Ernst Zundel, a far-right activist who rose to notoriety over decades of public neo-Nazi activity in Canada and the US before being deported back to his native Germany on Holocaust denial charges, has died at age 78. Media in Canada quoted a statement from his wife, Ingrid Zundel, saying that he died of a heart attack at his home in Baden-Wuerttemberg on Sunday, per the AP. His wife, who lives in the United States, told CTV news she had spoken to her husband "just hours before he passed on and he was as optimistic and upbeat as ever." Born in Germany in 1939, Zundel emigrated to Canada in 1958—allegedly to avoid German military service—and lived in Toronto and Montreal until 2001.
He achieved international notoriety for his neo-Nazi beliefs and writings, including The Hitler We Loved and Why, and operated Samisdat Publishers, a leading distributor of Nazi and Nazi-era propaganda. He also provided regular content for an eponymous far-right website. Canadian officials rejected his attempts to obtain citizenship in 1966 and 1994. After leaving Canada, he moved to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., where he had married fellow right-wing extremist Ingrid Rimland. But in 2003 he was deported back to Canada for alleged immigration violations. After he arrived in Toronto, he was arrested and held in detention until a judge ruled in 2005 that his activities posed a threat to national and international security and he was deported to Germany, where he was being sought for Holocaust denial, which is illegal in the country. He served five years in prison. (Read more Holocaust denier stories.)