It has the look of a latter-day Bavarian fortress. Wrought-iron grills cover the windows; video monitors peer down from the roof; a heavy metal trap door, painted bright red, leads into the basement. Visitors permitted access to Ernst Zundel’s bunker on an otherwise nondescript downtown Toronto street pass first into a waiting area, stacked with posters—“Achtung—the thought police is coming!” Inside the second door sits a row of video terminals monitoring the building. In one room is a stamp machine where Zundel has rung up $188,000 worth of postal charges sending pamphlets and newsletters around the world. In another room are bookshelves stacked floor to ceiling with files— Zundel’s arsenal in his campaign to disprove the Holocaust. And leaning against a wall is a large wooden cross that Zundel once earned on his way to court to face charges of knowingly spreading false news. “That’s the best thing I did,” says a smiling Zundel. "It’s amazing. It made the front pages of seven Canadian newspapers.” .
A year after the Supreme Court of Canada struck down a section of the Criminal Code that prohibited the publication of false news and so overturned Zundel’s conviction, the 54-yearold German-born publisher is back in action—and outraging his critics. He has published a 567-page condensation of evidence presented at his trial, including the pamphlet that provoked the initial charges against him, Did Six Million Really Die?
And he has started shortwave radio programs broadcast from the
United States in English and in German— the latter aimed at Germany, where Zundel has a growing following of right-wing extremists. He also launched a TV show, beamed from the United States to a satellite and disseminated to anyone with a receiving dish across North America. Last week, Showcase America, the Colorado-based network that broadcast his first programs, decided to pull Zundel’s show, according to programming director Claire Murray. Zundel said that he has plenty of alternatives—and has already signed a contract with another network starting this week.
Jewish leaders say that Zundel is hurtful and dangerous, and they have asked police to investigate whether he is contravening Section 319 (2) of the Criminal Code which prohibits the wilful promotion of hatred—the law, they say, under which Zundel should have been charged the first time around. “This stuff is garbage and it’s damaging—the victim impact is huge,” said Joshua Schwarcz, Ontario director of the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada. “Zundel is an icon in the neo-Nazi white supremacist
movement in Canada. They regarded the overturning of the false news law as a great victory.”
In his first TV show, aired on June 20, Zundel said that he intended to change the image North Americans have of Germany by featuring such Germans as the “heroic” Rudolf Hess—the Hitler deputy and convicted war criminal. And he promised to provide a “revisionist” perspective on the Second World War. In fact, a program that aired July 25 showed Zundel visiting the Auschwitz death camp with a man he identifies as David Cole, “a young Jew from the United States.” On the video, Cole claims that buildings at Auschwitz were renovated after liberation to make them look like gas chambers. Cole also points to a swimming pool that he claims was “clearly an area for the inmates’ enjoyment.”
Bemie Färber, national director of community relations for the Canadian Jewish Congress, says that Cole’s allegations are typical of Holocaust deniers who use a grain of truth (most of the original gas chambers at Auschwitz were obliterated after the war and recreated by Polish authorities) “and build a lie around it.” Added Färber: “Holocaust denial is the cutting edge of modern-day antiSemitism. We believe it falls squarely within the definition of hate propaganda.” While not mentioning Zundel specifically, Ontario Deputy Attorney General George Thomson said that if solid evidence is produced, the province will take action against hate crimes. And although Zundel’s shows are transmitted from the United States, Mark Sandler, senior legal counsel to the League for Human Rights, says that they could well be subject to Canadian hate laws. Said Sandler: “There may be a Canadian linkage through the fact that the shows are either produced or filmed here.”
In an interview in the basement of his home, Zundel said that some of the TV programs are indeed filmed in Toronto. But he defended his right to broadcast. “I am not hateful,” insisted Zundel, surrounded by posters of German soldiers and a framed picture of Adolf Hitler. And although he reiterated his claim— widely and irrefutably debunked—that there were no Nazi gas chambers or death camps, he argued that “Holocaust denial is not anti-Semitism—it’s questioning a historical event.”
Metro Toronto police would not say last week whether Zundel is under investigation. But Det. Staff Sgt. Robert Matthews, who is in charge of the Ontario Provincial Police’s pornography and hate literature section, said that he investigated holocaust statements that Zundel made on radio last year, but that they were not illegal. “Mr. Zundel is very knowledgeable about what he can say,” Matthews said.
Those rules may yet change. Federal and provincial justice officials will deal with hate-crime issues at a meeting in the fall. Paul Saint-Denis, a senior counsel in the federal justice department, said that public concern, and the Supreme Court decision that led to the overturning of Zundel’s conviction, may lead to the broadening of the law. Said Saint-Denis: “We want to examine what needs to be done to control these types of people.” In the meantime, the Zundel show goes on.
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