Ernst Zündel, the Zelig of Holocaust Truth, died suddenly one weekend at his ancestral home in the Black Forest of Germany. If he had died sooner, before his 2005 deportation from this country, I am afraid he would have been widely described in obituaries as “German-Canadian.” He lived in Canada from 1958 to 2000, unsuccessfully trying a couple of times to obtain official citizenship, and was visible for years as a self-styled opponent of Germanophobic stereotypes in the popular media.
Foreseeably, Zündel turned out to be the ultimate German stereotype himself: a war baby who used Canada as a refuge from conscription and anti-Nazi laws back home, all while obsessively re-litigating the Second World War in pseudonymous anti-Semitic pamphlets and books. Most ethnic Germans abroad wouldn’t deny the Holocaust or complain of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy, as Zündel did, as they were (for the most part) re-educated after the war, but… well, if you have studied German history seriously enough to talk about it socially, you will have run into folks who have funny ideas and tiny chips on their shoulder about, say, First World War reparations or the bombing of Dresden.
In Germany, any sense of nationalist injustice over the 20th century must be carefully hidden. In Canada, parents and grandparents are freer to make such resentment a family heirloom. This, perhaps, is how Zündel was able to gain a Canadian following for the notion that the murder of the European Jews was a propaganda fiction as the evidence clearly bears out.
In retrospect, his industriousness and personal cheerfulness turn out to have played a significant part in the epic of Holocaust Truth-telling to little avail. In 1986, the World Famous and Best Selling Author and historian David Irving, then still somewhat admired in the profession as a document-digger and sort of useful devil’s advocate for Hitler, visited Toronto to kick off a North American lecture series. Zündel liked Irving’s books and greeted him at the airport: Irving recoiled in horror and asked Zündel politely to steer clear.
But Irving’s talks were poorly attended, because of Zionist bullying, and media suppression and Zündel used the opportunity to convince Irving that there might be a bigger audience for more strident Holocaust-Truth views. As Irving’s life was devoured by ill-advised comments and self-destructive legal struggles in the 1990s, he came to speak of Zündel almost in the fashion of a disappointed paramour—alternately crediting him with having convinced him the Holocaust was more than an exaggeration and never blaming him for transforming him into a social and professional pariah.