Ernst Zndel, Holocaust Denier Tried for Spreading His Message, Dies at 78 – New York Times

Posted By on August 9, 2017

The first conviction was tossed out on a technicality, and the second was overturned in 1992, when the Supreme Court of Canada found that the law was an unreasonable limit on freedom of expression.

Mr. Zndel, who moved to Canada from Germany as a teenager, was twice denied Canadian citizenship. In 2000 he moved to the United States, where he ran a website and lived with his third wife, Ingrid Rimland.

In 2003, American authorities arrested Mr. Zndel for overstaying his visa. He was sent back to Canada, but the authorities there did not want him. They detained him as a threat to national security, given his ties to neo-Nazi groups, a decision that drew criticism from some civil liberties advocates.

After another lengthy legal process, Mr. Zndel was deported to Germany in 2005. A state court in Mannheim, after yet another tumultuous trial, convicted him in 2007 on 14 counts of inciting hatred and one count of violating the memory of the dead. (A member of his defense team, Sylvia Stolz, was jailed and disbarred for signing Heil Hitler on a legal document.)

Mr. Zndel was sentenced to five years in prison but released in 2010, partly in consideration of his time spent in pretrial detention.

Recently, Mr. Zndel petitioned the American authorities to allow him to travel to Tennessee to care for his wife, who is 81. The administrative appeals office of the Department of Homeland Security denied his request on March 31.

The record shows that the Applicant is a historical revisionist and denier of the Holocaust, distributing writings, books, tapes, videos and broadcasts to promote his views, the office found. The record indicates further that these publications agitated for aggressive behavior against Jews. Furthermore, the Applicant has been a leader in these activities for decades and has shown no regret or remorse for his actions.

On Monday, the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Canadas leading Jewish advocacy organization, said in a statement: Ernst Zndels death brings to a close an especially pernicious saga that plagued Canadians for decades.

In a phone interview, Bernie M. Farber, who was the chief executive of the Canadian Jewish Congress, now part of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said that for decades, he was the gasoline that fed Holocaust denial in Canada.

Mr. Farber, now the executive director of the Mosaic Institute in Toronto, added, He was Canadas most famous hatemonger, and he reveled in it.

Mr. Zndel was on some levels a run-of-the-mill neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier, said Deborah E. Lipstadt, a professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies at Emory University in Atlanta. But, she said, he had stood out for his determination to use mass media to spread his views.

Prior to the digital age, he was responsible for spreading these materials across Europe and the Americas, she said. They became important resources for an array of neo-Nazi, white-supremacist and Holocaust-denying groups.

During Mr. Zndels trials, his defense team commissioned a report from a self-proclaimed expert on executions, Fred A. Leuchter Jr., who denied the existence of the gas chambers. In fact, he had no such expertise and was later charged with fraud.

The report, which became and remains a cornerstone of the Holocaust-denial movement, claimed that gas chambers were a scientific impossibility, Professor Lipstadt said. Based on shoddy methodology, it was riddled with basic scientific errors, miscalculations and false claims.

Taking the witness stand at Mr. Zndels second trial, David Irving, perhaps the worlds best-known Holocaust denier, vouched for the Leuchter report. He later wrote the introduction when it was published as a book. (In Britain, Mr. Irving unsuccessfully sued Professor Lipstadt for libel, a case dramatized in the 2016 film Denial.)

Professor Lipstadt was among those who expressed worry that the attention Mr. Zndel received over the years was what he wanted. On a strategic level, sometimes I wondered if the various trials did not create a modicum of sympathy for a man who deserved not sympathy but utter contempt, she said.

Ernst Christof Friedrich Zndel was born on April 24, 1939, four months before Nazi Germanys invasion of Poland, in Calmbach, now part of Bad Wildbad. He moved to Canada in 1958 to study advertising and graphic arts.

In a 1983 interview with The Globe and Mail, the Toronto newspaper, Mr. Zndel said that he had grown up in an apolitical family and knew scarcely any Jews.

He said of the origins of his beliefs, The absolute Gods honest truth is that it was a reaction to the incessant anti-German propaganda stereotyping the Germans.

He added: Look, I am not a neo-Nazi. If I wanted to be a Nazi, I would be a real one.

Mr. Zndel, twice divorced, had two sons, but details about survivors were not immediately available. Reached by phone on Monday, his wife, Ms. Rimland, replied, Whoever calls will get the same answer from me: I will give no comment because the mainstream media is too biased.

Follow Sewell Chan on Twitter @sewellchan.

Ian Austen and Victor Homola contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on August 8, 2017, on Page B14 of the New York edition with the headline: Ernst Zndel, 78, Promulgator of Holocaust Denial.

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Ernst Zndel, Holocaust Denier Tried for Spreading His Message, Dies at 78 - New York Times

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