Ernst Zündel

 

Ernst Christof Friedrich Zündel (born April 24, 1939 in Bad Wildbad) is a German Holocaust denier and pamphleteer who was jailed several times for publishing hate literature. In 1977, Zündel founded a small press publishing house called Samisdat Publishers which issued such pamphlets as The Hitler We Loved and Why and Did Six Million Really Die?, both prominent documents of the Holocaust denial movement. On February 5, 2003, Ernst Zündel was detained by a U.S. local police and deported to Canada, where he was held two years in jail. He was then deported back to his native Germany and detained in Mannheim prison where he is awaiting the conclusion of his trial for Holocaust denial.


Background

Zündel emigrated to Canada from West Germany in 1958, when he was 19, in order to avoid being conscripted by the German military. He married a French-Canadian, Janick Larouche, in 1960 with whom he had two sons, Pierre and Hans. During the 1960s he came under the tutelage of Canadian fascist Adrien Arcand.


In the mid-1960s while living in Montreal he worked as a graphic artist and was also an organizer among immigrants for the Ralliement des créditistes. In 1968 he joined the Liberal Party of Canada and ran in that year's leadership convention under the name Ernest Zeundel. He used the convention as a platform to allege that Canadian society was replete with anti-German attitudes. He dropped out of the contest prior to the voting, but not before delivering his campaign speech to the convention.


Professionally, Zündel worked as a graphic artist and printer, on several occasions he was commissioned to illustrate covers for Maclean's Magazine. His views on Nazism and Jews were not well known in the 1960s and 1970s and he initially published his opinions under the pseudonym Christof Friedrich.


As Christof Friedrich, he also authored several publications promoting the idea that UFOs are really secret weapons of Nazis who had fled to Neu-Schwabenland in Antarctica. The UFOs supposedly monitor the world and are part of a secret plan to re-conquer the world at an unspecified time. Whether he actually believed these notions, or if it was just a publicity stunt, cannot be ascertained.


Zündel campaigned in Canada to ban the movie Schindler's List [2] on the grounds that it "generates hatred against Germans, and it should be possible to ban it under "hate laws" in Canada, Germany, and other countries" [3] and celebrated the movie's being banned in Malaysia and the Philippines, and effectively banned in Lebanon and Jordan. The irony of Zündel and his supporters later attacking those same "hate laws" when they were used to prosecute him was noted by his oppponents.


Holocaust denial

Did Six Million Really Die? by Richard Harwood (also known as Richard Verrall), published by Ernst Zündel's Samisdat PublishersIn 1977, Zündel founded a small press publishing house called Samisdat Publishers which issued such pamphlets as The Hitler We Loved and Why and Did Six Million Really Die? by Richard Harwood also known as Richard Verrall (a neo-Nazi member of the British National Front), as well as works by Malcolm Ross.


By the early 1980s, Samisdat Publications had grown into a worldwide distributor of Nazi and neo-Nazi posters, audiotapes, and memorabilia, as well as pamphlets and books devoted to Holocaust denial and Allied and Zionist "war crimes", claiming a mailing list of 29,000 in the United States alone. Advertisements for Samisdat Publications were purchased in well-known reputable American magazines and even comic books. West Germany became another large market, in violation of their Volksverhetzung (incitement of the masses) laws preventing Holocaust denial and dissemination of Nazi and neo-Nazi material, going so far as to send mass mailings to every member of the West German Bundestag (parliament). In December 1980, the West German Federal Ministry of Finance told the Bundestag that between January 1978, and December 1979, "200 shipments of right-wing extremist and neo-Nazi content including books, periodicals, symbols, decorations, films, cassettes, and records" had been intercepted entering West Germany; these shipments "came overwhelmingly from Canada." On April 23, 1981, the West German government sent a letter to the Canadian Jewish Congress, confirming that the source of the material was Samisdat Publishers.


From 1981 to 1982 Zündel had his mailing privileges suspended by the Canadian government on the grounds that he had been using the mail to send hate propaganda, a criminal offence in Canada. Zündel then began shipping from a post office box in Niagara Falls, New York, until the ban on his mailing in Canada was lifted in January 1983.


Trials

In 1983 Sabrina Citron, a Holocaust survivor and founder of the Canadian Holocaust Remembrance Association, filed a private criminal complaint against Zündel before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. In 1984, the Ontario government joined the criminal proceedings against Zündel based on Citron's complaint. Zündel was charged under the Criminal Code, section 177, of spreading false news for publishing "Did Six Million Really Die?".


Zündel underwent two criminal trials in 1985 and 1988. The charge against Zündel alleged that he "did publish a statement or tale, namely, "Did Six Million Really Die?" that he knows is false and that is likely to cause mischief to the public interest in social and racial tolerance, contrary to the Criminal Code." Zündel was originally found guilty by two juries but was finally acquitted by the Supreme Court of Canada which held in 1992 that section 181 (formerly known as section 177) was a violation of the guarantees of freedom of expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


The 1988 trial was notable for its reliance on testimony from individuals such as David Irving and Fred A. Leuchter, an expert in execution technology. Leuchter's testimony as an expert witness was accepted by the court, but his accompanying Leuchter Report[5] was excluded, based on his lack of engineering credentials. In 1985, key expert testimony against Zündel's alleged Holocaust denial was provided at great lengths by Holocaust historian, Raul Hilberg. Hilberg refused to testify at Zundel's 1988 trial. Zündel was convicted in 1988 and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment by an Ontario court; however, in 1992 in R. v. Zündel his conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada when the law he had been charged under, reporting false news, was ruled unconstitutional .


In 1997, Zündel's marriage with his second wife, Irene Margarelli, collapsed after 18 months. "At one point I really loved him," she told an acquaintance. "By the end, I thought he was evil incarnate." She subsequently testifed against him in the late 1990s when he was under investigation by the Canadian Human Rights Commission for promoting hatred against Jews via his website. In January 2000, before the Commission had completed its hearings, he left Canada for Sevierville, Tennessee where he married his third wife, Ingrid Rimland and vowed never to return to Canada.


Detention and deportation

In 2003, Zündel was arrested in the United States for violating that country's immigration rules, specifically visa waiver overstay, which he argues was a "trumped up" charge. After two weeks he was deported; although he is a German citizen, a warrant for his arrest for Volksverhetzung (incitement of the masses) had been issued in Germany in the same year and he sought refugee status in Canada, despite the fact that his permanent residency status in Canada had expired owing to his prolonged absence from the country. At his hearing, Zündel described himself as "the Gandhi of the right".


On May 2, 2003, Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Denis Coderre and Solicitor General Wayne Easter issued a "national security certificate" against Zündel under the provisions of the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, indicating that he was a threat to Canada's national security and/or the human rights of Canadian citizens owing to his alleged links with violent neo-Nazi groups including Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler, neo-Nazi Christian Worch, and former Canadian Aryan Nations leader Terry Long, as well as Ewald Althans, convicted in a German court in 1995 of charges that included insulting the memory of the dead and insulting the state.


Zündel moved twice to have Canadian Federal Court justice Pierre Blais recuse himself from the case for "badgering and accusing the witness of lying" and exhibiting "open hostility" towards Zündel, and filed two constitutional challenges, one in the Ontario courts and one in the federal courts, all unsuccessful. During the hearing, Zündel characterized his position as "Sometimes I feel like a black man being convicted on Ku Klux Klan news clippings."


Zündel meanwhile moved to be released from detention on his own recognizance while the legal proceedings were ongoing. His lawyer, Doug Christie, introduced as a "surprise witness" Lorraine Day, a California doctor who practises alternative cancer treatments, to testify that Zündel's incarceration at Toronto's Metro West Detention Centre was causing his chest tumor (revealed to the court a few weeks previously) to grow and his blood pressure to rise, that the medication supplied to control his blood pressure was causing side-effects such as a slow heart rate and loss of memory, and that "He needs exercise, fresh air, and freedom from stress. The whole point is we need to have his high blood pressure controlled without the drug." On January 21, 2004, after three months of hearings including both public and secret testimony, Justice Blais again ruled against Zündel with a damning statement.


On February 24 2005, Justice Blais ruled that Canada could deport Zündel back to his native Germany at any time, and on February 25 Zündel's lawyer, Peter Lindsay, announced that his client would not attempt to obtain a stay against the deportation and that his fight to remain in Canada was over. In his decision, Justice Blais noted that Zündel had had the opportunity to respond to the allegations of the decision of January 21 by explaining the nature of his contacts with the extremists mentioned and/or providing exonerating witnesses, but had failed to do so.


Zündel was deported to Germany on March 1, 2005. Upon his arrival at Frankfurt airport, he was immediately arrested and detained in Mannheim prison awaiting trial for inciting racial hatred.


German trial

German prosecutors charged Zündel on July 19, 2005, with fourteen counts of inciting racial hatred. The indictment says Zündel "denied the fate of destruction for the Jews planned by National Socialist powerholders and justified this by saying that the mass destruction in Auschwitz and Treblinka, among others, were an invention of the Jews and served the repression and blackmail of the German people."


His trial was scheduled for five days beginning November 8, 2005, but ran into an early delay when Judge Ulrich Meinerzhagen ruled that Horst Mahler, whose license to practice as a lawyer was withdrawn in 2004 and who, in January 2005, was sentenced to nine months in prison for inciting racial hatred, could not be part of the defense team. Mahler had been associated with the violent far-left Red Army Faction in the 1970s, but has since become a supporter of far-right and anti-Semitic groups. Zündel's public defender Sylvia Stolz was also dismissed, on the grounds that her written submissions to the court included Mahler's ideas. On November 15, 2005, Meinerzhagen announced that the trial will be rescheduled in order to allow new counsel time to prepare. [12]


The trial resumed on February 9, 2006 for several court sessions but then adjourned on March 9 when the trial judge asked for Stolz to be removed as Zündel's defence lawyer after having denounced the court as a "tool of foreign domination" and described the Jews as an "enemy people". On March 31 the superior state court in Karlsruhe removed Stolz from the case for illegally obstructing proceedings "with the sole goal of sabotaging the trial . . . and making it into a farce".


The trial started resumed on June 9, 2006 and has been continuing, intermittently, throughout the summer and fall.