Canada’s ‘last Nazi’ dies aged 97 while still targeted by decades-long effort to deport him

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97-year-old Helmut Oberlander had said he worked as an interpreter in a Nazi death squad after receiving death threats  (B’nai Brith Canada website)
97-year-old Helmut Oberlander had said he worked as an interpreter in a Nazi death squad after receiving death threats (B’nai Brith Canada website)

A Ukranian man who served as a translator in the Nazi death squad died at his home in Canada’s Ontario on Thursday, bringing to a close a decades-long struggle to deport and legally charge him as an accomplice in the murder of tens of thousands of Jews.

Helmut Oberlander, who was part of the death squad that killed nearly 100,000 people, mostly Jews during the second World War, died in the presence of his loved ones at his home peacefully, according to a local report.

Though not accused of directly involved in killing people in the Holocaust, Oberlander said he was pulled into serving the death squad in his teens after receiving a threat to his life, the report added.

He served as an interpreter with the Ek 10a unit from 1941 to 1943. Eleven years later, he arrived in Canada and received citizenship in the country six years later. He had not informed the authorities during the citizenship application about the role he played during the Holocaust.

The authorities discovered Oberlander’s past in the Nazi crimes against Jews in the 1960s, the report added. Almost 30 years later, the Canadian government started working on the process to revoke his citizenship as several Jewish human rights organisations sought his deportation.

The Canadian administration revoked his citizenship for the fourth time in June 2017 on the grounds of Oberlander’s involvement in war crimes. The 97-year-old was in the middle of his deportation hearings before succumbing to old age in Waterloo on Thursday.

Jewish rights organisations seeking Oberlander’s deportation have condemned the slow-paced proceedings that failed to deliver justice for the tens of thousands of lives lost in Holocaust by holding the involved people guilty.

“B’nai Brith Canada is expressing frustration with the country’s failure to deport a former translator for a Nazi death squad, who entered Canada after lying about his wartime past,” a statement released by Jewish organisation B’nai Brith Canada read.

“The peaceful demise of Helmut Oberlander on Canadian soil is a stain on our national conscience,” Michael Mostyn, CEO of the organisation, said.

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