Record (Kitchener-Waterloo) | Jun. 05, 2004 | Dale Finch
Letter to Editor

Weak action on Oberlander case is shameful

It was disappointing, although not surprising, that the Federal Court of Appeal restored Helmut Oberlander's citizenship this week. This ruling is just another example of Canada's inability to deal with troubling issues from the Second World War.

Oberlander admitted that he was a translator for the Nazi "killing machine" operating in Ukraine during that war. His supporters have defended him by saying that he had no choice in his participation and that there is no proof that he actually took part in a war crime.

One of the quotes from a recent Record article, if I may paraphrase, went like this: "Mr. Oberlander was a translator. That helped the Germans and the Ukrainians to get to know one another better."

How sadly naive! Does the speaker think that the SS were running a social club?

I think that a translator for the Nazi death squads would say things such as: "Put your valuables here. Take off your clothes and put them there. Line up in front of that ditch." And as to being forced to participate, scholarly research has pointed out that anyone who found ethnic cleansing morally repugnant was transferred to a simple combat unit.

Regretfully, Nazi Germany found many willing henchmen to help exterminate the Jews.

It is ironic that this week so many people should be applauding Oberlander when at the same time we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of D-Day.

After all, the whole objective of the Normandy invasion was to rid the world of Nazi tyranny, and yet, in the Oberlander affair, local members of Parliament Karen Redman, Andrew Telegdi and their political opponents have all come out in support of Oberlander who played a role in that same Nazi tyranny. How shamefully hypocritical of them, and of us.

Dale Finch