Holocaust Denier Seeks Refugee Status in Canada

Last month, psychonaut posted a question in GQ, asking if there had been any applications for refugee status by a citizen of a “first-world” country, to a “first-world” country: First-world asylum seekers.

Life obviously imitates the SDMB, because such an application has just occurred: Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, kicked out of the U.S. for overstaying his visa, has applied to Canada for refugee status to avoid extradition to Germany, where he was tried and convicted in absentia for hate crimes:

Zundel seeks refugee status in Canada

Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel wants back into Canada

I’d be greatly surprised if he were successful in his refugee application, given that Canada has similar hate-propaganda offences as Germany, but it will likely take a few years for it all to get straightened out.

What do people think?

What was the ‘hate crime’ that he was convicted of? Was it simple speech? The articles don’t mention any violence, or even calling for violence. If his conviction was just for denying the Holocaust, I think he deserves consideration for political asylum. I don’t think we should deport people back to countries where they will be put in jail for saying what they believe, even if what they believe is utterly nuts.

<Ironic that the great humanitarians of Western Europe will lock people up for speaking their minds, don’t you think?>

To me, this is one of the ultimate moral dillemas. On the one hand, freedom of speech with its inherent academic and historical freedom are all fundamental bedrocks of a healthy and free society.

On the other hand to advocate the killing of a people for who they are is clearly scheming to commit a crime against humanity.

So, IMO, until Zundel crosses the line to incitement, we should permit him academic freedom. That freedom includes the concomitant freedom to aggressively criticize his views. By academic freedom I mean the most basic form: the right to not be deprived of one’s liberty by the state. Nobody has to publish the guy and send him on talk shows.

Hypothetical If it is a hate crime to deny that “6,000,000 jews were exterminated by the Germans,” does that mean it is illegal to conduct any research into the actual numbers of people killed or that died as a result of the holocaust? Have we, as a society, taken judicial notice of the ‘fact’ that exactly six million Jews died?* If so, what about the various Holocaust museums, must they stop doing research into the holocaust?

*We are all clear that this is a round number - an estimate - used for convenience’s sake, right? There are scholars researching and digging into this, like any other historical subject, all the time.

If the number is three, five, or seven million the moral component is hardly affected anyway.

If it were in fact illegal to claim that 6,000,000 Jews were not slain in the Holocaust, then it would naturally be illegal to claim it in an academic paper, too.

However, it is not illegal in Canada to simply claim “six million Jews did not die in the Holocaust.” Innumerable Canadian neo-Nazi group members do just that and aren’t arrested for it. Heck, people who AREN’T Nazis say the true number could be a bit lower or a bit higher - for obvious reasons it’s a difficult figure to pin down. However, Zundel’s propaganda goes well beyond simple Holocaust denial and into the standard Jews are dogs/evil/conspiring against white people stuff. Not that I think that should necessarily be illegal, but let’s be clear on what the guy does.

Canada has no particular reason to allow the man to live here. He should be sent back to Germany.

I can see why nobody wants the guy. I’ll defend, ah, until I get really tired his right to say whatever he wants.

On the issue. If the Canadians want to kick the guy back to Germany, as the US courageously kicked him to Canada, can’t say that I blame them.

On the issue of Germany imprisoning him, more touchy.

In Germany, it is illegal to deny the Holocaust, or to question aspects of it, such as the six million estimation.

He knew that, and did it anyway. IMHO, people are responsible for their actions. If he REALLY wanted to talk about denying the holocaust, he could have left Germany first.

I’d be very surprised if Canada accepts him. They don’t need that kind of controversy.

In the U.S., there is no criminal component to either investigating or reporting (or revising in ridiculous ways) the numbers of the Holocaust. In Germany, where the matter is much more sensitive, the laws were written to prevent anyone from re-writing history in the way that Hitler re-shaped the reasons for the German defeat in WWI. While I am not sure that the German laws are the best way to deal with deniers, I am willing to let them set their own laws and punishments.

Note that Zundel was not thrown out of the U.S. for his beliefs (or even his publications), but for the same cause that thousands of other non-citizens are being thrown out in these post-WTC/Pentagon days.

(Here is a brief summary of the sources of Holocaust estimates.
A reference to the ways in which the numbers were gathered.
The original 1946 Anglo-American Committee report on Jewish European population, 1939 -1946
There are historians who are looking into whether the number of Jews killed by the Nazis has been inflated by the number of Poles (for example) who happened to be Jewish and died in Soviet/Stalinist massacres. This has the potential to lead to a rather sad picture of survivors squabbling over who gets to claim any given victim, but I am not aware of anyone who denies the general numbers regarding the overall number of murders–roughly 12,000,000 deaths overall, with roughly half (usually 5.7M to 5.9M) of them Jewish.)

Tom, I realize that things are sensitive in Germany. But, as all of us seem to agree, the six million number is an estimate. To jail someone for arguing an estimate - if that makes up the crux of the allegations - [insert Orwell reference]. Lots of facts about the holocaust have been debated and revised through the years. For a long time people referred to the “death camps in Germany.” Now, it is widely agreed that it was the camps in Poland. People referred to the soap factories. Now, it turns out that the soap allegations were untrue.

But, the most obvious and important question, why don’t you hear people trying to imprison those who defend equally genocidal philosophies like Stalinism or Stalinst revisionism? There are living people who were responsible for killing a lot of people behind the Iron Curtain.

The slippery slope is shiny and obvious if you ask me.

To follow up on Beagle’s post, wouldn’t it be ironic if the Nazi’s were able to come to power again and use the same power to restrict speech that the Christian Democrats et al. are using now to their own advantage? It seems clear to me that freedom is best preserved when all points of view are allowed, even those that are distasteful and horrible.

Would we feel differently if this was a Tibetan monk being sent back to be put in jail for speaking out against Chinese aggression?

I wonder why it’s so difficult to understand other countries’ obsessions?

The Germans, of all people (other than, primordially, Jews) have very good reason to ensure ‘Nie Wieder’ and certainly have every right to do so without having to apologize to people who never had to experience the Reich and its consequences.

Holocaust deniers don’t argue the 6 million Jews on an academic levels, like “Oh, my research shows that only 5.5 million were killed.” It’s more along the lines of “The Holocaust never happened, Hitler was a hero, the Jews just made it up for sympathy and to get their own country, blah, blah, blah.” Supporting Nazism in any way is illegal in Germany, and for good reason. I’ve never once seen someone deny the Holocaust without directly or indirectly supporting or condoning the Nazis or Hitler.

candida, it’s not that difficult to understand. In the United States we might make make racial slurs illegal, laws addressing a lingering scar on the nation. I would oppose those laws also. Campus speech codes, I mostly oppose those also. See below.

You want laws, I’ll suggest just a few. Threats are illegal. If anyone threatens genocide, put them away. To bully or attack anyone is illegal, put them away. To plot to kill is always illegal. Any plotting, put him away. Collecting huge stockpiles of explosives - throw away the key. Poison gas, same.

The problem is that to jail someone for speech suggesting that any particular fact is true or untrue is almost unprecedented in what we call free nations. I’m thinking of other examples as hard as I can. We have some of those crazy “food libel” laws, don’t know if anyone suggested jail for that.

God help me, but I just went ahead and listened to one of the files of Zundel ranting about “Jews have a Holocaust coming.” Sounded very much to me as though he’s agitating for it to happen. That has to be incitement.

And if the Jews had wanted to live, they could have left Germany. You shouldn’t have to leave your country to exercise your basic rights.


Understanding and excusing two com-pletely different things.

So the fact that Germans let a homicidal maniac come to power, fought under him in the conquest of several other countries, and carried out his orders to exterminate certain types of people in Germany and the conquered countries means that they have they now get to violate human rights? Lots of countries had to experience the Reich. Germany was one of the few that did so voluntarily.

I am unaware of any German law that prohibits re-analysis of the estimates. Germany currently has a law that forbids one to deny that the Holocaust happened. While I do not favor such legislation, I am not sure why (among the hundreds of horrendous laws of this country and others) a specific law designed to prevent the Nazis from re-establishing themselves in Germany is provoking such apparent outrage.

Zundel is not in trouble in Germany for arguing 5.3 million instead of 5.85 million; he is an outlaw for denying the event ever happened and proclaiming that the Jews are deserving of it really happening the next time. In the U.S. I would grant him the right to such speech, (as the government apparently did until he put himself in violation of his visa), however, I suspect that Germany can make a case (even if we ultimately disagree with it) for treating the issue differently.

The Ryan, I could by the same right argue that I have the human right to kill someone and that anti-murder laws infringe on my right to do that. But I digress.

If you know it’s a crime, you had best be prepared to do the time. It may be a human right to say whatever you damn well please, but if it’s not in the country, you play by their rules or get out. I wonder why Interpol hasn’t gone after this guy? Do they have more important things to do? He seems like someone that would be easy to round up.

I find it appalling, in terms of freedom and speech and belief.

I find it bizarre and absurd that anyone should deny the Holocaust. As far as all the evidence I have had access to shows, it is utterly undeniable.

However - to deny people the right to disbelieve - IMO is in the same vein of burning non-believers at the stake. Sure, perhaps in the Olden Days non-believers were seen as Satanists. Sure, today perhaps most deniers are actually neo-nazi types, and motivated by far sicker reasons than dry academic passion.

But I still believe that freedom of belief is a fundamental part of modern humanity, civilisation and democracy.


You know, from time to time, I really do feel as if these sorts of arguments beg “Who died that they made you God?” questions.

The Germans are allowed their priorities which are allowed to be different from American priorities.

Forgive me for going off on a tangent, but why do so many Jew-haters deny the reality of the Holocaust? You’d think they’d brag about it and inflate the numbers to make themselves look more efficient.

Holocaust deniers appear to be like creation scientists in that they know their findings before they start. But I consider it a little distasteful the way that they are demonised.

The most famous example in the UK is David Irving. He was in the news a few years back because he was suing someone for calling him a holocaust denier. In fact as far as I could make out he wasn’t making especially contentious claims, merely questioning minor details. But the way it was reported, you’d think he was Hitler himself. Of course, Irving didn’t help his case being filmed seig-heiling at a “neo-Nazi” rally.

If the deniers are not doing proper research, the response to their conclusions is equally ill-considered: insults. I have to admit, this made me think that the deniers might have a point. After all, what other historical events need a law to be passed to determine whether they happened or not?

It worries me that modern political concerns are being used to disrupt research at a very critical time - eye witnesses will not be around forever.

This is a very interesting site, it gives the standard set of arguments that deniers make, and corresponding rebuttals. If you want to see an intelligent approach to the subject, it’s well worth a look.

I wondered this. I suppose you could say that they merely dislike Jews but wouldn’t go so far as to say killing them is a good idea, and decreasing the size of the Holocaust undermines any attempt by the survivors to use it for political gain. You’d have to ask one though for a definitive answer.