Watching Ernst Zundel speak out so ridiculously in Errol Morris's Mr. Death: the Rise and Fall of Fred Leuchter, Jr., I naturally dismissed this Ontario-residing neo-Nazi and round-the-clock Holocaust denier as a blowhard and a buffoon, not unlike the addled Nazi crazy who pens the "Springtime for Hitler" number in Mel Brooks's The Producers. Morris is making jest of Zundel, isn't he?
Well, not so fast. Check his Zundel website, with a breath-taking capacity for self-deception, actually approves of the way he's portrayed in Mr. Death. "Wow!... man was I pleased!" he says of the image of himself therein holding up a placard questioning the Holocaust. With minor reservations, he's "Sig Heil Way Up" in his review of the documentary: "There's never a dull moment in the film! Not one!... I was moved by Fred (Leuchter's) tragic story and felt empathy for him." His favorite part is when Mr. Death reprises the chilling opening of Leni Reifenstahl's The Triumph of the Will, in which a plane with the Fuhrer descends on Nurenberg 1934. Zundel praised the sequence as seeming "as if some god had filmed it."
Although initially suspicious of Morris for, among other reasons, being Jewish, Zundel returned exalted to Toronto after a four-and-half hour filming in early 1999 at Morris's Fourth Floor Productions in Cambridge. "He called me afterwards and was 'flying high,'" reported his female lackey, Ingrid Rimland, who edits the Web's bootlicking Zundelsite. "He...felt that the documentary could turn out to be an important beachhead for Revisionism - a break out of the Revisionist ghetto into a younger, yuppie crowd..."
Zundel and a few neo-Nazi followers attended the premiere screening of Mr. Death last September at the 1999 Toronto Film Festival. As is evidenced by his testimony on the Zundelsite, he somehow interpreted the standing ovation after the screening (which surely was for Morris's artistry) to mean a vindication of his and Leuchter's "No Jews were gassed at Auschwitz" blasphemous reading of history.
And what about the many scenes in which Morris has experts refute every bogus allegation about the Holocaust muttered by Leuchter and Zundel? No problem for Ernst. "In this documentary there are, of course, political correct concessions... There are the expected Holocaust promoter interspersions... about Fred and I being 'racists' and 'anti-semites,' etc. - but one can sense that Morris put these sequences in to get his documentary past the censors and to secure distribution for the film."