The Holocaust Historiography Project

Holocaust Revisionism is not 'Hate Speech,' Canadian Officials Affirm

by Mark Weber

On August 27, Canada’s Supreme Court dismissed charges against Ernst Zündel of “publishing false news” because he had circulated a reprint edition of a booklet that disputes the generally accepted Holocaust extermination story. The Court struck down as unconstitutional the law under which the German-Canadian publisher and commercial artist had been convicted. (For more on this, see the IHR Newsletter, Oct. 1992, pp. 1-3.)

At a news conference immediately following the Court’s ruling, Zündel defiantly repeated his view of the Holocaust story, provocatively calling it a “hoax” and a “racket.”

Canadian Jewish groups promptly responded by demanding that Zündel be tried again for the same “crime,” this time under Canada’s “hate law” that bans willful incitement to hatred. Bernie Farber, national director of the Canadian Jewish Congress, filed a formal complaint against Zündel with the “Pornography/ Hate Literature Section” of the Ontario Provincial Police in Toronto.

In a letter of March 5, 1993, Ontario Provincial Police Staff Sergeant Robert E. Matthews responded to Farber’s complaint:

In the above letter of complaint [of Sept. 9], you [Farber] allege that Mr. Zündel is wilfully promoting hatred toward an identifiable group, that being the Jews, when he makes statements through the media in which he denies the Holocaust. The statements in question were those made by Mr. Zündel at a news conference called by him at his residence on August 27, 1992, immediately following his acquittal by the Supreme Court of Canada on charges of Section 181 of the Criminal Code of Canada. Mr. Zündel also made further statements on that same date to radio talk show hostess Ms. Jane Hawton of CFRB radio in Toronto, and those statements were broadcast to her listening audience.

The statements … have been investigated and a legal opinion has been received from the Ministry of the Attorney General. Based upon the legal advice and the results of the investigation, it has been determined that the statements made by Mr. Zündel on that date do not constitute an offense contrary to ["hate law"] Section 319(2) of the Criminal Code.

In spite of this statement, Canadian Jewish groups have vowed to continue their efforts to legally silence Zündel. (Canadian Jewish News, Toronto, March 18, p. 4)

Zündel Responds

Saying “two can play this game,” Zündel responded to the Canadian Jewish groups' 1992 move by filing a complaint of his own on September 3 with the Ontario Provincial police. In his formal protest, he cited a statement by Elie Wiesel in the book, Legends of Our Time: “Every Jew, somewhere in his being, should set apart a zone of hate — healthy, virile hate — for what the German personifies and for what persists in the German.” In his letter to the Provincial Police, Zündel commented: “I know of no other clearer invitation to hate in any book or publication I have seen.” (As we go to press, Zündel has not yet received a response to his formal charge.)

Incidentally, the often-repeated assertion that “Holocaust denial” is “anti-Semitism,” or constitutes “promoting hatred against Jews,” is not only inaccurate, it insults Jewish persons who have supported Holocaust Revisionism. (Joseph Burg, for example, himself a Holocaust survivor, testified on Zündel’s behalf in the 1988 trial.)

Like the August ruling of Canada’s Supreme Court, the March statement of Ontario Provincial officials is not merely vindication for a man who has fought tirelessly for civil rights and justice for his people, it is an important victory for the cause of free speech and free historical inquiry. Canada’s forthright affirmation of the principle of freedom of speech for those who reject the Holocaust extermination story is particularly gratifying at a time when dissident views of twentieth-century history are banned in Israel and several European states.