Warning: this story contains statements involving Holocaust denial
Tom Ayers · CBC News · Posted: Jul 31, 2020
Petra and Bernhard Krug moved with their daughter to Cape Breton from Germany two years ago. (Tom Ayers/CBC)
A German couple who planned to move their family and business to Cape Breton got more than they bargained for. Their first property deal in Canada came with Nazi propaganda.
Petra Krug said the man who sold her and her husband a property in Richmond County, N.S., also sent them emails with attachments that, among other things, honoured Germans from the Second World War and denied six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.
Krug said she never asked for the material in the emails and didn’t want it.
“I try to ignore that, because it is not our business with the things from Nazi and I detest it,” she said. “I detest it.”
Krug said she and her husband, Bernhard, spent several years dealing by email with Frank Eckhardt, owner of F.E. Property Sales in St. Peters, N.S., looking for a piece of land in Cape Breton. They wanted to immigrate with their daughter and start a new business leasing cottages in the country to seniors looking to downsize.
Allegations about Eckhardt holding far-right and Nazi views were first raised publicly last week in an article in the German magazine Der Spiegel. He was also the subject of a CBC News article last year after a couple from Austria complained about a land purchase they made from him.
Efforts to reach Eckhardt for comment on this article were unsuccessful. He did not respond to emails and hung up when contacted by phone. A number of his business signs were recently vandalized, including one spray painted with “Nazi go home.” RCMP said Thursday they were looking into it following a complaint from Eckhardt.
A sign for F.E. Property Sales, a company in St. Peters, N.S., owned by Frank Eckhardt, is shown on Thursday. (Matthew Moore/CBC)
Krug said the emails arrived sporadically over several years while they were still in Germany considering a land purchase in Cape Breton, sometimes on the anniversary of the bombing of Dresden or the anniversary of Germany’s surrender in 1945.
CBC News has seen some of the material sent by email to the Krugs. It includes a quote from someone saying the Holocaust “is the biggest lie in history.” Another email said Zyklon B gas, which was used to kill prisoners in Nazi concentration camps, was only ever used to clean clothes.
Krug said she and her husband finally got the money to buy a Richmond County property from Eckhardt a few years ago, but the deal turned sour after a dispute arose over the deposit.
A German acquaintance in Canada helped the Krugs get their money back after finding out the land was being sold at more than eight times the assessed value, said Krug.
The Krugs have since bought another property in Victoria County and say they are very happy to be in Canada, despite the rocky start.
“We have nothing to do with this right-wing stuff,” Krug said. “We … want to integrate and hopefully get the citizenship in a few years, too, especially for our daughter.”
The emails from Eckhardt were unsettling, said Krug, especially because espousing Nazi values and denying the Holocaust are against the law in Germany.
“Praising, I don’t really know. I only remember that he said no, there were not six million Jewish killed, but even when we were in Germany, with this theme, we don’t touch this theme.”
Hard drive turned over to RCMP
Krug said Eckhardt also sent them a computer hard drive, promising that it contained articles on natural medicine and e-books too large to send as email attachments.
However, she said the couple did not open it, because they were too busy packing and moving from Germany to Canada.
Krug said the acquaintance who helped them get out of the land deal with Eckhardt suggested they take the unopened hard drive to the RCMP, because of concerns over the nature of the emails they had received.
Krug said the couple never saw what was on the hard drive, but their acquaintance told them it contained Nazi materials. She said they left it in the hands of their acquaintance and the RCMP and did not want it back.
Krug said she doesn’t want anyone else to get into a bad land deal and doesn’t want to see anyone else unwittingly exposed to offensive material.
“I only want that nobody has to go through this history we went through,” she said.
In an email to CBC News earlier this week, RCMP in Nova Scotia confirmed they examined a hard drive said to contain Nazi propaganda.
“We found that it did contain some material that is considered to be offensive, but the possession of it does not meet the threshold for a charge of public incitement of hatred,” RCMP said.
“We made the decision not to proceed with criminal charges after a careful examination of the material and consultation with the Public Prosecution Service. Our investigation into the allegations is now complete and has been concluded.”
Naomi Rosenfeld, executive director of the Atlantic Jewish Council, said in an email her organization is aware of the Der Spiegel allegations and has alerted the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, as well as RCMP.
“Though these reports are alarming, there was nothing in the reports to suggest an immediate security threat to the Jewish community of Atlantic Canada,” she said.