- Dear Robert, friend and mentor!
- Today was another day in court, and
I was thinking about you, me, our lives' work, all the efforts - and what
it all means in the great scheme of things.
- It is an almost surreal life for me
these days. It is as if I were a spectator, watching my own life
unfold like a Hollywood movie.
- I start out waking up before 6 a.m.,
then being let out of my cell into a still-sleeping prison. [I take
a] cold shower because the hot water needs to first push out the cold water
before the boiler room in the basement pumps enough hot water up to our
floor. Then I shave, have some tea with lemon and honey, eat an apple,
get dressed - real shirt, nice tie, black jacket, all bought by one of
my sisters from the second-hand shop at &laqno;Caritas», a Christian
social agency. I take my plastic bags full of documents and, accompanied
by a guard, go to a waiting-room where I am processed, searched, put in
hand-cuffs, and taken to the courthouse. Thanks to Ingrid calling
or writing the judge in my case, and the prison doctor, I no longer have
my arms twisted to the back, but am now hand-cuffed in front.
- Then I wait in the basement of the courthouse
for several hours in a small windowless cell. The guards, drivers, and
courthouse officials are all Germans - all 20-30-40 years younger than
I am - and, Robert, that's the difference to Canada and the U.S.A. - [here]
it's one of ethnic solidarity. There is an undefineable feeling of
connectedness, of brotherhood - it's a kind of an attachment to a shared
destiny. In the old days it was called Volksgemeinschaft, [a feeling
of being one with one's people]. Only if one has spent as long as I have
amongst foreigners does this feeling really impact on one - a brother amongst
brothers! This feeling is there - in spite of the fact that most of these
young people were in diapers when you and I battled our way into old City
Hall in 1984 with the unspeakable lady lawyer, who later so dismally went
back on her own word in 2004 - and cancelled her testimony.
- So today, as I did my tour of duty,
I once again got to feel this satisfying, fuzzy warmth of being understood
and appreciated by those around me, in and out of uniform! (S)
- You would be surprised how many people
agree with you, but dare not say so or show it to you, for fear or
losing their jobs! Robert, eine Schicksalsgemeinschaft [a community
forged by a shared fate]. I seem to be the [voice] of their
collective feeling, even though I am in handcuffs, behind prison bars.
I am to these people their very own Ghandi or Nelson Mandela, because they
no longer remember that other Germans 80+ years ago went through the same
experiences, as they tried to shake off the cross and free themselves from
the indignities and injustices to their nation then!
- So when I enter the courtroom, there
is a wave of applause (*). Today, even after I came in from one of the
breaks, I was met with such a wave of sympathy that it really affected
me! That's again Volksgemeinschaft, the intangible component, the respect
and admiration extended to one of their own who dared say: "Bis hierher
und nicht weiter ! » [Martin Luther's words five centuries
ago : "To here and no farther !"]
- The only ones not clapping and cheering
are the plain-clothes police, seeded throughout the spectators, the spies,
and the embarrassed members of the press - and CSIS representatives I recognize
from the Thorold and Toronto hearings. They are here!
- Several times the judges entered the
large courtroom just at the time when the applause was ebbing off - much
to their dismay, obviously. And then, Robert, surreal proceedings
begin to unfold.
- Never in my 67 years of life have I
ever participated in such acrimonious proceedings! The mood that prevails
is odd, to say the least, for the feeling is that those in power seem to
be the beleaguered party, being on the defensive and decidedly uneasy and
- As to the content and the legal and
historical arguments made, apparently I am not allowed to discuss details
- thank God I don't have to re-gurgitate all those - so I will restrict
myself to more general observations.
- The inner quality of the arguments is
far superior, far more issue and philosophy oriented, and the German language
is far more precise - it's like the difference between a kitchen knife
(English) and a surgeon's scalpel (German)! Although there are no
court transcripts, skilled lawyers in German legal proceedings use the
clever device of written submissions, explanations, responses, depositions
in response to specific topics - so a tapestry is woven, not as good as
in Anglo-Saxon legal proceedings, but still I am relieved to see
how these German lawyers have procedurally cobbled together a patchwork
that will give future historians some reference points - and reporters
- The oddity, in a way offset by new information
technology, is that the submissions, texts, corrections, requests, etc.,
all these little pieces of the puzzle, end up discussed by the media.
Even though tightly censored, remarkable facts are seeping out, always
in quotation marks. Mostly they are commented on in a sarcastic way
- surprising nonetheless, considering all these restrictive rules in place.
Again the content and quality are of a more substantial nature, almost
as if the writers knew that their readers have a higher intellectual capacity
than the Canadian reading audiences, or are more grounded in the context
in which all this plays out. It's an interesting phenomenon for me
to observe - and it is a surprise!
- Another thing is interesting :
Name recognition - something that took me a few years to build in Canada
when the newscast would start out saying : "A man called Ernst Zündel,
a German Canadian publisher, today is going on trial for [Holocaust denial]
S" In other words, they first had to tell their audiences who I was,
to give them context for their story. To my great surprise, for about
a week last year the German media would say : "Der Deutsch-Kanadier
S Holocaust Leugner S"and after that, and ever since, it simply says
: "Ernst Zündel steht heute vor Gericht" The German media
assumes they can get directly to the point without preamble. (S)
As to a media-image attached to a man, that's a huge advantage.
I give this tricky historical topic a human face (S) and now it is clear
- What has helped are photographers and
television cameras being allowed into the courtroom for a few minutes before
the proceedings begin - which is what the Germans call ein Blitzlicht-Gewitter
[strobe lightning storm] when hundreds of flash bulbs go off as I enter,
shake hands with the lawyers, and salute my friends. Again, it humanizes
these stories. For instance the Mannheimer Morgen, the
Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung and, to my surprise, the important Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung have had most of their stories illustrated with interesting photos.
Robert, when I went to Advertising Art School where I got my training,
the understanding was that if one included a picture, photo, drawing with
a story or text, one achieved 80% more reader-recognition! That was
the reason for my "theatrics"[in the past] - the concentration
camp suit, the cross, the helmets! (S)
- Even the FAZ had very interesting photos,
angle and crop! A very large colour photo of over a page appeared
in Bild Zeitung of me saluting to my friends, again with a headline that
assumed the 4 million Bild readers knew me, my name, my face - MY STORY
- sufficiently so that is sufficed to write in a 3cm headline : "Darf
er so grüßen ?"[ Is he allowed to salute like that
?] Robert, that's name recognition !
- So the magic still works! Foolish
- Let me recap, then, my teacher: Remarkably
high quality arguments, far deeper than in Canada, far more substantial,
are being made inside, but especially outside, the courtroom and in the
media, and not just in Germany, not only in Turkey, but in the Moslem Crescent
countries from Tangier to Malaysia. Aljazeera apparently had a large E.Z.
article about the trial + content. Ingrid told me that it was actually
understandable - not often the case in Arab stories!
- Thus, although the outcome is not in
doubt, Robert, the story itself will increasingly take on a life of its
own. It will be like in Canada - there will be setbacks, appeals,
then appeals from appeals, first locally, then nationally, then internationally
- and when I have run out of courtrooms, then we will submit the case to
history and let [history] judge! By then I will be close to meet my Maker
for the ultimate judgment!
- Between now and then, a lot of water
will be flowing down the Neckar and Rhine rivers. A lot of ink will
be spilled, and a lot of pixels expended, eroding the monolith -
one grain of sand in the rock after another, turning granite into soil-fertilizer
humus. Robert, it helps to be a peasant to understand the forces of nature.
- Victory will be ours - in time.
To get there has been a little arduous, but as you are witnessing,
it was not an impossible dream. (S)
- Ernst Z.
- (*) Applause
has since been forbidden by judges under threat of a fine/expulsion from
- (**) Sabina Citron is the Toronto-based
Jewess who originally sued Ernst Zundel in 1984 for "spreading false
news"- thus unleasing a global tsunami of reader interest in Holocaust