Ex-Nazi Oberlander’s Evasion of Justice an Indictment of Canada’s Legal System - Activist

© AP Photo / Brennan LinsleyA gavel
A gavel - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.09.2021
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The fact former Nazi death squad member Helmut Oberlander was able to evade justice for his crimes for decades while living freely in Canada is an indictment of the country’s legal system, coordinator of the US-based Odessa Solidarity Campaign Phil Wilayto told Sputnik.
Reports of Oberlander's death at the age of 97 emerged earlier in the week, bringing to an end a drawn-out process of Canada trying and failing to deport him to Russia.
"The fact that Oberlander was able to live out his life in freedom and die in the arms of his family is an indictment of the entire Canadian justice system," Wilayto said.
Oberlander, a Ukrainian-born ethnic German, was conscripted into the Schutzstaffel (SS) at the age of 17 where he worked as an interpreter in death squad Einsatzkommando, responsible for the killing of tens of thousands of Jewish and Soviet civilians.
Wilayto went on to say that Oberlander's impunity may have more far-reaching consequences than the legal minutiae of Canada's bureaucracy.
"Mass murderers who get away with mass murder only encourage more mass murders. That’s the lesson to be drawn from the case of Helmut Oberlander," he said.
Wilayto, whose Odessa Solidarity Campaign honors the victims of the 46 people killed by a right-wing mob in Odessa on May 2, 2014, went on to say that Oberlander's case may embolden such groups to act on their instincts.
"Meanwhile, in Ukraine, neo-Nazi organizations that trace their political lineage to fascist militias that cooperated with the invading Nazi army now openly march in the streets by the hundreds," Wilayto said. "Oberlander’s successful evasion of justice must be a great encouragement to these aspiring mass murderers, and it should be a lesson to the rest of us to never let a similar injustice happen again."
He also dispelled the argument that Oberlander is not directly involved in mass murder during World War II since he worked as an interpreter with the Nazi death squad.
"During World War II, he worked as an interpreter for a Nazi death squad responsible for massacring Jews and other 'enemies of the state.' Whether he interpreted, worked as a driver or cook or actually pulled the trigger, he was still a murderer," the activist said.
Oberlander has been embroiled in a legal battle with the Canadian government since 1995, when the latter began trying to strip him of his citizenship, citing his failure to disclose his links to death squads. After a lengthy legal battle, Oberlander was stripped of his citizenship for the fourth and final time in 2017 and Canada’s Supreme Court issued a ruling last December that blocked any possibility for Oberlander to appeal this decision.
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