On May 13, 1988, Ernst Zündel was sentenced by Judge Ronald Thomas of the District Court of Ontario, in Toronto, to nine months in prison for having distributed a Revisionist booklet that is now 14 years old: Did Six Million Really Die?
|Ernst Zündel and attorney|
[Editor's note: Images have been added here for republication. I personally interviewed Ernst Zundel on "The Real Deal" (August 3, 2012), which you can listen to here: the Zundel interview.]
His life has known serious upsets from the day when, in about 1981, he began to distribute Did Six Million Really Die?, a Revisionist booklet by Richard Harwood.
The booklet was first published in 1974 in Great Britain where, a year later, it was the focus of a lengthy controversy in the literary journal Books and Bookmen. At the instigation of the Jewish community of South Africa, it was later banned in that country.
In Canada, during an earlier trial in 1985, Zündel had been sentenced to 15 months in prison. That sentence was thrown out in 1987. A new trial began on January 18, 1988. I participated in the preparations for it and in the unfolding of those judicial proceedings. I devoted thousands of hours to the defense of Ernst Zündel.
François Duprat: A Precursor
He justified the assassination in the pages of Le Monde (April 26, 1978, p. 9) by citing the victim's Revisionism: "François Duprat is responsible. There are some responsibilities that kill." In Le Droit de vivre, the publication of the LICRA (International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism), Jean Pierre-Bloch expressed an ambiguous position: he criticized the crime but, at the same time, he let it be understood that he had no pity for those who, inspired by the victim, would start out on the Revisionist path (Le Monde, May 7-8, 1978).
Sabina Citron Versus Ernst Zündel
The First Trial (1985)
|The Harwood booklet|
Their Expert: Raul Hilberg
He was then cross-examined by Zündel's lawyer, Douglas Christie, who was assisted by Keltie Zubko and myself. Right from the start it was clear that Hilberg, who was the world's leading authority on the Holocaust, had never examined a single concentration camp, not even Auschwitz. He had still not examined any camp in 1985 when he announced the imminent appearance of a new edition of his main work in three volumes, revised, corrected and augmented.
Although he did visit Auschwitz in 1979 for a single day as part of a ceremonial appearance, he did not bother to examine either the buildings or the archives. In his entire life he has never seen a "gas chamber," either in its original condition or in ruins. (For a historian, even ruins can tell tales). On the stand he was forced to admit that there had never been a plan, a central organization, a budget or supervision for what he called the policy of the extermination of the Jews. He also had to admit that since 1945 the Allies have never carried out an expert study of "the weapon of the crime," that is to say of a homicidal gas chamber. No autopsy report has established that even one inmate was ever killed by poison gas.
Hilberg systematically deleted any mention of an order by Hitler. (In this regard, see the review by Christopher Browning, "The Revised Hilberg," Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual, 1986, p. 294). When he was asked by the defense to explain how the Germans had been able to carry out an undertaking as enormous as the extermination of millions of Jews without any kind of plan, without any central agency, without any blueprint or budget, Hilberg replied that in the various Nazi agencies there had been "an incredible meeting of minds, a consensus mind-reading by a far-flung bureaucracy."
Witness Arnold Friedman
For the first time, in Toronto in 1985, one lawyer, Douglas Christie, dared to ask for explanations. He did it with the help of topographical maps and building plans as well as scholarly documentation on both the properties of the gases supposedly used and also on the capacities for cremation, whether carried out in crematory ovens or on pyres. Not one of these witnesses stood the test, and especially not Arnold Friedman. Despairing of his case, he ended by confessing that he had indeed been at Auschwitz-Birkenau (where he never had to work except once, unloading potatoes), but that, as regards gassings, he had relied on what others had told him.
Witness Rudolf VrbaWitness Rudolf Vrba was internationally known. A Slovak Jew imprisoned at Auschwitz and at Birkenau, he said that he had escaped from the camp in April 1944 with Fred Wetzler. After getting back to Slovakia, he dictated a report about Auschwitz and Birkenau, and on their crematories and "gas chambers."
With help from Jewish organizations in Slovakia, Hungary and Switzerland, his report reached Washington, where it served as the basis for the U.S. Government's famous "War Refugee Board Report," published in November 1944. Since then every Allied organization charged with the prosecution of "war crimes" and every Allied prosecutor in a trial of "war criminals" has had available this official version of the history of those camps.
Actually, the last visit by Himmler to Auschwitz took place in July of 1942, and in January 1943 the first of the new crematories was still far from finished. Thanks, apparently, to some special gift of memory (that he called "special mnemonic principles" or "special mnemonical method") and to a real talent for being everywhere at once, Vrba had calculated that in the space of 25 months (April 1942 to April 1944) the Germans had "gassed" 1,765,000 Jews at Birkenau alone, including 150,000 Jews from France. But in 1978, Serge Klarsfeld, in his Memorial to the Deportation of the Jews from France, had been forced to conclude that, for the entire length of the war, the Germans had deported a total of 75,721 Jews from France to all their concentration camps.
The Second Zündel Trial (1988)
|Judge Hugh Locke|
The second trial began on January 18, 1988, under the direction of Judge Ronald Thomas, who is a friend, it seems, of Judge Locke. Judge Thomas was often angry and was frankly hostile to the defense, but he had more finesse than his predecessor.
|Judge Ronald Thomas|
Judge Thomas'Judicial NoticeIn Anglo-Saxon law, everything must be proved except for certain absolutely indisputable evidence ("The capital of Great Britain is London," "day follows night"... ) The judge can take "judicial notice" of that kind of evidence at the request of one or the other of the contending parties; Prosecuting Attorney John Pearson asked the judge to take judicial notice of the Holocaust. That term then has to be defined. It is likely that, had it not been for the intervention of the defense, the judge could have defined the Holocaust as it might have been defined in 1945-46. At that time, the "genocide of the Jews" (the word "Holocaust" was not used) could have been defined as "the ordered and planned destruction of six million Jews, in particular by the use of gas chambers."
More recently, there has been a dispute between the "intentionalists" and the "functionalists." Both agree that they have no proof of any intent to exterminate, but "intentionalist" historians nevertheless believe that one must assume the existence of that intent, while "functionalist" historians believe that the extermination was the result of individual initiatives, localized and anarchic: in a sense, the activity created the organization! Finally, the figure of six million was declared to be "symbolic" and there have been many disagreements about the "problem of the gas chambers."
Obviously surprised by this flood of information, Judge Ronald Thomas decided to be prudent and, after a delay for reflection, decided on the following definition; the Holocaust, he said, was "the extermination and/or mass-murder of Jews" by National Socialism. His definition is remarkable for more than one reason. We no longer find any trace of an extermination order, or a plan, or "gas chambers," or six million Jews or even millions of Jews. This definition is so void of all substance that it no longer corresponds to anything real. One cannot understand the meaning of "mass-murder of Jews." (The judge carefully avoided saying "of the Jews".) This strange definition is itself a sign of the progress achieved by Historical Revisionism since 1945.
Raul HilbergRefuses to Appear Again
Christopher Browning,Prosecution WitnessIn place of Hilberg there came his friend Christopher Browning, an American professor who specializes in the Holocaust. Admitted as an expert witness (and paid for several days at the rate of $150 per hour by the Canadian taxpayer), Browning tried to prove that the Harwood pamphlet was a tissue of lies and that the attempt to exterminate the Jews was a scientifically established fact. He had cause to regret the experience. During cross-examination, the defense used his own arguments to destroy him. In the course of those days, people saw the tall and naive professor, who had strutted while he stood testifying, seated, shrunken in size, behind the witness stand like a schoolboy caught in a mistake. With a faint and submissive voice, he ended up acknowledging that the trial had definitely taught him something about historical research.
A great follower of the trials of war criminals, Browning had only questioned the prosecutors, never the defense lawyers. His ignorance of the transcript of the Nuremberg trial was disconcerting. He had not even read what Hans Frank, former Governor General of Poland, had said before the Nuremberg tribunal about his "diary" and about "the extermination of the Jews." That was inexcusable! As a matter of fact, Browning claimed to have found irrefutable proof of the existence of a policy of exterminating the Jews in the Frank diary. He had discovered one incriminating sentence. He did not know that Frank had given the Tribunal an explanation of that kind of sentence, chosen beforehand from the hundreds of thousands of sentences in a personnel and administrative journal of 11,560 pages. Furthermore, Frank had spontaneously turned over his "diary" to the Americans when they came to arrest him. The sincerity of the former Governor General is so obvious to anyone who reads his deposition that Christopher Browning, invited to hear the content, did not raise the least objection. One last humiliation awaited him.
For the sake of his thesis, he invoked a passage from the well-known "protocol" of the Wannsee conference (20 January 1942). He had made his own translation of the passage, a translation that was seriously in error. At that point, his thesis collapsed. Finally, his own personal explanation of a "policy of the extermination of the Jews" was the same as Hilberg's. Everything was explained by the "nod" of Adolf Hitler. In other words, the Fuhrer of the German people did not need to give any written or even spoken order for the extermination of the Jews. It was enough for him to give a "nod" at the beginning of the operation and, for the rest, a series of "signals." And that was understood!
Biedermann said that he was not familiar with the ICRC reports on the atrocities undergone by the Germans just before and just after the end of the war. In particular, he knew nothing about the terrible treatment of many German prisoners. It would seem that the ICRC had nothing about the massive deportations of German minorities from the east, nothing on the horrors of the total collapse of Germany at the very end of the war, nothing about summary executions and, in particular, the massacre by rifle, machine gun, shovels and pickaxes, of 520 German soldiers and officers who had surrendered to the Americans at Dachau on April 29, 1945 (even though Victor Maurer, ICRC delegate, was apparently there).
The International Tracing Service included among those "persecuted" by the Nazis even indisputably criminal prisoners in the concentration camps. He relied on the information supplied by a Communist organization, the "Auschwitz State Museum." Beginning in 1978, in order to prevent all Revisionist research, the International Tracing Service closed its doors to historians and researchers, except for those bearing a special authorization from one of the ten governments (including that of Israel) which oversee the activity of the International Tracing Service. Henceforth the Tracing Service was forbidden to calculate and publish, as it had done until then, statistical evaluations of the number of dead in the various camps. The annual activity reports could no longer be made available to the public, except for their first third, which had been of no interest to researchers.
Biedermann confirmed a news story that had filtered out in 1964 at the Frankfurt trial: at the time of liberation of Auschwitz, the Soviets and the Poles had discovered the death register of that complex of 39 camps and sub-camps. The register consisted of 38 or 39 volumes. The Soviets keep 36 or 37 of those volumes in Moscow while the Poles keep two or three other volumes at the "Auschwitz State Museum," a copy of which they have furnished to the International Tracing Service in Arolsen. But neither the Soviets nor the Poles nor the International Tracing Service authorize research in these volumes. Biedermann did not even want to reveal the number of dead counted in the two or three volumes of which the ITS has a copy. It is clear that, if the content of the death register of Auschwitz were made public, it would be the end of the myth of the millions of deaths in the camp.
No 'Survivor' Witnesses for the ProsecutionThe judge asked the prosecutor if he would call any "survivors" to the witness stand. The prosecutor answered no. The experience of 1985 had been too embarrassing. The cross examination had been devastating. It is regrettable that at the trial of Klaus Barbie in France in 1987 and at the trial of John Demjanjuk in Israel in 1987-1988, no defense lawyer has followed Douglas Christie's example in the first Zündel trial (1985): Christie had shown that by carefully questioning witnesses about the gassing process itself, one could destroy the very foundation of the "extermination camp" myth.
The Witnesses and Experts for the DefenseMost of the witnesses and experts for the defense were as precise and concrete as people like Hilberg or Browning had been imprecise and metaphysical. The Swede Ditlieb Felderer showed about 380 slides of Auschwitz and of the other camps in Poland. The American, Mark Weber, whose knowledge of the documents is impressive, engaged in clarifications of several aspects of the Holocaust, in particular the Einsatzgruppen.* The German Tjudar Rudolph dealt with the Lodz ghetto and visits by the ICRC delegates at the end of 1941 to Auschwitz, Majdanek and other camps.
The Austrian Emil Lachout commented on the famous "Muller Document," which, since December 1987, has thrown the Austrian authorities into disarray. The document, dated October 1, 1948, revealed that even then, Allied commissions of inquiry had already rejected the stories of homicidal "gassings" in a whole series of camps, including Dachau, Ravensbrück, Struthof (Natzweiler), Stutthof (Danzig), Sachsenhausen, and Mauthausen (Austria). The document specifically confirms that confessions of Germans had been extorted by torture and that testimonies by former inmates were false.
Dr. Russell Barton recounted his horrified discovery of the camp at Bergen-Belsen at the time of liberation. Until that moment he had believed in a deliberate program of extermination. Then he noted the fact that, in an apocalyptic Germany, the piles of corpses and the walking skeletons were the result of the frightful conditions of an overcrowded camp, ravaged by epidemics, and almost entirely deprived of medicine, food, and water because of Allied bombings.
The German Udo Walendy outlined the many forgeries he had discovered, in wartime atrocity photographs and other documents, either altered or forged by a team headed by a British propagandist called Sefton Delmer. J.G. Burg, a Jew who lives in Munich, told of his experiences in the war and confirmed that there had never been any policy for the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis.
Academics like the Chinese professor Dr. K.T. Fann, a Marxist, and Dr. Gary Botting, who lost his teaching position at Red Deer College (Alberta) as a result of testifying at the Zündel trial in 1985, testified that the Harwood booklet was essentially a work of opinion, and hence not subject to legal prohibition. Jürgen Neumann, a close associate and friend of Zündel, testified as to Zündel's state of minds when the booklet first was published. Ernst Neilsen testified on the obstacles he encountered at the University of Toronto to open research on the Holocaust. Ivan Lagacé, director of the crematory at Calgary, demonstrated the practical impossibility of the numbers alleged by Hilberg to have been cremated at Auschwitz.
|Allied bombing of German cities|
In 1945 the Allies should have asked specialists on American gas chambers to examine the buildings, at Auschwitz and elsewhere, which were supposed to have been used to gas millions of people.
Since 1977, I have had the following idea: when one deals with a vast historical problem like that of the reality or the legend of the Holocaust, one must strive to get to the core of the problem; in this case the central problem is Auschwitz and the core of that problem is a space of 275 square meters: the 65 square meters of the "gas chamber" of crematorium I at Auschwitz and, at Birkenau, the 210 square meters of the "gas chamber" of crematorium II. In 1988, my idea remained the same: let us have expert studies of those 275 square meters and we will have an answer to the vast problem of the Holocaust! I showed the jury my photos of the gas chamber at the Maryland State Penitentiary in Baltimore as well as my plans for the Auschwitz gas chambers and I underlined the physical and chemical impossibilities of the latter ones.
A Sensational Turn of Events: The Leuchter Report
|Fred A. Leuchter|
After that, at Zündel's expense, he left for Poland with a secretary (his wife), a draftsman, a video-cameraman and an interpreter. He came back and drew up a 192-page report (including appendices). He also brought back 32 samples taken, on the one hand, from the crematories of Auschwitz and Birkenau at the site of the homicidal "gassings" and, on the other hand, in a disinfection gas chamber at Birkenau. His conclusion was simple: there had never been any homicidal gassings at Auschwitz, Birkenau, or Majdanek.
On April 20 and 21, 1988, Fred Leuchter appeared on the witness stand in the Toronto courtroom. He told the story of his investigation and presented his conclusions. I am convinced that during those two days I was an eyewitness to the death of the gas chamber myth, a myth which, in my opinion, had entered its dead throes at the Sorbonne colloquium on "Nazi Germany and the Extermination of the Jews" (June 29 to July 2, 1982), where the organizers themselves began to grasp that there was no proof of the existence of the gas chambers.
In the Toronto courtroom emotions were intense, in particular among the friends of Sabina Citron. Ernst Zündel's friends were also moved, but for a different reason: they were witnessing the veil of the great swindle being torn away. As for me, I felt both relief and melancholy: relief because a thesis that I had defended for so many years was at last fully confirmed, and melancholy because I had fathered the idea in the first place. I had even, with the clumsiness of a man of letters, presented physical, chemical, topographical and architectural arguments which I now saw summed up by a scientist who was astonishingly precise and thorough.
Would people one day remember the skepticism I had encountered, even from other Revisionists? Just before Fred Leuchter, Bill Armontrout had been on the witness stand, where he confirmed, in every detail, what I had said to the jury about the extreme difficulties of a homicidal gassing (not to be confused with a suicidal or accidental gassing). Ken Wilson, a specialist in aerial photographs, had shown that the homicidal "gas chambers" of Auschwitz and Birkenau did not have gas evacuation chimneys, which would have been indispensible. He also showed that I had been right in accusing Serge Klarsfeld and Jean-Claude Pressac of falsifying the map of Birkenau in the Auschwitz Album (Seuil Publishers, 1983, p. 42). Those authors, in order to make the reader believe that groups of Jewish women and children surprised by the photographer between crematories II and III could not go any farther and were thus going to end up in the "gas chambers" and those crematories, had simply eliminated from the map the path which. in reality. let up to the "Zentralsauna," a large shower facility (located beyond the zone of the crematories), where those women and children were actually going.
In 1988, Zündel became convinced that the British historian was only waiting for a decisive event to take a final step in our direction. After arriving in Toronto, David Irving discovered in rapid succession the Leuchter report and an impressive number of documents that Zündel, his friends and I had accumulated over the course of several years. The last reservations or the last misunderstandings melted away in the course of a meeting. He agreed to testify on the stand. In the opinion of those who were present at the two trials (1985 and 1988), no single testimony, except that of Fred Leuchter, caused such a sensation. For more than three days, David Irving, engaging in a sort of public confession, took back all that he had said about the extermination of the Jews and without reservation adopted the Revisionist position. With courage and honesty, he showed how an historian can be brought to revise profoundly his views on the history of the Second World War.
The Zündel Story
|On the second trial|
*Weber also clarified the meaning of the term "Final Solution" (emigration or deportation, but never extermination of Jews): the testimony of Judge Konrad Morgen; the tortures of Rudolf Hoss and Oswald Pohl; the true history of Revisionism; and the concessions made year after year by the Exterminationists to the Revisionist viewpoint.
From The Journal of Historical Review, Winter 1988-89 (Vol. 8, No. 4), pages 417-431.
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