 and resides in Waterloo, Ontario — must now appear in court no later than March 19, although he will be permitted to request a further delay in the proceedings on that occasion.
A lawyer for Oberlander told Canadian broadcaster CBC that his client had not yet had an “opportunity to fully put forward his evidence as to why his case raises exceptional circumstances.” Those circumstances reportedly include Oberlander’s poor health.
Oberlander was stripped of his Canadian citizenship for having lied about his wartime record as an interpreter for the SS death squad unit, Einsatzkommando 10a.
Jewish leaders slammed the postponement of the hearing.
The delay was the “latest obscene abuse of the Canadian justice system,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).
Pinchas Gutter — co-president of the organization Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants — called on the federal government “to complete the deportation process without delay.”
And Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, commented that an “individual complicit in the murder of thousands has been permitted to misuse Canada and its legal system as his safe haven rather than to face justice.”
“We seek to offer a voice for those who can no longer speak for themselves: this matter must at the very least proceed immediately on March 20, 2021,” he said.
Monday’s delay came almost a year after Russia formally requested case files on Oberlander from the Canadian government. Russian investigators said that they were checking reports that Oberlander, who was born in Ukraine, had been involved in a massacre at an orphanage in the town of Yeysk, in southern Russia.
A death squad equipped with mobile gas chambers had been deployed in this region in 1942-43, during the German occupation. One such killing operation involved the mass murder of 214 children from the Yeysk orphanage, Russian investigators said.
Oberlander has maintained that he was forced to join the Einsatzkommando unit at the age of 17, and that he personally did not participate in any atrocities.