BERLIN, March 3 (JTA) — A Holocaust denier learned he could come home again — but not because he wanted to. Germany arrested Ernest Zundel this week after he was deported from Canada. Zundel, who had lived in Canada more than 40 years, was sent to Germany on Tuesday. One of the world’s most notorious Holocaust deniers, Zundel had lost his appeal in a Toronto court against deportation to Germany, where he was born. According to German prosecutors, Zundel, 65, was immediately arrested and jailed when he arrived in Germany. He had been sentenced to five years in prison for incitement and insulting and denigrating the memory of the dead. The prosecutors had charged Zundel — a German national — with sending hate material and anti-Semitic and Holocaust revisionist documents over the Internet from both the United States and Canada. During his stay in Canada, Zundel gained a reputation as one of the world’s foremost Holocaust deniers. He moved to the United States in 2000 but was deported back to Canada in 2003 on a legal technicality. He had been held in a Toronto detention center ever since. In a 64-page court decision last week, Canadian Judge Pierre Blais called Zundel a “racist hypocrite” who tried to pass himself off as a pacifist in order to win support for his right-wing extremist anti-Semitic propaganda. He called Zundel both “a threat to Canadian national security” and “to the international community.” The Canadian government had issued a national security certificate against Zundel, asserting that he was a dangerous mentor to many white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, including some that espouse violence. A federal court ruling last week upheld the view that Zundel was a threat to national security, clearing the way for his removal. Canada’s Jewish community “is breathing a sigh of relief” at seeing Zundel go, said Bernie Farber, CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress. Zundel immigrated to Canada from Germany in 1958 to avoid serving in the German army. Beginning in 1976, he published and disseminated neo-Nazi and Holocaust revisionist material. He took part in the founding conference of the California-based Institute for Historical Review, which became a hotbed of Holocaust denial. In 1991, a German court sentenced him to a fine, in absentia, for his activities. Zundel reportedly has regular contacts with British Holocaust denier David Irving, as well as with Russian right-wing nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky. He once claimed that he had nothing to do with the anti-Semitic Web site called “Zundelsite,” saying it is operated by Ingrid Rimland without any input from him. Zundel reportedly married Rimland in early 2001.
Toby Axelrod is JTA's correspondent for Germany, Switzerland and Austria. A former assistant director of the American Jewish Committee's Berlin office, she has also worked as staff writer and editor at the New York Jewish Week. She has won numerous awards from the New York Press Association and the American Jewish Press Association. She has published books on Holocaust history for teen-agers.