Wed, March 2, 2005
The Jewish card
By MARK BONOKOSKI
Back when Ernst Zundel was first weighing the real likelihood of his deportation to his German homeland, and his immediate arrest upon arrival for hate crimes, he considered announcing to the world that he was a Jew so he could exercise the "right of return" to Israel, where Holocaust denial laws had yet to exist.
Today they do.
Under Jewish law, any child born to a Jewish mother is considered a Jew, regardless of the father's religion or nationality, and Ernst Zundel's mother was Gertrude Mayer, daughter of Nagal and Isadore (Izzy) Mayer, a union organizer for the garment industry in the primarily Jewish Bavarian town of Augsburg.
It was Zundel's planned entry card into Israel.
According to ex-wife Irene Zundel, the possibility that Jewish blood coursed through Zundel's veins at first bothered the future author of The Hitler We Loved and Why so much that he returned to Germany during the '60s to look for his family's "einpass" -- the certificate Hitler doled out to those born of pure Aryan stock.
But no such certificate could be found.
Zundel alludes to this futile search as giving him "a little fright there in the '60s" during a 1997 interview with Tsadok Yecheskeli, the New Jersey-based correspondent for the Israeli Hebrew newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth.
A videotape of that interview became evidence after Irene Zundel testified against her ex-husband years ago at the Canadian Human Rights Commission hearings into his anti-Semitic and hate-fostering website, a copy of which was recently obtained by the Sun.
She also told investigators of how Zundel planned to use his "Jewishness" to get him into Israel if it looked like he was bound for a jail cell in Germany.
And then Israel brought in Holocaust denial legislation.
The tape was shot in Zundel's former bunker-like headquarters on the east end of Toronto's Carlton St., and not long after two incidents which centred on that fortress -- the alleged arson attack on his home and headquarters, and the arrival of a pipebomb which he claimed was delivered in the mail.
What follows is an excerpt from that tape.
It comes directly after Zundel talks of his father being an ambulance medic who "would go behind the front lines to pick up the wounded and near-dead, and bring them back to Germany.''
Yecheskeli: "And other relatives?"
Zundel: "If you are fishing for any political information, my father was a Social Democrat, my mother a simple Christian woman. Her father had been a union organizer in Bavaria, and of the garment workers' union. His name got him into trouble because it was Isadore Mayer and, of course, he was called Izzy by his people and the people thought he ... "
Yecheskeli: "Was Jewish?"
Zundel: "No, I don't ... don't think so."
Yecheskeli: "You don't have any ... "
Zundel: (Laughter) "I had a little fright there in the '60s."
Yecheskeli: "And there's no Jewish blood in your family?"
Zundel: "Well, I'd be hard-pressed to admit to it."
Yecheskeli: "Why sure."
Zundel: "So now I ... "
Yecheskeli: "So, you don't ... you basically said don't expect any answer" (to the question of Jewish blood).
Zundel: "What I am saying ... "
Yecheskeli: " ... you are also in doubt?"
Zundel: "What I am saying is that there's a very good reason why I agree with one thing in Jewish law -- in that the mother is determining who is a Jew and who is not a Jew."
Yecheskeli: "Ah, I see, if it was the opposite way, you'd be ... "
Zundel: "No, no."
Yecheskeli: "You'd be in trouble?"
Zundel: "No, no, no ... because a mother knows with whom she slept with, right? (Laughs) And in that period, and so on -- seriously, quite seriously ... "
Yecheskeli: "Are you sure there's no Jewish blood in your family?"
Zundel: (In hushed voice) "No."