Germar Rudolf
Germar Rudolf

Ending a complicated international saga that began when he was deported from the United States in 2003, notorious neo-Nazi Ernst Zundel was sentenced to five years in a German prison last February for denying the Holocaust.

Zundel, 67, was one of a rash of Holocaust deniers who have run into trouble recently with European laws, which frequently outlaw such "revisionism" about World War II. A month after Zundel's sentencing, another German court sentenced Germar Rudolf to two-and-a-half years for similar acts of Holocaust denial.

Zundel, like Rudolf, was born in Germany. But he emigrated to Canada as a young man and spent some 40 years there as a legal resident, publishing neo-Nazi propaganda such as the books The Hitler We Loved and Why and Did Six Million Really Die? Ultimately, after failing to gain Canadian citizenship, Zundel moved to the United States and married Tennessee neo-Nazi Ingrid Rimland.

The Germans went one step further. In January, after assuming the revolving presidency of the European Union (EU), Germany proposed outlawing Holocaust denial, public display of Nazi symbols, and certain racist speech throughout the EU. Currently, some EU members, like Sweden, retain strong free speech protections. But in 2003, the United States deported Zundel back to Canada over an immigration violation. The Canadians detained him for the next two years for legal proceedings that culminated in his deportation to Germany in March 2005. Rudolf, too, sought to avoid prison by coming to the United States, moving there in 2000 to avoid an in absentia German conviction and 14-month sentence. He applied for political asylum but was rejected and deported back to Germany in 2005 to serve his sentence. German authorities charged him again in early 2006 with "systematically" denying the Nazi genocide. Rudolf, 42, had used the Internet to spread his views.

The same month, the United Nations, outraged over a revisionist conference sponsored by Iran late last year, approved a resolution drafted by the United States and co-sponsored by 103 countries that condemned Holocaust denial.