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Born in Forchheim near Karlsruhe, Germany, Oberle moved with his family to German-occupied Poland in 1941. There he was placed in a Hitler Youth indoctrination program. Later, he fled the Red Army advance, surviving on grass and stolen eggs while walking 800 kilometres to his home village in the Black Forest. Rejected by his relatives, he immigrated to Canada at the age of 19 and became a logger and then a gold miner.
Oberle entered municipal politics, becoming mayor of Chetwynd. He entered federal politics and was elected to the Canadian House of Commons in the 1972 general election as the Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament for Prince George—Peace River, British Columbia. He subsequently won re-election five times.
In 1985, Oberle became the first German-born federal Canadian cabinet minister when he became Minister of State for Science and Technology in Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's government. He later became Minister of State for Forestry, and then Minister of Forestry in 1990. Oberle retired from Cabinet when Kim Campbell succeeded Mulroney as Prime Minister, and retired from politics with the dissolution of the 34th Canadian parliament for the 1993 election.
In 2004, Oberle published a memoir of his World War II experiences, Finding Home: A War Child’s Journey to Peace (2004). A second memoir, A Chosen Path: From Moccasin Flats to Parliament Hill, was published in the same year.
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