EssaysKevin Alfred Strom

Weber on Zundel, part 1

09-13-03American Dissident Voices Broadcast of September 13, 2003: An interview with Mark Weber on the outrageous treatment of Ernst Zundel by three governments in the early 2000s

by Kevin Alfred Strom

TODAY we have as our guest Mr. Mark Weber, the Director of the Institute for Historical Review, who will update us on what has been happening in the case of revisionist writer and publisher Ernst Zundel, who was expelled from the U.S. and is now held as a political prisoner in Canada. (ILLUSTRATION: Ernst Zundel surrounded by transcripts of his many legal battles with organized Jewry.)

KAS: Welcome to American Dissident Voices, Mark Weber. Mark, ever since Ernst Zundel was arrested in February in Tennessee, you’ve been the media spokesman for the Zundels. I understand that Ingrid Zundel asked you to do that so that she would be free to work for her husband’s release on other fronts. May I ask, first, how she is doing?

MW: She’s carrying a tremendous load at their home in Tennessee without Ernst. She’s been putting out the newsletter ever since his arrest. She has to coordinate the support that Ernst has from all over the country and even around the world. As a result of the Zundel matter, her workload has increased tremendously, not just because she doesn’t have her husband, but because he’s now more in the news and there’s more going on than there has been in the two and a half years they were living pretty quietly there. But the big problem is that she is fearful — rightly and understandably so — that she may never see her husband again. The danger is that Canadian authorities will put him on a plane, send him off to Germany, and that he’ll be put in jail in Germany and may never even return to North America. And she not only has the concerns that anyone would have who’s a colleague of Ernst Zundel, but also the very special concerns and worries that a wife has for her husband.

KAS: Indeed. I can understand that. You mentioned a newsletter. Is this a print newsletter or an Internet newsletter?

MW: It’s both — or several things. She puts out a newsletter that Ernst has been putting out for years, reporting on his activities and his observations, and so forth. And now she has to compile that and put that out. In addition, Ingrid puts out — every day — her so-called Zgrams. These are email messages that she sends to a large email subscriber list. And these are archived on the Zundelsite Web site It should be obvious, by the way, more than ever, that responsibility for the Zundelsite is really Ingrid’s. She started this site, and even though it’s called the Zundelsite, it’s really the work of Ingrid Rimland. [Rimland is Mrs. Zundel’s maiden name, which she retains for much of her literary work. — KAS] That’s important to note, because the last big legal battle that Ernst fought in Canada, before he decided to move to the United States, was precisely over that Web site. And the Canadian authorities contended, and the Jewish groups charged, that he was really the one operating this Web site. And he contended — and I know it’s true — that he doesn’t even access the Web site himself. There’s a lot of material on the Web site, granted, that he has written; but the responsibility for it is really with his wife, Ingrid. And it was with Ingrid before they were even married. One of the interesting aspects of all of this, too, is that at the recent hearing that was held in Canada, in which the Zundel side once again asked for bail and was turned down, the judge focused tremendously on the Zundelsite. Zundel insisted, ‘Look, I don’t run this site. I’m almost computer illiterate.’ Which in fact I know to be true. And the judge focused on this. It was an encouraging development: The fact that the judge focused on that indicated that he did not feel that the case that the Canadian government’s equivalent of the FBI — the CSIS (Canadian Security and Intelligence Service) — had made was very strong. Their case — that he’s a “threat to national security” — is so empty that the judge doesn’t feel that he can rely on that, but instead has to focus on this Web site. It’s never been a contention of the Canadian authorities that this Web site is part of their case that he’s a “threat to national security.”

KAS: And the Zundelsite has always been Ingrid Zundel’s responsibility, not Ernst’s.

MW: Yes, even before they were married and she lived in California. That’s right.

KAS: How can one subscribe to the newsletters you mentioned?

MW: Just click on to the Zundelsite. Or you can go the IHR’s site and go to the links — we of course have a link to it. And there’s a place to subscribe to her Zgrams. She’s very easy to contact. So she puts out the newsletter; she has to manage donations and coordination of her supporters; and one of the biggest battles she has is to coordinate the legal campaign. They have lawyers both in Canada and the United States who are fighting this case. And she has to organize that, and raise money for their support. Another thing she’s done is to place a large full-page ad in the Washington Times on behalf of her husband in the form of an open letter to Russian president Vladimir Putin, asking for his help to pressure the United States or ask the United States to release him. She did that, in part, because Ingrid Rimland was actually born in Russia.

KAS: I see.

MW: She was from a small Mennonite German community, settlers who had lived for many years in Russia. They were German-speaking people. At the end of World War II, as a girl, along with millions of other people who were refugees, she went westward when the German army and the Axis armies were retreating. Rather than live under Communist rule, they fled to the west with the German forces as they were retreating. She grew up, and spent some later years after that, in South America with this Mennonite community, and then came to California and made a life here.

KAS: Has she received any response from the Russian government? [Since this program was recorded, another, more extensive ad has run in the Russian newspaper Zavtra.

MW: Not that I know of, no. In fact the main purpose of the advertisement was to make the case better known in the American media and to the American public in general. It’s a tragic thing, a sad thing, and I think a sad commentary that there’s been very little coverage of the whole Zundel matter here in the United States media. It’s been widely covered in the Canadian media because Ernst Zundel is a well known — if ‘infamous’ — figure in Canada. He’s well known in that country, and as soon as he was arrested it was big news all over Canada, a front page story in major newspapers. But almost nothing has appeared about it here in the American media. I spoke to a reporter for one major newspaper, and he had some interest in it, but then he just asked me, ‘Well why is this a story for America?’ And I gave what I thought was a pretty good case for why this story deserves to be covered in the American media, but he never followed up and never wrote a story on it. So it’s gotten very little coverage in the U.S. media.

KAS: When we last spoke about this case on this program, Ernst Zundel had been transferred from New York to Ontario, and he was awaiting hearings on possible deportation to Germany, where he would surely be prosecuted and imprisoned for his writings. So really there are two ‘sides’ to this case. What is happening on the U.S. side of this case?

MW: On the U.S. side, Ingrid is — with a very tenacious lawyer here — trying to appeal the arrest of her husband. And she has a strong case that the arrest was on a pretext. It’s almost unheard of that a person living in the United States, who’s married to an American citizen — and this is really an important feature of it — is just picked up on the grounds that he has broken some procedural regulation. That’s the claim. He supposedly missed an appointment of some kind. Now I don’t know precisely what happened, but Ingrid and Ernst both tell me that this is bogus — that they were not notified of this meeting. And I know from my experience, and I know Ernst pretty well and I know the record of the man, that he’s very careful about obeying the law. He is, if anything, super-careful. He tries to be like Caesar’s wife, above suspicion. And throughout the whole lengthy legal ordeal that he faced in Canada, he was very punctilious and very careful to abide by every jot and tittle of the law there. Now, whatever the truth of the matter, even if he had missed a hearing, the notion that INS and local police just pick up this guy and put him in jail and then deport him for this — considering that he’s married to an American citizen and considering the way that American authorities overlook the presence of literally millions of illegal aliens here in this country — it’s just so obviously a focus on Ernst because of who he is and what he’s done and what he’s said.

KAS: Has this tenacious lawyer managed to gain the right to a new hearing of any kind?

MW: Not yet, no. And it will be difficult. But at least on the merits of the case, there’s a strong argument to be made that his arrest was improper. But we’re living in very unusual times, in which all sorts of safeguards of the law are being bent now, during a time our President calls this unlimited “war on terrorism” — which he claims is going to go on for years. And in the name of that “war on terrorism,” all sorts of very unusual things are happening in the United States: holding people without charges, and reportedly the mistreatment and torture of people, even if only on U.S. Army bases offshore. All of this is very ominous, and this is a very difficult time to be fighting for civil liberties as Ernst Zundel and his wife are doing.

KAS: Certainly. It sounds like terror is what’s going on under the guise of the “war on terrorism.” What is happening on the Canadian side of the border in this case?

MW: On the Canadian side, it’s kind of a standoff right now. The Canadian authorities claim, on the basis of evidence that they will not make completely public, that Ernst Zundel is a threat to the national security of Canada. It sounds like I’m special pleading, but the case is really just ridiculous. Ernst Zundel lived for 42 years in Canada without a criminal record, and no one during that time ever alleged he was any kind of threat to national security. To claim that now, after living in the United States for two and a half years, he would suddenly be a threat to the national security of Canada, after 42 years of living in the country with an unblemished record, is just absurd on the face of it. Now, more to the point, the case against him — at least the part that’s been made public — simply alleges that he’s met with people who are so-called White supremacists. Even the Canadian authorities acknowledge that Ernst Zundel has never advocated violence of any kind, that he’s not a violent person. Indeed, he’s repeatedly been the victim of violence in Canada, especially violence from Jewish terrorist groups.

KAS: He’s a pacifist, isn’t he?

MW: He’s a pacifist. That’s why he moved to Canada in the first place — to avoid, of all things, service in the German army after World War II. A number of fairly prominent mainstream voices in Canada, who are no friends of Ernst Zundel, nevertheless have acknowledged that the case against Zundel as a “threat to national security” is just a bogus pretext. And it takes some courage to say that right now in Canada. I was gratified, as I mentioned earlier, that the judge during the last hearing focused so much on the Web site. If there was really any kind of case to be made that Zundel actually was a threat to national security, the judge would really have no need to grill him about his wife’s Web site in the United States.

KAS: What was the purpose of that hearing?

MW: The purposes of that hearing — and there’s another one scheduled for later this month — are 1) to appeal for bail, so that he doesn’t have be held as he has been, in solitary confinement under really humiliating circumstances, and 2) Ernst Zundel’s attorney, who has been Doug Christie, is appealing the case on Constitutional grounds, arguing that the whole procedure under which he’s being held is unconstitutional. For example, one major feature of it is that the Canadian authorities present the evidence to the judge “in camera” — that is, IN SECRET. And Ernst Zundel is not able — and his attorney is not able — even to respond to it. Now this is a violation of a very basic principle of English or British or European common law: A defendant has the right to know what the evidence is against him, so he can try to deal with it. The problem is that now, under this sort of new order we’re living under, when authorities call out “national security!” then all the normal safeguards go flying out the window.

KAS: We’ve recently published a letter from Ernst Zundel on our news site. It appears that Mr. Zundel’s spirit and determination are as strong as ever. Is that true?

MW: That’s the impression I have. I’ve spoken with him several times by telephone. He calls collect; he is permitted to make telephone calls out. His spirits seem very very good. Of course, it takes a toll to some degree that he’s held in prison in solitary confinement in this way. But the same spirit that was so infectious and so strong during the two major trials that he fought in Canada in 1985 and 1988 is every bit as manifest and still in evidence. He’s positive and upbeat, but at the same time sober and realistic about just how difficult the situation is. And that’s Ernst to a “T.”

KAS: We’ve heard some reports that his health has been suffering while he’s been incarcerated. What can you say about that?

MW: Well, I asked him about that, of course; everybody does who speaks with him. And he said that it’s true that he had some pain and so forth, but his health is still to all accounts good. He is worried that he’s been prohibited from taking the herbal medicines and herbal treatments that he’s been used to. And even the judge ordered the authorities to do something about that. It’s that kind of petty, you might say harassing, treatment of Zundel that is particularly irritating and humiliating and vexatious.

KAS: You told me earlier today that you were writing an essay on Mr. Zundel’s plight. Where can we read that?

MW: It’s being written for a monthly paper in Sacramento called Community News, which is put out by a man named Walter Mueller, who’s a friend of the IHR. It’s going to be entitled “Who is Ernst Zundel and Why is He In Jail?” It’s meant as an introductory piece for people who don’t know anything about the case. Except for those who are ‘in the circle’ here in the United States, Ernst Zundel is not a well known figure. I want to present, in a compact way, the highlights of the case and stress the injustice and why it’s important for us. It’s important because, while he’s an obvious target, he is a political prisoner. And when the Canadian government, in cahoots with the United States government, arrests someone, deports him, and holds him for now more than six months in solitary confinement, without bail, without any criminal charges, that’s dangerous for all of us, especially those of us who treasure our right to express our opinions even if they run counter to the Politically Correct dogma of our times.

KAS: It sounds like something that more people ought to read in the United States. Would you be willing to give us the rights to reprint that article on our own sites?

MW: That would be fine. We encourage the maximum distribution and circulation of everything that we put out. And especially the Ernst Zundel case deserves to be very well known. Ernst Zundel is the personification right now of oppression of Politically Incorrect views in North America.

KAS: The National Alliance recently held a demonstration in support of Ernst Zundel in Seattle. Have there been any other public events to protest this political imprisonment?

MW: Yes. It’s gratifying and encouraging that there have been several demonstrations in Canada, organized by the Canadian Association for Free Expression headed by Paul Fromm. We organized a demonstration in May in Los Angeles at the Canadian consulate there, and I met with the consul and presented him a letter, which expressed our outrage at the treatment of this man. And we coordinated that with a demonstration in Seattle at the time. We’re trying to organize other demonstrations, too, in other cities. But, as I say, it’s a difficult thing because the Zundel case is not well known outside of Canada, except among those who are already in on it, or who are already supporters of Ernst Zundel and the rights that he stands for.

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Source: National Alliance

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