Record (Kitchener-Waterloo) | Jun. 08, 2004 | Len Rudner
Letter to Editor

Nothing murky about Oberlander's activities

Christian Aagaard's June 02, [2004, Record (Kitchener-Waterloo)] column on Helmut Oberlander, A Ruling With Justice At Its Heart, gets it wrong on a number of points.

First, there is nothing "murky" about Oberlander's war-time activities: He was a translator for einsatzkommando 10a, a part of Einsatzgruppen D. These facts formed part of the decision of Justice Andrew Mackay and have never been disputed. Second, the government did not "lock in on the issue of guilt by association." Oberlander's membership in a mobile killing unit -- and his failure to disclose that membership -- was sufficient to disqualify him from entry into Canada. The issue of Oberlander's participation in war crimes did not form a part of Mackay's decision.

Third, the circumstances under which Oberlander became a member of a mobile killing unit are irrelevant. He remained a member of that unit for a period of 18 months and for that time became a cog in the machinery of death. In the memorable words of Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz (quoted in The Record's special report of May 6, 2000): "They are all sailing on a pirate ship, and all members of the crew."

But factual errors aside, what is most troubling in this column is the tone of its conclusion. Oberlander must be permitted to remain in Canada, otherwise we run the risk of finding ourselves under "the grim shadow that fell across Europe more than 60 years ago." This comparison between the government of Canada and its honest efforts to remove from our shores a man who at best was an enabler of genocide and the Nazi regime that was responsible for the deaths of more than 50 million people is frankly grotesque.

Len Rudner, Director Community Relations
Canadian Jewish Congress, Ontario Region, Toronto