Institute for Historical Review

Institute for Historical Review

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The 'False News' Trial of Ernst Zündel -- 1988

Ernst Nielsen

[Ernst Nielsen was the eleventh witness called by the defence. He testified on Tuesday, March 29, 1988.]

Ernst Nielsen developed an interest in the Holocaust in the early 1970s. He first undertook some study of the subject at a university in 1975. (25-6787)

In 1977 he wrote to Albert Speer and arranged a meeting which took place for one hour in Heidelberg, West Germany. Speer had been the minister responsible for armaments and war production during the war. This meant he had been involved with Auschwitz since Auschwitz was an industrial centre. Nielsen asked Speer if there were gas chambers in Auschwitz. Speer replied that the first time he learned about gas chambers was during the Nuremberg trials. Nielsen met Zündel about a year later and told him about this meeting with Speer during one of many conversations he had with Zündel about the Holocaust story. (25-6787, 6788)

Nielsen had been employed as the technical director at the Toronto Planetarium from 1967 to 1969. That year he transferred to the University of Toronto, where he worked as a senior technologist in the Department of Chemistry for several years. (25-6789)

In 1979 Nielsen audited a full-time credit course offered at the university on the Holocaust. During one of the lectures, Professor Jacques Kornberg stated that the order for the extermination of the Jews was made in 1942. In a seminar following the lecture, Nielsen asked Kornberg for the source of this statement. Kornberg replied that the premise of the course was the fact that 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis and if Nielsen couldn't accept that, Kornberg didn't want him in the course. (25-6789, 6790, 6791, 6792)

Nielsen did not return to the course because of the threatening attitude on the part of the other students. He feared he would have risked a bloody nose had he showed up again. (25-6792) He spoke to Zündel about the course and told him about the difficulties he had encountered. (25- 6790)

In 1980, after obtaining the required papers, Nielsen enrolled as a student in the same course with the intention of not asking questions, just getting through the course to find out what was being taught by the professor. Zündel approved of Nielsen taking the course; he saw it as a test to find out how their attitude would stand up and to see how the course was conducted. (25- 6792, 6793)

In a seminar discussion on why Hitler declared war on the United States, Nielsen offered a couple of explanations, one of which was that Hitler had a streak of megalomania. It triggered a discussion with the course professor, Michael R. Marrus, which became an argument. Nielsen felt Marrus provoked him. Marrus told Nielsen he was out of the course and that he did not want him back. (25-6793, 6794)

Nielsen reported this incident to the President of the university and talked to Zündel about it. Zündel offered his assistance in planning the steps Nielsen could take. Nielsen wrote about a dozen letters to the President, the Dean of Arts and Science and to the Ombudsman. In addition, he and Zündel collaborated in the writing of a letter dated November 10, 1980 to Professor William J. Callahan, Chairman of the Department of History at the University of Toronto. The letter was signed by Nielsen. (25-6794, 6795)

The letter read as follows:

Dear Professor Callahan:

In reply to your letter of October 31, 1980, I hereby appeal your decision to have me expelled from the "Holocaust course" (History 398Y). Your treatment of this matter is similar to the treatment I received last year when I attended the same course as an auditor. This latter technicality was used as the pretext for my expulsion from the course at that time. This year, I am accused of questioning the professional qualifications of the course instructor because I raised certain questions in regard to the nature and background of the material taught in the course. Never did I question the competence of the instructor, and any allegation on his part that I did so must be viewed as an attempt to shift the direction of our inquiries away from facts and issues and on to the subject of personalities, which is the typical tactic of those who know themselves to be on weak factual footing.

In view of the irregular nature of my difficulties as a student in this course, despite my diligent participation, my research in the subject and my conscientious enquiries after truth, I must at last conclude that I am a victim of outright ethnic discrimination because I am German. My objections to materials in this course which are not factual, but are Zionist incitements to hatred of Germans -- living, dead and yet unborn -- are justified in that some 90% of the required textbooks for History 398Y are the works of virulently anti- German, Zionist fiction writers, not historians. In brief, these books are nothing but hate literature. I am therefore entitled to exercise my human rights, not only on behalf of the German community, but on behalf of truth, just as we have seen in the case of the Chinese community which has established a firm human rights precedent by combatting such discriminatory deprivations of equality, justice and fair treatment. In this cause, I have been assured of the backing of several local and international German ethnic organizations, including The German-Jewish Historical Commission, who deem this to be a test case.

Since this issue has ramifications outside the academic community, I would like to draw your attention to the following points:

(1) In barring questions in regard to subject matter, is the University of Toronto not guilty of complicity in the institution of indoctrination instead of education?

(2) Is it not mandatory that any university worthy of the name practice the virtues of academic enquiry and objectivity, of free discussion and criticism, rather than pay mere lip service to these fundamental values?

(3) Is it not unwise to defend indoctrination with whatever pretexts in a university?

(4) Is the University of Toronto aping the Soviet universities in banishing freedom of thought and enquiry from its premises?

(5) Is the University of Toronto offering a course of history based on independently verifiable facts, or is it seeking to inculcate a Zionist dogma based upon hearsay, emotional propaganda and special- pleadings from those who make handsome profits from their wails and lamentations?

(6) Where are the "documents" said to be in existence by Holocaust Professors Kornberg, Marrus, et al.? Why are they unable or unwilling to produce such documentary proof of the alleged extermination programme? Where is the order for mass-extermination, plans for gas chambers, transport provisions for the movement of millions, records of the mountainous coal shipments necessary for the cremation of millions, the quantity and type of gas allegedly used? Indeed, where are all these "documents"?

(7) Is the University of Toronto not betraying its public trust, its use of public funds and facilities by imposing a Zionist brainwashing programme upon its students on a no-questions-permitted basis?

(8) As a qualified historian, are you unable to recognise the fictional, emotional, sensational hearsay depictions of alleged German atrocities as inflated versions of the admitted lies disseminated against Germans in the First World War?

(9) Is the University of Toronto not only betraying its public trust as an institution of higher learning, which includes the development of the students' critical reasoning abilities, but is it not also working against Canadian unity by inciting Jewish students and others against Germans and German- Canadians through the dissemination of this irresponsible and inflammatory course material?

(10) Does the University not have a fundamental responsibility to the majority interest in the context of a free and democratic society? Or is the University a vehicle for the imposition of vested minority interests over and above the interests of the majority?

The answers to these and other questions are not only for you to decide upon, but the greater community as well. This case is of such importance that I make the following urgent suggestions:

(1) That the "Holocaust Course" be expanded so as to include actual documentation from such sources now widely available as the German Foreign Office, the OSS CIA, Himmler's relevant departments, etc.

(2) That fictionalized "personal" and hearsay accounts be omitted as unhistoric, because they serve only to cast emotional heat, rather than factual light upon the subject. Propaganda cannot be permitted to pose as "history", and what cannot be verified is unsuitable for inclusion in such a history course, regardless of the religious fervour of the proponent.

(3) That non-fictional works by writers critical of the holocaust legend be included along with non- fictional works by holocaust proponents. Such studies as those concluded by such recognized scientific authorities as Doctors and Professors App, Faurisson, Dommerque, Butz, Stäglich, Hollhüber, Richtofen and historians Felderer, Walendy, Irving, Diwald, Burg, Harwood, et al. would serve to balance the views set forth by holocaust proponents in order to enable the student to make up his own mind. In regard to the inclusion of these researchers' works, I am willing to arrange a conference with the Department of History so that these books may be examined and I am also willing to arrange personal appearances of several of these writers and historians at any meeting of qualified academicians. The University of Toronto could take this opportunity to arrange a "Holocaust Symposium" of speakers who could present to the student body both sides of this vital issue.

(4) Since the holocaust legend is basically a charge of mass-murder levelled against the German people collectively and for all time, regardless of the individual German's age, actions or political affiliations, it is only fair that teachers of the subject be selected as we of the western civilized world select our own jury members. Racial, religious or personal biases must be considered in the selection of persons to teach such a course. It is therefore critically important in terms of objectivity that such a teacher not be a member of any ethnic group or organization directly concerned with the holocaust legend -- in brief, that no teacher be a Jew or a German, a Zionist or a Nazi. The university is no place for political partisanship posing as scholarship, and what is permitted in the Soviet Gulags is not fit for admission into the University of Toronto curriculum. The public is paying educational taxes, not indoctrinational tribute. The university is not being paid to discriminate against those who demand historical accuracy in a history course.

Should the above suggestions be rejected or ignored by the University, I shall consider taking action with the University of Toronto Student Council to see that academic standards and the tradition of academic freedom are adhered to. I further propose to take measures involving publicity so that this issue may be drawn to the public's attention. As I am unsatisfied by the official response to date, I expect to continue my attendance in this course in which I am duly registered. As I have received threats from Zionist-oriented students and faculty members, I hereby request that the university authorities provide campus security personnel for my protection. Should such protection not be forthcoming, I shall provide for my own through the hiring of private, uniformed security guards.

Your early reply in the matter will be in your own interests as well as mine, and in view of the importance of this issue, I am treating this communication as an open letter which will be made available to representatives of the media, government and educational organizations in Canada and elsewhere. Sincerely yours, E. Nielsen Student of History

Nielsen testified that both he and Zündel came up with suggestions and points which were then merged into the letter; it thus reflected the agreed views of both. Question #6 reflected previous discussions between them concerning the problems connected with the allegation that 6 or 4 million were gassed in Auschwitz alone. (25-6800 to 6802)

Nielsen knew from many hours of discussion with Zündel that he was not only sincere in his views on the Holocaust but also knowledgeable. Zündel had a wide store of information in his library, which Nielsen had consulted. Zündel was one who looked at both sides of the issue; that was why he could discuss the topic with anybody who wanted to discuss it with him. (25- 6806, 6813)

On cross-examination, Nielsen read the letter he had received from Professor Callahan in reply, in which Callahan advised him that any appeal from his decision should be sent to the Office of the Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science, and further advising that Callahan had forwarded his letter to that office. Nielsen testified that he never followed up the letter because of health problems and high demands at work at the time. He simply did not feel up to the stress. (25-6814)

Nielsen did not enter the course for the purpose of causing an upset. He was anxious to find out about the Holocaust. It was at a time when he was not too sure: was there anything or was there nothing? His previous testimony that he and Zündel wanted to see if their "attitude would stand up" meant their disbelief in the Holocaust. Both he and Zündel agreed it would be a good idea for Nielsen to join the course and find out what was being taught to the students. (25- 6816)

At the time he signed the letter, Did Six Million Really Die? didn't mean anything to him. He didn't know when Zündel published it. Some of the books listed in the letter were provided by Zündel and some by Nielsen. (25-6818)

Asked what local and international German ethnic organizations he was referring to in the letter, Nielsen stated these included Concerned Parents of German Descent and the German- Jewish Historical Commission. Nielsen knew that Zündel was the spokesman for Concerned Parents of German Descent. (25-6818, 6819)

Asked if denying the Holocaust was not the way that Zündel got public attention, Nielsen testified that if one wanted to get an idea across, one had to get public attention. "Have you heard of the two-by-four you slam the horse with to get its attention? This is good practice. It's practiced by both sides." Zündel would like to get the attention of the media, why not?, asked Nielsen. "He would like to have a good account of the court proceedings here but the media are mum about it ... And for good reason ..."

At this point, Nielsen was cut off by Judge Thomas: "Well, you can -- there will be no more speeches from you." (25-6820, 6821) Thomas dismissed Nielsen from the stand and refused to allow Christie to file the letter written by Nielsen and Zündel as an exhibit.

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