On August 5, 2017, Ernst Zündel died of a heart attack in Germany, according to his wife Ingrid. The 78-year-old German-born Holocaust denier moved to Canada in 1958, and founded Samisdat Publishing in the 1970s, which he used to distribute anti-Semitic propaganda such as 1977’s The Hitler We Loved and Why.
On February 26, 1985, Zündel was convicted of “knowingly publishing false news” about the Holocaust after Samisdat published Did Six Million Really Die? Written by British National Front deputy chairman Richard Verrall, the 41-page screed called the Nuremberg trials the “most disgraceful legal farce in history” and claimed that “no such thing as a gas chamber has ever been shown to exist in these [extermination] camps.”
Although Zündel was sentenced to 15 months in jail and three years of probation, his sentence was overturned two years later by the Ontario Court of Appeals due to procedural errors. Zündel was retried that same year, convicted, and sentenced to nine months in jail.
In 2005 Zündel was deported to Frankfurt, Germany where he was arrested and charged with 14 counts of inciting racial hatred. Two years later he was ultimately convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.* In 2010 he was released, but barred from entrance to Canada. And just last March Zündel’s application for an immigrant visa was denied by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Administrative Appeals Office due to his 2007 conviction.
And although Zündel might have preferred to be remembered as a relentless truth-teller or a free speech martyr, in truth he was a crank who dabbled in ufology and whose worldview was hopelessly poisoned by bigotry.
Take a 1996 interview of Zündel by an Israeli journalist, for example. A rather combative Ernst Zündel told the interviewer that Israel was founded on the “myth” that Jews are “the persecuted people.” “I’ll tell you, that the Jews inflicted as much pain as was inflicted on them” he said. “You have no copyright on pain.”
When pressed for details, Zündel cited writer Ilya Ehrenburg, whose “papers were turned over to Israel, even though he was the Soviet Minister of Propaganda under Stalin” and whom he called “responsible, undoubtedly, for the rape of millions of German and East European women and the murder of hundreds of thousands of German soldiers.”
When it was pointed out that Stalin wasn’t Jewish and, in fact, murdered Jews, Zündel was dismissive. He claimed that “his entire regime, the Bolshevik regime from the word ‘go'” was Jewish, and that the Jews never “faced the music” for Stalin’s atrocities. Besides that, in the infamous Slánský show trial, it was a Jewish judge who sentenced predominantly Jewish defendants to death.
This led to the interviewer asking point blank Zündel whether or not he hated Jewish people. His answer was no, but he added the following caveat: “I dislike intensely their parasitic nature and actions in the world, I do. … There are many Jews who are far more intelligent, far more skilled than I am, but when it comes as a group, when we talk about group morality, they are certainly found lacking. They are hypocrites to a degree, with chutzpah that staggers the goyish imagination.”
*Oddly enough, I remember flipping through AM stations one evening years ago and stumbling on a talk radio host ranting about the verdict. Although I never learned the name of the show, I distinctly recall the host criticizing Germany’s laws against Holocaust denial, instructing his listeners to pray for Zündel, and asking “Who knows whether these supposed gas chambers existed?”