Ernst Zundel is out of prison after seven years!
- Ernst Zundel is out of prison after seven years!
Michael Hoffman's note: Mr. Zundel is under a gag and his freedom of
speech severely curtailed, so it is not accurate to say he is "free." He has, rather, been released from a German dungeon.
By "coincidence," today just happens to be the last day of the Talmudic festival of revenge known as Purim, which ends tonight at sundown.
From CBC News and The Toronto Sun | March 1, 2010
Ernst Zundel, was freed today, Monday, March 1, after serving five years in a German prison for denying the Holocaust. Zundel told reporters he did not know whether he would try to return to Canada. "I'm back out after seven years, three weeks, three prisons and three countries," said Zundel, 70.
A crowd of some 20 supporters clapped and shouted "bravo" as Zundel
emerged from the prison in Mannheim shortly after 8 a. m. Some handed
him flowers as he passed through the prison's steel gates.
Zundel was extradited from Canada to face the German charges of
inciting hatred for years of anti-Semitic activities, including
contributing to a website devoted to denying the Holocaust a crime in Germany. The Amerian website's accessibility in Germany made it possible for German prosecutors to charge him with 14 counts. Zundel and his supporters had argued he was exercising his right to free speech.
On Monday he gave no details about his future plans, saying only that he wanted to improve his health and would return to his home region in the Black Forest. "Having spent the last seven years in a 'chicken coop,'
I've gained a lot of weight. I have to lose that. I have to get checked out in a hospital," Zundel said, though did not indicate that he was ill.
Asked if the Holocaust happened, he replied, "It's kind of a sad
situation; there's a lot to say. I'll certainly be careful not to offend anyone and their draconian laws," he said.
Born in the Black Forest of Germany in 1939, Zundel emigrated to Canada in 1958 and lived in Toronto and Montreal until 2001. Officials twice rejected his attempts to obtain Canadian citizenship, and he moved to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., until being deported to Canada in 2003 for alleged immigration violations.
In February 2005, Federal Court of Canada Justice Pierre Blais ruled
that Zundel's activities were not only a threat to national security,
but "the international community of nations" as well, clearing the way for his deportation to Germany. Zundel spent the last two years of his time in Canada in solitary confinement in a Toronto jail under
anti-terrorism legislation. Despite his long stay in Canada, he was not able to convert his landed immigrant status into citizenship.
Zundel said he would return to his home in the Black Forest area but was unsure whether he would return to Canada. The German-born Zundel lived in Canada for four decades, making frequent court appearances to argue for the freedom to express his views in books and pamphlets and on a website. He was deported to Germany in 2005 after a Canadian Federal Court judge ruled he was a threat to national security. He was immediately arrested upon arrival in his birth country and held without bail because German authorities considered him a flight risk.
In 2007, a German court convicted Zundel of 14 counts of incitement of racial hatred and sentenced him to five years in prison, the maximum allowed under German law for denying the Holocaust. In several European countries, including Germany, Austria, Belgium, Poland, Spain and France, Holocaust denial is a specific criminal offense. In Canada, Holocaust denial can be prosecuted as a hate crime.
MORE GERMAN GOVERNMENT TYRANNY EXPOSED
Judge Grants Asylum to German Home Schoolers
New York Times
February 28, 2010
MORRISTOWN, Tenn. On a quiet street in this little town in the
foothills of the Smoky Mountains lives a family of refugees who were
granted asylum in the United States because they feared persecution in their home country. The reason for that fear has rarely, if ever, been the basis of an asylum case. The parents, Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, want to home-school their five children, ranging in age from 2 to 12, a practice illegal in their native land, Germany. Among European countries, Germany is nearly alone in requiring, and enforcing, attendance of children at an officially recognized school. The school can be private or religious, but it must be a school. Exceptions can be made for health reasons but not for principled objections. But the Romeikes, who are devout Christians, said they wanted their children to learn in a different environment.
Mr. Romeike (pronounced ro-MY-kuh), 38, a soft-spoken piano teacher
whose young children greet strangers at the front door with a
startlingly grown-up politeness, said the unruly behavior of students
that was allowed by many teachers had kept his children from learning.
The stories in German readers, in which devils, witches and disobedient children are often portrayed as heroes, set bad examples, he said. "I don't expect the school to teach about the Bible," he said, but "part of education should be character-building." In Germany, he said, home-schoolers are seen as "fundamentalist religious nuts who don't want their children to get to know what is going on in the world, who want to protect them from everything."
"In fact," he said, sitting on his sofa as his three older children
wrote in workbooks at the dining table, "I want my children to learn the truth and to learn about what's going on in the world so that they can deal with it."
The reasoning behind the German law, cited by officials and in court
cases, is to foster social integration, ensure exposure to people from different backgrounds and prevent what some call "parallel societies."
"We have had this legal basis ever since the state was founded," said
Thomas Hilsenbeck, a spokesman for the Ministry for Culture, Youth and Sport in the Romeikes' state, Baden-Württemberg. "This is broadly
accepted among the general public."
The family has been here for some time, having left Germany in 2008. But it was not until Jan. 26 that a federal immigration judge in Memphis granted them political asylum, ruling that they had a reasonable fear of persecution for their beliefs if they returned. In a harshly worded decision, the judge, Lawrence O. Burman, denounced the German policy, calling it "utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans," and expressed shock at the heavy fines and other penalties the government has levied on home-schooling parents, including taking custody of their children.
Describing home-schoolers as a distinct group of people who have a
"principled opposition to government policy," he ruled that the Romeikes would face persecution both because of their religious beliefs and because they were "members of a particular social group," two standards for granting asylum.
"It is definitely new," said Prof. Philip G. Schrag, the director of
Georgetown Law School's asylum law program, who added that he had never heard of such a case. "What's novel about the argument is the nature of the social group." But, he said, given the severity of the penalties that German home-schoolers potentially face, the judge's decision "does not seem far outside the margin."
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has appealed the decision, Mr.
Romeike's lawyer said Friday. A spokesman for the agency declined to
comment, citing the litigation.
The Romeikes had never heard of home schooling when they set out to find an alternative to the local public school in Germany, where their two oldest children now 11 and 12 were having trouble with rowdy classmates. The nearby private and religious schools, Mr. Romeike said, were just as bad or even worse. Then a woman in their church mentioned that some families, though none in the church itself, had taken their children out of school altogether. "She knew a family, but she didn't want to mention their name because it wasn't legal," Mr. Romeike said.
Months of research followed: the Romeikes read articles, sat in on court cases and talked to other home-schoolers in Germany. Eventually they decided to give it a try. Working with a curriculum from a private Christian correspondence school one not recognized by the German government they expected to be punished with moderate fines and otherwise left alone. But they soon discovered differently, he said, facing fines eventually totaling over $11,000, threats that they would lose custody of their children and, one morning, a visit by the police, who took the children to school in a police van.
Those were among the fines and potential penalties that Judge Burman
said rose to the level of persecution. Mr. Romeike began looking to
other countries, but his inability to speak anything other than German or English limited his options. Then, at a conference for home-schoolers in 2007, he saw Mike Donnelly, a lawyer for the Home School Legal Defense Association, a Virginia-based advocacy organization Long before the Romeikes had begun their fight, lawyers at the association had been discussing the situation in Germany. They had tried litigating cases one by one, usually unsuccessfully.
In 2006, after the European Court of Human Rights declined to hear a
petition by home-schooling parents that had failed in German courts,
lawyers at the association decided to add a political line of attack to the legal one, both to raise awareness of the German policies and to find some broader solution to the issue. At a brainstorming session, one of the lawyers, Jim Mason, came up with the idea of petitioning for political asylum.
"I don't know German law or German courts," Mr. Mason said, "but I do
know American courts." Another German home-schooling family had already moved to Morristown, so the Romeikes sold many of their belongings, including their grand piano, and came here too. The court battle lasted over a year, and while the Romeikes' lawyers said they had expected to succeed, they were surprised by the vigor of the judge's opinion. So was the German government.
"We're all surprised because we consider the German educational system as very excellent," said Lutz Hermann Görgens, the German consul general in Atlanta. He defended Germany's policy on the grounds of fostering the ability "to peacefully interact with different values and different religions." Mr. Romeike said he would like to return to Germany if the laws became more amenable to home schooling. There is still hope, he said, though the political landscape does not look too promising right now. In the meantime, he added, "it's a good learning experience."
(Victor Homola contributed reporting from Berlin).
Michael Hoffman's Afterword: Note that President Obama's Immigration
department is appealing the judge's wise ruling. Obama wants to force
this family to return to Germany, where they may lose custody of their children.
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 2010 04:16:00 -0500
Subject: Ernst Zundel is a "free" man!
To our Zundel friends around the world -
This morning at 2:45 EST I received a phone call from our British friend, Lady Michele Renouf, who told me: "We have him in the car! All is well! Here he is..." and I could exchange a few happy words with my husband.
Ernst assured me that his release went smoothly and that he would call me a bit later with additional details.
Half an hour later I received a fax from his lady attorney, Alexandra Rittershaus, who told me:
"Ernst is in freedom. A few people were [at the prison gates], but everything went peacefully. I did not have an opportunity to talk to him, but he looked happy."
Below is a photo taken just a few minutes ago, showing Ernst with his splendid Austrian defense attorney, Dr. Herbert Schaller who, at the young age of 87, fought like a lion for Ernst's release!
I will send a more detailed description later in the day, provided there won't be any Internet censorship or enemy interference, as has happened off and on these past few weeks.
Yours with many Tennessee greetings,
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