Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel was sentenced to five years in prison by a German court Thursday.
It’s the maximum sentence the far-right activist could have received for his conviction on 14 counts of incitement. Denying the Holocaust is a crime in Germany.
The decision was cheered by Jewish groups including the Canadian Jewish Congress.
“I think that they’ve given a strong message … to the world, that I believe will bring a tremendous amount of comfort to Holocaust survivors,” said Bernie Farber, chief executive officer of the CJC.
“I think a lot of us can take a very deep breath and move on to other things — other than thinking of Ernst Zundel anymore.”
Born in Germany in 1939, Zundel immigrated to Canada in the late 1950s, where he lived in Toronto and Montreal until 2001. He tried to obtain Canadian citizenship twice but was refused both times.
An admitted white supremacist, the 67-year-old has denied the Holocaust for decades. Over the years the anti-Semitic activities he’s been accused of include running a Canadian-based publishing company that distributed Nazi propaganda, and providing content to a website called The Zundelsite, which has followers around the world.
At one point Zundel moved to the United States, where he wed a woman with similar world views, Ingrid Rimland, but he was deported to Canada in 2003 for alleged immigration violations.
But his latest stay in this country was a relatively short one – he was held in detention for two years before being deported to Germany in 2005 when a judge ruled his activities posed a national security threat.
His German trial was emotional at times, as defence lawyer Ludwig Bock quoted from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and Nazi race laws in his closing statements.
Prosecutor Andreas Grossmann suggested Zundel was a “political con man.”
“You might as well argue that the sun rises in the west,” Grossmann said. “But you cannot change that the Holocaust has been proven.”
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