German-born Ernst Zundel came to prominence in the world of Holocaust denial, or what he prefers to call historical "revisionism," in the 1980s, when his Samisdat Publishing company began distributing propaganda like a "Did 6 Million Really Die?" pamphlet and Zundel's own book, The Hitler We Loved and Why. By then a non-citizen resident of Canada (he moved there in 1958), Zundel's repeated attempts at gaining citizenship in Canada were denied as he was decried by both the Canadian and German governments for his incitement of racial hatred. After several Canadian court battles over the contents of the material he distributed, he was deported in 2005 back to Germany, where he was later tried and convicted for Holocaust denial and inciting racial hatred. He was released in 2010, after serving five years.
In His Own Words
"Wherever we look, we White people find ourselves besieged by peoples of other races who compete aggressively against us for jobs, food, housing, education and above all, power! The Jews are particularly adept at seizing or insinuating themselves into strategic positions in our society where they wield power far beyond the extent of their numbers."
— "Our New Emblem," White Power Report, January 1977
"Hitler was well loved and loved in return, but this relationship between the Leader and his people was not the gushy, sickly sweet effusion of an obese Jewish mother for her pimply, draft-dodging son. This was Aryan love. Strong, steady and uplifting."
— The Hitler We Loved and Why, co-authored under a pseudonym with Eric Thomson
"[I]diots, morons and imbeciles [were not] possible [under Hitler] ... simply because such sorry specimens were not allowed to reproduce. Hitler, the artist and designer, designed a society for loving human beings, not plastic dummies."
— Quoted in the Toronto [Canada] Sun, May 23, 2003
In 1985, Ernst Zundel was convicted in Canada of "knowingly publishing false news" in connection with his pro-Nazi propaganda. The conviction was later overturned due to procedural errors. In 1987, Zundel was retried and again convicted in Canada. He served almost two years in prison before the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the law against publishing false news was unconstitutional.
In 2007, after being deported by the United States back to Canada and then by Canada back to his native Germany, Zundel was convicted in Germany of 14 counts of inciting racial hatred and defaming the memory of the dead. He was sentenced to the maximum of five years in prison.d
Ernst Zundel was born in Germany and moved to Canada in 1958. In the late 1970s, he began running Samisdat Publishing, one of the largest distributors of neo-Nazi and Holocaust denial literature in the world. He worked in Canada as a commercial artist and photographer, writing numerous tracts of neo-Nazi and Holocaust denial propaganda under the alias of Christof Friedrich, his two middle names. But in 1978, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation revealed that Friedrich was actually Zundel.
After that, Zundel ran his Samisdat Publishing under his own name and distributed not only his own works, but those of other well-known Holocaust deniers. They included Richard Harwood, author of Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald: The Greatest Fraud in History, and Austin App, who wrote A Straight Look at the Third Reich and The Six Million Swindle. Zundel himself also wrote for White Power Report and Liberty Bell, two neo-Nazi publications run by George Dietz.
Zundel established the German-Jewish Historical Commission, which promoted denial of the Holocaust, and Concerned Parents of German Descent, which distributed anti-Semitic propaganda to ethnic Germans. Zundel's interests didn't end with neo-Nazism and Holocaust denial — he also believed that UFOs were a Nazi secret weapon and published material to that effect. Zundel expanded Samisdat's offerings to include artistic depictions of "Nazi Secret Weapons" (UFOs included), along with audiotapes ranging from Hitler's speeches to "Music of the Third Reich." Samisdat's distribution was worldwide, although his focus was on the U.S., Canadian, and West German markets. Distribution of Nazi and neo-Nazi propaganda was illegal in West Germany (and still is in unified Germany), and in the early 1980s the government announced that it had seized some 200 illegal items coming into West Germany from Samisdat Publications in Toronto.
Zundel's hate activities attracted the Canadian government's interest, and its subsequent investigation of Zundel led to the suspension of his mailing privileges in 1981 (he then began using a Niagara Falls, N.Y., post office box). Authorities claimed that his mailings incited hatred — a crime in Canada — but in 1983 reinstated his postal privileges. In 1985, however, Zundel was charged criminally by Canadian authorities for violating a law against "knowingly publishing false news," by publishing "Did Six Million Really Die?" (not written by Zundel) and Zundel's own The West, War, and Islam. The prosecution used Holocaust survivors and historians in its case. On his side, Zundel had Holocaust deniers like Sweden's Ditlieb Felderer, France's Robert Faurisson and Canada's James Keegstra testifying, even though each had been convicted for denial in their home countries. Zundel was convicted on Feb. 26, 1985, of publishing false news about the Holocaust, and was sentenced to 15 months in jail and three years of probation.
He didn't serve that sentence though; in January 1987 the Ontario Court of Appeals overturned the conviction, citing procedural errors. A new trial was granted in June 1987, which proved even more remarkable than the first. This time, the defense attempted to prove that the Nazis had never gassed Jews and others through the testimony of a self-taught "engineer" named Fred Leuchter. Leuchter had illegally removed chunks of bricks from presumed gas chambers at the Polish extermination camps of Auschwitz, Birkenau and Majdanek, and then examined them for traces of Zyklon-B gas. He concluded there was no evidence that humans had been gassed. (Leuchter's samples had been exposed to the elements for close to 50 years, and likely included bricks that were never in the chambers when they were in use but added during a postwar reconstruction. Thus, it was no surprise that he found little gas residue.) Leuchter's findings were summarized in the so-called Leuchter Report, a Samisdat publication that has become a classic amongst Holocaust deniers. The Canadian court dismissed Leuchter's testimony, citing his lack of credentials.
The defense again employed the testimony of Holocaust deniers like David Irving, Mark Weber, Bradley Smith, Ditlieb Felderer and Robert Faurisson. But to no avail. Zundel was sentenced to nine months in jail, and an appeal was denied. He entered Toronto's Don Jail on Feb. 5, 1990. Two years later, however, in August 1992, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that the law against publishing false news was unconstitutional and the government halted deportation proceedings against Zundel.
In 1994, Zundel applied for Canadian citizenship. But after objections from Canada's Security Intelligence Service over his links to far-right extremist groups, a complicated court battle developed. One judge ruled in Zundel's favor, but an appeals court reversed that decision. The maneuvering continued until December 2000, when the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear any more of Zundel's appeals. At that point, before Canadian authorities could pursue his deportation, Zundel moved to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., where he married longtime supporter Ingrid Rimland. For years, she had been webmaster of Zundelsite.org.
The Zundelsite was itself the focus of Canadian investigations. In 1996, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, responsible for enforcing Canada's 1977 Human Rights Act, charged that the Zundelsite was inciting hatred via "telephonic devices." The defense argued that the Internet was not a "telephonic device," but a federal adjudicator disagreed. Also at issue was the fact that Ingrid Rimland was Zundelsite's webmaster, and at the time she resided in California and used an American company to host the site, putting the site's contents under the protection of U.S. free speech laws. Zundel's role in the administration also was argued in the court, with Rimland claiming he was simply the inspiration for the site, not its author or administrator. But subsequent testimony suggested that Zundel paid Rimland $3,000 a month to run the site. In January 2002, the Canadian Human Rights Commission ruled that Zundelsite did expose a minority (Canadian Jews) to "hatred and contempt," and ordered the offending material removed. But the ruling couldn't be enforced since the site was hosted in America. Also, by that time, Zundel was living in Tennessee with Rimland.
In February 2003, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) arrested Zundel in Tennessee for immigration violations (he failed to attend a required hearing), and he was deported back to Canada after two weeks in INS custody. Fearing deportation to Germany and subsequent prosecution for hate crimes, Zundel applied for refugee status in Canada, but the Canadian Security Intelligence Service issued a "national security certificate" against him because of his relationships with white supremacist groups. The certificate made Zundel ineligible for refugee status and required his deportation. Zundel fought the order in the courts for two years but was found to have been reasonably judged a security threat to Canada. He was deported in March 2005to Frankfurt, Germany, where he was promptly arrested.
Zundel's trial on 14 counts of inciting racial hatred and defaming the memory of the dead began in November of 2005, but was delayed after it was revealed that one of his defense team, disbarred German right-wing lawyer Horst Mahler (a former left-wing militant who had become a neo-Nazi), had been convicted for crimes against Jews himself. The trial resumed after the judge dismissed both Mahler and the attorney who had hired him to assist in the defense, and Zundel was convicted on Feb. 15, 2007. The court handed him the maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Zundel was released from prison on March 1, 2010, after serving five years for the crime of inciting racial hatred. A small group of fellow Holocaust deniers greeted him as he left a Mannheim prison. Zundel told reporters he would be heading to his home in the Black Forest to regain his health.