Peter Bufe's Jan. 2, 2002 letter, Oberlander Mistreated, demonstrates the truth of the old adage that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Comparing the situation of Steven Truscott (who was on trial for his life) and David Milgaard (who stood ready to lose his freedom) with that of Helmut Oberlander is preposterous.
The difference in the seriousness of these cases is reflected in the fact that murder is a criminal offence while immigration fraud is a civil offence.
That said, Bufe's logic would dictate that no person ever be convicted of any crime because the wisdom of the courts is not absolute. This notion is anti-democratic and injudicious.
In any event, Canadian Jewish Congress has always maintained that the rule of law should prevail in this matter and that Oberlander is entitled to exercise all appeals that the law permits.
But Bufe crosses the line to offensiveness when he likens the situation of enablers like Oberlander to that of the Jewish councils in Nazi-controlled ghettos. There is no recorded instance of a member of an einsatzkommando being seriously punished for refusing to participate in the murder of Jews.
The members of the Jewish councils, on the other hand, were trapped, with no hope of escape. They attempted to placate the Nazis in the hope that at least a small remnant of their community might survive. It was aptly demonstrated to the Jewish council members that failure to comply meant instant death to them and their families.
To confuse the perpetrators with the victims is vile.
Bernie M. Farber
Canadian Jewish Congress, Toronto