Thursday, August 10, 2017

Tortured Minds: Ingrid Rimland, the Mennonites, and the Demon Doctor


Ingrid Rimland was a twelve-year old refugee in the flight of Mennonites out of the Ukraine in World War II. She was on the ship Volendam that carried Mennonites to Paraguay. After a difficult childhood and early adulthood in the Volendam colony of eastern Paraguay, she migrated to North America and became a successful writer. Her first book and best literary effort, The Wanderers (1977), was a three-generation story of Mennonite women caught in the social upheavals of revolution and war. In the 1990s she was converted to the revisionist Holocaust-denial movement and became a significant spokesperson and web site manager for that cause. Her fourth major book, the trilogy Lebensraum (1998), is another Mennonite history saga, permeated with anti-Semitism and romantic German nationalism.

Rimland’s revisionist crusade recently was energized when her second husband, Ernst Zundel, was extradited from Canada to Germany. Zundel, who had been denied citizenship in Canada and the United States, is in prison and awaiting trial for the crime of denying the Holocaust. Bruce Leichty, a Mennonite immigration attorney in Fresno, California, helped in Zundel’s legal defense. Leichty has urged Mennonite publications, so far unsuccessfully, to pay more attention to the Zundel story.

Although Rimland occasionally refers to Mennonites as my people, she was not a baptized member of the church. She has been persistently hostile to Mennonitism and dismissive of religion in general. Yet her creative writing, nearly all of which is semi-autobiographical, is an important window into the experience of some alienated people on the fringes of Mennonite communities.

Demon Doctor is the third and the least well known of Rimland’s four major books. It is the story of Rimland’s quest in the mid-1980s to demonstrate that Dr. Josef Mengele, the notorious Nazi Butcher of Auschwitz, had fled to Paraguay, taken on the identity of one Dr. Hans-Joachim Fertsch, and practiced medicine in the Mennonite colony of Volendam.  (more...)


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The market for media that exploit weak minds never seems to fail. A sharp Darwinian can make a killing feeding dreck to the feeble-minded, while clothing it in a mantle of "free speech".

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