The German-Canadian Congress (GCC) has very closely followed the case against Mr. Helmut Oberlander of Waterloo
and others accused of war crimes. The GCC has always taken the following position: If someone is accused of a war
crime, let’s put him before a criminal court, where he can defend himself. Everyone, from a traffic violator to a mass
murderer has that right! Why does the Government take that right away from an exemplary Canadian citizen who is
accused (there is no proof) of an immigration violation in 1954?
Because of this, the GCC has taken a stand in favour of Mr. Oberlander and others whose basic human rights are violated
in a similar manner. Below is the information available to us and our opinion on the Canadian governments actions.
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 large amounts of taxpayer dollars on this
investigation, the Government appointed Judge, Andrew MacKay, on February 28, 2000 he 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 Security Forces (Einsatz Kommandos) as an interpreter when
they entered the Ukraine in 1941. The Canadian Government claims, that lying about this is sufficient reason to revoke Mr.
Oberlander's Canadian Citizenship and deport him from Canada. Mr. Oberlander says that he was never asked about his
military service when interviewed by Canadian Immigration officers and numerous witnesses have since come forward
informing us that they were not 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, to have his Canadian citizenship revoked and should be deported.
Please consider this: The case is called “The Government of Canada against Helmut Oberlander”. The Government
appoints the prosecutor; it appoints the Judge who makes the final decision based, not on evidence, but on a ruling.
“On The Balance of Probability” is based on the assumption that there is a more than 50% chance that Mr. Oberlander
was asked about his service as a translator with the Einsatzkommando 10. If he falls into the category of less than 50%,
will this mean that the law is applied in a different manner?
In addition, it is our opinion that enabling people to communicate by being an interpreter is certainly not a crime and
serves both sides; the side that does the interrogation and the one being interrogated. This was clearly revealed by the
Canadian Government's own witness, Mr. Siderenko.
Who is Helmut Oberlander and what is the case against him?
The ancestors of Helmut Oberlander emigrate from Germany/Switzerland to the Ukraine
Oberlander is born in Halbstadt (Molonchansk). His grandfather and his father were both physicians, his mother was a
At six years of age, Oberlander loses his father due to illness.
Oberlander attends both, Russian and German schools
Molonchansk is occupied by German Troops.
All citizens of Molonchansk are registered by the occupying German forces. Because of his language skills, Oberlander is
used by the German military as an interpreter. He is allowed to live at home.
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 and interrogations between the
German military and the local population. He is also required to guard military supplies. Most units, for which Oberlander
worked, are so-called SD (Sicherheits Dienst) Einheiten. (Security Units) Today SD Einheiten are accused of having
committed crimes against humanity during the Second World War.
The SD Einheit (Security Unit), Oberlander worked for, is dismantled and Oberlander is taken over by the German Army.
His duties continue to be translating Russian radio messages.
Oberlander is wounded. His mother applies for German citizenship for the whole family.
Oberlander is a prisoner of war of the British forces.
Due to the upheavals of the war and the complete destruction of the German infrastructure, many families are torn apart
and must search for their families, as does Helmut Oberlander.
After two years of searching Oberlander finally finds his family in Korntal near Stuttgart in Germany.
Oberlander marries his wife Margaret.
He starts an apprenticeship as a bricklayer in Stuttgart and at the same time studies construction engineering.
Oberlander and his wife file an application to emigrate to Canada.
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.
Mr. And Mrs. Oberlander arrive in Quebec City, Canada.
Mr. Oberlander is employed by various construction companies in the Kitchener-Waterloo area.
Helmut Oberlander starts his own company, Oberlander Construction.
The Oberlanders apply for and receive their Canadian Citizenship.
Two RCMP officers visit Oberlander at his home in Waterloo and question him about his military service during the Second
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".
The hearing of the case against Mr. Oberlander begins.
Finally, 1 ½ years after the start of the hearings, 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 supplies 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, questioning Judge MacKay’s ruling.
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Elinor Caplan, makes her recommendation to the Governor in Council to revoke
Mr. Oberlander’s Canadian Citizenship, which was 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 by the government on this case,
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 its 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.
A Federal Appeals Court, consisting of three judges after reviewing the case, unanimously finds that the Canadian
Government was wrong in revoking Mr. Oberlander's citizenship and orders the government to restore Oberlander's
Canadian citizenship. Which was done
On the recommendation from the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration the Hon. Diane Finley Mr. Oberlanders Canadian
citizenship is again revoked by the Governor in Council. This was all done behind closed doors, by unnamed people
without allowing Mr. Oberlander representation. Mr. Oberlander did appeal the case to the Federal Court of Appeal.
After 1 1/2 years, the Federal Court of Appeal made a judgement and by a 2 to 1 decision restored Mr. Oberlander's
Canadian citizenship. It stated that the Governor in Council, when revoking Mr. Oberlander's citizenship in 2004, ignored
very important facts that should have been considered.
The Canadian Government appealed the decision and the case is now again before the courts
Mr. Oberlander was notified by the minister of Citizenship and Immigration, that his Canadian Citizenship has been
revoked again and he was informed that he has 30 days to appeal the decision
Mr. Oberlander appealed and he is waiting for a hearing date.
The case is heard in the Federal Court in front of Justice Blanchard
Justice Blanchard dies before he issues a decision. The file is assigned to Justice Russell who reads the transcripts of the
Feb. 18th hearing.
Judge James Russell announces his decision upholding the revocation. He writes "He served (Oberlander) the Nazi cause
for three or four years, surrendered at the end of the war, voluntarily accepted an award of the War Service Cross Second
Class and voluntarily joined his mother's application for German citizenship." In addition he says that Mr. Oberlander has
shown no remorse.
We are asking remorse for what? As stated above, Mr. Oberlander was cleared of any wrong-doing in the year 2000. The
award he received, was for saving the life of two wounded German soldiers. Judge Russell also mentions German
Citizenship as one of the reason for his decision. We hope he realizes that having German citizenship is not against the
Oberlander again appeals the decision to the Federal Court of Appeal. All three judges of the Court announce that the
Government erred when it revoked Mr. Oberlander's Canadian Citizenship and ruled in favour of Mr. Oberlander. That is
the third time that Mr. Oberlander won his case.
“After losing a unanimous decision in the Federal Court of Appeal, the government asks for leave to go to the Supreme
Court of Canada. In July 2016 the Supreme Court announces that it will not hear the government’s case. The ruling of the
Federal Court of Appeal in favour of Oberlander stands”
“The government starts a fourth proceeding against Mr. Oberlander, which may again go to the Governor in Council for a
determination on revocation”
June 2017 Mr. Oberlander’s Canadian Citizenship is revoked for the fourth time by the Governor in Council.
The people who make the decision behind closed doors are a small group of unknown persons. Mr. Oberlander’s lawyer is
not permitted to be present at the meeting to defend Mr. Oberlander.
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?
On behalf of the German-Canadian Congress
Tony Bergmeier, National President Ernst Friedel, Director
Note: Paragraphs in italics represent our opinion.
|The History of the Oberlander Case
updated July 26, 2017
1931 to 1941
May 13, 1954
1954 - 1958
Jan. 25 1995
28. Feb. 2000
12 July, 2001
May 31, 2004
May 17, 2007
Nov. 17, 2009
Feb. 18, 2013
June 27, 2013