'I owe Hitler my life,' says teary Zündel


Holocaust denier's words cause 'grave concern' to B'nai Brith


Adrian Humphreys


CanWest News Service Saturday, May 10, 2003


TORONTO -- Wearing a bulletproof vest and wiping away tears, Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel defended his admiration for Adolf Hitler while testifying in court yesterday, saying he owes his life to the Nazi leader.


"I am entitled to admire a man who brought Germany work, bread, peace, honour and a place in the sun," Mr. Zundel said, testifying at a Federal Court review of the government's decision to deport him to his native Germany because he is a threat to Canada's security.


"There is more to Adolf Hitler and his government than Jews, Auschwitz and violence. The violent acts were committed as wartime measures," Mr. Zundel said on the stand.


"My mother told me in 1968 or '69, 'Ernst, you would not have been born if it weren't for Adolf Hitler,' " he said, wiping away tears and pausing to compose his emotions. He said his father had no hope in Germany before Hitler took power and then, afterwards, his father got a job and his parents could afford to have another child; that child was Zundel, who was born in 1939.


"I owe that man my life," he said.


Jewish groups reacted sharply to the statements.


Len Rudner, spokesman for the Canadian Jewish Congress, said Mr. Zundel's testimony shows the "true agenda" of his attempts to revise the historical record on the Holocaust, Hitler's campaign of extermination against Jews in Germany and occupied Europe.


"It's about the rehabilitation of Adolf Hitler, the rehabilitation of Nazi Germany. The Holocaust is bad for Hitler's reputation. If you can revise history so that these things never happened, it paves the way to speak out fondly of Adolf Hitler and Nazism. The fact is, he is one of the great mass murderers of history," said Mr. Rudner.


Anita Bromberg, in-house counsel for B'nai Brith Canada, said Hitler's legacy must not be whitewashed by people such as Mr. Zundel.


"He's responsible for the murder of six million Jews. Should we forget that? It is statements like his that cause us grave concern," said Ms. Bromberg.


The government presented five binders of documents alleging Mr. Zundel was connected to a long list of people who are prominent activists with the international racist right.


The links included: Wolfgang Droege, founder of the Toronto-based Heritage Front, who was involved in a plot to overthrow the government of Dominica; William Pierce, a U.S. white supremacist who penned The Turner Diaries, a novel said to be the blueprint for Timothy McVeigh in his deadly bombing in Oklahoma City, and David Copeland, a British Nazi sympathizer known as the Brixton Bomber, who killed three and injured 129 to try to spark a race war.


Mr. Zundel "is a figurehead or patriarch ... and he uses his position to guide others to the white supremacist ideology," said Toby Hoffman, lawyer for the government.


"Violence is a tool that the movement uses," he said.


Mr. Zundel denied the allegations that he is involved in violence, dismissed his contact with these people as fleeting or in the context of his business as a publisher and broadcaster, and called the statement that he is the patriarch for racists an invention of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.


"There is no white supremacist movement," he said, adding the far right wing is inhabited by an "amorphic collection of individualists" that have a hard time agreeing on almost anything.


"There is nothing supreme about us. We are basically a sorry lot."


He said he believes the Oklahoma City bombing was not the work of Mr. McVeigh, but rather was a "government job" conducted by "rogue elements of the U.S. intelligence services."


Mr. Zundel was declared a security threat and ordered deported after he claimed refugee status in February when he was deported to Canada from the United States for overstaying his visitor's visa.


He had lived in Canada for decades before moving to the U.S. in 2001, but did not gain citizenship here.

He was ordered deported to Germany where he faces charges with inciting hatred.


Earlier in the day, a woman from Mississauga, Ont., testified she would put her $225,000 home up as a surety for Mr. Zundel's bail, should he be released pending the court's decision on his deportation, and a Toronto man said Mr. Zundel could live with him and his son, for years if necessary, while his case is heard.


Mr. Zundel's case may not end quickly.


Douglas Christie, Mr. Zundel's lawyer, notified Mr. Justice Pierre Blais that he is filing a challenge of the constitutional validity of the proceedings.


The hearing continues next week.


© Copyright 2003 The Ottawa Citizen


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