Zündel Trials

In 1983, the German immigrant to Canada Ernst Zündel, a confessing admirer of Adolf Hitler, was charged in a Canadian court for knowingly spreading false news about the Holocaust. This offense allegedly had been committed by Zündel when he sold a 1974 brochure contesting the orthodox Holocaust narrative.

With the help of a French expert for the critique of documents and testimonies, Dr. Robert Faurisson, and with the assistance of a courageous defense lawyer, Douglas Christie, Zündel subsequently mounted his best defense effort. The trial took place in Toronto from 7 January until 27 February 1985. The case attracted huge media attention in Canada and the U.S.

Due to errors of law, a retrial was ordered on appeal, which took place between 18 January and 13 May 1988. Although this second trial did not attract as much attention as the first, it had a far bigger impact, due to the fact that both the only expert on execution technologies, the American Fred Leuchter, and world-renowned British historian David Irving testified on behalf of the defendant. Both subsequently became the target of vicious attacks in an attempt to destroy their reputations and careers. However, the genie was out of the bottle, and it caught the attention of many skeptics; they subsequently turned a further scrutinizing eye on the historical record.

Although Zündel was initially sentenced to a nine-months prison term – for “hate-mongering,” as the judge expressed it – Canada’s Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional the law under which Zündel had been prosecuted, thus acquitting him of all charges. (For more details, see Kulaszka 2019; Rudolf 2020b; Zündel 2022.)

In 2022, Canada’s parliament passed a bill outlawing views diverging from the orthodox Holocaust narrative. It threatens every dissident with up to two years imprisonment. So far, Canada’s Supreme Court has not (yet) declared this law unconstitutional.

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