The Eulogizer: Canadian journalist, World War II camp liberator

JERUSALEM (JTA) – The Eulogizer is a new column (soon-to-be blog) that highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Learn about their achievements, honor their memories and celebrate Jewish lives well lived with The Eulogizer. Write to the Eulogizer at eulogizer@jta.org. Read previous columns here.

Larry Zolf, 76, Canadian journalist

Canadian journalist and commentator Larry Zolf, whose media exploits brought him notoriety and vitriol from skewered politicians, died March 14 at 76.

Zolf gained his first wave of fame in the mid-1960s as the host of a fiercely satiric CBC news show “This Hour Has Seven Days,” which the CBC itself called “the most defiant and controversial program in Canadian broadcasting history,” and which “launched a new era of public affairs television, actively taking on the role of the nation’s ombudsman and interrogator.”

But Zolf’s political impact and media presence in Canada extended beyond the show’s two-year run. Zolf was a reporter, producer, critic, and radio and TV host with the CBC, and wrote a political column for the CBC website until 2007. He authored books, produced award-winning documentaries and tussled with famous figures on screen and off.

One of the most retold tales of Zolf’s career involved his coverage of a sordid sex-spy-government official scandal in 1966, which included the then-associate minister of defense, Pierre Sevigny, beating Zolf with a cane on Sevigny’s porch and Zolf responding by kicking Sevigny in the shins. The TV footage has been described as “one of the most famous film sequences in the history of Canadian journalism.”

George Jonas, a commentator for the leading Canadian newspaper The National Post, described Zolf as “a brash, bold, quick-witted, try-anything journalist of boundless energy, left-labor politics, and a capacity for iconoclasm as well as hero-worship. … He had moxie and grit to spare, a penchant for gossip, a weakness for punchy phrases, including cheap shots, and an urge for instant gratification.”

Canadian journalist Rex Murphy said Zolf “had a high-powered, high-speed mind that raced through ideas and topics and stories with ferocious energy, with Zolf himself (vainly) trying in his free-association style monologues to, if I can put it this way, keep up with himself.”

Zolf was at his media peak during the years of Pierre Trudeau’s prime ministership. He wrote a cheeky book about Trudeau in 1973, “Dance of the Dialectic,” and exchanged correspondence with Trudeau.

“As I thought of it,” Zolf wrote in his 2010 memoir, “The Dialectical Dancer: A Simple Tale,”  “Liebele Zolff (aka Unwanted Child), had become not only Larry Zolf, Jaded Observer, but pen pal to and luncheon date for a Prime Minister. Huzzah and hip hip horray!”

Zolf also quoted his mother admonishing him: “Genug iz genug!” (Enough is enough.)" But he closed his book with a variation of that motto: “Genug iz genug ist nicht genug!” (Enough is enough but not enough.)

Zolf was born in 1934 and raised in the Jewish ghetto of North Winnipeg, a neighborhood that was “a hotbed of socialism and strikes.” He studied at the University of Manitoba and Osgoode Law School, but didn’t finish either a law degree or master’s degree. He wrote several books and was a film critic for Maclean’s magazine, a lecturer at Carleton University and a columnist for the National Post and other newspapers.

Al Ungerleider, 89, liberated Nordhausen, became general

As a young U.S. Army lieutenant in World War II, Al Ungerleider and his squad captured the SS troopers who ran the Nordhausen slave labor camp. Ungerleider made the Army his career and retired as a general and director of the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, later becoming director of several synagogues and a volunteer at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. He died Feb. 12 in Washington at 89. The Washington Post offered a lengthy telling of Ungerleider’s remarkable war story, details of which also were included in the 2005 book “War Stories III: The Heroes Who Defeated Hitler.” 

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