Record (Kitchener-Waterloo) | Sep. 03, 2004 | Eric Hafemann

No evidence Oberlander was involved in crimes

Once again, we have heard from the paid lobbyist Bernie Farber, of the Canadian Jewish Congress. Farber's position is that he does not care what Helmut Oberlander did or did not do during the Second World War; he just wants him deported.

Every time Farber opens his mouth, I receive calls from persons wanting to donate money for Oberlander's defence. I should put Farber on retainer.

The purpose of my writing is not to debate with Farber or even acknowledge his ridiculous statements. The purpose is to confront The Record's headline on a Sept. 1 story: German, Jewish Groups Remain Divided Over Oberlander Decision. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I am convinced, having grown up in this community, and practised law here for over 34 years, that I personally know many more Jews in this region than Farber. On many occasions we have discussed the Oberlander case. Without exception, once appraised of the evidence in this case, and not as distorted in the media, members of the Jewish community are especially appalled with what has happened to Oberlander.

Oberlander has to be the most investigated citizen in Canada with respect to activities during the Second World War. Three separate investigations have failed to produce any evidence whatsoever that he was even indirectly involved in any criminal activity. In fact, documentation, such as it is, would indicate that he was not even in the immediate geographical area where atrocities were documented. The uncontradicted evidence, however, does establish that he was forcibly taken from his home at the age of 17, and forced to act as an interpreter for various police units, without pay. Some may argue that such work assisted the Nazi regime. So did every concentration camp inmate.

Eric Hafemann
Barrister And Solicitor