An 88-year-old Ukrainian Canadian has once more been stripped of his Canadian citizenship by the federal government and is facing possible deportation over his connection to a Nazi killing unit, the Toronto Star reported.
The Canadian government filed an order in council in late December at Federal Court in Toronto quietly stripping Helmut Oberlander of his citizenship.
Now, the only thing that stands between him and deportation is the possibility of yet another judicial review.
Oberlander has been at the center of a legal wrangle for years over his alleged involvement in Nazi war crimes.
In 2009 the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that federal cabinet must revisit a prior decision to strip Oberlander of his citizenship and consider whether or not he was forced to join the Nazis under duress.
Oberlander and his family have always maintained that he was conscripted into a Nazi death squad — the EK10A, which operated behind the German army’s front line in the eastern occupied territories during World War II — under duress.
His family says he wasn’t a Nazi and has never been charged with any war crime by Ottawa.
He has always maintained that he served only as a translator in the unit and never participated in any killings.
The retired real estate developer, who lives in Waterloo, Ontario has been fighting attempts to strip him of his citizenship and deport him since 1995, according to the Toronto Star.
Oberlander and his wife came to Canada in 1954. He did not disclose his wartime experience when he applied to emigrate or when he sought citizenship.
A spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney defended the decision, telling CTV News the federal government is “committed to identifying and deporting from Canada people involved in war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
"This includes Nazis who perpetrated reprehensible crimes during the Holocaust, as these criminals must face justice for their horrific crimes,” said the statement
Meanwhile, the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) applauded Kenney stripping Oberlander of his Canadian citizenship.
"As a human rights advocacy organization grounded in the lessons of the Holocaust, we are so pleased to see the Canadian government taking steps to deport one of the few remaining Nazis in Canada - there is no statute of limitations for those who participated in genocide," noted Avi Benlolo, President and CEO of FSWC.
"Having led a delegation of Holocaust survivors to Ottawa to speak to Minister Kenney in April, it is particularly gratifying to see our concerns that Oberlander, a suspected Nazi living freely in this country, have been taken seriously and acted upon in this manner," said Benlolo in a statement.
Oberlander has been listed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center as one of the top ten most wanted Nazi war crimes suspects worldwide. In addition to Oberlander, FSWC has also pressed for the deportation of Vladimir Katriuk, a beekeeper in Quebec who was a member of a battalion responsible for a massacre in the village of Khatyn, in what is now Belarus.