The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/p/prutschi.manuel/zundel-affair/za-08

Subject: The Zundel Affair: A Report by Manuel Prutschi (8/11)


Zundel and the Jewish Community

In the spring of 1981, Zundel applied to the Canadian Jewish Congress
for the advertised position of director of the Holocaust
Documentation Bank Project (designed to document extensively the
memories of Canadian survivors). He penned his application on April
10, barely two weeks after the media had identified him as a major
manufacturer and exporter of neo-Nazi and Holocaust denial
literature. In his application (which, incidentally, contains his
full name), he described himself as "the ideal candidate" for the
position. He was, in his own words, "extremely knowledgeable and
sensitive in regard to the Holocaust issue," and possessed "a good
understanding of... Yiddish."[84] The applicant also generously
offered the project his "substantial Holocaust archives."[85] The
Congress sent Zundel a standard reply indicating that his application
had arrived too late for consideration and that a director had been
appointed already.

In 1981, Zundel announced that his German-Jewish Historical
Commission was organizing a series of Holocaust symposia to begin in
November or December of the same year. To raise funds, he addressed
himself to Canadian business people, seeking minimum donations of
$250. "Minimum donors" were to be granted "the German-Jewish
Historical Commission's Community Fellowship Award," while "donors of
$500 or more" were to be honoured at a "Symposium Celebrity
Banquet."[86] Prominent Jewish scholars were asked to participate.
Rabbi Gunther Plaut, for example, was invited to present his
"Holocaustological viewpoints,"[87] and Michael Marrus, whom he had
castigated as a mendacious Zionist during the Nielsen incident, was
also invited: Zundel indicated that he knew that Marrus understood
the "tremendous" educational value of "such a meeting of minds."[88]
His needling of the Jewish community knew no bounds. On September 28,
1981, in the classified section of The Toronto Star carrying Rosh
Hashanah greetings for that year, there was an entry from Ernst
Zundel and Samisdat Publishers Limited wishing a "Happy New Year to
all our Jewish friends."

Another favourite theme was his avowed intention to meet with
representatives of the Jewish community, allegedly to work things
out. He articulated that intention in a 1981 letter to Rabbi Plaut
and repeated it in a letter of November 4, 1982, to the Canadian
Jewish Congress, referring (among other things) to the
"rapidly-eroding Holocaust Legend" and the "wild claims of
mass-gassings."[89] In the later letter, he described himself as "the
only person in Canada who can virtually guarantee the Jewish
community a smooth transition from hysterical World War II hate
propaganda to historical fact...."[90] Obviously, nothing could and
nothing did come of such overtures, although this foregone conclusion
did not dampen his zeal.

In February 1983, under his Concerned Parents of German Descent
letterhead, he mailed a six-page letter to rabbis and Jewish
community leaders across Canada. Opening with "Shalom," he called
once more for dialogue, declaring that, because his previous gestures
were turned down by "senior members of certain influential Jewish
community organizations," he had chosen to go above their heads to
communicate directly with Jewish leaders in different parts of the
country.[91] He offered himself as a speaker to synagogues and Jewish
Community Centres (for a fee, of course) ending with the pious hope
that the lies separating Jews and Germans would be put to rest, and
that the "liars would be anathematized."[92] In making his point, he
actually referred to the Talmud, citing a phrase which he paraphrased
as stating "that a lie kills three persons - the person lied about,
the person who believes the lie and finally, the liar himself."[93]

Predictably, the Jewish community was angered by these provocations,
which rubbed salt in wounds already opened by Zundel's neo-Nazi and
Holocaust denial activities. His tactics constituted a brutal assault
on Jewish sensibilities, as well as a desecration of Hitler's
victims. Through his characterization of the Holocaust as a
political-financial swindle, he also defamed the Jewish people.
Hence, he became another name on a list of Canadian antisemites from
whom redress was sought through legal means. The search for legal
protection against antisemitism in particular, and racism in general,
led finally to his indictment and trials.


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