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The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory





The Gas Chamber Controversy

In 1984 the Canadian government charged Ernst Zundel, a forty - sixyear -old German citize n who had immigrant status in Canada, with stimulating antisemitism through the publication and distribution of material he knew to be false. * The case against Zundel, who was the country's most prolific distributor of Holocaust denial and neo - Nazi publications, resulted in two trials, numerous appeals, and extensive media coverage. The Crown Counsel charged that Zundel instigated social and racial intolerance through the publication of two works, The West, War and Islam, which argued that there existed a Zionistbanker - Communist - Freemason - sponsored conspiracy to control the world, and Richard Harwood's Did Six Million Really Die?

Though much of the material he distributed was written by other neo - Nazis, Holocaust deniers, and ri ght - wing extremists, Zundel himself contributed two books to this melange. The Hitler We Losed and

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Why, which was published by White Power Publications in West Virginia, portrayed Hitler as a saintly man, a messianic figure whose white supremacist ideology had brought salvation to Germany. It concluded with the proclamation that Hitler's spirit "soars beyond the shores of the White Man's home in Europe. Where we are, he is with us. WE LOVE YOU, ADOLF HITLER!''l His book, UFOs: Nazi Secret Weapons?, argued that UFOs were Hitler's secret weapon and are actually still in use at bases in the Antar c tic beneath the earth's surface. In addition Zundel wrote and distributed scores of fliers and pamphlets praising Nazism, advocating fascism, and denying the Holocaust.

Zundel created a publishing house, Samisdat Publications, to reprint and distribute the usual array of antisemitic, racist, and Holocaust denial material. It also sold tapes of Hitler's speeches, copies of Nazi - sponsored films, and cassettes of music from the Third Reich, including a selection of Hitler's "favorites" and storm trooper songs and marches. Zundel did not just wait for customers to order his wares. He sent Canadian members of Parliament a steady stream of Holocaust denial publications. Nor did his reach end at Canada's border. Thousands of Americans received his publications, as did U.S. radio and television stations. (He claims his American mailing list numbers above 29,000.) But it was West Germany that was his main target. In December 1980 government officials informed the Bundestag that during the preceding two years two hundred shipments of neo - Nazi extremist books, periodicals, symbols, films, records, and cassettes had been shipped to the country by Samisdat Publishers in Toronto. In 1981, during a German crackdown on neo - Nazis, West German police discovered in the hundreds of homes they raided weapons, ammunition, and explosives as well as thousands of copies of Zundel - produced material. The German Ministry of the Interior identified Zundel as one of the country's most important suppliers of radical right and neo - Nazi propaganda material. Zundel has also sent his publications to Australia, the Middle East, and a variety of other countries. (He claims to have subscribers in more than forty - five countries.)

But Zundel is not just a prolific disseminator of extremist, denial, and neo - Nazi publications. A showman who is extremely adept at winning media attention -- he has been dubbed by Manuel Prutschi the P. T. Barnum of Holocaust denial (2) -- Zundel has honed his public antics over many years. When NBC's Holocaust was screened in Canada in April 1978 he created an organization, "Concerned Parents of


German Descent," to protest the screenings. He declared the West German government to be the " West German Occupation Regime." In September 1981 he placed an ad in the classified section of the Toronto Star wishing a "Happy New Year to all our Jewish Friends," signed by himself and Samisdat Publishers. ( 3 ) He has written rabbis and synagogues throughout Canada offering to lecture on topics of common interest to Germans and Jews. When the Canadian Jewish Congress advertised for a director of its Holocaust Do c umentation Bank Project, Zundel applied for the job. (His application arrived after the official deadline.) He created a German Jewish Historical Commission and announced that it would organize symposia on topics of Jewish interest.

His publicity stunts received the most attention at his trial. Each day he appeared at the courthouse wearing a bullet - proof vest and a hard hat bearing the words "Freedom of Speech." (His followers sported similar headgear.) On the day of his sentencing he arrived at court in a Rent - A - Wre c k vehicle, emerging with a blackened face to demonstrate that "whites could not receive justice in Canada," hefted an eleven - foot cross labeled "Freedom of Speech" on his shoulders, and carried it up the steps to the courthouse door. ( 4 )

Born in Germany in 1939, Zundel's childhood memories were of "hunger, cold, sickness," and life under occupation. He came to Canada in 1958 to learn to be a photo retoucher. While in Canada he was greatly influenced by the country's leading antisemite and neo - Nazi, Adrien Arcand, who introduced him to a group of ardent antisemites including Paul Rassinier. Zundel recalled that Arcand "made a German out of me." Zundel built a professional reputation as an accomplished photo retoucher. Most of his clients, which included Canada's leading magazines, did not know that he was one of the country's most active distributors of neo - Nazi material. One customer who inadvertently came into his shop discovered a huge swastika on the wall surrounded by pict ures of Hitler and other Nazis. (5)

During his trial the prosecution stressed Zundel's ardent devotion to Hitler, allegiance to the Nazis, advocacy of revolution in the Federal Republic of Germany, and his belief that the white race's position in the world had deteriorated because of the success of an international Zionist conspiracy. Israel was a "terrorist state," which was "financially and morally bankrupt," and Zionists controlled the "moguls" in Bonn. ( 6 )

Found guilty in 1985 and sentenced to fifteen months in prison, Zundel was given a temporary reprieve when the ruling was overturned

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on appeal because of procedural errors. ** The second trial, which began in 1988, was memorable because it served to set off the deniers' most important salvo -- fired by a newoomer to the movement who was guided into Holocaust denial by Zundel's team of advisers -- in their assault on the truth since the publication of Arthur Butz's book. Zundel's lawyer, Douglas Christie, the main legal defender of Holocaust deniers, antisemites, Nazi war criminals, and neo - Nazis in Canada, came to Zundel's attention when he defended Jim Keegstra, a schoolteacher in Red Deer, Alberta. Keegstra, who denied the Holocaust, taught his students that a group of Jews called the "Illuminati" was behind all the revolutions and debts in the world since the 1700s and that Judaism was an evil religion. He believed it his Christian duty to fight the evil conspiracy controlled by Jews (John D. Rockefeller was declared to be a Jew) through their money system. ( 7 ) The worst Jews were Talmudic Jews, though such "atheistical" Jews as Leon Trotsky were also a danger. ( 8 ) Zionism was a Jewish fraud, and the Holocaust was a hoax. ( 9 ) (The most disturbing aspect of the Keegstra case was that he taught this array of material for fourteen years before anyone complained.)

Christie's tactics during the first Zundel trial were the subject of great controversy. He tried to have all potential jurors who were Jewish or who had Jewish friends or relatives screened out. Treating Holocaust survivors in a brutal fashion, calling one a liar and insisting that another give him the full names of at least twenty family members who had been killed in the camps, (10) he exhibited what Ontario Lawyers Weekly desc ri bed as "sheer nastiness." In the midst of cross - examining Raul Hilberg, Christie asked him if he recognized a certain historical tract and then declared, "I thought you might -- you're a historian of sorts.''' (11) He managed to structure his defense so that it seemed to some observers that the Holocaust, not Zundel, was on trial. (1 2 ) For Christie the chief issue in the trial was the Zionist "power" to curtail freedom of speech. He declared the belief that the Nazis killed six million Jews during the Holocaust to be the result of brainwashing, and told the jury that they were being prevented from asking questions about the Holocaust. (1 3 )

In addition, Robert Faurisson came to Canada to advise Zundel and his lawyers. One of the world's leading deniers, he was a proponent of the notion that it was technically and physically impossible for the gas


chambers at Auschwitz to have functioned as extermination facilities. Faurisson argued that compared to American execution chambers the German facilities were too small and primitive to have been killing chambers. (1 4 ) Faurisson, who testified as an expert witness for the defense during the first trial, was asked by the Crown to explain the missing six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Faurisson acknowledged that he did not know what happened to them but urged surviving Jews to give him the names of family members they had lost so he could try to locate them. [15]

At the second trial Christie and Faurisson were joined by David Irving, who flew to Toronto in January 1988 to assist in the preparation of Zundel's second defense and to testify on his behalf. Scholars have described Irving as a "Hitler partisan wearing blinkers" and have accused him of distorting evidence and manipulating doeuments to serve his own purposes. (1 6 ) He is best known for his thesis that Hitler did not know about the Final Solution, an idea that scholars have dismissed. (1 7 ) The prominent British historian Hugh Trevor - Roper depicted Irving as a man who "seizes on a small and dubious particle of 'evidence,' " using it to dismiss far - more - substantial evidence that may not support his thesis. His work has been described as "closer to theology or mythology than to history," and he has been accused of skewing do c uments and misrepresenting data in order to reach historically untenable conclusions, particularly those that exonerate Hitler. (1 8 ) An ardent admirer of the Nazi leader, Irving placed a self - portrait of Hitler over his desk, described his visit to Hitler's mountaintop retreat as a spiritual experience, (1 9 ) and declared that Hitler repeatedly reached out to help the Jews. ( 20 ) In 1981 Irving, a self - described "moderate fascist," established his own right - wing political party, founded on his belief that he was meant to be a future leader of Britain. ( 2 1) He is an ultranationalist who believes that Britain has been on a steady path of decline accelerated by its misguided decision to launch a war against Nazi Germany. He has advocated that Rudolf Hess should have received the Nobel Peace prize for his efforts to try to stop war between Britain and Germany. ( 22 ) On some level Irving seems to conceive of himself as carrying on Hitler's legacy. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph in June 1992, he related that his one mistake in life was getting married: "Marriage is a detour." This was, Irving observed, something Hitler understood. Irving related that Hitler's naval adjutant once told him how Hitler decided he could not marry because Germany "was his pride." Irving asked when the German leader had informed the naval adjutant of this decision. When told the date


was March 24, 1938, Irving responded, "Herr Admiral, at that moment I was being born." (2 3 )

Irving had long equated the actions of Hitler and Allied leaders, an equivalence that was made easier by his claims that the Final Solution took place without Hitler's knowledge. Prior to participating in Zundel's trial, Irving had appeared at IHR conferences -- at one he declared Hitler the "biggest friend the Jews had in the Third Reich" -- but he had never denied the annihilation of the Jews. ( 24 ) That changed in 1988 as a result of the events in Toronto.

Both Irving and Faurisson advocated inviting an American prison warden who had performed gas executions to testify in Zundel's defense, arguing that this would be the best tactic for proving that the gas chambers were a fraud and too primitive to operate safely. They solicited help from Bill Armontrout, warden of the Missouri State Penitentiary, who agreed to testify and suggested they also contact Fred A. Leuchter, an "engineer" residing in Boston who specialized in constructing and installing execution apparatus. Irving and Faurisson immediately flew off to meet Leuchter. Irving, who had long hovered at the edge of Holocaust denial, believed that Leuchter's testimony could provide the do c umentation he needed to prove the Holocaust a myth. ( 25 ) According to Faurisson, when he first met Leuchter, the Bostonian accepted the "standard notion of the 'Holocaust.' " ( 26 ) After spending two days with him, Faurisson declared that Leuchter was convinced that it was chemically and physically impossible for the Germans to have conducted gassings. ( 27 ) Having agreed to serve as an expert witness for the defense, Leuchter then went to Toronto to meet with Zundel and Christie and to examine the materials they had gathered for the trial.


Within a few days Leuchter left for a week in Poland. Accompanied by his wife, a cinematographer supplied by Zundel, a draftsman, and an interpreter, the group toured Auschwitz/Birkenau and Majdanek. In light of the fact that Zundel paid Leuchter approximately $35,000 to make the trip, ( 28 ) one cannot help but wonder what would have been the reaction if Leuchter had returned to confirm the existence of gas chambers. However, Leuchter's leanings were revealed by his observation that although Zundel and Faurisson could not accompany the group, they were ex - officio members of the team, whose spirit was with them "every step of the way." ( 29 )

The group spent three days in Auschwitz/Birkenau and one in Majdanek surreptitiously and illegally collecting bricks and cement


fragments -- Leuchter called them "forensic samples" -- from a number of buildings, including those associated with the killing process. On returning to Massachusetts, Leuchter had the samples chemically analyzed. (He told the laboratory that the samples had to do with a workmen's compensation case.) He summarized his findings in The Leuchter Report: An Engineering Report on the Alleged Execution Gas Charrbers at Auschwitz, Birkenau, and Majdanek, Poland, which was published by Zundel's Samisdat Publications and David Irving's publishing house, Focal Point Publications in London. *** In it he concluded that there had never been homicidal gassings at any of these sites. Leuchter claimed that his findings were based on his "expert knowledge" of the design criteria for gas chamber operation, and his visual inspections of both the remains of the chambers and of "original drawings and blueprints of some of the facilities." The latter, he asserted, had been given to him by of ficials of the Auschwitz museum. ( 30 )

According to Leuchter the design and fabrication of these facilities made it impossible for them to have served as execution chambers. ( 3l ) Moreover, Leuchter argued, given the size and usage rate of the alleged facilities at Auschwitz and Majdanek, it would have required sixty - eight years to execute the "alleged number of six millions of persons." ( 32 ) (This typifies the deniers' methods of obfuscation: No one had claimed that the gas chambers at Auschwitz or Majdanek were used to kill six million people. Millions of people died at the hands of the Einsatzgruppen and at other death camps.)

Deniers consider Leuchter's testimony at the trial a "historical event." It marked, Faurisson claimed expansively, the end of the "myth of the gas chambers." ( 33 ) Emotions were intense as Leuchter tore away the "veil of the great swindle." Faurisson described his own feelings as a mixture of "relief and melancholy: relief because a thesis that I had defended for so many years was at last fully confirmed, and melancholy because I had fathered the idea in the first place." ( 34 ) The record reveals that something quite different occurred. If any veil was lifted it was that of Leuchter's expertise. On the stand Leuchter was shown to have little technical training to equip him to reach his conclusions. The judge derided aspects of his methodology as "gross speculation" and dismissed his opinion as being of no greater value than that of an ordinary tourist. ( 35 )

Perhaps Faurisson's relief was also rooted in the fact that he knew

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that despite the revelations about Leuchter's lack of credentials and his fallacious scientific and historical methodology, the Leuchter Report would have a life of its own, as has been the case with the Prot oc ols of the Elders of Zion, which has repeatedly been demonstrated to be a forgery. In fact, when it was originally published in France in the mid - nineteenth century, Jews did not appear in the book at all. Only at the beginning of this century was it rewritten with Jews as the primary culprits. This easily do c umented information has not stopped the Proto c ols from being accepted by people in different parts of the world as a factual rendition of "international Jewry's" nefarious goal to rule the world. So, too, Faurisson may have recognized that Leuchter's so - called scientific report would make Holocaust denial plausible despite its having been shown to be rooted in spurious scientific principles.

With the jury out of the room, the court began to determine Leuchter's qualifications as an expert witness. When the Crown Counsel questioned him about his training in math, chemistry, physics, and toxicology, he acknowledged that his only training in chemistry was "basic .. . on the college level." The only physics he had studied likewise consisted of two courses taken when he was studying for a bachelor of arts (not sciences) degree at Boston University. Admitting that he was not a toxicologist and had no degree in engineering, he rather cavalierly dismissed the need for it. ( 38 ) To this the judge responded sharply:

THE COURT: How do you function as an engineer if you don ' t have an engineering degree?

THE WITNESS: Well, I would question, Your Honour, what an engineering degree is. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree and I have the required background training both on the college level and in the field to perform my function as an engineer.

THE COURT: Who determines that? You? ( 37 )

Throughout the trial Judge Ronald Thomas made it clear that he was appalled by Leuchter's lack of training as an engineer as well as his deprecation of the need for such training. The judge was particularly taken aback by Leuchter's repeated assertions that anyone who went to college had "the necessary math and science" to be an electrical engineer and to conduct the tests he conducted at Auschwitz. ( 33 ) The judge ruled that Leuchter could not serve as an expert witness on the construction and functioning of the gas chambers. The judge's findings as to Leuchter's suitability to comment on questions of engineering was unequivocal:


THE COURT: I'm not going to have him get into the question of what's in a brick, what's in iron, what is in -- he has no expertise in this area. He is an engineer because he has made himself an engineer in a very limited area. ( 39 )

Unknown to the court, Leuchter, who admitted under oath that he had only a bachelor of arts degree, was not being entirely candid regarding his education. Implying that an engineering degree had been unavailable to him, he told the court that when he was a student at Boston University, the school did not offer a degree in engineering. In fact it did, three different kinds. ( 40 ) Later in the trial, when the jury returned to the room, Zundel's lawyer and Leuchter obfuscated the paucity of his training:

Q. And you are, I understand, a graduate of Boston university, with a B.A. in a field that entitles you to function as an engineer. Is that right?

A. Yes, sir. ( 4 1)

That field was history.

Leuchter was also less than candid about his methodology. He repeatedly asserted that he obtained the "bulk" of his research material on the camps -- including maps, floor plans and "original blueprints" for the crematoria -- from the official archives at Auschwitz/Birkenau and Majdanek. He testified that these drawings and blueprints played a far more important role in shaping his conclusio s than the samples he collected at the camp. ( 42 ) After the trial Kazimierz Smolen, the director of the Auschwitz museum, unequivocally denied that Leuchter had received any plans or blueprints from the museum. ( 43 ) He may have procured tourist materials sold in the official souvenir kiosks in the camps. (It may have been the same material thousands of visitors, myself included, have bough t during visits to these sites. )

Irrespective of who gave him the materials, he acknowledged that he "didn't see any necessity" to reveal to camp officials that he was asking questions in order to gather material for a scientific report or legal action. ( 44 ) Anyone who had visited a heavily frequented tourist site, which -- for better or for worse -- Auschwitz/Birkenau has become, knows that the caliber of t he answers one receives from of ficials varies markedly. If they believe that they are speaking to someone who has a professional expertise pertaining to the site they tend to be more precise. Nor, for that matter, did he see any necessity to ask permission to violate the Polish law against defacing national monuments and memorials. 45


As citations from Leuchter's report were read, the judge's impatience intensified. He characterzed Leuchter's methodology as "ridiculous" and "preposterous." ( 46 ) Ruling that "this report is not going to be filed," the judge dismissed many of his conclusions as based on "second - hand information." He refused to allow Leuchter to testify about the impact of Zyklon - B on humans because he was neither a toxicologist nor a chemist and had never worked with the gas. ( 4 7) Again and again the judge kept coming back to Leuchter's capabilities and credibility:

THE COURT: His opinion on this report is that there were never any gassings or there was never any exterminations carried on in this facility. As far as I am concerned, from what l've heard, he is not ca pable of giving that opinion... He is not in a position to say, as he said so sweepingly in this report, what could not have been carried on in these facilities. ( 48 )

On the question of the functioning of the crematoria, despite the defense attorney's opposition, the judge's decision was unequivocal. He could not testify on this topic for a simple reason.

THE COURT: He hasn't any expertise. ( 49 )

The judge might have been even more irritated had he known that Leuchter misrepresented the extent of his familiarity with the operation of hydrogen cyanide. He told the court that he had discussed matters relating to the gas with the largest U.S. manufacturer of sodium cyanide and hydrogen cyanide, Du Pont, and that such consultation was "an on - going thing." Leuchter was again being less than accurate. He may have obtained Du Pont's published guidelines about the care needed in using hydrogen cyanide or any other of the myriad of substances the company manufactured. But Du Pont, denying Leuchter's claims of ongoing consultations, stated that it had "never provided any information on cyanides to persons representing themselves as Holocaust deniers, including Fred Leuchter. Specifically, Du Pont has never provided any information regarding the use of cyanide at Auschwitz, Birkenau, or Majdanek." ( 5 0)

But it was not only Leuchter's scientific expertise, or lack thereof, which was questioned by the court. The judge also expressed serious doubts about Leuchter's historical knowledge, which, as it emerged at the trial, was limited and often flawed. Leuchter was unaware of a host of do c uments pertaining to the installation and construction of the gas chambers and crematoria. He did not know of a report filed in June


1943 by the Waffen - SS commandant of construction at Auschwitz on the completion of the crematoria. The report indicated that the five crematoria had a total twenty - four - hour capacity of 4,756 bodies. ( 5 1) Leuchter had stated that the crematoria had a total capacity of 156 bodies in the same period of time. ( 52 ) Even if the SS's cal c ulation was overly "optimistic," the difference between it and Leuchter's was staggering. He also had to admit that he did not know that there existed correspondence and do c umentation regarding powerful ventilators installed in the gas chambers to extract the gas that remained after the killings. After hearing these and other admissions by Leuchter, Judge Thomas expressed his dismay that Leuchter had reached his conclusions despite the fact that he had only a "nodding acquaintance" with the history of the gas chambers. To suggest that he had any more than that, the judge declared, would be an insult. ( 53 )

Leuchter told the court that his findings regarding Auschwitz were based on the supposition that the physical plant at the camps was the same today as it had been throughout the war. ( 54 ) He did not seem to know or take into account the fact that certain areas at Auschwitz had been rebuilt after the war. At Majdanek, Leuchter reached his conclusions knowing that he was looking at something that had been completely reconstructed. Hearing this, the judge dismissed the credibility of Leuchter's analysis of the Majdanek facility.

THE COURT: W e have no plans; we have a reconstruction. This witness is in no better position than I will be to give evidence on this point. He went to Majdanek; he has seen something and it is really just speculation. This is creating a tourist attraction. I'm not going to have evidence in this court about tourist attractions. ( 55 )

Leuchter claimed that his scientific conclusions were based, in great measure, on the residue left by Zyklon - B. In addition to being used by the Nazis to murder people, the gas was used to delouse clothing and combat insects and rodents. ( 56 ) The samples Leuchter took from the delousing chambers contained a far higher residue of hydrogen cyanide than those from the homicidal gas chambers. The bricks of the delousing chambers generally showed far more of the blue coloration often left by hydrocyanic acid than did those in the homicidal gas chambers. Leuchter argued that this lower - level residue and stain were conclusive proof that the structures presented to visitors as homicidal facilities could not have been used for that purpose.

But both Faurisson and Leuchter either ignored or did not know a number of critically important facts. Lice, which were destroyed in the


delousing chambers, have a far higher resistance to hydrogen cyanide than do humans. It takes a more concentrated exposure to cyanide gas over a longer period of time to kill lice than to kill humans, hence the more intense blue stain. When the Crown Counsel asked Leuchter about this, he declined to answer because it was an area about which he was not qualified to testify. ( 57 ) Yet he used the delousing chamber as a "control" for his findings.

Furthermore, the amount of hydrogen cyanide used in the homicidal gas chambers was lethal to humans forty to seventy times over. Because of the intensity of the gas, only a limited amount of it was inhaled by the victims. The remainder was quickly extracted from the chamber by the powerful ventilation system. Consequently the gas was in contact with the walls of the gas chamber for a very brief time each day it was in operation.

In the delousing chambers the situation was quite different. According to both technical manuals and the accounts of former prisoners, the cyanide gas was in contact with the walls for between twelve to eighteen hours a day. One would, therefore, logically expect a higher residue of cyanide in the delousing chambers, and the blue stain that indicated presence of the cyanide was more likely to be found on the bricks of a delousing chamber than those of a homicidal gas chamber.

Both Leuchter and Faurisson argued that "it would be insanity" to operate a gas chamber in close proximity to crematoriums because of the danger of explosion. But records show that the amount of gas used by the SS was well below the threshold of explosion. ( 58 ) The Crown Counsel also pointed out that the manufacturer's manual stated that three times as much of the substance was required to kill rats than to ki ll humans, and twenty times as much to kill beetles as to kill rats. ( 59 ) The Crown argued that if it had been sa f e to use these much larger amounts for beetles without the threat of explosion then it would certainly have been safe to use the far smaller amount for humans. (60)

There was also a basic contradiction inherent in Faurisson and Leuchter's argument that the crude construction of the gas chambers proved that they could not have served as homidicial units without causing serious harm to the SS personnel operating them. The delousing chambers were constructed in the same fashion as the homicidal gas chambers. Irrespective of whether people or clothing would be contained therein, if one facility posed a threat of leakage the other would as well. Theoretically the delousing chamber would have been


even more dangerous because it needed a higher concentration of hydrogen cyanide for a longer period of time.

In a certain gas chamber no cyanide traces were found. ( 6 1) Leuchter cited this as proof that this facility was never used as a gas chamber. But this particular gas chamber had been dynamited in January 1945. Its ruins were inundated with thirty centimeters of water in the summer and up to one meter of water in spring. The exposure to the elements lessened the presence of hydrogen cyanide. ( 62 ) Moreover, do c uments in the archives indicate that tests done on the grilles of the crematorium by Polish authorities shortly after the war showed residue of hydrocyanide compounds. Three of these grilles are in the Auschwitz museum. Had Leuchter asked museum officials, with whom he claimed to have consulted, they might have shown him the test results. ( 63 )

This was not the only time that Leuchter was tripped up by history. In one crematorium some samples were negative and some were positive. Logically all should have been either positive or negative. (In fact, they should probably have been negative, since this gas chamber had hardly been used.) Had he asked the authorities in the Auschwitz museum, they could have told him that this crematorium, which had been destroyed in the wake of the abortive inmate uprising of October 1944, had been rebuilt with both original bricks as well as bricks from other buildings. Consequently, Leuchter's test was conducted on some bricks that did not even come from that particular crematorium. Nor did Leuchter seem to consider that the building had been exposed to the elements for more than forty years so that cyanide gas residue could have been obliterated. ( 64 ) He also took samples from a floor that had been washed regularly by the museum staff. ( 65 )

In a move apparently caleulated to enhance the drama of Leuchter's escapade, a cameraman had videotaped the collection of samples. On the tape Leuchter stressed that he had used protective gloves in order to collect his samples. Since the tests he was conducting were chemical and not bacteriological the gloves served relatively little purpose other than a theatrical one. He and his associates also wore protective masks. But the masks were dust masks, which do not prevent chemical contamination (a closed - respirator system would be needed for that). Moreover, Leuchter and his associate were not consistent. The videotape of this sample-collecting enterprise reveals that sometimes they had the masks on and sometimes they did not. This haphazard approach suggests that the masks were primarily for show, not protective purposes. ( 66 )

By the end of his testimony in the Toronto courtroom on April 20

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and 21, 1988, # Leuchter had been exposed as having virtually no educational training as an engineer, and his historical knowledge had been shown to be even more limited. His historical knowledge was based on two hundred pages of Raul Hilberg's book, The Destruction of the European Jews; articles by deniers; conversations with Faurisson, Irving, Zundel, and Christie; and do c uments Leuchter claimed, but the director of the Auschwitz museum categorically denied, had been given to him at the site by museum authorities. Judge Thomas ruled that Leuchter could testify before the jury about what he saw on his trip and compare it "within his area of expertise" to what he "normally worked with." ( 67 ) Although it did not emerge until after the trial, what Leuchter "normally worked with" was not only far more limited than what the court assumed but likewise the subject of significant controversy.

On July 20, 1990, Alabama Assistant Attorney General Ed Carnes sent a memo to all capital - punishment states questioning Leuchter's credentials and credibility. Carnes stated not only that Leuchter's views on the gas - chamber process were "unorthodox" but that he was running a death - row shakedown scheme. If a state refused to use his services, Leuchter would testify at the last minute on behalf of the inmate, claiming that the state's death chamber might malfunction. ( 68 ) According to Carnes, Leuchter made "money on both sides of the fence." (6 9 ) Describing Leuchter's behavior in Virginia, Florida, and Alabama, Carnes observed that in less than thirty days Leuchter had testified in three states that their electric - chair execution technology was too old and unreliable to be used. In Florida and Virginia the federal courts had rejected Leuchter's testimony because it was unreliable. In Florida the court had found that Leuchter had "misquoted the statements" contained in an important affidavit and had "inaccurately surmised" a crucial premise of his conclusion. ( 70 ) In Virginia, Leuchter provided a death - row inmate's attorney with an affidavit claiming that the electric chair would fail. The Virginia court decided that the credibility of Leuchter's affidavit was limited because Leuchter was "the refused contractor who bid to replace the electrodes in the Virginia chair.'' ( 7 1)

After the dissemination of Leuchter's report, yet another blow was delivered to his reputation as America's leading expert on gas execution chambers. Despite his claims to the contrary, it appears that he had no


actual experience with their building or installation. His claims to have advised states on this execution methodology were denied by officials from the very states with which he said he had worked. According to Leuchter's testimony at the Zundel trial, the Department of Correction in North Carolina, a state that permits gas chamber executions, consulted with him regarding the functioning of its gas chamber. In the Leuchter Report he reiterated his claim to have been a consultant to North Carolina. ( 72 ) Gary Dixon, the warden of the Central Prison in Raleigh, North Carolina, where the gas chamber is located, contradicted Leuchter's claims. According to Dixon the former warden "vaguely recalled" that he had received a telephone call from Leuchter trying to sell the prison a lethal injection machine. Dixon denied Leuchter's contention that he had consulted with North Carolina prison officials on gas - chamber matters: "Our records do not support that Mr. Leuchter performed either consultation or any service during the installation of our execution chamber." ( 73 )

There were, in fact, six states in the United States at the time of the publication of Leuchter's report that permitted executions by gas chambers: Arizona, California, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Missouri used to permit executions by gas, but recently switched to lethal injection. Representatives of each of these states provided crucial information on Leuchter's connections with them. Despite Leuchter's claim to the contrary, according to these officials, he had not advised them on executions. A spokesman for Mississippi, Ken Jones, stated that while Leuchter had visited Mississippi's execution facility and commented on it, the visit had been initiated at Leuchter's request. Moreover, the state had not entered into "any financial agreement" with him. According to Shelly Z. Shapiro, the head of a Holocaust education center in Albany, New York, who coordinated an investigation into Leuchter's background, he has not worked for either Arizona or Maryland. Maryland used Eaton Ironworks to che c k its chamber prior to an execution. State officials reported that Leuchter had "never worked or consulted" with the Maryland Penitentiary. ( 74 ) An of ficial of the Arizona Corrections Offi ce also stated that they had "never used" Fred Leuchter's services. ( 75 ) In fact, the of ficial observed, Arizona does not even maintain its gas chamber in working order, and any maintenance done in the past was performed by the state's service personnel.

Leuchter may have misrepresented his technical expertise in areas other than gas chambers. At the Zundel trial he claimed to have consulted with Warden Daniel B. Vasquez of California's San Quentin prison about a heart - monitoring system that would replace the older


type mechanical stethoscope then being used. Subsequently Vasquez denied that San Quentin had ever contracted with Leuchter for either the "installation of a heart monitoring system or for any other work." ( 76 )

The credibility of Leuchter's report was founded on his expertise in building gas chambers. Missouri was the only state Leuchter actually advised on gas execution chambers. The closest his company had apparently come to building one was a proposed blueprint it prepared for refurbishing the state penitentiary. He submitted a plan that was never used because the state switched to lethal injection for executions. ( 77 )

But it was not only his educational record, historical knowledge, business integrity, and professional experience that were subjects of controversy. According to an affidavit by Dr. Edward A. Brunner, chair of the Department of Anesthesia at Northwestern University Medical School, Leuchter's lethal injection system caused ex c ruciating pain but rendered victims incapable of screaming to communicate their distress. ( 78 ) Based on Brunner's findings, some death penalty opponents argue that Leuchter's lethal - injection system constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Others, particularly those who support capital punishment, dismiss this point as moot because pain and suffering are part of capital punishment. Ironically, Leuchter is not one of the latter. He believes that no execution system should be a cause of pain and says he slept well at night because his work resulted in fewer people being "tortured." ( 79 )

In 1989 Leuchter formed an engineering firm and incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The firm ' s purpose was to "engage in the practice of engineering" and consult in all areas of engineering. (8 0 ) The company provided electro c ution hardware, charging $35,000 for an electro c ution system, $30,000 for a lethal injection system, and $85,000 for a gallows. (The gallows is disproportionately expensive because it is infrequently requested.) Gas chambers were listed at $200,000. For states without an existing execution facility, Leuchter designed a selfcontained "execution trailer" that cost $100,000 and came complete with a lethal - injection machine, a steel holding cell for the inmate, and areas for the witnesses, m edical personnel, and prison of ficials. (81)

In April 1990 Shelly Shapiro, director of a Holocaust education center -- Holocaust Survivors and Friends in Pursuit of Justice -- and Beate Klarsfeld filed a letter of complaint with the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Engineers in Boston about Leuchter's erroneous claim to be an engineer and his use of this designation to "mislead the public" about gas chambers. ( 82 ) The commonwealth investigated and found sufficient grounds to charge him with "illegally" practicing or "offer[ing]" to practice engineering. ( 83 ) In June 1991, two weeks before he was to go on


trial for practicing without a licence, Leuchter signed a consent agreement with the commonwealth admitting that he was "not and never had been" a professional engineer and had fraudulently presented himself to Massachusetts, New Jersey, Alabama, and other states as an engineer with the ability to consult on matters concerning "execution technology." In addition he acknowledged that although he was not an engineer and had never taken an engineering licensing test, he had produced reports, including the " 'Alleged Execution Gas Chambers at Auschwitz, Birkenau, and Majdanek,' containing my engineering opinions." He agreed to "cease and desist" presenting himself as an engineer and issuing any reports, including the one on Auschwitz, in which he provided engineering opinions. ( 84 )

While this constituted a major blow to Leuchter's credibility, an even greater one was delivered from a completely different source. A Frenchman who at one time had been intrigued by Faurisson's contentions regarding gas chambers rendered a devastating assault on the deniers' claims. Born in 1944 in France, Jean - Claude Pressac, a trained pharmacist, first visited Poland and the remains of the death camps in 1966. Sometime thereafter he decided to write a novel depicting life as it would have been had the Germans won. His research for this proposed book included another visit to Auschwitz in October 1979. This marked the beginning of an incredible personal and scientific journey that would have dire consequences for the claim that the homicidal gas chambers were a hoax. It was a journey that entailed years of study, more than fifteen trips to Auschwitz, and groundbreaking research in archives in the former Soviet Union.

During his research trip to Auschwitz in 1979 he examined photographs, do c uments, and work orders pertaining to the design and construction of the gas chambers. Perplexed by what appeared as contradictions in the plans, Pressac questioned museum officials and archivists about the construction of the gas chambers. Officials allayed some of his doubts by showing him an array of plans and do c uments relating to the camps and the execution chambers. ## Though Pressac acknowledged the power of their arguments, he remained troubled by the fact that he could not find on the drawings the specific designation "gas chamber." Pressac's confusion was, in fact, justified because, as he learned, a number of the gas chambers were not originally built as

[ 174 ]

homicidal units but were transformed to serve that purpose. ( 85 ) When he subsequently examined the do c umentation on this transformation, he found an abundance of evidence attesting to the specific purposes of the gas chamber. But before he reached that point he engaged in a po tentially dangerous but illuminating detour; he almost became a denie r.

During his visit to the Auschwitz archives, Pressac learned of a French professor who had made a very brief visit to the archives in 1976 but after two days took ill and left. Shortly thereafter this professor published a series of articles asserting that hydrocyanic - acid homicidal gas chambers were an impossibility and that therefore the annihilation of the Jews at such places as Auschwitz was only a legend, the result of historical fakery if not purposeful deceit. ( 86 ) On his return to France, Pressac sought out Robert Faurisson. Impressed by Faurisson's seemingly vast array of knowledge and "serious and unimpeachable references," Pressac began to meet with him on a regular basis. (8 7 ) The meetings lasted for approximately nine months, during which time, Faurisson, anxious to co - opt the pharmacist into the ranks of Holocaust deniers, opened his files to him. ( 88 ) Initially Pressac found himself greatly attracted to Faurisson's arguments. After a number of months of intensive contact, the meetings became less frequent. Pressac broke off all contact in April 1981, when he discovered that for Faurisson "dogma [was] paramount" to truth. Pressac's own reading of the do c uments convinced him that Faurisson's arguments were fatally flawed.

After Pressac broke with Faurisson he recognized that it was not Faurisson's theories that attracted him but the professor's seeming ability to explain away something that was inherently unbelievable. This is the deniers' ultimate trump card. They have the only rational explanation for something that remains, despite massive research, essentially irrational: It could not happen. When Pressac subjected deniers' theories to do c umentary analysis he understood that they were not just scientifically flawed. They ignored reams of evidence that proved precisely what Faurisson and his cohorts wished to deny.

Pressac's doubts about Faurisson's methodology first surfaced when together they reviewed weekly reports on the prisoners killed at the concentration camp near Strasbourg, Natzweiler - Struthof. In August 1943 a gas chamber was put into operation there in order to provide August Hirt, a professor at the Strasbourg University Institute of Anatomy, with skeletons for his collection. Another professor, Otto Bickenbach, availed himself of the gas chambers to conduct medical experiments on prisoners. Approximately 130 people, primarily Jews and Gypsies, were killed in it. When Pressac and Faurisson reviewed


the do c uments from the camps, Pressac saw the "honest and meticuIous professor in a more worrying light." ( 89 ) The camp administrators had prepared weekly reports on the number of prisoners in the camp. Two reports from August 1943, the month the gas chamber started operating, contained important evidence. The report of August 14 indicated that there had been 90 Jews present at the outset of the week of whom 30 had "left" the camp deceased. The report for the next week indicated that of the 60 remaining at the beginning of that week, 57 had died. This extremely high death rate, two weeks in a row at precisely the time the gas chamber commenced working, aroused Pressac's suspicions. He soon discovered additional evidence. On all the other reports some cause of death was entered on the reverse side. In these two cases the reports were left blank. All other deaths were recorded in the Natzweiler town hall. In the case of these deaths no record was kept. ( 90 ) Pressac considered the two reports "damming evidence" that these Jews had been killed en masse. However, Faurisson had a ready "explanation." The forms used for the week of the fourteenth and twenty - first of August differed slightly from previous ones. (They were printed in Gothic script while previous ones had been printed in Roman script.) Faurisson explained to his doubting disciple that the change in script confused the SS. Instead of listing the Jews on the line for "liberation," the SS mistakenly listed them on the line for "deaths." And somehow the SS made precisely the same mistake two weeks in a row. This convenient explanation, which ignored an array of contradictory evidence, constituted a "warning bell" for Pressac. Faurisson's explanations no longer seemed as precise and logical as they had; they certainly bore little relationship to the evidence.

(It is ironic that Pressac's doubts should have been aroused by Faurisson's treatment of the Natzweiler reports. Apparently at the time Pressac did not know that the Waffen - SS unit that supervised the building of the gas chamber left behind a do c ument that explicitly described the facility's purpose. They submitted a bill to Strasbourg University's Institute of Anatomy for the "construction of a gas chamber." ( 9 1 )

Faurisson's description of his meeting with Auschwitz museum officials sounded yet another alarm for Pressac:

[ 176 ]

Faurisson made it appear as if he had caught this official in a lie and forced him to tell the truth. ### But it was Faurisson, not the museum representative, who engaged in obfuscation. Faurisson's contention that, if the furnaces were authentic, soot should have been present, more than thirty - five years after they had been used made as much sense as his claim that SS offi cers could not decipher a form printed in Gothic script. Equally manipulative was his claim that it was his revelation that there was no soot present that forced the "embarrassed" official reluctantly to admit that the facility was a "reconstruction." Why should the official have been embarrassed? The museum's own photographs demonstrate that the structure was rebuilt after the war. ( 93 )

This kind of tactic is typical of deniers, Faurisson in particular. In 1987 he appeared on a radio interview show in France. Another guest on the show was a Holocaust survivor who -- the host told Faurisson prior to the show -- had been interned in Auschwitz from April 11, 1943, until April 11, 1945. Faurisson immediately told the host that this was impossible because most prisoners at Auschwitz were evacuated in January 1945. According to Faurisson, when the host reported these objections to the survivor, "the latter, not without some embarrassment, then had to confess that he had been transferred from Auschwitz to Buchenwald in the last months of the war." ( 94 ) Relying on what has become a mainstay of deniers' reasoning, Faurisson contended that if one item was false much if not all else was false. The survivor, Faurisson wrote to the host of the show, "lied to you on this point. I fear he lied to you and to the listeners on many other points." (9 5 )

Once again, as in the case of the Auschwitz museum official, one wonders why the man should have been embarrassed. It is common knowledge that Auschwitz was evacuated in January 1945 and that the Soviet Army entered the camp shortly thereafter. (By April they had reached Berlin. ) Why would this former prisoner have lied about something so widely known? His "lie" did not make his experience sound more severe. If anything, his "admission" that he was evacuated in the final months of the war intensified his saga of suffering. This was a time when the Nazis marched survivors of the death camps west to Germany to keep them from falling into the liberators' hands. Thousands died as a result. The host may have assumed that when the survivor said he was interned for two years, the entire time was spent in Auschwitz. Faurisson transformed what in all likelihood was a misun -


derstanding into a deliberate lie that was part of a nexus of conspiratorial falsehoods.


Given the exposure of Leuchter's historical and technical deficiencies at the Zundel trial, the publication of Pressac's findings, and his encounter with the Massachusetts legal system one might assume that his report would have been totally discredited. But, in an amazing display of incompetence and culpability, a number of powerful and respected media outlets have enhanced Leuchter's credibility and enabled deniers to use his pseudoscientific work to assault the truth. In February 1990 an article appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, "Justice: A Matter of Engineering, Capital Punishment as a Technical Problem," intended -- according to the editorial staff of the magazine -- to depict Fred Leuchter as the eccentric but legitimate headsman of the execution industry. ( 95 ) The author, Susan Lehman, described Leuchter as a "trained and accomplished engineer" who was more conversant with electric chair technology than anyone else: He keeps a chair in his basement. Despite the article's contempt for Leuchter's specialization -- killing people -- it cast him as an expert who was "distressed" to find that much of this nation's exe c ution equipment was defective. Leuchter's apparatus, Lehman wrote, was designed not to torture its victims. ( 97 )

While the story was apparently intended to present Leuchter as a ghoulish grim reaper who "likes what he does," deniers began to cite it as validation of Leuchter's expertise. ( 93 ) The IHR Newsletter identified Leuchter as the man "certified by the Atlantic as America's leading expert on gas chambers and other execution systems." As soon as the article appeared the Atlantic, one of America's most prestigious magazines, was deluged with phone calls. ( 99 ) The editors acknowledged that they had not known about Leuchter's lack of training, false claims to be an engineer, involvement in Holocaust denial, appearance as an expert witness for Zundel, or his denier - sponsored investigative trip to Poland. The editors defended themselves by claiming that his participation in the deniers' efforts had "no direct bearing" on the subject of the article. The publisher of the magazine protested that neither he nor his staff could be expected to know about Leuchter's "hobby."

As an expression of its contrition -- a simple computer search in a media data base would have revealed Leuchter's involvement in the Zundel trial -- the magazine agreed to publish one letter on Leuchter's background.

If the Atlantic was guilty of incompetence, the same cannot be said

[ 178 ]

of "Prime Time Live," the ABC television show starring Diane Sawyer and Sam Donaldson, which aired a segment on Leuchter in May 1990. Entitled "Dr. Death," the piece profiled Leuchter as "the country's foremost expert at creating, designing and maintaining execution equipment. His business .. . is death." Weeks before this segment aired, Beate Klarsfeld and Shelly Shapiro found out about it. They alerted ABC executives to the fact that Leuchter had been a witness at the Zundel trial, where the presiding judge had ruled that his report could not be used as evidence because he was not a toxicologist, chemist, or engineer. They told the television executives that Leuchter had become a regular participant in IHR and other extremist gatherings and that the Leuchter Report, which had been condemned by the British House of Commons as a "fascist publication" and "pernicious" effort, is distributed by white supremacist and extremist groups. (100) They also screened Leuchter's video of his trip to Auschwitz - Birkenau.

The "Prime Time" producers were cautioned that airing the segment would enhance both Holocaust denial and the reputation of a thoroughly discredited man. Bob Currie, the ABC "Prime Time" producer in charge of the segment on Leuchter, informed Shapiro and Klarsfeld that Leuchter's reputation and activities, which were already known to him, were not germane. (101) "Prime Time" ignored letters from scholars in this field urging them not to proceed with this segment. (A personal letter I sent to the executive producer of the show explaining why this was a dangerous move was never acknowledged.) After the segment aired Currie justified his failure to include any reference to Leuchter's activities as a Holocaust denier by arguing that it simply "wasn't relevant to what the story was about. " *# He blamed the "sanitization" of Leuchter's background -- that is, the elimination of references to his Holocaust denial activity -- on decisions by "high - ups" including Ira Rosen, senior producer, and Rick Kaplan, executive producer. (102)

In October 1990 the New York Times entered the fray. A front - page news story on the methodology of capital punishment left no doubt that Leuchter had become a controversial if not discredited figure in the execution business. It identified him as someone whom opponents of capital punishment consider a "metaphor for much that is wrong with the death penalty." The article made a passing reference to his involvement in denial activities. (103) An editorial the following week again re -


ferred to Leuchter, condemning capital punishment and observing that Leuchter had become persona non grata in the execution business because of his unorthodox and controversial methods. While it acknowledged that Leuchter "once told a Canadian court that he regarded the killing of Jews in Hitler's gas chambers as a myth," it dismissed this as of little significance to "the culture of executioners," in which such views do not "disqualify" him. "Leuchter, after all, only designs death machines; others create the market for them." Portraying Leuchter as an innocent cog in a perverse system, the editorial declared that the problem was not "with the headsman [but] with the system." Despite its shortcomings, the editorial together with the previous article destroyed whatever remained of Leuchter's "technical credibitility." (104 )


But it was another major media institution, London's Sunday Times, that eventually gave the Leuchter Report and its proponents another lease on life. David Irving, who during the Zundel trial declared himself converted by Leuchter's work to Holocaust denial and to the idea that the gas chambers were a myth, described himself as conducting a "one - man intifada" against the off icial history of the Holocaust. (105)

In his foreword to his publication of the Leuchter Report, Irving wrote that there was no doubt as to Leuchter's "integrity" and "scrupulous methods." He made no mention of Leuchter's lack of technical expertise or of the many holes that had been poked in his findings. Most important, Irving wrote, "Nobody likes to be swindled, still less where considerable sums of money are involved." Irving identified Israel as the swindler, claiming that West Germany had given it more than ninety billion deutsche marks in voluntary reparations, "essentially in atonement for the 'gas chambers of Auschwitz.' " According to Irving the problem was that the latter was a myth that would "not die easily." (106) He subsequently set off to promulgate Holocaust denial notions in various countries. Fined for doing so in Germany, in his courtroom appeal against the fine he called on the court to "fight a battle for the German people and put an end to the blood lie of the Holocaust which has been told against this country for fifty years." He dismissed the memorial to the dead at Auschwitz as a "tourist attraction.'' (1 07 ) He traced the origins of the myth to an "ingenious plan" of the British Psychological Warfare Executive, which decided in 1942 to spread the propaganda story that Germans were "using 'gas chambers' to kill millions of Jews and other 'undesirables.' " (1 08 )

Branding Irving and Leuchter "Hitler's heirs," the British House of


Commons denounced the former as a "Nazi propagandist and longtime Hitler apologist" and the latter's report as a "fascist publication." One might have assumed that would have marked the end of Irving's reputation in England, but it did not. Condemned in the Times of London in 1989 as a "man for whom Hitler is something of a hero and almost everything of an innocent and for whom Auschwitz is a Jewish deception," Irving may have had his reputation revived in 1992 by the London Sunday Times. (110) The paper hired Irving to translate the Goebbels diaries, which had been discovered in a Russian archive and, it was assumed, would shed light on the conduct of the Final Solution. The paper paid Irving a significant sum plus a percentage of the syndication fees. #*

Journalists and scholars alike were shocked that the Times chose such a discredited figure to do this work. Showered with criticism, the editor of the Sunday Times, Andrew Neil, denounced Irving's views as "reprehensible" but defended engaging Irving because he was only being used as a "transcribing technician." Peter Pulzer, a professor of politics at Oxford and an expert on the Third Reich, observed that it was ludicrous for Neil to refer to Irving as a "mere technician," arguing that when you hired someone to edit a "set of do c uments others had not seen, you took on the whole man.'' (111)

However the matter is ultimately resolved, the Sunday Times has rescued Irving's reputation from the ignominy to which it had been consigned by the House of Commons. In the interest of a journalistic scoop, this British paper was willing to throw its task as a gatekeeper of the truth and of journalistic ethics to the winds. By resuscitating Irving's reputation, it also gave new life to the Leuchter Report.

Leuchter has also had his reputation resurrected by a recent book and do c umentary film about America's capital punishment industry. The Execution Protocol, by Stephen Trombley, examines the steps between the imposition of the death sentence and the actual execution. (11 2 ) A major fo c us of both Trombley's book and film is Fred Leuchter.


Trombley draws a sympathetic portrait of Leuchter, depicting him as a slightly bizarre and unconventional, myopic craftsman and entrepreneur who filled a need in the execution industry in a creative fashion. Trombley does address Leuchter's denial activities but represents them as simply another aspect of this iconoclastic man. In contrast to his portrayal of Leuchter, he presents the ADL, Shapiro, Klarsfeld, and others who protested Leuchter's denial activities as unfairly harassing this committed craftsman who may harbor some bizarre notions but, in truth, only wants to make killing more humane.

As a result of Trombley's book and film Leuchter has once again been invited to appear on various talk shows as an expert on gas chambers. He has been interviewed on German, French, and British television. Most of these segments fail to mention his association with the Holocaust deniers. A similar attitude is evident in the media reviews of David Irving's books: Most rarely address his neofascist or denial connections. (113 )

Irving is one of the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust denial. Familiar with historical evidence, he bends it until it conforms with his ideological leanings and political agenda. A man who is convinced that Britain's great decline was accelerated by its decision to go to war with Germany, he is most facile at taking accurate information and shaping it to confirm his conclusions. A review of his recent book, Churchill's War, which appeared in New York Review of Books, accurately analyzed his practice of applying a double standard to evidence. He demands "absolute do c umentary proof" when it comes to proving the Germans guilty, but he relies on highly circumstantial evidence to condemn the Allies. (114 ) This is an accurate description not only of Irving's tactics, but of those of deniers in general.


The impact of Leuchter's work is difficult to assess. Rationally one would like to assume that, since Leuchter has been exposed as a man without the qualifications necessary to perform this analysis, and since his work has been demonstrated to be scientifically and methodologically fallacious, the destiny of the Leuchter Report would be the dustbin of history. But the Holocaust and, to only a slightly lesser degree, Holocaust denial itself remind us that the irrational has a fatal attraction even to people of goodwill. It can overwhelm masses of evidence and persuade people to regard the most outrageous and untenable notions as fact. This is easier to accomplish when the public does not have


the historical and technical knowledge necessary to refute these irrational and inherently fantastic claims. Ultimately the deniers' ability to keep repeating Leuchter's conclusions even though they have been discredited is another indication that truth is far more fragile than fiction and that reason alone cannot protect it.


* In bringing charges against Zundel the Canadian government joined what had begun as a private complaint. Sabrina Citron, a survivor of the Holocaust and a citizen of Canada, initiated the action against Zundel. Most Canadian Jewish organizations did not support her decision.

** The jury found him guilty of spreading false informaton about the Holocaust but acquitted him on charges connected with "The West, War, and Islam. "

*** The London edition was entitled Auschtvitz: The End of the Line: The Leuchter Fleport -- The First Forensic Examination of Auschuvitz. It contained a foreword by Irving.

# Zundel was found guilty a second time and sentenced to nine months in jail. In 1992 the law under which Zundel had been charged was declared unconstitutional by the Canadian Supreme Court.

## They showed him do c umentation regarding the design and fab ri cation of sophisticated ventilation systems that had been installed in the gas chambers. What purpose, they asked, would such a system have served in a morgue or cremato ri um?

### He did the same thing with Otto Frank, Anne Frank's father (see Appendix).

*# In the segment Leuchter took the film crew on a tour of the North Carolina chamber. The impression given viewers was that he had worked on this facility when, in fact, he had not. Prime Time Liv e (ABC - TV), May 10, 1990.

#* The Russian archives granted Irving permission to copy two microfiche plates, each of which held about forty - five pages of the diaries. Irving immediately violated his agreement, took many plates, transported them abroad, and had them copied without archival permission. There is serious concern in archival circles that he may have significantly damaged the plates when he did so, rende ri ng them of limited use to subsequent researchers.

Irving believes Jews are " very foolish not to abandon the gas chamber theory while they s ti ll have time." He "foresees [a] new wave of antisemitism" due to Jews' exploita ti on of the Holocaust myth. " C. C. Aronsfeld, "Holocaust ' Revisionists' Are Busy in B ritain, " Midstream, Jan. 1993, p. 29.

Chapter 9. The Gas Chamber Controversy

1. Christof Friedrich and Eric Thomson, The Hitler We Lo v ed and Why (Reedy, W.V., 1977), pp. 72, 78, 116.

2. Manuel Prutschi, "The Zundel Affair," in Antisemitism in Canada, ed. Alan Davies (Ontario, 1992), p. 264.

3. Zundel flyer addressed to "Comrades," cited in Prutschi, "The Zundel Affair," p. 258.

4. Alan Davies, "A Tale of Two Trials: Antisemitism in Canada," Holocaust and Genocide Studies, voI. 4 (1989), p. 77; Toronto Globe, Mar. 26, 1985; Prutschi, "The Zundel Affair," p. 267.

5. Mark Bonokoski, "Neo Nazi Leads Protest," Toronto Sun, April 19, 1978, cited in Prutschi, "The Zundel Affair," p. 273.

6. Leonidas E. Hill, "The Trial of Ernst Zundel: Revisionism and the Law in Canada," Simon Wiesenthal Annual, 1989, pp. 179, 192, 200.

7. Calgary Herald, Apr. 10, 1985, p. 1; Toronto Globe and Mail, Apr. 12, 1985, p. 3.

8. Alan T. Davies, "The Queen Versus James Keegstra: Reflections on Christian Antisemitism in Canada," American Journal of Theology and Philosophy, voI. 9, nos. 1, 2 (January - May 1988), p. 112.

9. Red Deer Adrocate, June 4, 1984; Toronto Globe and Mail, Apr. 8, 11, and 12, 1985.

10. Claude Adams, "Through the Fingers," Canadian Lawyer (Apr. 1985), p. 18.

11. Kirk Makin, "Douglas Christie, Counsel for the Defence," Ontario Lawyers Weekly, Mar. 29, 1985, pp. 12, 13.

12. Stanley R. Barrett, Is God a Racist? The Right Wing in Canada (Toronto, 1988), p. 161. For analysis of how the trial was covered by the Canadian press see Gabriel Weimann and Conrad Winn, Hate on Trial: The Zundel Affair, the Media, and Public Opinion in Canada (New York, 1986).

13. Calgary Herald, March 24, 1985, p. E8.

14. Robert Faurisson, "The Problem of the Gas Chambers," Journal of Historical Review (Summer 1980), reprinted by the Institute for Historical Review in leaflet form.

15. Adams, "Through the Fingers," p. 18.

16. Martin Broszat, Vierteljahrshefte fur Zeitgeschichte (October 1977), pp. 742, 769, cited in Patterns of Prejudice, no. 3- 4 (1978), p. 8.

17. Sunday Times, July 10, 1977.

18. Ibid., June 12, 1977; July 10, 1977.

19. Robert Harris, Selling Hitler (New York, 1986), p. 189.

20. Canadian Jewish News, Mar. 16, 1989.

21. Ibid., London Jewish Chronicle, May 27, 1983.

22. Spotlight, June 1989.

23. Daily Telegraph, July 10, 1992.

24. "David Irving," Clipping Collection, Calgary Jewish Community Council, Alberta, Canada.

25. Toronto Star, April 20, 1988; Stephen Trombley, The Exesution Protocol: Inside America's Capital Punishment Industry (New York, 1992), p. 85.

26. Robert Faurisson, "Foreword," The Leuchter Report: The End of a Myth: An Engineering Report on the Alleged Execution Gas Chambers atAuschwitz, Birkenau, and Maddanek, Poland (U. S.A., 1988), p. 1, (hereafter cited as Leuchter Report).

27. Robert Faurisson, "The Zundel Trials [1985 and 1988]," Journal of Historical Review (Winter 1988 - 89), p. 429.

28. Her Majesty the Q ueen vs. Ernst Zundel, District Court of Ontario 1988 (hereafter referred to as Zundel), p. 9037.

29. Fred Leuchter, "Inside the Auschwitz 'Gas Chambers'," a paper published by the Institute for Historical Review (reprinted from Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1989), p. 3.

30. Zundel, pp. 8984, 9223. Shelly Z. Shapiro, transcripts of conversation between Fred Leuchter and Shelly Z. Shapiro, February 2, 1990.

31. Leuchter Report, p. 4.

32. Fred Leuchter, "Inside the Auschwitz 'Gas Chambers'," p. 6.

33. Leuchter Report, p. 1.

34. Faurisson, "The Zundel Trials," p. 429.

35. Zundel, p. 9075.

36. Ibid., pp. 8962, 8969, 8972, 8978.

37. Ibid., p. 8973.

38. See testimony of Raul Hilberg at the first Zundel trial. Her Majesty the Queen vs. Ernst Zundel, District Court of Ontario, 1985, p. 1112; Zundel, 1988, pp. 9010, 9011, 9013.

39. Zundel, p. 9048 (italics added).

40. Shelly Shapiro, "An Investigation," in Truth Prevails: Demolishing Holocaust Denial: The End of "The Leuchter Report" ed. Shelly Shapiro (New York, 1990), p. 14; Arthur Goodman, "Leuchter: Exposed and Discredited by the Court," in Shapiro, Truth Prevails, p. 78.

41. Zundel, p. 9056.

42. Ibid., pp. 8984, 9017, 9061, 9097, 9125, 9154, 9210, 9223.

43. Shapiro, Truth Prevails, p. 56.

44. Zundel, pp. 8894 - 95.

45. Ibid.,p. 8983.

46. Ibid., pp. 9052 - 53.

47. Ibid., pp. 9034, 9038.

48. Ibid., pp. 9049 - 50.

49. Ibid., pp. 8976, 9052.

50. Ibid., p. 8951; Statement by E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Company, Oct. 2, 1990, cited in Shapiro, p. 28.

51. Zundel, p. 9009.

52. LeuchterReport, p. 10.

53. Zundel, pp. 9028, 9034.

54. Q. And that is all based on the assumption that the physical plan presently at that location in Poland is what was there in 1942, '43, '44 and '45? Is that right?

A. That is correct.

Zundel, p. 9018.

55. Zundel, p. 9107. Under further cross - examination Leuchter backed down from some of the conclusions he had drawn in the report. Echoing Faurisson he originally argued that the chambers could not have functioned as execution sites because those whose job it was to throw the Zyklon - B down the roof vents and verify that the prisoners inside had died would themselves have died from exposure to the cyanide gas. Under cross - examination the Crown Counsel easily got Leuchter to agree to the fallacy of this conclusion:

Q. So this stuff you told us about people on the roof who dropped the gas down and how they would be commi tti ng suicide, it would take a matter of minutes before the gas got to them, wouldn't it?

A. Unquestionably.

Q. So if they closed the vent and got off the roof, there would be nothing to concern them, would there?

A. If they got off the roof. But at some point they have to do an inspection to determine whether the parties are deceased.

Q . They se nd in the Sonderkommandos to do that , sir, and they don 't care what happens to them.

A. Right, all right.

Q. So if someone's on the roof with a gas mask, you agree that they've got all kinds of time to get off the roof after they've closed the vent?

A. Perhaps.

Zundel, p. 9254.

56. Jean - Claude Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Charnbers (New York, 1989), p. 15 (hereafter cited as Technique).

57. Zundel, pp. 8991ff.

58. Jean - Claude Pressac, "The Deficiencies and Inconsistencies of' The Leuchter Report,' " in Shapiro, Truth Prevails, p. 45.

59. Zundel, pp. 9245ff.

60. Zundel, pp. 9251 - 52.

61. There were a total of five crematoria in Auschwitz/Birkenau.

62. "Deficiencies," p. 40.

63. Ibid., p. 41.

64. Ibid., p. 49.

65. Ibid., p. 46.

66. Jean - Claude Pressac, "Additional Notes: Leuchter's Videotape: A Witness to Fraud," in Shapiro, Truth Prevails, p. 62.

67. Zundel, pp. 9044, 9063.

68. Memorandum from Ed Carnes, Alabama Assistant Attorney General, to all Capital Punishment States July 20, 1990 (hereafter cited as Carnes); Shapiro, Truth Prevails, pp. 17, 21; Newsweek, Oct. 22, 1990, p. 64; Swampscott Journal, Nov. 1, 1990.

69. Associated Press, Oct. 24, 1990.

70. Carnes, p. 2.

71. Shapiro, Truth Prevails, p. 22.

72. Leuchter Report, p. 7; Zundel, p. 9058.

73. Gary T. Dixon to Shelly Z. Shapiro, Sept. 24, 1990, reprinted in Shapiro, Truth Prevails, p. 19.

74. Ibid., p. 20.

75. Ibid.

76. Ibid., p. 10.

77. Ibid., pp. 18 - 20. It was Missouri State Penitentiary Warden Bill Armontrout who, in response to Robert Faurisson's request for an expert on executions, suggested that Leuchter be contacted. Bill Armontrout to Barbara Kulaszka, Jan. 13, 1988, Leuchter Report, app. 7.

78. New York Times, Oct. 13, 1990, pp. 1, 7; Trombley, The Exe c ution Proto c ol, p. 157.

79. Susan Lehman, "Justice: A Matter of Engineering: Capital Punishment as a Technical Problem," Atlantic Monthly, Feb. 1990, p. 28.

80. Shapiro, Truth Prevails, pp. 14 - 15.

81. Lehman, "Justice: A Matter of Engineering," p. 28.

82. Shelly Z. Shapiro to Daniel Kelley, Apr. 16, 1990; Fred A. Leuchter to Ernst Zundel, May 14, 1988, Leuchter Report, app. 6. See also Leuchter Report, p. 15.

83. Washington Post, June 18, 1991.

84. Consent Agreement, Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Fred A. Leuchter, Jr., June 11, 1991; Jew ish Telegraphic Agency, June 13, 1991. Since the agreement Leuchter signed was with Massachusetts, its provisions applied only to that state.

85. Technique, p. 545.

86. Le Matin, Nov. 16, 1978; Le Monde, Dec. 29, 1978, Jan. 16, 1979; Technique, p. 546.

87. Technique, p. 546.

88. Ibid., p. 548.

89. Ibid.

90. Ibid.

91. "Natzweiler - Struthof," Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, p. 1039.

92. Serge Thion, Vérité H is torique, quoted in Technique, p. 548.

93. Ibid.

94. Robert Faurisson, "Talking About Holocaust Revisionism on French Radio," Re vis ion is t Letters, voI. 1, no. 1 (Spring 1989), p. 11.

95. Ibid.

96. Phone conversation with Editorial Offices, Atlantic Monthly, Feb. 1990.

97. Lehman, "Justice: A Matter of Engineering," pp. 26ff.

98. Bradley R. Smith, "Commentary," Vis alia Times - Delta, Sept. 13, 1990.

99. Phone conversation with Editorial Offices, Atlantic Monthly, Feb. 1990.

100. Phone interviews with Shelly Shapiro, Feb. 1990, Apr. 1990.

101. Charles R. Allen, Jr., "The Role of the Media in the Leuchter Matter: Hyping a Holocaust Denier," in Shapiro, Truth Prevails, pp. 112 -13.

102. Village Voice, May 22, 30, 1990; Allen, "The Role of the Media," in Shapiro, Truth Prevails, pp. 118 -19.

103. New York Times, Oct. 13, 1990, pp. 1, 7.

104. Allen, "The Role of the Media," p. 121; New York Times, Oct. 18, 1990, reprinted in International Herald Tribune, Oct. 19, 1990.

105. Searchlight, Aug. 1989.

106. David Irving, "Foreword," Auschwitz the End of the Line: The Leuchter Report (London, 1989), p. 6.

107. Times (London), May 11, 1992.

108. Irving, "Foreword," Auschwitz the End of the Line, p. 6.

109. Early Day Motion no. 99, "David Irving and Holocaust Denial," House of Commons, June 20, 1989, Session 1988 - 1989.

110. Times (London), May 14, 1992.

111. Independent, July 11, 1992.

112. Trombley, The Exesation Protosol, pp. 23 - 43.

113. Ibid., pp. 87 - 94; New York Times Book Review, Nov. 22, 1992, p. 33.

114. New York Review of Books, June 15, 1989.

This is a part of Deborah Lipstadt's book, Denying the Holocaust -- The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, 1993, Penguin. We offer this document in relation with a trial due to take place in the first days of Year 2000 in London, where British historian David Irving is suing Mrs. Lipstadt for defamation, --to allow the public to take freely cognizance of the sentences and words used by the author.

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