Why Was The 1985 Ernst Zündel Trial A Disaster For The Holocaust Narrative?

Jews seldom praise the work of Holocaust revisionists. However, an exception is sometimes made regarding the 1985 Ernst Zündel trial in Toronto.

For example, the failure of Jewish eyewitnesses to provide credible testimony at the 1985 Ernst Zündel trial caused Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz to write that the trial was “a total victory for Holocaust deniers and a total disaster for Holocaust survivors and the Jewish people.”1

The failure of the prosecutors in the 1985 Zündel trial to find effective witnesses also caused Jewish political scientist Robert Kahn to write: “If the concept of ‘symbolic victory’ is sometimes difficult to apply precisely, the 1985 prosecution of Ernst Zündel clearly backfired. What had been an attempt to silence Zündel, and possibly use the legal system to repudiate denial, became instead a public relations coup for the Toronto publisher and his supporters.”2

This article documents why Alan Dershowitz and other Jews have called the 1985 Zündel trial a victory for Holocaust revisionists.

Historical Background

Samisdat Publishers Ltd., under the signature of its president, Ernst Zündel, published in the early 1980s a 32-page booklet entitled Did Six Million Really Die?. Under a license from Historical Review Press in England, Samisdat was prevented from making any changes to the publication. Samisdat sent the booklet to numerous people across Canada in the hope that it would arouse interest in the subject explored in the book: did 6 million Jews really die pursuant to a systematic policy of extermination by National Socialist Germany during World War II?3

Sabina Citron, a founder of the Canadian Holocaust Remembrance Association, charged Ernst Zündel with the criminal offense of “spreading false news” likely to cause racial and social intolerance. This charge was later assumed by the Canadian government, and led to two lengthy jury trials in 1985 and 1988.4

The booklet Did Six Million Really Die? unquestionably contained some errors. It was written hastily in the early 1970s by a young University of London graduate, Richard Verrall, who used the pseudonym “Richard Harwood.” The booklet critiqued the weaknesses of the evidence and arguments provided in orthodox “Holocaust” literature, and gave the reader alternative views of what happened in the German camps during World War II. The booklet Did Six Million Really Die? did what polemical works are supposed to do by providing readers with an alternative view of the so-called Holocaust.5

The primary purpose of the prosecution of Ernst Zündel was to make sure that ordinary Canadians would not have access to the type of information contained in Did Six Million Really Die?. Zündel in his defense decided to put the “Holocaust” on trial. Indeed, Zündel forced pro-Holocaust historians to defend their position that Germany had a program of mass extermination against Jews during World War II.6

The Prosecution’s Eyewitnesses

The prosecution in the 1985 Ernst Zündel trial counted on the testimony of carefully chosen survivors to prove the so-called Holocaust. These survivors were supposed to testify that they had seen, with their own eyes, the carrying out of homicidal gassings. However, none of the prosecution’s eyewitnesses was able to successfully describe any homicidal gassings at the German camps.7

Arnold Friedman, a 56-year-old Hungarian Jew, was touted as an eyewitness to the homicidal gassings at Auschwitz. Friedman testified that while in Auschwitz he saw “14-foot flames” shooting out of the crematorium chimneys. Douglas Christie, Zündel’s defense attorney, showed Friedman scientific evidence that the crematoria at Auschwitz were designed not to give off either flames, ashes, or odors. Friedman eventually admitted that his testimony did not come from personal experience, and that he was simply repeating what others had told him.8

Ignatz Fulop testified that he was a Jew who was in Auschwitz for approximately eight to 10 days in May 1944. He testified that at night he could see heat flames coming from the crematoria. When Douglas Christie asked Fulop how high the heat flames were, Fulop replied, “Forty, fifty-foot, thirty-foot. All depends how hot it was the ovens.”9 Since the crematoria at Auschwitz did not give off flames, Fulop’s testimony was clearly erroneous.

Rudolf Vrba, who had escaped from Auschwitz in April of 1944, was a world-famous eyewitness to the homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz. Vrba was a coauthor of the War Refugee Board Report, and was the author of the book I Cannot Forgive (with Alan Bestic) published in 1964. Furthermore, Vrba had provided important eyewitness testimony at the Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt in 1964.10 The prosecution felt that Vrba could produce reliable and authentic testimony at the trial. Vrba was considered one of the most important witnesses in support of the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz.

However, Vrba confessed during his testimony at Zündel’s trial that his book I Cannot Forgive was “an artistic picture…not a document for the court.” Vrba also testified that he had never actually witnessed anybody being gassed at Auschwitz, but had merely heard rumors. Furthermore, Vrba admitted that his written and pictorial descriptions of the Auschwitz crematory were mere guessing, based on “what I heard it might look like.” Vrba proved to be an unreliable witness who could only cite hearsay evidence of the so-called Holocaust.11

Another ‘true’ story much like Schindler’s List, Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning and Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night

Another prosecution witness at this trial was Dennis Urstein, who claimed he saw bodies hauled out of the gas chamber at Auschwitz. Urstein described the bodies as “greyish-greenish” in color. However, persons who have died from Zyklon-B poisoning turn a bright cherry red color. Urstein also claimed that he wore no protective clothing when assisting with the disposal of bodies in the gas chamber. If this had been the case, he would have died as well. Urstein was exposed as a totally unreliable witness.12

Henry Leader was a “Holocaust” survivor who was interned in Majdanek from December 1941 until June 1943. He was transferred to Birkenau in June 1943, and stayed there until October of 1943. Leader is another witness at this trial who couldn’t get the body color of the alleged Zyklon-B gas victims correct. Leader testified that the color of the gassing victims at Majdanek was “bluish.”13 Obviously, Leader had never seen a dead body that had been killed using Zyklon-B gas.

Today the evidence that the so-called Holocaust happened is based almost entirely on eyewitness testimony of “Holocaust” survivors. As the 1985 Ernst Zündel showed, such eyewitness testimony has consistently proved to be extremely unreliable.

Raul Hilberg’s Testimony

Dr. Raul Hilberg was hired by the prosecution in the 1985 Zündel trial to testify as an expert on the “Holocaust.” Hilberg had obtained his Ph.D. in public law and government from Columbia University in 1955, and subsequently took up a teaching post at the University of Vermont, which he still held. He commenced his study of the “Holocaust” in 1948. Hilberg’s major work on the “Holocaust” was The Destruction of the European Jews, which was first published in 1961, and reprinted many times.

When asked in 1983 how the extermination of European Jewry took place without an order, Hilberg replied:

What began in 1941 was a process of destruction not planned in advance, not organized centrally by any agency. There was no blueprint and there was no budget for destructive measures. They were taken step by step, one step at a time. Thus, came about not so much a plan being carried out, but an incredible meeting of minds, a consensus–mind reading by a far-flung bureaucracy.14

On January 16, 1985, under cross-examination at the 1985 Zündel trial, Hilberg confirmed that he said these words.15 Thus, Hilberg stated that the genocide of European Jewry was not carried out by a plan or order, but rather by an incredible mind reading among far-flung German bureaucrats.

Hilberg, who was widely regarded as the world’s leading authority on the “Holocaust,” further testified that he had never examined a single concentration camp. Although Hilberg visited Auschwitz and Birkenau in 1979 for a single day as part of a ceremonial appearance, he did not examine either the buildings or the archives on his visit. Hilberg testified that he had never seen a gas chamber, either in its original condition or in ruins.16

Douglas Christie asked Hilberg if he knew of one scientific report that substantiates that any single place was used as a gas chamber. Hilberg, after repeatedly asking for clarification of the question, eventually had to admit that he knew of no scientific report that proved the existence of a gas chamber in German camps during World War II.17 Thus, the world’s greatest expert on the “Holocaust” admitted that there was no scientific evidence or even an autopsy report to back up the prosecution’s incredible extermination claims.18

After Hilberg’s testimony, spirits were understandably high at Zündel’s headquarters. The prosecution witnesses and their “Holocaust” expert, who were supposed to make a fool of Zündel, had failed miserably in their testimony.19 It was now time for Zündel’s defense witnesses to present their evidence regarding the so-called Holocaust.

The Defense Witnesses

Dr. Robert Faurisson, the leader of Zündel’s defense team and a recognized expert on text and document criticism, was Zündel’s first witness. Faurisson had been studying the alleged German homicidal gassings for 25 years at the time of the trial. He had concluded that gas chambers and the genocide together was a fraud, which led to a gigantic political and financial fraud. Faurisson testified that there was not a single homicidal gas chamber in any of the German concentration camps. He stated: “If it (proof of gassings) had existed, we should have thousands of material (proof). We have not one proof.”20

Dr. Russell Barton, an English physician who later became an American psychiatrist, testified that he entered Bergen-Belsen with British forces as a young medical student on May 2, 1945. Dr. Barton’s first impression of the camp was one of horror; some inmates were dead and piled up outside the huts, others were in various stages of dying, disease, and dehydration. Barton examined the camp’s well-equipped kitchens and found record books listing the food that had been cooked and distributed going back to 1942. Dr. Barton determined from his examination of the camp records that there had not been a deliberate policy of starvation at Bergen-Belsen.

Dr. Barton made inquiries with inmates, including Jewish doctors, who told him that Bergen-Belsen had not been too bad until the autumn of 1944. Then, as the Russian armies were advancing, the inmates said they had been given the choice of remaining in the camps about to be overrun by the Soviets or being repatriated back to Germany. Many chose to return to Germany. As a result, from the autumn of 1944 to early 1945, some 53,000 people were moved into Bergen-Belsen, which had room for only 3,000 inmates. The overcrowding was extreme and the staff at the camp resented it. Josef Kramer, the commandant of Bergen-Belsen, and Dr. Fritz Klein, the medical doctor at the camp, didn’t know what to do with the huge influx of inmates. Dr. Barton testified that the horrific conditions at Bergen-Belsen were attributable to overcrowding and the collapse of the German economy at the end of the war rather than to an intentional program of extermination.21

Thies Christophersen was another witness who said that the alleged genocide of Jews during the war never happened. Christophersen supervised about 300 workers, many of them Jewish, at Auschwitz from January to December 1944. On numerous occasions during this period, he visited Birkenau where allegedly hundreds of thousands of Jews were being gassed to death. In a memoir first published in Germany in 1973, The Auschwitz Lie, Christophersen wrote that during the time he was at Auschwitz he did not notice the slightest evidence of mass gassings. At the 1985 Zündel trial, he successfully answered numerous pointed questions by the prosecuting attorney about his experiences at Auschwitz.22

Dr. William B. Lindsey, a research chemist employed for 33 years by the DuPont Corporation, testified at the 1985 Ernst Zündel trial that he considered mass homicidal gassings in the camps to be technically impossible. Based on his on-site examination of the alleged homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz, Birkenau, and Majdanek, Dr. Lindsey stated: “I have come to the conclusion that no one was willfully or purposefully killed with Zyklon B in this manner. I consider it absolutely impossible.”23

Ditlieb Felderer, a revisionist researcher of Jewish descent, testified that he had conducted 27 separate visits to Auschwitz, where he snapped more than 30,000 color photographs, took soil samples, and conducted infra-red analysis of rooms and buildings. He examined the camp from top to bottom, and sneaked into areas which were off limits to tourists. Zündel testified that Felderer’s photographs were important in the formation of his understanding of the alleged gas chambers at Auschwitz. However, none of Felderer’s photographs was permitted to be offered as evidence by the judge in Zündel’s trial.

Felderer testified that the real Zyklon-B rooms at Auschwitz were delousing chambers. These facilities were designed to save lives by fighting typhus through the fumigation of bedding and clothing. He said that faked or reconstructed exhibits were placed on the guided Auschwitz tour. These fake exhibits included the infamous “execution wall,” which Felderer discovered did not have any bullet holes in the wall. Felderer described Auschwitz as it is now portrayed as being a “Hollywood set” which carries on Zionist and communist propaganda.24

More Defense Witnesses

Ernst Zündel had numerous additional witnesses testify on his behalf. Dr. Charles E. Weber, an American who had trained at Camp Ritchie, Maryland, worked for Army Military Intelligence after World War II. He had published a booklet entitled “‘The Holocaust’ 120 Questions and Answers.” Weber testified that he had communicated to Zündel his extensive research concerning the falseness of the official Holocaust story.25

Frank Walus, who was a retired Chicago factory worker, testified that he was charged with killing Jews in his native Poland during the war. An accusation by Simon Wiesenthal that Walus had worked for the Gestapo prompted the U.S. government’s legal action. During Walus’s trial, 11 Jews testified under oath that Walus had murdered Jews during the war. Walus testified that he had been beaten up frequently during the time of his trial, and that Zündel had sent him some money to aid in his defense. After a costly four-year legal battle, Walus was found innocent of all charges against him by proving he had spent the war years as a teenager working on German farms.26 All 11 Jewish witnesses had given false testimony at Walus’s trial.

Zündel’s next witness, Baptist minister Rev. Ronald Marr, publisher of the Christian Inquirer, testified that Zündel had the right to free speech, and should be allowed to publish whatever he believes.27 James Keegstra next testified that he lost his teaching position when he endeavored to teach both sides of the so-called Holocaust. Keegstra testified that he was viciously attacked in the media, and forced to work at odd jobs to support his family.28

American researcher Jerome Brentar next testified that faked evidence had been used against elderly Europeans accused of war crimes. For example, John Demjanjuk faced deportation to Israel based on a phony I.D. card produced by the Soviet KGB that claimed that Demjanjuk was a cruel camp guard named “Ivan the Terrible.” Brentar testified that he had tried to bring a Jewish witness to the U.S. who had sworn that he had killed Ivan the Terrible more than 40 years ago. However, Brentar was prevented from bringing this witness to the United States to testify on Demjanjuk’s behalf.29

In 2019 the ‘true’ story of Ivan the Terrible became another pay-per-view documentary proving the so-called holocaust.

Dr. Gary Botting, an English professor at Red Deer College, testified that George Orwell in May 1945 challenged the belief that gas chambers existed in Europe. Dr. Botting also testified that he was banned from using the revisionist book The Hoax of the Twentieth Century by Dr. Arthur Butz in a literature course Botting had taught on the “Holocaust.”30

Douglas Collins, a Canadian with over 35 years of experience in journalism, testified that he fought for the Allies during World War II. Collins visited Bergen-Belsen Camp at the end of April 1945, and stayed in Germany for several more years as a member of the Allied Documents Research team. He testified that conditions in Germany were very bad after the war. Collins said the condition of German troops returning home from the Soviet Union “reminded me a bit of the survivors in Bergen-Belsen. They were walking skeletons.”31

Collins testified that it is dangerous for a journalist to question the orthodox view of the Holocaust. He said that any journalist who questions the “Holocaust” is “accused of anti-Semitism, and of hate literature.” Collins stated: “I wonder whether it will be necessary in the future, if this case goes against Mr. Zündel over there and one is writing about the war and this aspect of the war, whether it will be necessary to check with the Canadian Jewish Congress or B’Nai B’Rith or the Jewish Defense League, which would be better known as the Jewish Attack League, whether it is necessary to check with them before one gets a story into print…”32

Zündel’s next witness was German historian Udo Walendy. Walendy, who had published several history books, testified that the Allies had no knowledge of the “Holocaust” until the end of the war. He further testified that the tales produced in the main “Holocaust” literature could not have happened as described for technical and many other reasons. Walendy said the thesis of the booklet “Did Six Million Really Die?” is correct, although the booklet could be much better presented with the new documents we now have.33

Zündel’s Testimony and Verdict

Zündel at the end of his trial was questioned about his views of the “Holocaust.” His testimony indicated that he had studied the subject of the “Holocaust” quite extensively.

For example, Douglas Christie showed Zündel a picture of the alleged gas chamber at Auschwitz I, with its flimsy door leading into the gas chamber. Christie then showed Zündel a picture of an American gas chamber used to kill people, with its massive hinges and airtight seal of the gas chamber. Christie asked Zündel, “What is the purpose in comparison of those items?” Zündel replied:

Because it shows the tremendous care that needs to be taken in the construction and the very strong build of these doors that go to gas chambers that are used to kill people, and it becomes apparent that no such doors were installed in what are today being shown in gas chambers in Auschwitz I that are allegedly used to kill people.34

Zündel in his testimony effectively proved that the alleged gas chamber at Auschwitz I shown to millions of tourists could not have been used to murder people.

The jury found Zündel not guilty of a charge of willfully promoting false news regarding an essay he had written entitled The West, War and Islam. This essay declared that Zionists had created the lie of the “Holocaust” to blackmail Germany into bankrolling the building of Israel and conspiring with bankers, communists, and Freemasons to establish a one-world slave society.35

Unfortunately, regarding the booklet Did Six Million Really Die?, the jury found Zündel guilty of willfully promoting false news. Judge Hugh Locke sentenced Ernst Zündel to 15 months in prison followed by three years of probation. While free on bail, Judge Locke placed Zündel under a judicial gag order forbidding him from writing or speaking about the “Holocaust.”36

Douglas Christie appealed the court’s decision. On January 23, 1987, Zündel’s conviction was overturned by the five-judge Ontario Court of Appeals for two very important reasons. First, Judge Hugh Locke had not allowed the defense any influence in the jury selection process. Second, the jury had been misled by the judge on the very meaning of the trial. A second trial concerning only the booklet Did Six Million Really Die? was ordered by the court.37


Michael A. Hoffman II writes:

The prosecution was anticipating a quick, two-week trial in which the massive weight of the Six Million propaganda—all of the “expert” professors, thousands of “eyewitnesses,” mountains of “scientific evidence” and the tens of thousands of pages of Nuremberg testimony, would laugh Zündel and his pathetic crew of “pseudo-historians” and “flat-earthists” out of public consideration and into the jail cells they so richly deserved.

The media predicted the same scenario and the “smart money” said it was going to be a walkover for the Zionists.38

Instead, the 1985Ernst Zündel trial was a huge victory for Holocaust revisionists.

Dr. Robert Faurisson wrote about Ernst Zündel and his 1985 trial:

The German consulate in Toronto confiscated his passport and the West German government prepared a deportation action against him. In Germany itself, West German authorities had already carried out a series of large-scale police raids on the houses of all his German correspondents. In 1987, the United States forbade him entry to its territory. But in spite of all that, Zündel had won a media victory: day after day, for seven weeks, the entire English-speaking Canadian media covered the trial, with its spectacular revelations. The public learned that the Revisionists had first class documentation and arguments, while the Exterminationists were in desperate straits.39

Editor: It should be noted that many countries like Brazil and Australia prosecute ‘Holocaust Denial’ under indirect laws. For example as per Wikipedia:  “Australia lacks a specific law against Holocaust denial, Holocaust denial is prosecuted in Australia under various laws against “hate speech” and “racial vilification”. Fredrick Töben was found guilty at Australia’s Federal Court of contempt in 2009 for not following a court order in 2002 to desist from publishing anti-semitic material on his Adelaide Institute website”. In the USA and other nations undue and excessive pressure is brought to bear on individuals and businesses citing scientific documents that contradict the narrative.


1 Kahn, Robert A., Holocaust Denial and the Law: A Comparative Study, New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2004, p. 119.

2 Ibid., pp. 86-87.

3 Kulaszka, Barbara, (ed.), Did Six Million Really Die: Report of Evidence in the Canadian “False News” Trial of Ernst Zündel, Toronto: Samisdat Publishers Ltd., 1992, p. i.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid., p. iii.

7 Faurisson, Robert, “The Zündel Trials (1985 and 1988),” The Journal of Historical Review, Winter 1988-89, pp. 419-421.

8 Hoffman II, Michael A., The Great Holocaust Trial, 3rd edition, Dresden, NY: Wiswell Ruffin House, 1995, pp. 45-47.

9 Rudolf, Germar (ed.), The First Zündel Trial: The Court Transcript of the Canadian “False News” Trial of Ernst Zündel, 1985, Uckfield, UK: Castle Hill Publishers, 2020, pp. 111, 114.

10 Butz, Arthur R., The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry, ninth edition, Newport Beach, CA: Institute for Historical Review, 1993, p. 96.

11 Hoffman II, Michael A., The Great Holocaust Trial, 3rd edition, Dresden, NY: Wiswell Ruffin House, 1995, pp. 56-59.

12 Ibid., p. 60.

13 Rudolf, Germar (ed.), The First Zündel Trial: The Court Transcript of the Canadian “False News” Trial of Ernst Zündel, 1985, Uckfield, UK: Castle Hill Publishers, 2020, pp. 315-318.

14 De Wan, George, “The Holocaust in Perspective,” Newsday: Long Island, NY, Feb. 23, 1983, Part II, p. 3.

15 See trial transcript, pp. 846-848. Also, Kulaszka, Barbara, (ed.), Did Six Million Really Die: Report of Evidence in the Canadian “False News” Trial of Ernst Zündel, Toronto: Samisdat Publishers Ltd., 1992, p. 24.

16 Faurisson, Robert, “The Zündel Trials (1985 and 1988),” The Journal of Historical Review, Winter 1988-89, p. 419.

17 Kulaszka, Barbara, (ed.), Did Six Million Really Die: Report of Evidence in the Canadian “False News” Trial of Ernst Zündel, Toronto: Samisdat Publishers Ltd., 1992, p. 39.

18 Hoffman II, Michael A., The Great Holocaust Trial, (3rd edition), Dresden, NY: Wiswell Ruffin House, 1995, p. 54.

19 Ibid.

20 Rudolf, Germar (ed.), The First Zündel Trial: The Court Transcript of the Canadian “False News” Trial of Ernst Zündel, 1985, Uckfield, UK: Castle Hill Publishers, 2020, pp. 394-483.

21 Ibid., pp. 483-495.

22 Ibid., pp. 495-505.

23 Ibid., pp. 505-521.

24 Ibid., pp. 521-533.

25 Ibid., pp. 552-561.

26 Ibid., pp. 561-563.

27 Ibid., pp. 572-575.

28 Ibid., pp. 575-578.

29 Ibid., pp. 578-583.

30 Ibid., pp. 587-596.

31 Ibid., pp. 596-597.

32 Ibid., pp. 598-599.

33 Ibid., pp. 603-619.

34 Ibid., p. 665.

35 Hoffman II, Michael A., The Great Holocaust Trial, (3rd edition), Dresden, NY: Wiswell Ruffin House, 1995, p. 79.

36 Ibid., pp. 79, 81.

37 Rudolf, Germar (ed.), The First Zündel Trial: The Court Transcript of the Canadian “False News” Trial of Ernst Zündel, 1985, Uckfield, UK: Castle Hill Publishers, 2020, p. 16.

38 Hoffman II, Michael A., The Great Holocaust Trial, (3rd edition), Dresden, NY: Wiswell Ruffin House, 1995, p. 40.

39 Faurisson, Robert, “The Zündel Trials (1985 and 1988),” The Journal of Historical Review, Winter 1988-89, p. 419.

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1 Response

  1. Christian Soldier says:

    When the people who accused Hitler of the crimes they did in Russia and China’s communist revolutions, come the the west in WW3 and do the same crimes to them, Maybe then they will realize it was a just a con game.

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