Helmut Oberlander, a translator for one of Hitler's most infamous mobile death squads, will likely live the rest of his dwindling days in Canada, thanks to a new decision from Canada's top court.
The Canadian government has worked to deport Oberlander, who has admitted to being a member of the reviled Einsatzkommando 10a unit, for much of the last twenty years. It appears, on Thursday, they will lose that fight.
In February, a court set aside a government order to revoke Oberlander's citizenship and ordered his case to be reviewed. This had been the third time that Oberlander's citizenship had been revoked, then reinstated by the courts.
"It's been tiring and difficult and unnecessary and now the Supreme Court — the highest court — has told the government that's enough." Ronald Poulton, a lawyer for Oberlander, told Reuters.
The judge in the case said that there needed to be study of whether or not Oberlander was only cooperating with Nazis under duress, or out of fear of his life.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court rejected a government appeal of that decision, meaning that Oberlander will — unless the government revokes it again — retain his Canadian passport.
The decision was immediately blasted by Jewish groups.
"Oberlander was a member of a Nazi mobile killing unit that murdered more than 90,000 Jewish men, women and children during the Holocaust. He lied about his complicity in these atrocities and gained Canadian citizenship fraudulently. Based on these facts, he should be deported without further delay," reads a statement sent out by the The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants (CJHSD).
Oberlander's unit — also know as the Ek 10a — was also responsible for the extermination of intellectuals, Communists, Roma, and a host of other groups deemed undesirable by the fascist regime.
The 92-year-old has always contended that he was conscripted into the unit — although one Canadian court found there was no conscription for non-Germans, like Ukrainian-born Oberlander — and that he only did minor jobs.
Translators, like Oberlander, were nevertheless instrumental in helping the Ek 10a root out Jews and other targeted groups who tried to go underground in Eastern Europe as Hitler's armies marched westward.
Given Oberlander's advanced age, there's little optimism that Ottawa will be able to ever remove him from the country. That doesn't mean they shouldn't try, said Shimon Fogel, CEO for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, in a statement.
"We are disappointed in the SCC's decision, and we encourage the Government of Canada to continue engaging fully in bringing Helmut Oberlander to justice. Though justice has been delayed, it need not be denied."
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