Ernst Zundel banned forever from Land of the Free
“Give us your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”
Ernst Zündel, in his own words:
Ernst and Ingrid Zundel: Wetbacks in Reverse?
Within hours of my illegal arrest in February 2003, fourteen years ago, I had been given an expulsion order with stiff penalties, should I dare to set foot in America ever again in the future. Should I be so brazen as to attempt a re-entry and be caught, I was to be arrested “forthwith”, detained, tried, and found guilty – and put in prison to face a 20-year sentence as an illegal “re-offender.”
Not only that, I risked a $250,000 fine for being such a fire-breathing dissident insisting on free speech on a forbidden topic – all this still in handcuffs, without being allowed to at least see an immigration judge to explain that I was not an “illegal” – I had been in the immigration “pipeline” to be admitted to legal residence as a relative to an American citizen wife.
I had been given a social security number, a health check, two FBI checks that cleared me of any wrong-doing, inoculations, a work permit, a travel permit – the works! Not that any of this mattered at this point in the more than decades-long legal nightmare that followed. I was convicted despite all airtight evidence that I was not a “visa overstay” as had been falsely claimed.
Once I had served my time of seven years in six prisons in three countries on two continents for having asked “Did Six Million Really Die” – and after having successfully passed my probation hurdle of an additional three years – I was left, more or less, to my own devices.
My passport had been given back to me. It allowed me to travel to Russia, Spain, Italy, France, Austria, Poland, Belgium, Switzerland and elsewhere, visiting friends and loyal supporters, always wondering when the next trap would fall shut on me – what other judicial injustice was waiting.
I also tried to see Ingrid at least twice a year, always in some dishevelled Third World country. When traveling to Belize, the Dominican Republic, Mexico etc. to meet Ingrid – who cannot travel to Europe because we know for certain there were at least two Interpol arrest warrants out for her as well because of her Zundelsite/Internet work – I usually had to overfly Canada and the USA.
On this latest trip on March 15, as I wistfully looked down on the plane at the outboard display, crossing Greenland, Island, Quebec, New York State – and moseying along the Eastern seaboard and then inland, almost reaching Tennessee – I wondered what would happen to me if the plane was, in fact, forced to make an emergency landing in the United States or Canada.
There was this possibility. This threat was looming against me in the background. What if something happened mechanically to the plane and I was forced to step onto the so-called “free-est country in the world” – and be re-arrested?
Thus, when I boarded the Condor flight on the 15th of March to Cancun where Ingrid was waiting for me, I was keenly aware that I was entering a danger zone. This was a daylight flight – unlike other Condor flights I had been on where I could at least sleep through the night. These long, non-stop international flights are hard on my body and psyche. By the time yet another new Zündel drama unfolded, I hadn’t slept for almost 30 hours.
As I looked out of the airplane window, I saw a shadowy, bluish fog of sorts that seemed to come out of a small crack of one of these jumbo-jet wings that kept us afloat. I watched it for a while, unease on my mind. It didn’t go away – it just curled into itself and dissolved.
Suddenly, there was a crackled message from the Captain in the cockpit announcing that we were experiencing difficulty with the plane’s fuel gauges, which seemed to be malfunctioning. This meant, the Captain informed us in a terse voice, that we would have to make an unscheduled emergency landing “… at the nearest US airport.”
Here was what I had always feared!
This “nearest airport” turned out to be an airstrip in St. Louis, MO, not exactly a home base for large passenger jets. As we descended, I could see the tarmac, old and run-down, with grass growing out of its crevices! With white knuckles, we all held onto our seats. After one of the roughest landings I have ever experienced, we rolled to a stop and were asked to deplane, using a rickety ladder, flanked by several dozen US firefighters in full gear – all of them huge, nice, friendly men next to their flashing fire trucks. Clearly we had landed in the backwoods somewhere of the USA – and here I was, being asked to step down onto the hallowed soil of “the free-est country in the world” – risking yet another 20 years in gaol!
I knew that the Captain had no choice but to alert US Homeland Security and the border police of my illegal entry status. I rang for the flight attendant to let her know about my predicament – that my very presence in the US might cause an “international incident,” as they like to say in legalese. She looked at me, incredulous. Who was that placid senior citizen who looked as normal and as harmless as can be?
She scurried to inform the folks in the cockpit.
Next, the Captain came to see me, wanting to know what, exactly, I had done. I told him I was being punished for spreading historical truth – I had published a booklet with a politically incorrect question mark the Global Noisy Lobby didn’t like. He was shaking his head, looking doubtful. He, too, was left speechless, not knowing what next to do with this senior citizen passenger, almost 80 years of age, who sat there, smiling blithely, expecting to be handcuffed so as not to threaten the almighty USA!
I was the last to deplane. I was flanked by two huge black border guards, armed to the teeth. Off we marched, with me giving the thumbs-up sign to some 250+ co-passengers who stepped aside to let us through, bewildered and aghast. Everybody stared at me as though I had come from the moon.
This emergency landing clearly overwhelmed the airport personnel, and we had to wait for hours in a rundown, seedy reception area out of the 1950s. The two guards stayed by my side as though glued to my hips, and there was enough time to have a little friendly chat in the meantime. This was not the first time that I had entertained my captors with my woes as well as some hilarious highlights of my intrepid dissident past – and by the time it was my turn to have my passport checked, the three of us had now become fast friends.
Next, we were told US authorities were going to admit us “legally” into the US – as visitors! Fat chance for me, I thought! All the while, I feared, I might be sent back to the Vaterland. I crossed my fingers and toes in hopes that would not happen. But luck was on my side. I, too, was bureaucratically “paroled” into Missouri, USA – a minor miracle!
At first it looked like the fuel line problem could be easily repaired, and that we could fly on to Cancun. However, the mechanical problems were too difficult for the local mechanics to fix, and it was decided to order a replacement plane from Germany. That would take another 12 – 13 hours – with me getting ever more groggy from lack of sleep, lack of food and drink, and a simmering, low-level anxiety that sat in the pit of my heart.
Meanwhile, our passports were scanned; finger prints and iris scans were made of each passenger; and of course, thanks to Internet bio information about me that had been surreptitiously studied by the American authorities as well as several passengers, I took on ever more the trappings of an heroic global dissident celebrity.
I began to be treated not just with curiosity but with an open, smiling reverence by black and white alike. I will always remember a few of them with great fondness – for instance, a tall, handsome Mexican-American veteran, with decades of experience in the US military, as well as a picture-book tall, blue-eyed Aryan from the Midwest, coming from a family of nine children.
All of them were super-correct in their treatment of me – very helpful and accommodating. I told them that I felt homesick for my beloved little art gallery in the Tennessee Mountains – and being so near to where Ingrid and I had our place.
Those uniformed, battle-hardened men seemed visibly moved. There sat a real live, officially criminalized White Supremacist-Holocaust-denying-Hate-monger among otherwise perfectly normal people, looking and talking exactly like them! “A criminal of moral turpitude” is how the US government documents described me!
Once again, I was the last one to be checked before having been granted “parole”, and promptly taken to a room for secondary screening. This procedure took several more hours of interviews by security people, and in the end, I was patted down and thoroughly searched, all my belongings, my money, my address book seized – and I was taken to a holding cell, windowless, brightly illuminated – the kind that I had already experienced in my decades-long travails while battling one of the world’s most vicious political lobbies.
The personnel who checked me into this cell seemed ashamed of what they were ordered to do – and fell all over themselves letting me know that they did not approve of this travesty – and were simply following Homeland Security orders.
I was given some small pillows, two bright yellow FEMA blankets to avoid hypothermia, and my two black, uniformed police or border guards, still armed to the teeth, told me that this was going to be my home until the replacement plane from Germany had arrived.
Soon additional, ever-so-friendly American guards came with three bottles of water, some potato chips and a hearty ham sandwich. No Muslim terrorist, this one, expecting special dietary favors!
It was long after midnight. I slept a little, in spite of the bright lights. There was a video camera on the ceiling, the usual surveillance equipment.
The hours passed slowly. After a while, two officers came to see me for an update. They told me that the plane from Germany was experiencing strong headwinds and would again be several hours later than expected.
The night shift changed to the day shift, and familiar faces – officers I had talked with before in the waiting room – came to take over. Obviously, they too had checked up on me on the Net. They brought me a tooth brush and toothpaste, and a little later, to my utter surprise, a piping hot pizza and a delicious California salad, along with more water and even a Coca Cola – crowning this “hatemonger” prison fare feast with a piece of delicious blueberry pie.
To my relief, there was no attempt to send me back to Germany – and once the plane arrived, we were all processed one more time and allowed to board the replacement Condor plane. It was about 8:30 pm, March 16, by the time we took off to Cancun!
I did not have a telephone number for Ingrid, since no phone had been as yet installed in our little home in Mexico. I cleared the Mexican customs, got all the proper stamps, took an airport taxi and arrived at the door of my very relieved American citizen lady – who greeted me with “Am I happy to see you!”
We had lots to tell each other long after midnight – wrapped in two bright yellow FEMA blankets I had asked to have as souvenirs, which the guards had allowed me to keep.
For a background summary of Ernst Zundel’s political outreach, please read Mark Weber’s excellent essay as published by the Institute for Historical Review: