Ernst Zundel, deported from Canada on Holocaust denial charges, dies at 78
Ernst Zundel, a “patriarch” of the white supremacist movement whose numerous legal battles played a role in overturning a Canadian law against publishing “false news,” has died.
Zundel’s wife, Ingrid Zundel, said her husband died Saturday at his home in Black Forest, Germany, where he was born. German officials later confirmed his death.
Zundel, who was 78, spent decades in Canada before eventually being extradited back to Germany, where he served five years in prison for Holocaust denial — a crime in that country.
George Michael, a Massachusetts-based expert on radical right-wing movements, said Zundel was an early figurehead in the fringe field of historical revisionism.
Zundel came to public attention in the 1980s with several publications, including “The Hitler We Loved” and “Did Six Million Really Die?”
Two attempts at prosecution in Canada ultimately foundered when his case led the Supreme Court of Canada to strike down the country’s laws against spreading false news as a violation of free speech.
The trials catapulted the permanent resident into the public spotlight and Zundel became a familiar figure with his retinue of followers in Toronto. He was the subject of numerous threats, and his home was once firebombed.
Zundel continued publishing his beliefs online, on a website started in the 1990s that remains active to this day — which Michael said makes him something of a pioneer.
“He was one of the first to do that,” Michael said.
“He was interested in things like graphics and media, so it’s not surprising that he would be one of the pioneers in that regard, in getting this message out there on the World Wide Web.”
It was those online posts that made it possible for Zundel to be prosecuted in Germany. But first, he had to get there. In 2005, he had just been deported from the United States, where he was living with his wife, due to immigration violations. But Michael suggested it was likely that the United States wanted him out of the country because of his ties to right-wing extremists, as the government was cracking down on all radicals after 9/11.
The Canadian government, too, wanted Zundel out of the country.
Federal Court Justice Pierre Blais in 2005 found Zundel to be a hate-monger who posed a threat to national security because of his association with white supremacists.
Ernst Zundel is flanked by supporters during an appearance in Toronto in 1992.