I was not prepared for my first encounter with Ernst Zundel. I don’t know exactly what it was that I had expected, standing there in a fourth-floor corridor of the courthouse, waiting for the morning session of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to begin, but, whatever it may have been, it bore no relationship to the reality of the man. I recall, very clearly, being struck by the thought that Ernst Zundel is best defined by absences.
There was no evidence of self-satisfaction in the man; no hint of self-respect. It was, instead, the sheer dowdiness of Ernst Zundel that rewarded one’s first glance — the shabbiness of a man who, perhaps, finds that he is no longer able to believe in himself.
It is as if the phrase “what goes around, comes around” has returned to possess him with a damning reality. Zundel has, after all, devoted his life to the creation of pain, and visiting it upon others – his victims of opportunity, the Jews. He encourages us to join him in his endeavor by promoting his vitriol in print and on the Internet.
Zundel’s open assault upon the memory of millions of Holocaust victims, murdered by the Nazis he seems to admire so, has gotten him into hot water with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which is now hearing a complaint which holds that Mr. Zundel has used telephone lines to promote hatred against an identifiable group.
He has published lies, and these lies create suffering in others, and he has presumably profited from doing so. He has, as Canadian linguist Gary Prideaux recently noted:
“…singled out Jews as a special, identifiable group. Moreover, this group is asserted to possess highly negative and criminal attributes as a group, thereby targeting the group for, e.g., hatred, revulsion, contempt, and loathing…. overt threats of violence are uttered towards Jews as a group.”
I think it is fair to say that Zundel has been viewed, by most observers, as some sort of all-pervasive devil incarnate – a great evil to hunt down and destroy before irreparable harm resulted. The image of Ernst Zundel, Fearless Defender of Free Speech, clad in the armor of his precious hardhat, seems to have pervaded the community.
If, however, as the flower children assert, “what goes around” does indeed “come around,” then perhaps we can now understand why Mr. Zundel offers now substantially different reality.
On the last day of the October hearings, for example, he endured the clearly humiliating experience of watching helplessly while his estranged wife, Irene Zundel, told the world precisely which closets held all of those embarrassing skeletons he had tried so desperately to conceal. If ever a man had been emasculated, standing naked before the world, it was Ernst Zundel on that Friday afternoon.. “Hell,” the poets tell us, “hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Indeed.
If it is true, as many assert, that we can measure a man by the company he keeps, one can only wonder at Ernst Zundel. He has, after all, surrounded himself with people who have shown such contempt for the truth that the term “liar” seems entirely too kind:
- Fred Leuchter, the author of the “Leuchter Report,” a bit of pseudo-scientific schlock which “proved” that there were no homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Leuchter’s nonsense cost Mr. Zundel a reported thirty grand. Leuchter lied while testifying on Zundel’s behalf in a Canadian courtroom, claiming to have worked with American prison officials who had, as it later developed, had never heard of the man. In short, Mr. Leuchter’s dedication to “truth, justice, and the American way” seems to have been left by the wayside before he was sworn in;
- Emil Lachout, a man best known for his forgeries, one of which is touted in a Samisdat Verlag video as a valid historical document — Samisdat is a vehicle used by Zundel to peddle lies for profit. Lachout has even claimed to have belonged to the Austrian military during a period when Austria had none, suggesting that he has even less regard for the truth than Leuchter does, and that’s saying something;
- David Irving, British pop-historian, has lied, under oath, before both a British court and (lest Canadians be spared his contempt for the process) a Canadian Immigration Adjudicator. The adjudicator, contempt oozing from every pore, had this to say about Mr. Irving’s, er, “veracity”:“When viewed as a whole this evidence can lead to only one conclusion; the event was a total fabrication and never took place. I can only speculate that you and your supporters concocted your story to garner further publicity and prolong your stay in Canada, both of which you have done with some success.”When you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.
- Zundel’s most recent acquisition, in the “Liars I have Known and Admired” category, would seem to be California’s Ingrid Rimland, who, if Irene Zundel’s testimony has even a shred of merit, has lied in a sworn affidavit submitted to the Federal Court of Canada last December… which comes as no surprise to anyone who has read the “Zundelgrams” she once claimed to be solely responsible for producing.
The reality, as opposed to whatever strange notion I had previously held, is that Ernst Zundel is nothing but a pathetic parody of himself. Looking back on the moment when we made eye contact, I can only wonder why I was so surprised when I came to understand this.