The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/judgment-07.01

Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Irving v. Penguin & Lipstadt: Judgment VII-01
Organization: The Nizkor Project
Keywords: David Irving libel action Deborah Lipstadt

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/judgment-07.01
Last-Modified: 2000/04/11


Description of the camp and overview of the principal issue

7.1 Auschwitz is a small town in the region of Upper Silesia in Poland,
which was annexed by the Third Reich when Poland fell in 1940. Hitler
entrusted Reichsfuhrer-SS Himmler with the task of "Germanising" the
annexed territories. His original plan to repopulate with Germans places
such as Auschwitz, deporting Poles and Jews to the eastern sector of the
General Government to make way for the Germans, proved not to be
feasible. So the decision was taken to set up a concentration camp in a
suburb of the town.

7.2 The Auschwitz camp area was located in a fork between the River
Vistula in the west and the River Sola in the east. Part of the camp
area also extended across the River Sola on its eastern bank.
Surrounding the camp was an agricultural area which was originally
designated to be worked by ethnic German farmers. Within the fork
between the two rivers was a zone which extended to some fifteen square
miles. All civilians had been deported from this area which was now
controlled by the SS. This zone and its surrounding area served many
purposes and forms of activity, including an experimental farm, a forced
labour pool for the chemical company plant which IG Farben was planning
to construct nearby at Monowitz and other industrial concerns. The town
of Auschwitz was outside the concentration camp area. It is located on
the eastern side of the River Sola. To the east of the town was the IG
Farben Buna Factory beside which was the labour camp. The whole area and
system of camps is collectively referred to as 'Auschwitz'.

7.3 Within the overall camp was a smaller security area which was
surrounded by guard posts. This area contained the two main camps that
formed part of Auschwitz. To the eastern side of the River Vistula there
was Birkenau (also known as Auschwitz II). This was the principal camp
where most of the extermination occurred. Approximately two kilometres
to the east of Birkenau, separated from it by a railway corridor, was
the smaller camp known variously as Auschwitz, Auschwitz I or the
Stammlager. The headquarters of the camp were situated here. Located at
a point along the railway line between Auschwitz and Birkenau was the
ramp at which trains transporting Jews would halted. Later a spur was
built, linking Birkenau to the railway and providing a further terminus.

7.4 Auschwitz fell within the jurisdiction of Himmler, who was in
overall charge of the establishment and running of concentration camps.
Heydrich, Chief of the Security Police and the SD and Head of the RSHA,
reported directly to Himmler. Eichmann, who worked within the RSHA, also
reported to Himmler, was entrusted in 1941 with responsibility for the
carrying out and co-ordinating of the Final Solution. SS
Obergruppenfuhrer Oswald Pohl was Head of the Economic and
Administrative Office of the SS which had executive responsibility for
the running of the labour camps. SS Hauptsturmbannfuhrer Rudolf Hoss was
installed as Camp Commandant of Auschwitz in May 1941 and continued in a
leading capacity throughout the period when, on the Defendants' case
most of the gassings took place (with the exception of a period in 1943-
4 when he was posted to Berlin to work in the Concentration Camp
Inspectorate). The camp was manned by the SS. But the assistance of
Jewish inmates was enlisted to perform some of the more grisly tasks in
the crematoria. They were called Sonderkommando. About 200 worked in
each cremaorium. They were housed either in the crematoria where they
worked or in special barracks. At periodic intervals, many of the
Sonderkommando were themselves gassed and replaced by other inmates.

7.5 It is common ground that from the autumn of 1941 large numbers of
Jews were deported to Auschwitz from Germany and from the eleven other
countries which had been occupied or formed part of Nazi controlled
Europe. The overall question which I have to decide is whether the
available evidence, considered in its totality, would convince any
objective and reasonable historian that Auschwitz was not merely one of
the many concentration or labour camps established by the Nazi regime
but that it also served as a death or extermination camp, where hundreds
of thousands of Jews were systematically put to death in gas chambers
over the period from late 1941 until 1944.

The case for the Defendants in summary

7.6 Auschwitz was not, on the Defendants' case, either the first or by
any means the only extermination camp where gas chambers were employed
to kill Jews. However, according to the Defendants, the evidence
establishes that more more deaths occurred at Auschwitz than in all the
other extermination camps put together. The case advanced by the
Defendants can by simply summarised: they contend that there is a
substantial body of evidence, from a variety of different sources, which
should demonstrate to any fair-minded objective commentator that gas
chambers were constructed at Auschwitz and that they were used to
extermination Jews on a massive scale. This case rests upon what the
Defendants contend is abundant evidence, both contemporaneous and more
recent, which amounts to convincing proof that Auschwitz played a
pivotal role in the Nazi scheme to exterminate European Jewry. It is the
Defendants' case that in the period from late 1941 to 1944, when the gas
chambers were dismantled, approximately one million Jews were murdered
by the use of gas at the camp.

7.7 The Defendants allege that, if Irving had approached the evidence in
a detached and objective manner, he could not have failed to appreciate
that the evidence is overwhelming that the gas chambers at Auschwitz
were systematically used to kill Jews. In arriving at an answer to this
question, the Defendants submit that it is relevant to bear in mind the
concessions that Irving has already made as to the fact, scale and
systematic nature of, firstly, the killing of the Jews in the East by
shooting and, secondly, the gassing of Jews from Poland and from Europe
in the Reinhard death camps. The Defendants maintain that Irving's
denial of the genocidal use of the gas chambers, often expressed in the
most intemperate language, flies in the face of the evidence and is
explicable only on the basis that Irving is driven by his own extremist
ideological views. Moreover the Defendants point out that Irving's
denial appears to have been prompted, almost overnight, by his reading
the Leuchter report, which, say the Defendants, is deeply flawed from
both a scientific and an historical point of view.

Irving's case in summary

7.8 As it was originally formulated, the case advanced by Irving was
that no convincing evidence exists that gas chambers were at the
material time in existence at Auschwitz and that there is no evidence
that such chambers were commissioned. Further, said Irving, there is no
convincing evidence that any Jew at Auschwitz lost his or her life as a
result of being gassed (though he conceded from the outset that many
died as a result of the epidemics which, due to the appalling lack of
hygiene, regularly swept the camp).

7.9 The reason why Irving originally adopted that stance was that he was
enormously impressed by a report compiled in 1988 by a Mr Fred Leuchter,
described by Irving as a professional consultant who routinely advised
penitentiaries on electric chair and gas-chamber execution procedures.
His report entitled "An Engineering Report on the Alleged Execution Gas
Chambers at Auschwitz, Birkenau and Majdanek Poland" concluded that no
gas chambers operated at Auschwitz. Irving regarded that report as an
important historical document and he adopted its major conclusions. He
contended that subsequent tests had replicated the results obtained by

7.10 At this trial Irving appeared to place less reliance on the
Leuchter report than he had done in his written statement of case. He
advanced a variety of arguments for discrediting the evidence relied on
by the Defendants. He relied heavily on the argument that the roof of
morgue 1 at crematorium 2 (which is where on the Defendants' case in
excess of 500,000 Jews were gassed to death) shows no sign of the wire-
mesh columns through which the Defendants maintain that the gas was
introduced into the chamber below.

7.11 In the course of the trial Irving modified his position: he was
prepared to concede that gassing of human beings had taken place at
Auschwitz but on a limited scale. However, he continued to assert that
it was not a death factory (totesfabrik). He maintained that there is
certainly no question of 500,000 Jews having perished in morgue 1 of
crematorium 2 as the Defendants contend.

7.12 In support of his modified denial that Jews were put to death in
the gas chambers on any significant scale, Irving relied on the fact
that in all the surviving contemporaneous archival and other documentary
records of the Third Reich, there is no reference to the commissioning,
construction or operation of the gas chambers. He emphasised that
amongst the voluminous documentary material relating to Auschwitz, there
is only one document which contains what might be regarded as a
reference to the genocidal use of the crematoria. Irving argues that the
lack of (as he put it) incriminating documents is extraordinary, if
indeed gas chambers were in operation on the scale alleged by the

7.13 Amongst the arguments advanced by Irving in support of his case
that killing by gas took place at the camp on no more than a limited
scale was the fact that the top-secret daily reports sent from the camp
to Berlin in cypher, which purport to record the numbers of inmates,
arrivals and 'departures by any means', including deaths, make no
mention of any inmate having been gassed, although they contain many
references to deaths from illness, by shootings and hangings. The number
of deaths recorded in these reports is far smaller than the number of
those who, on the Defendants' case, lost their lives in the gas
chambers. Moreover, asked Irving, if so many were led to their deaths in
the gas chambers, what has become of the cadavers. Why, Irving
continued, should Eichmann, whose diaries were remarkably frank in
regard to the killing of Jews, omit to mention gas chambers when
recording his visit to Auschwitz in early 1942.

7.14 According to Irving the evidence simply fails to establish that
Jews were killed in gas chambers at Auschwitz on anything approaching
the scale claimed by the Defendants.

The evidence relied on by the Defendants as demonstrating that gas
chambers were constructed at Auschwitz and operated there to kill a vast
number of Jews

7.15 It is therefore necessary to consider with care what is the nature
of the evidence relied on by the Defendants. It is contained principally
in the expert report prepared by van Pelt. Longerich and Evans also deal
in their reports with certain aspects of this topic. The evidence comes,
as I have said, from a variety of sources. Since it is the case for the
Defendants that it is the totality of that evidence which amounts to
convincing proof of the mass extermination of Jews by gas, it is
necessary for me to attempt to summarise it by category.

Early reports

7.16 As early as November 1941 reports had begun to emerge of a violent
camp at Oswiecim (that is, Auschwitz) and another camp nearby where
poison gas was being used on an experimental basis. But for the most
part the early reports mentioned Belzec, Treblinka and Sobibor rather
than Auschwitz. However, in March 1943 a radio message to London from
Polish resistance sources reported the gassing of more than 500,000 at
Oswiecim. There were other reports in the course of 1944 to similar
effect. But none of them attracted much attention at the time. Other
reports mentioned Birkenau but its connection with Auschwitz does not
appear to have been appreciated. Cypher reports from Auschwitz (and
other camps) to Berlin were being intercepted by British intelligence at
Bletchley but (as will be seen) these made no mention of deaths by

7.17 In mid-1944 two young Slovak Jews, named Rudolf Vrba and Alfred
Wetzlar, who had escaped from Auschwitz, gave accounts of the systematic
extermination of Jews at Birkenau (ie Auschwitz II), commencing in the
summer of 1942 and involving the use of specially-constructed gas
chambers and crematoria. This account was circulated to London and
Washington. Another corroborative account, from a Polish gentile, Jerzy
Tabeau, who had also escaped from the camp, also appeared. In June and
July 1944 there was publicity in the New York Times about the mass
killing of Jews by gassing at Auschwitz.

Evidence gathered by the investigation under the aegis of the Soviet
State Extraordinary Commission

7.18 The early reports referred to above tallied with the findings of a
joint Polish-Soviet commission set up to investigate events at Majdanek,
another extermination camp at Lublin in the General Government which had
fallen into Russian hands in July 1944. Auschwitz itself was liberated
on 27th January 1945 by the advancing Russian army. The Russians found a
total of 7,500 inmates. Some 60,000 inmates had been forced to march
west a week earlier. Large quantities of shoes, suits, clothes,
toothbrushes, glasses, false teeth, hair and other personal effects were
found in storage barracks.

7.19 A Soviet State Extraordinary Commission was set up to investigate
what had occurred at the camp. On 6 May 1945 it issued its findings. It
concluded, on the basis of evidence from inmates, Nazi documents found
at the camp and an inspection of the remains of the crematoria, that
more than four million people had been annihilated at the camp. The
Commission concluded that gas chambers had been used to kill people at
the camp and their remains had been incinerated in crematoria. The
Commission also reported that the zinc covers used in connection with
the ventilation system had been tested in a forensic laboratory.
Hydrocyanide was found to be present.

7.20 Although the archive of the camp Kommandantur had been destroyed by
the Nazis, the archive of the Central Construction Office survived,
apparently by an oversight, and was recovered by the Russians. Basing
himself on the blueprints for the construction and adaptation of the
crematoria and morgues and on visits made to the site, a Polish
specialist in combustion technology named Davidowski compiled a report
on the technology of mass extermination employed at Auschwitz. He noted
that terms such as Spezialeinrichtungen (special installations) were
used in the documents to describe the crematoria and that there was a
reference to a Vergasungskeller (gassing cellar).

7.21 In his evidence van Pelt did, however, concede that the evidential
value of the Russian report is limited.

Evidence gathered by the Polish Central Commission for Investigation of
German Crimes in Poland 1945-7

7.22 In 1945 the forensic laboratory in Cracow carried out an analysis
of, firstly, zinc covers removed from the alleged gas chambers at
Birkenau and, secondly, 25.5kg of human hair recovered from the camp.
Both were found to contain traces of cyanide. The Defendants point to
this as further evidence of the use of the chambers to kill Jews.

The Olere drawings

7.23 David Olere was a painter, who was born in Warsaw and later moved
to Paris, where he was arrested and deported to Auschwitz in March 1943.
He worked in the Sonderkommando for Crematorium 3. He lived in the attic
of Crematorium 3 and observed the building and related activity. After
his liberation he returned to Paris where he began to draw and record
his memories. He produced over fifty sketches in 1945-46.

7.24 Among the sketches Olere produced were architectural drawings of
Crematorium 3 which show the basement level with the underground
dressing room and the gas chamber, and the ground floor with the
incineration room the ovens and the chimney. Arrows indicate the
functional relationship of the rooms. They show how people were directed
to the gas chamber; how bodies were moved to the corpse elevator; how
they were taken to the incineration room and how coke was brought to the
ovens in the incineration room.

7.25 In his drawings of Crematorium 3 and its environs Olere depicted
people filing into the compound from the road and moving into the
dressing room. A sketch from 1946 shows the dressing room, the benches
and the hooks for clothes. Another sketch shows the Sonderkommandos
collecting gold teeth and hair from the women. One of the wire mesh
columns is visible in the background. Van Pelt commented that the
information in these drawings is corroborated by the testimony of Tauber
(see below). He also pointed out that none of the drawings could have
been made on the basis of published material as there was not any
available at the time.

7.26 Other sketches by Olere show Bunker 2, which was a peasant cottage
converted into a gas chamber. Van Pelt noted that the undressing barrack
is correctly positioned vis--vis the cottage. He pointed out the small
window with the heavy wooden shutter through which Zyklon-B was
introduced. Another sketch portrays the murder of women and children
with Crematorium 5 in the background. Van Pelt claimed the
representation of the crematorium to be architecturally correct save for
minor inaccuracies which can be ascribed to the fact it was drawn from

7.27 Van Pelt noted that Olere's sketches are corroborated by plans that
the Russians found in the Central Construction Office, save that Olere
depicts vertical wire mesh columns in the gas chamber (through which the
Defendants allege that Zyklon-B was inserted) which are not to be found
in the original architectural plans for the site. Olere's arrangement
has the mesh columns attached to the west side of the first and fifth
structural columns and on the east side of the third and seventh
structural columns in the gas chamber.

Eye-witness evidence from camp officials and employees

7.28 In his report van Pelt identified a number of those employed at
Auschwitz in various capacities who have given accounts of the use of
gas at the camp.

7.29 The principal of these Rudolf Hoss, the Auschwitz Kommandant, was
captured by the British on 11th March 1946. In the course of his
interrogation at Nuremberg Hoss produced a detailed list of the numbers
of people transported to Auschwitz from various countries in Europe. The
list totalled well over one million. When asked how so large a number
could be accommodated at the camp, given that Hoss had said that there
were facilities for only 130,000 at the camp, Hoss answered that most of
those transported to the camp were taken there to be exterminated. Hoss
later swore an affidavit in which he admitted that he had overseen the
extermination, by gassing and burning, of at least two and a half
million people. He stated that Zyklon-B was dropped into the death
chamber through a small opening. It took from 3 to 15 minutes to kill
those in the chamber. After half an hour the bodies were removed.
Sonderkommandos or Special commandos removed their rings and extracted
the gold from their teeth. Hoss described the process by which those to
be gassed were selected. He stated that attempts were made to deceive
the victims that they were going to be deloused. He said that the gas
chambers were capable of accommodating 2,000 people at one time. Dr
Gustav Gilbert, the Nuremberg prison psychologist, recorded in his diary
an account of a conversation with Hoss in which he confirmed that two
and a half million people had been exterminated under his direction.

7.30 Dr Johann Paul Kremer worked as a physician at Auschwitz from
August to November 1942. He kept a diary in which he recorded evidence
of activities of what had taken place at Auschwitz. He recorded being
present at a "special action" by comparison with which "Dante's inferno
seems almost a comedy". The diary contains an entry that Auschwitz is
justly called an extermination camp. Prior to his trial before the
Supreme National Tribunal in Cracow in November and December 1947 Kremer
was interrogated. He admitted that he had taken part in gassing people
on several occasions in September and October 1942. He too described the
selection process, after which the selected victims were required to
undress before being lead into the gas chamber. He described how an SS
man threw the contents of a Zyklon tin through a side opening. He
mentioned an occasion when about 1,600 Dutch people were gassed.

7.31 Pery Broad was an officer in the Auschwitz Political Department. He
voluntarily wrote a report of his activities whilst working for the
British as a translator in a prisoner-of-war camp after the war. Broad's
report corroborates Dragon's account of the extermination installations
and of the burning of the corpses. He described how the area surrounding
the crematorium was kept closed. The Jews arrived in columns. They were
told they were going to be disinfected. After they entered the chamber,
the door was bolted. The contents of tins of Zyklon-B were thrown into
the chamber through six holes in the roof. The screaming of the victims
quickly ceased and was followed by complete silence. Broad gave evidence
of how bodies were removed and burnt after they had been gassed. In
addition Broad reported that the reason for building the four new
crematoria in Birkenau was that the Nazis were finding it difficult to
keep the killings at Bunkers 1 and 2 a secret. In the two underground
gas chambers 4,000 people could be killed at a time. He described the
layout of the new installation, including the ovens, each of which he
said was equipped to hold four or five corpses.

7.32 SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer (Captain) Hans Aumeier became the Lagerfuhrer
(Camp Leader) of Auschwitz in 1942 and was responsible for the inmate
compound of the concentration camp. He remained in that job until the
end of the year and so, according to van Pelt, was present during the
transformation of Auschwitz into an extermination camp. Arrested shortly
after the end of the war, he claimed that during his time at the camp
3,000-3,500 prisoners died there. Initially he denied the existence of
gas chambers. But later, in the summer of 1945, he admitted that gas
chambers had been in operation in Auschwitz and that on many occasions
they had been used for killing Jews. He stated that everyone was sworn
to secrecy. (In a later statement he added that there was a Reichsfuhrer-
SS order which banned written reports, counts and statistics of the
activities). He described the initial gas chambers in Bunkers 1 and 2 at
Birkenau, where, he said, each chamber accommodated 50-150 people. He
gave a further account of the construction of crematorium 2 and
crematorium 3 and their gas chambers which had a much larger capacity
and began operating in April and May 1943 respectively.

7.33 Dr Ada Bimko, a Polish-Jewish physician, arrived at Auschwitz in
August 1943 with 5,000 other Jews. According to her account, of these
4,500, including her close relatives, were sent straight to the
crematoria. She later described to a British Military Tribunal the
methods of selecting those who were to be gassed. She said that she had
worked as a doctor in the hospital at the camp. She gave evidence that
she was present at several selections of those who were to be
exterminated. She stated that the condemned women were ordered to
undress. She had not witnessed the victims enter the buildings. But she
stated that she had seen one of the gas chambers when she was sent to
recover hospital blankets used by those about to be killed. She
described in some detail the chamber which had rows of sprays all over
the ceiling but no drains.

Eye-witness evidence from inmates at Auschwitz

7.34 Over the years a large number of Jews who were, or at least claimed
that they were, imprisoned at Auschwitz have given accounts of their
experiences. The quality of their evidence is variable. Van Pelt
explained that he placed greater reliance on those eye-witnesses who
provided their accounts of what transpired at Auschwitz shortly after
the war ended. Later accounts were vulnerable to the charge that the
witness had become confused by the passage of time or had been
influenced by what others had claimed. The witnesses upon whose accounts
van Pelt was inclined to place reliance included the following.

7.35 Vrba, as already stated above escaped from Auschwitz and was one of
the first to provide an account of the mass killing at the camp. On that
account he is regarded by van Pelt as a significant witness. Vrba did
not himself enter any of the gas chambers; he passed on what others had
told him. But, as administrator of the sick barrack, he knew about the
selection process. He described how those selected were loaded onto
trucks and claimed that they were taken away to be gassed. He gave an
account of the inauguration at Birkenau at the end of February 1943 of a
new crematorium and gassing plant. He stated that there were four
crematoria in operation. He described in some detail (albeit, as van
Pelt accepted, at second hand) the layout of the interior.

7.36 Sonderkommando Salmen Gradowski kept a diary of his experiences at
the camp which he buried in an aluminium can. Schlomo Dragon remembered
where it was buried. Remarkably the can and its contents were found
intact and dug up after the liberation of the camp. The can contained a
notebook and a letter dated 6th September 1944. In the letter Gradowski
explained that it was his aim to preserve a written account of what had
happened at Auschwitz. He wrote that this task became even more
important once the Nazis started to burn the bodies of those they had
killed and to dispose of the ashes in the River Vistula. He said that he
and fellow Sonderkommandos had scattered the teeth of the dead over a
wide area so that they might be found by subsequent generations.
Gradowski claimed that the Jewish nation had been destroyed in the
camps. He recorded that he and fellow camp workers had planned a mutiny.
(The uprising took place in October 1944. It failed and Gradowski was
tortured and killed). In his notebook Gradowski described his journey by
train to the camp and the selection process on arrival. He gave an
account of the living conditions for those deemed fit for work. That
notebook did not contain descriptions of the work of the

7.37 On 10 April 1945 Radio Luxembourg broadcast the account of an
unnamed survivor of Auschwitz, who had subsequently been evacuated to
Buchenwald. In the interview this witness stated that Auschwitz was an
extermination camp which killed between 12,000 and 20,000 people a day.
He described how the transports arrived, how the selection took place,
and how those who were chosen to die were killed instantly and cremated.

7.38 Stanislaw Jankowksi gave evidence to the Polish Central Commission
in 1946. He was the first Sonderkommando to testify before the
Commission. He said that he worked in Crematorium 1 from November 1942
at which time it was only used sporadically for killing people. He
described an occasion in November or December 1942 when a large number
of inmates from Birkenau arrived under escort. He and the other
Sonderkommandos were ordered to leave. When they returned they found
only clothing. He was put to work carrying the corpses to the
crematorium for burning. In July 1943 Jankowski was transferred to
Birkenau and worked at Crematorium 5. He described how large number of
Jews of various nationalities arrived at the camp. About half of them
were selected for gassing, including the old and infirm and the pregnant
and children. He stated that those who were to be gassed were not given
camp numbers or registered at the camp. His evidence was that the
killing reached its zenith with the Hungarian Jews in about July 1944
when, he claimed, 18,000 were being killed per day. Jankowski reckoned
that Crematoria 2 and 3 had a daily incineration capacity of 2,500
corpses while Crematoria 4 and 5 could incinerate 1,500.

7.39 Schlomo Dragon, another Sonderkommando, gave evidence on 10 May
1945 to the Polish Central Commission. Dragon had worked at bunker 2 and
crematoria 4 and 5. Van Pelt commented that, while Dragon was precise
when he talked about what he has witnessed in person, he was less
accurate when it came to estimating the number of people killed in
Auschwitz, which he put at four million.

7.40 Sonderkommando Henry Tauber worked initially in crematorium 1 and
later at
crematoria 2 and 4. He also gave evidence to the Polish Central
Commission. He gave a detailed account of the undressing rooms at the
gas chamber, the signs which hung on the walls, the glass peep-hole in
the door and how the doors were hermetically sealed. Further, he
described the ventilation systems; how the floor of a gas chamber was to
be washed and how the chamber in crematorium 2 was split into two in
late 1943 by a dividing wall. He gave an exceedingly detailed account of
the operation of crematoria, making it clear what he accepted on the
basis of his own observations and what he accepted as hearsay. He
described dragging gassed corpses from the gas chamber and loading them
five at a time onto trucks which ran on rails to the furnaces where they
were off-loaded. He described the three, two-muffle furnaces and said
that each muffle would take five corpses. The incineration took up to
one and a half hours. He explained that thin people burned more slowly
than fat people. In summary his description of crematoria 2, both below
and above ground corresponded very closely with the outline given in the
blueprints. Van Pelt considered that Tauber's testimony is almost wholly
corroborated by the German blueprints of the buildings and that it
corroborates the accounts given by Jankowski and Dragon. Tauber
estimated that the number of people who were gassed during his time at
Auschwitz, between February 1943 and October 1944, was two million
people from which figure he extrapolated that the total number gassed at
Auschwitz amounted to four million.

7.41 Michael Kula was another former inmate of the camp who gave
evidence to the Polish Commission. He had lived near Auschwitz before
his incarceration. Kula gave evidence that, a year after his arrival at
the camp in 1940, he observed the Nazis beginning to experiment with
Zyklon B. He observed that the corpses turned greenish after exposure to
the gas. Kula worked in the metal workshop at the camp and forged many
of the metal pieces required for the crematoria. He also took part in
the construction of trucks for conveying corpses into the ovens. Kula
testified that four wire mesh columns were made for the gas chambers in
crematoria 2 and 3: these columns were described by Kula as "structures
of ever finer mesh", which contained a removable can within the
innermost column which was used to extract, after the gassing, the
Zyklon "crystals" or pellets that had absorbed the hydrocyanide.

7.42 Marie Claude Vaillant-Couturier (to whom I have referred at section
V(xviii) above in connection with the Defendants' criticisms of Irving's
historiography) gave evidence to the International Military Tribunal of
the conditions in the women's camp at Birkenau, including the
sterilisation of women and the killing of babies of women who had
arrived pregnant. She claimed that most of the Jewish women who had come
from the same part of France as herself had been gassed immediately upon
arrival at Auschwitz. Valliant-Couturier testified that the trains
stopped close to the gas chamber; that the vast majority of the arriving
Jews, including the old, mothers and children) would be selected for
gassing; that they were made to undress and then taken to a room like a
shower room into which gas capsules were thrown through an opening in
the ceiling.

7.43 Severina Shmaglevskaya, a Polish inmate at Auschwitz, gave evidence
she had seen many children brought to the camp. She had seen selections
undertaken on some occasions by doctors and on others by SS men. She
recalled that children were separated from their parents and taken off
separately to the gas chambers. She stated that, at the time when the
greatest number of Jews were being exterminated in the gas chambers,
children were thrown alive into crematory ovens or ditches. She said
that few of the children were registered, tattooed or counted. They were
exterminated on arrival. As a consequence it was very difficult to know
how many of the children were put to death.

7.44 Filip Muller, a Sonderkommando, gave an account in the 1970s of the
process used to insert corpses into the ovens at crematorium 1. He
described how trucks were used to transport the bodies to the ovens, how
corpses were put into the ovens and the technical details involved in
problems that arose during the process. Van Pelt pointed out that
Muller's account accords with those of Jankowski, Tauber and Dragon. He
considered that it is highly unlikely that Muller's memoirs were
inspired by Tauber's testimony.

7.45 Janda Weiss, aged only fifteen years, was interviewed in 1945 by
representatives of the Psychological Warfare Division of the Supreme
Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces. She told them that she had
been deported to Birkenau along with 1,500 Jews from Theresienstadt. She
described how she was among the stronger ones who were selected to work
in the camp. The rest of her family were taken off to be gassed. Weiss
recalled her conversations with those who worked in the camps. She knew
of the arrival of the Hungarian transports in 1944. She claimed that
when transports arrived most of the Jews were selected to be gassed
immediately. Having been told they were to have a shower, the victims
undressed and went into the gas chamber. She recalled that when the room
was full, small children were thrown into the chamber through the
window. After the gassing Sonderkommandos pulled the corpses out took
their rings off, cut off their hair, and took them to the ovens to
cremate them.

7.46 Walter Bliss, a German Jew, was also interviewed. He too described
the selection process which took place not only on arrival at the camp
but also at regular intervals thereafter. He gave an account of a
typical selection process: those selected for death were transferred to
gassing barracks where might be kept for up to two or three days often
without food as they were going to die anyway. He claimed that 40% of
the men in the camp and 60-70% of the women were murdered in January

Evidence from the Nuremberg trial

7.47 By an accord signed on the 8th August 1945 the Allies established
the International Military Tribunal (at Nuremberg) to prosecute war
criminals. Twenty two leaders of the Third Reich were charged. One of
them was Kaltenbrunner, who was chief of the agency charged with
carrying out the Final Solution. Others who gave evidence at Nuremberg
have already been referred above, including Vaillant-Couturier,
Shmaglevskaya and Hoss. The Defendants rely in addition on the evidence
of the following.

7.48 In January 1946 Dieter Wisliceny, who had been an aide to Eichmann,
gave evidence in which he accepted his involvement in preparations for
the transport to Auschwitz of some 50,000 Saloniki Jews who, he agreed,
were destined for the 'so-called final solution'. He also gave evidence
that he had been involved in the deportation of 450,000 Hungarian Jews
to Auschwitz. In respect of the latter Wisliceny stated that they were
all killed with the exception of those used for labour purposes.

7.49 SS-Standartenfuhrer Kurt Becher swore an affidavit which was
submitted in March 1946 at Nuremberg. He described how people were
exterminated by methods including gas at Majdanek. He deposed that,
within days of an English newspaper report being received at Hitler's
headquarters about gas chambers being used at Majdanek, Himmler ordered
the cessation of gassing in Auschwitz and the dismantling of the
extermination installations in the crematoria.

Evidence from the Eichmann trial

7.50 One of the witnesses at the trial of Eichmann was Hoss, to whom I
have already made reference.

7.51 Another was Yehuda Bakon, an Israeli artist, who at Auschwitz had
been employed to take papers to the crematoria for burning. Consequently
he had entered the crematoria and had seen the gas chamber. In the
summer of 1945 he drew illustrations of Auschwitz which he produced in
the course of his evidence. The drawings depicted the inside of gas
chambers, including the dummy shower heads and the mesh columns used to
insert the Zyklon-B into the gas chamber. He also described how the gas
chambers were ventilated after the gassings. Bakon's evidence included a
description of how the corpses were put on to a lift which raised them
up to the incinerators. Van Pelt relied on the evidence of Bakon that,
when it was cold the head of the Sonderkommando would let them warm up
in the gas chambers and undressing rooms when they were not in use. He
argues that this evidence refute Leuchter's contention that the
temperature in the gas chambers was so low that there would have been
condensed liquid hydrogen cyanide on the walls had it been used.

Evidence from other trials (Kremer; Mulka and others; Dejaco and Ertl)

7.52 Josef Kramer was a defendant in Belsen trial of the SS personnel
who operated Bergen-Belsen. He had also served as Lagerfuhrer of
Birkenau during the time that Hungarians were being transported to
Auschwitz. Like many camp personnel on trial Kramer had worked at
Auschwitz before being transferred to Belsen. At the trial he admitted
to his involvement in the operation and use of gas chambers at
Auschwitz. He stated that Hoss was in charge of the gas chambers and
that he received his orders from Berlin. Mrs Rosina Kramer also
testified on behalf of her husband. She states that everyone in
Auschwitz knew about the gas chambers.

7.53 At Kramer's trial Bimko, the Polish-Jewish physician, gave the
evidence to which I have already alluded.

7.54 Dr Charles Bendel, a Rumanian Jewish physician who had been living
in Paris before he was deported to Auschwitz, gave evidence that he had
been detailed to work as a sonderkommando and in that capacity observed
the gas chambers and crematoria in action. He testified that on occasion
the Nazis would burn corpses in pits because the ovens could not cope
with the number of people who had been killed.

7.55 Defendants at the Belsen trial inlcluded Dr Fritz Klein, an ethnic
German from Rumania, who was a member of the SS. As a physician he
admitted having taken part in many of the selections of those who were
to be gassed. He claimed that he was acting on orders which were always
given verbally. Another defendant at the Belsen trial was Franz
Hoessler, who had been Lagerfuhrer at Auschwitz. In his evidence he
admitted that gas chambers operated there. He stated that the selection
of prisoners who were to be killed was undertaken by the doctors in the
camp. He testified that the camp was inspected once a year by Himmler,
who had given the order for people to be gassed.

7.56 Mulka, a member of Hess's staff, and others stood trial at
Frankfurt in 1963-5. Hans Stark, a former SS officer, gave evidence that
he had been employed in the Auschwitz Political Department. He described
the role of the Department in relation to executions by gassing. He
admitted to participation in gassings including on occasion pouring the
Zyklon B in himself.

1. Walther Dejaco and Fritz Ertl were architects at Auschwitz. They were
tried in Vienna in 1972. Ertl gave evidence that he had been employed at
the Auschwitz Central Construction Office until 1943. He testified that
new crematoria had been needed for "special actions". He confirmed that
he knew the significance of that term. He said he had been told by
Bischoff that no reference should be made to gassing.

Documentary evidence relating to the design and construction of the

7.58 The Defendants assert that there exist contemporaneous documentary
records which, on detailed examination, evidence the construction of gas
chambers at Auschwitz. The most important Auschwitz archive that
survived the war was that of the Central Construction Office at
Auschwitz. The main archives of the camp Kommandantur had been destroyed
by the Germans before they evacuated the camp in January 1945. The
Construction Office was 300 yards away and through an oversight was left

7.59 The first and most significant body of such evidence is the blue
print material, which consists of a series of architectural drawings
which depict the adaptation of crematoria 2 and 3 and the construction
of crematoria 4 and 5. None of these drawings refers overtly to any part
of the buildings being designed or intended to serve as gas chambers
whether for fumigation or extermination purposes. In particular the
drawings for Leichenkeller (morgue) 1 in crematorium 2 make no provision
for ducts or chimneys by means of which Zyklon-B pellets might be
inserted through the roof. However, van Pelt sought to illustrate by
means of detailed analyses of certain features of the drawings that it
reasonable to infer that certain chambers were designed to function as
gas chambers.

7.60 The principal feature identified by van Pelt is the redesign of the
double door to the supposed gas chamber in crematorium 2. When in 1942
the drawings were executed for the adaptation of this crematorium, this
door in common with others in the same building was designed to open
inwards. Careful scrutiny of the drawings reveals, however, that the
drawing of the inward- opening door has been scratched out. A fresh
drawing dated 19 December 1942 was made by Jakob, the chief of the
drawing office, who rarely undertook drawings himself. It provides for
the door to the supposed gas chamber to open outwards. There is no
apparent reason for this. To van Pelt the obvious explanation is that
the chamber was to be used as a gas chamber. If the door opened inwards,
it would be impossible to open it after the administration of the gas
because of the crush of corpses against the inside or the door of those
who struggled to get out when they realised what was happening to them.

7.61 The next feature identified by van Pelt relates to the entrance to
crematorium 2 and the means of which access was gained to the morgue
below. In its original design, the entrance was situated to one side of
the building. Inside the entrance there was a slide down which corpses
would be tipped to reach the level of the morgue. But the drawing shows
that this design was changed in late 1942 so as to move the entrance to
the crematorium to the street side of the building. At the same time a
new stairway to the morgue was designed to replace the pre-existing
slide. Van Pelt pointed out that the original design apparently
contemplated that only corpses would need to be transported down to the
morgue. The new design on the other hand is consistent with a wish to
enable people transported to Auschwitz to proceed from the railway
station through the new entrance, then to walk downstairs into what is
alleged to have been the undressing room and thence into the supposed
gas chamber. The stairway has been redesigned in such a way that it
would be extremely awkward to carry corpses down to the morgue on
stretchers. Van Pelt concludes that the object of the redesign of the
stairway was to enable living people to walk downstairs rather than for
corpses to be carried down.

7.62 The drawings further provide for the ventilation of the supposed
gas chamber in crematorium 2. Van Pelt infers that the purpose of the
system for extracting air was to extract poisonous air and so speed up
the removal of the corpses to the incinerators.

7.63 Crematoria 4 and 5 were new buildings. The initial drawings are
dated August 1942, not long after the visit paid to the camp by Himmler,
which the Defendants say marks the inception of the accelerated
extermination programme. According to van Pelt the design of these
crematoria incorporated undressing rooms (although not so designated on
the drawings) and morgues which were to serve as gas chambers. The
drawings of the morgues make provision for several windows measuring 30
x 40cms. The size of these windows corresponds with the size of windows
referred to elsewhere in construction documents as being required to be
gas proof. The windows were to be above eye level. Van Pelt draws the
inference that the purpose of these windows was to enable Zyklon-B
pellets to be inserted through them into the building (a process which
was observed by Sonderkommando Dragon, as mentioned above).

7.64 Van Pelt agreed that the drawings for crematoria 4 and 5 show a
drainage system which appears to link up with the camp sewage system. He
disagreed with Irving's suggestion that this would have been highly
dangerous because large quantities of liquid cyanide would have found
their way into the sewage system. Van Pelt claims that the gas would
evaporate rather than turn into liquid.

7.65 In addition to the architectural drawings, there are other
documents which, according to the Defendants, lend support to their
contention that there were gas chambers at the camp which were used for
genocidal purposes. I shall not itemise all the documents identified by
the Defendants as belonging in this category. They include a patent
application for multi-muffle ovens made by Topf. Although the patent
application does not in fact relate to the ovens supplied to Auschwitz
in 1942/3, it is said that the principle is the same. The two features
of the application on which the Defendants focus are, firstly, the
method of employing fat corpses to speed promote the rate at which
corpses can be burned and, secondly, the claim that no fuel is required
after the initial two day pre-heating period, no more fuel will be
required because of the amount of heat generated by the burning corpses.
Van Pelt noted that both these features are reflected in the account
given by Tauber of the way in which the corpses were incinerated.

7.66 Another allegedly incriminating document is the record of a meeting
held on 19 August 1942 between members of the Auschwitz construction
office and a representative of the engineers Topf to discuss the
construction of four crematoria. The note of the meeting refers to the
construction of triple oven incinerators near the "Badenanstalten fur
Sonderaktionen" ("bath-houses for special actions": the words are in
quotations in the original).

7.67 In a different category is a report dated 16 December 1942 made by
a corporal named Kinna, which made reference to an order that, in order
to releive the camp, limited people, idiots, cripples and sick people
must be removed from the same by liquidation. Kinna stated that the
implementation of this order was difficult because the Poles, unlike the
Jews, must die a natural death.

7.68 The Defendants relies on a letter dated 29 January 1943 from
Bischoff, Chief of Central Construction Managemnent at the camp, to SS
Brigadefuhrer Kammler in which there is reference to a Vergasungskammer
(gas chamber or cellar). There are also documents from February 1943
referring to the provision of gastight doors and windows. In a letter
dated 31 March 1943 Bischoff presses for the delivery of a gastight door
with a spyhole of 8mm glass, with a rubber seal and metal fitting. There
is a timesheet of a construction worker which makes reference to fitting
gastight windows to crematorium 4. Van Pelt pointed to a letter dated 6
March 1943 from Auschwitz to the Topf company which contemplated the use
of hot air from the ventilators for the incinerators to pre-heat the
Leichenkeller 1. Why, he asked, heat a morgue, which should be kept
cool. Answering his own question, he claimed that Zyklon-B evaporates
more quickly in high temperatures, so the killing process would be
speeded up. (Irving answered that there is nothing sinister about
heating the morgue: it was a requirement of good building practice in
relation to civilian morgues).

7.69 Finally under this head the Defendants rely on a letter dated 28
June 1943 from Bischoff to Kammler (the authenticity of which Irving
challenges) setting figures for the incineration capacity of the five
crematoria, according to which their total capacity is 4756 people in
every 24 hours. The Defendants' case is that this capacity was at that
time deemed to be necessary to burn the bodies of the Jews who were to
be brought to Auschwitz to be gassed. Basing themselves on the evidence
of sonderkommandos such as Tauber, the Defendants say further that the
rate of incineration was broadly in line with the estimate in the letter
of 28 June 1943. The Defendants suggest that the apparent urgency of the
installation of the ovens, together with their huge capacity which,
according to van Pelt, was far in excess of what could possibly have
been required to cope with future typhus epidemics, reflects the policy
adopted following Himmler's visit to the camp in July 1942.

Photographic evidence

7.70 In support of his contention that there were chimneys through which
it is alleged that Zyklon-B would have been poured into morgue 1 at
crematorium 2, van Pelt relied on a photograph taken by a camp official
in February 1942. According to van Pelt in this photograph, when greatly
enlarged, it is possible to detect smudges which he maintained represent
the chimneys protruding through the morgue roof. Furthermore van Pelt
remarked on the similarity in the alignment of the supposed chimneys in
the photograph with the alignment of the chimneys in one of Olere's
drawings. Van Pelt further relied on an aerial photograph which was
taken in the summer of 1944 (to which I have referred earlier) on which,
when greatly enlarged, spots are visible above the morgues of crematoria
2 and 3. He claims that these spots are the protruding chimneys, reduced
in size because of the dirt laid onto the roof since the earlier
photograph was taken. Irving gave reasons why he suspected that the 1944
photograph relied on by van Pelt had been tampered with.

7.71 Irving disputed van Pelt's interpretation of the photographs and
suggested that tampering may have taken place. He produced a photograph
showing the roof of morgue 1 in the background on which there is no sign
of any protruding chimney. Van Pelt responded that this photograph (in
which the construction of the roof of the crematorium can be seen to be
incomplete) was probably taken in December 1942 at which date the
chimneys would not have been installed. Van Pelt explained that the
reason why no protruding chimneys are visible in another photograph
produced by Irving is that it was taken after the Nazis had dismantled
the gas chambers.

7.72 The Defendants also place reliance on a photograph taken at a time
when Hungarian Jews were arriving at the camp in 1944. One such
photograph depicts a column of women and children walking from the
railway spur towards Auschwitz. Instead of proceeding into the camp
through the entrance leading to the women and children's camp, the
column can be seen to walking towards crematorium 2 (from which there is
no access into the women and children's section).

Material evidence found at Auschwitz

7.73 The Leuchter report, which I have mentioned already and to which I
will return in greater detail when I come to summarise the evidence
relied on by Irving in connection with Auschwitz, claimed that forensic
analysis revealed no trace of in the surviving ruins of the gas chambers
at Auschwitz. Prompted by the publicity given to the Leuchter report,
the director of the Auschwitz museum enlisted the expert assistance of
Professor Markiewicz, Director of the Forensic Institute of Cracow, who
arranged in February 1990 for further samples to be taken from Auschwitz
for analysis.

7.74 Markiewicz decided that the so-called Prussian blue test was
unreliable because its formation depended on the acidity of the
environment which was particularly low in the alleged gas chambers.
Markiewicz and his team therefore adopted microdiffusion techniques to
test for cyanide samples from the crematoria, from the delousing
chambers and a control sample taken from elsewhere within Auschwitz. The
latter was tested because claims had been made that the cyanide traces
in the gas chambers were explained by the fact that a single fumigation
of the whole camp had taken place during the typhus epidemic. The
control sample tested negative, refuting those claims. As to the tests
on the crematoria and the delousing chambers, the conclusion arrived at
by Markiewicz was that cyanide compounds are still to be found in all
the facilities (that is, in both the delousing chambers and in the
various supposed gas chambers) that, according to the source data, were
in contact with cyanide. The concentration of cyanide compounds in the
various samples varies greatly, even in the case of different samples
taken from the same chamber or building. This indicated that the
conditions producing the cyanide compounds varied locally. According to
van Pelt, the Markiewicz report demonstrated positively that Zyklon-B
had been introduced into the supposed gas  chambers, albeit that the
test results varied greatly. Van Pelt considered that the results for
crematoria 4 and 5 were unreliable because they had been demolished at
the end of the war with the result that it is difficult to know which
brick came from where.

Conclusions to be drawn from the evidence, according to the Defendants'

7.75 The Defendants contend that the evidence, to any dispassionate
mind, is overwhelming that the Nazis systematically murdered hundreds of
thousands of Jews , mainly by the use of Zyklon-B pellets. The
Defendants recognise that not all of the evidence which I have sought to
summarise above is altogether reliable. This applies with particular
force to the evidence of the eye-witnesses. It is also accepted by the
Defendants that in certain respects the documentary evidence, including
the photographic evidence, is capable of more than one interpretation.
Nevertheless the Defendants argue that the different strands of evidence
"converge". For example the eye-witness evidence is corroborated by the
drawings and vice-versa. There is a striking similarity in the accounts
of the eye-witnesses. The similarities in their recollections vastly
outweigh the discrepancies. In the main, say the Defendants, their
testimony is reliable. The documentary is not overtly incriminating for
the obvious reason that the Nazis wanted to keep the gas chambers
secret. But it too lends support to there having been gas chambers in
operation at the camp.

7.76 The overwhelming strength of the totality of the evidence may be
the reason, suggest the Defendants, why in his cross-examination of van
Pelt Irving chose to ignore most of it.

Irving's reasons for rejecting the evidence relied on by the Defendants
as to the existence at Auschwitz of gas chambers for killing Jews

Irving as expert witness at the trial of Zundel

7.77 In his evidence Irving reiterated on a number of occasions that he
is primarily a literary historian and that, at least until the present
proceedings were commenced , he did not regard himself as an expert on
the Holocaust. Accordingly until April 1988 he believed what he had been
told about the killing of Jews in Auschwitz and the other death camps.
The 1977 edition of Hitler's War contains several references to the
gassing of Jews.

7.78 In April 1988 Irving went to Toronto in order to give expert
evidence on behalf of Hans Zundel, a publisher, who was being prosecuted
for infringing a Canadian law, since repealed, which made it a criminal
offence to disseminate false information. Zundel had published a
pamphlet entitled "Did Six Million Really Die?" which questioned
fundamental aspects of the Holocaust. Irving agreed to assist Zundel in
his defence by giving evidence as an historian as to Hitler's role in
the extermination of the Jews. He was not instructed to address the
issue of gassing at Auschwitz or indeed at any other alleged death camp.

The impact of the Leuchter Report

7.79 Irving testified that on arrival in Toronto he was presented with a
copy of a report compiled by Mr Fred Leuchter. It was what Irving read
in Leuchter's report which convinced him that there is no truth in the
claim that Jews met their death in gas chambers at Auschwitz. Irving
made clear in his evidence that it was the Leuchter report and in
particular the result of the chemical analysis of the samples taken from
the fabric of the alleged gas chambers which had a profound impact on
his thinking.

7.80 Leuchter had been retained by Zundel because he was a consultant
retained by several penitentiaries to give advice about execution
procedures including execution by means of the administration of gas. He
had no formal professional qualifications. Zundel intended to use
Leuchter's report to establish that no Jews, and certainly not six
million Jews, died in gas chambers, so that he could not be said to have
been spreading false information about the Holocaust. (As it turned out
Leuchter did not give evidence at Zundel's trial).

7.81 In order to prepare his report, Leuchter visited Auschwitz in
February 1988 to inspect the site. He removed 31 samples of brickwork
and plaster from various crematoria and one control sample from a
delousing chamber where cyanide was known to have been used and was
visible in the form of blue staining. On his return to the US Leuchter
had these samples analysed by a reputable laboratory in Massachussets.
The object of the test was to discover whether the residual cyanide
content of the samples was consistent with their having been exposed to
high levels of cyanide over a prolonged period of time.

7.82 Chemical analysis of the control sample revealed a very heavy
concentration of cyanide content, namely 1050mg/kg. By contrast the
analysis of the other samples, taken from the alleged gas chambers,
resulted in either negative findings or findings of very low
concentration levels ranging from 1mg/g to 9 mg/kg. From this Leuchter

     " [this] supports the evidence that these facilities were not
     execution gas chambers. The small quantities detected would
     indicate that some point these buildings were deloused with Zyklon-
     BV - as were all the buildings at these facilities. Additionally
     the areas of blue staining show a high iron content, indicating
     ferric-ferro-cyanide, no longer hydrogen cyanide.

One would have expected higher cyanide detection in the samples taken
from the alleged gas chambers (because of the greater amount of gas
allegedly used there) than that found in the control sample. Since the
contrary is true, one must conclude that these facilities were not
execution gas chambers, when coupled with all other evidence gained on

7.83 Apart from that conclusion, upon which Irving has focussed his
attention, Leuchter in his report had a number of other observations to
make. He expressed the opinion that crematoria 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 have an
extremely poor and dangerous design if they were to have served as
execution gas chambers. There is no provision for gasketed doors,
windows or vents; the structures are not coated with tar or other
sealant to prevent leakage or absorption of gas. The adjacent
crematories create the potential for an explosion. The exposed porous
brick and mortar would accumulate any hydrogen cyanide and render the
facilities dangerous to humans for several years.

7.84 Crematorium 1 is adjacent to the SS hospital and has floor drains
connected to the main sewer of the camp, which, according to Leuchter,
would have resulted in liquid cyanide being carried into every building
at the facility. There were no exhaust systems to vent the gas after
usage and no mechanism could be found for the Zyklon-B pellets to be
introduced or evaporated.. If indeed the Zyklon B pellets were fed into
the chamber through roof vents or windows, there were no means of
ensuring the even distribution of the gas. The facilities are always
damp and unheated, which conditions are unsuited to the use of Zyklon-B.

7.85 Leuchter considered the chambers to be too small physically to
contain the number of occupants claimed. The doors open inwards, which
would inhibit the removal of bodies. With the gas chambers fully packed
with occupants, the hydrogen cyanide would not circulate within the
room. If the gas did eventually fill the chamber, anyone feeding the
pellets into the vents on the roof would die from exposure to the
poisonous gas.

7.86 Of the crematoria Leuchter, having reviewed modern practices,
calculated that their combined theoretical daily incineration capacity
was 353.6 but that in practice the maximum number of corpses which could
have been burned was 156. He thus arrived at the conclusion that over
the period when the incinerators were being operated, the total number
of cremations would have been 193,576 in theory but no more than 85,092
in practice.

7.87 Leuchter's evaluation of the crematory facilities produced,
according to his report, conclusive evidence that contradicts the
alleged volume of corpses having been cremated within the generally
alleged time frame. His "best engineering opinion" was that none of the
facilities examined were ever utilised for the execution of human beings
and that the crematories could not have supported the work load
attributed to them.

7.88 Irving was convinced by the conclusion at which Leuchter arrived on
the basis of the chemical analysis of the fabric of the supposed gas
chambers. So convinced was he by Leuchter's reasoning, he decided to
publish under his own imprint Focal Publications Limited, the text of
the report with a foreword written by Irving. The Foreword accepts that
there were methodological flaws in the report but it endorses Leuchter's
findings, ending with the words "Forensic chemistry is, I repeat, an
exact science".

7.89 It was put to Irving in cross-examination that the fallacy in the
Leuchter report was his assumption that a far higher concentration of
cyanide, in the region of 3,200 parts per million ("ppm"), would be
required to kill people in the gas chambers than would be required for
the purpose of delousing clothing. In truth, it was suggested to him, it
is the other way round: high levels of cyanide are required for
delousing purposes whereas in the region of 300 ppm will suffice for the
purpose of killing human beings. Irving responded by saying that this
criticism of the Leuchter report has to be "taken on board" and that
"probably concessions have to be made at both ends of this scale".
Irving observed that the report had the desirable consequence of
promoting public debate. He remained adamant that, whatever its flaws,
the crucial conclusion of the Leuchter report, based on the chemical
analysis, was correct. He argued that the chambers were freshly
constructed out of concrete and so would have absorbed the hydrogen
cyanide producing permanent chemical changes to the fabric of the walls
and ceiling. Irving accepted that, if the concentration of cyanide
required for delousing clothes is far higher than the level required to
kill humans, one is more likely to find 40 years residual traces of the
cyanide in the fabric of the delousing chamber than in the fabric of the
supposed gas chambers. But he argued that one would still expect to find
far more traces in the alleged gas chambers than those recorded in the
Leuchter report.

Replication of Leuchter's findings

7.90 Irving contended that the results of the chemical test conducted on
behalf of Leuchter had been replicated by amongst others Gelmar Rudolf,
a chemist at the Max Planck Institute. Van Pelt knew little of his
report but agreed that Rudolf's findings broadly corresponded with those
of Leuchter. Irving produced a letter from the Institute for Historical
Review which claimed that others had arrived at similar conclusions. He
also claimed (and van Pelt accepted) that in about 1989 the Auschwitz
authorities carried out tests which also found high cyanide traces in
the delousing chambers and much lower quantities in crematoria 2 and 3.
The results of these tests were not published. Subsequently further
tests were conducted and the results were published in the so-called
Markievicz report (the conclusions of which I have already summarised).

The absence of chimneys protruding through of morgue 1 of crematorium 2

7.91 As the trial progressed, it appeared that one of the main arguments
advanced by Irving for denying the existence of homicidal gas chambers
at Auschwitz, if not his main argument, is that the remains of the roof
of morgue 1 at crematorium 2 show no sign of the chimneys which,
according to the Defendants' case penetrated through the roof so as to
enable Zyklon-B pellets to be tipped down into the morgue below. It will
be recalled van Pelt claimed that crematorium 2 was the most lethal
building of Auschwitz. In excess of 500,000 Jews lost their lives there,
more than in any other place on the planet. It is the Defendants' case
that the Zyklon-B pellets were fed into the chamber by means of wire
mesh column which ran upwards through the roof of the chamber with the
chimney protruding above roof level. The roof was made of reinforced
concrete about 18-20cm in thickness with reinforcing bars within the
concrete. If the chimney passed through the roof, argued Irving, the
roof would to this day have five holes in it where the chimneys passed
through the roof.

7.92 It is common ground that the roof of Leichenkeller 1 was supported
by seven concrete pillars. The Defendants allege that adjacent to four
of these pillars there ran hollow ducts or chimneys made of heavy wire
mesh which protruded through holes in the roof where the pellets were
poured into them and ran down into the chamber below. These ducts were
70 square centimetres in size but tapered at the top where they passed
through the roof. It is Irving's case that these ducts never existed. He
made that assertion because, he said, there is no trace in what remains
of the roof of any holes through it. Furthermore the chimneys do not
appear in the blue prints for the construction of the crematoria. Part
of the roof of Leichenkeller 1 is intact, although it has pancaked down
on to the floor. Irving produced a photograph which appears to show no
sign of any hole in the roof. Van Pelt conceded in one of his
supplementary reports that there is no sign of the holes. It would be
impossible for chimneys of the size described by Tauber and Kula to have
disappeared. Irving contended that, if the holes exist, it would be a
simple matter to uncover the roof so as to find out if they are there.
But no one has attempted this task and he wondered why not.

7.93 As for such evidence as there is of the existence of the ducts,
most of it comes from some of the eye-witnesses. But, claimed Irving,
they give varying accounts of the manner in which the pellets were
introduced into the gas chamber and most of them (including Bimko and
Bendel) have turned out to be liars. Irving claimed to have destroyed
the credibility of all of them in his cross-examination of van Pelt.
Olere's drawings were probably influenced by what he was told by others
and in any event he was a fantasist. The photograph taken in 1942 and
relied on van Pelt does not show the chimneys. The smudges on which van
Pelt relies were probably barrels of tar parked on the roof during
building operations. No such smudges were visible on aerial photographs
taken in 1944.

7.94 At one stage in his evidence Irving appeared to concede that
Leichenkeller 1 of crematorium 2 was a gas chamber but that it was used
solely for delousing purposes. In the end, however, it was his position
that he had not seen any evidence that there were any gas chambers at
all there whether for delousing or extermination purposes. In his
evidence he went so far as to say that, if anyone detected holes in the
roof, he would abandon his libel action. As he graphically put it in his
closing submission, Irving argued that "[the Defendants'] entire case on
Krema 2 - the untruth that it was used as a factory of death, with SS
guards tipping canisters of cyanide-soaked pellets into the building
through those four (non-existent) holes- had caved in, as surely as has
that roof".

The reason for the alterations to crematorium 2: fumigation or
alternatively air-raid shelter

7.95 One explanation put forward by Irving for the adaptation work to
morgue 1 and crematorium 2 is that the chamber was being adapted to
serve the purpose of fumigating clothes (and perhaps other objects). He
relied on a document called an Aufstellung sent by Topf to the
construction office at the camp in which reference is made
Entwesungsofen (disinfestation ovens), which according to Irving proves
that such was their true purpose. (Van Pelt countered that these ovens
may well have been for disinfecting the clothing of the Sonderkommando
or alternatively for a delousing chamber which is known to have been
under construction in 1943 between crematoria 2 and 3. But he added
that, if it was only clothing which was to be subjected to the gas
treatment it was difficult to understand the need for a peephole to be
fitted in the door).

7.96 Another thesis advanced by Irving is that the adaptation of
crematorium 2 was undertaken in order to convert the building to an air
raid shelter rather than to a gas chamber. He claimed that there was, at
the time when the reconstruction work was undertaken, concern at
Auschwitz about bombing raids. He claimed that this explains why the
entrance to building was moved and why the staircase was altered to
enable pedestrian access to Leichenkeller 1, which was to serve as the

7.97 Irving contended that it was standard practice at that time to fit
gas tight doors on all air raid shelters in case of Allied poison gas
attacks. Irving drew attention to the reference by an eye-witness named
Hans Stark to the door of a chamber being luftschutzer which, as van
Pelt accepted, signified proof against air raid. (Stark did, however,
make that reference in the context of an account of 200 people being
gassed). It was, according to Irving, also standard practice for the
doors to have peep-holes (although he was uncertain why there should be
a metal grill fitted protecting the inside of the peep-hole). Irving was
scornful of the claim made by van Pelt that the doors to the chamber
were redesigned to open outwards because of the difficulty of pushing
the doors open if dead bodies were piled against the inside of the door.
Irving claimed that it was standard practice at the time that air raid
shelters should have doors which opened outwards. Van Pelt was, however,
doubtful if the architectural drawing relied on by Irving to support his
contention did indeed provide for doors which opened outwards.

The purpose of the supplies of Zyklon-B

7.98 It is common ground that quantities of Zyklon-B were delivered by
truck from Dessau to Auschwitz. Irving contended that these deliveries
were for the purpose of fumigating the camp and the clothes of the
inmates. A large quantity of the cyanide was needed to combat the typhus
outbreak in the summer of 1942. In reliance on figures provided by
Mulka, an adjutant at Auschwitz with responsibility for the deliveries,
as well as upon the quantity supplied to the camp at Oranienberg, Irving
argues that the quantity of Zyklon-B delivered is consistent with it
having been used for the purpose of fumigation and no other.

7.99 Irving pointed to a document recording permission being given for
such a delivery which stated in terms that the purpose for which the
Zyklon-B was required was to carry out fumigation. He relied also on an
invoice which made reference to an Entwesungsabteilung (disinfestation
department). Herr Tesch of the company which supplied Zyklon-B to the
camp testified at his trial that the material was for disinfestation. If
cyanide had been used in the alleged gas chambers on the scale claimed
by the Defendants to kill Jews, there was, according to Irving, a real
danger that the poison might have found its way into the water supply
for the camp.

The logistical impossibility of extermination on the scale contended for
by the Defendants

7.100 Irving produced an enlarged photograph depicting what he claimed
to be the Auschwitz coke bunker. He argued that it is far too small to
have been capable of accommodating the huge amount of coke which would
have been needed for the incineration of thousands of bodies. (Van Pelt
pointed out that each crematorium had its own coke storage bunker).
Irving advanced the further related argument that it would have required
35kg of coke to incinerate a single body. He based that argument on
evidence that at another camp at Gussen that that was the weight of coke
required. On that premise he contended that it was logistically
impossible for sufficient coke to have been supplied and stored at
Auschwitz to burn bodies at the rate envisaged in a letter of 28 June
1943 written by Bischoff, the Chief of the Central Construction
Management at Auschwitz. Irving disputed the authenticity of that
document for reasons which I set out at paragraph 7.105. Alternatively
he contended that in any event it can be explained by the urgent need
for capacity to incinerate the bodies of those who succumbed during the
typhus epidemic which raged through Auschwitz in the summer of 1942.

7.101 Irving asserted that the only way of transporting corpses from the
morgue up to the incinerators was by lift. He maintained that the lift
was incapable of supplying the incinerators with bodies at rates which
would have enabled the incinerators to burn the number of Jews claimed
by the Defendants to have been gassed at the camp. In other words, the
lift was a bottleneck which demonstrated the Defendants' figures for the
numbers killed and incinerated to be flawed. In addition, since the
incinerators would not have reduced the corpses to ash, Irving
questioned how the bones and other unburned parts of so many bodies
could have been disposed of.

Irving's investigation of the documentary evidence

7.102 The Leuchter report having acted as a catalyst, Irving testified
that he spent some months in the period following its publication going
round the archives with an open mind looking for evidence that Auschwitz
was an extermination camp. Although that was the claim that he made in
1988, in his evidence he described the difficulties confronting him in
regard to any such investigation. Auschwitz itself was still behind the
Iron Curtain (although Irving agreed he made no attempt to gain access
to the site). The Soviet archives (where most of the Auschwitz documents
and in particular the construction documents had been consigned)
remained closed to Westerners until 1990. So on his own account Irving's
investigation was confined to the German Federal Archives (until he was
finally banned from visiting Germany in late 1993), the national
archives in Washington and libraries such as the Hoover library in

7.103 Hampered though he was in his attempt to investigate the issue,
Irving relied strongly on the extreme paucity of the documentary
evidence for the existence of genocidal gas chambers.  He pointed out
that there is no reference to the Russians having discovered gas
chambers when they liberated the camp in January 1945. Irving relied
further on the absence of any reference in the reports sent in cypher
from Auschwitz to Berlin (which were intercepted and decoded at
Bletchley and commented upon by Professor Himsley) to the death of any
inmate in a gas chamber at the camp. Deaths from typhus and other
causes, including shooting, are faithfully recorded but there is never
any reference to killing by gas. Since the reports were secret, argued
Irving, there would have been no need to omit deaths by gassing. Evans
considered it to be unsurprising that there should have been no
reference to the deaths in the gas chambers of registered inmates of the
camp given the high level of secrecy which surrounded the policy of
extermination by that method. As for those who were not registered as
inmates, they would not have featured in the reports in any event.

7.104 Irving relied on the camp registers which have recently been
released by the Russians. According to his argument, these registers
demonstrate that the number of those registered as having been admitted
to Auschwitz is wholly irreconcilable with the number of Jews said by
the Defendants to have perished in the gas chambers there. The response
of the Defendants to this argument is that there is clear evidence that
the camp registers did not include those who were killed immediately on
arrival at Auschwitz. In this connection the Defendants relied on the
evidence to that effect of General Pohl, the economic director of the
Nazi concentration camps, as well as upon the evidence of certain of the
eye-witnesses (including for example Pery Broad) to which I have already
made reference.

7.105 Those documents apart, Irving drew attention to the fact of the
thousands of documents studied by historians over the years, hardly any
have surfaced which lend real support for the case for the existence of
the gas chambers being used for extermination purposes. Irving in his
evidence at the Zundel trial dismissed as tendentious the translation of
Vergasungskeller in Bischoff's letter of 29 January 1943 word as 'gas
chamber'. It signified no more than a room where gassing apparatus would
be installed without the connotation that the gas would be used to kill
human beings. The word Vergasungskeller would not be used by a German to
refer to a gas chamber: he would use Gasungskeller. Similarly the
Vergasungsapparate mentioned in Wetzel's letter of 25 October 1941 were
required for fumigation and not genocidal purposes. Irving produced an
invoice to the Auschwitz Construction office which refers to an
Entwesungsanlage (disinfection chamber) in support of his contention
that such a facility existed at the camp.

7.106 Irving dismissed several of the allegedly incriminating documents
as unauthentic if not downright forgeries. One particular target for an
attack of this kind was mounted upon Bischoff's estimate of the capacity
of the incinerators in his letter of 28 June 1943 (to which I have
already made reference). Irving relied, amongst other things, on the
absence of a reference to Auschwitz in the heading of the letter; on the
allegedly unusual, if not unique, way in which the reference is typed at
the head of the letter; on the way the date is typed; on the initials of
the secretary who typed the letter being the wrong initials for
Bischoff's secretary; on the inaccurate designation of the rank of the
addressee of the letter, General Kammler, which omitted the distinctive
symbol used by the Nazis for members of the SS. Irving also pointed out
that, at the date when the letter was written, one of the incinerators
referred to in the letter had been taken out of commission and another
was under repair, so that it would have been inappropriate and unlikely
that Bischoff would have included them in his assessment of the overall
incineration capacity of the camp.

7.107 Another argument advanced by Irving for doubting the genocidal use
of gas chambers at Auschwitz was based upon an instruction circulated on
26 October 1943 by Pohl, chief of all concentration camps, to each camp
commandant instructing him to implement measures to reduce the number of
deaths amongst the inmates by the provision of better food and clothing
and the like. Irving also produced a letter to doctors at the camps
requiring them to make extra efforts to ensure the effectiveness of the
labour force by improving their health and mortality. Irving also
produced a table signed by Pohl which records a reduction in the level
of mortality in camps generally from 10% in December 1942 to about 8% in
January 1943 as a result of hygiene measures which had been taken. In
the same vein Irving relied on the note of a conference in June 1942
presided over by Dannecker, Eichmann's subordinate, which made reference
to orders issued by Himmler to increase the workforce at Auschwitz.
Irving relied on the note as evidence that Auschwitz was essentially a
work camp. But Longerich pointed out that Himmler had made provision
that 10% of those deported did not need to be fit for work. Longerich
inferred that they were to be killed on arrival. Irving contended that
the 10% provision was for wives and children. Such documents are, Irving
argued, wholly inconsistent with the Nazis having been engaged at the
same time upon a programme of exterminating Jews in gas chambers at

7.108 In the light of such research as he has been able to undertake
since 1989, Irving deploys other arguments and contentions (many of them
advanced in the course of his cross-examination of van Pelt) which he
claims bear out Leuchter's conclusions and which afford further reasons
for doubting the existence of killing by gas at Auschwitz.

Irving's response to the eye-witness evidence

7.109 As to the Defendants' reliance on the evidence of eye-witnesses,
Irving asserted that, since as many as 6,000 have survived the camp, the
proportion of witnesses confirming the existence of gas chambers is
remarkably small. The vast majority have not claimed that there were gas
chambers at the camp.

7.110 In any case Irving contended that generically the eye-witnesses,
whilst they are not to be discounted altogether, are not reliable or
credible. Some can be shown to be inaccurate in their claims (eg Dr
Bimko) or inconsistent (eg Hoss). Others gave evidence through fear or
in order to curry favour with their captors (eg Aumeier). The evidence
of many of them was the result of "cross-pollination" with the
recollection of other supposed eye-witnesses or was influenced by their
having been shown the blueprints for the alleged gas chambers (eg
Tauber). The evidence of a number of such witnesses (eg Kramer) can be
explained by the fact that they were describing chambers which were used
for fumigation purposes rather then killing. Irving gives as a reason
for doubting the reliability of Olere's sketches that he made the absurd
claim to the historian Pressac that the SS made sausages in the
crematoria. Another reasons for doubting Olere's reliability, according
to Irving, is that flame as well as smoke can be seen in one sketch
emerging from the top of the main chimney. Van Pelt agreed that no flame
would have been visible since the chimney was 90 feet tall. Irving
suggested that Olere's drawings may have been based on post-war reports,
adding the gratuitous comment that he appears to have taken a prurient
interest in naked women.

7.111 Irving also relied on the figures for the numbers of deaths of
inmates through illness or from overwork in support of an argument that
the purpose, or at least the principal purpose, which the crematoria at
Auschwitz served was to incinerate the corpses of those who had died in
this way. So, Irving's argument proceeded, the eyewitness evidence of
the Sonderkommandos and others of the operation of the crematoria and
the stripping of gold from the mouths of the corpses can be explained on
the basis that these were the corpses of those who had died from disease
or overwork rather than those who had been murdered in the gas chambers.

7.112 For all these reasons, some positive and some negative but all
pointing in the same direction, Irving concluded that his initial
reaction to the Leuchter report was correct: the evidence does not bear
out the claim that gas chambers were operated to liquidate hundreds of
thousands of Jews. The evidence relied on by the Defendants is riddled
with inconsistencies and remains unpersuasive. He accepted that the
cellar at Leichenkeller 1 was used as a gassing cellar but only to
fumigate "objects or cadavers". As to the use of gas to kill humans, the
most he was prepared to concede was that there were gassings "on some
scale" at Auschwitz.

The Defendants' arguments in rebuttal

The Defendants' critique of the Leuchter Report

7.113 The Defendants are highly critical of Irving for having attached
any credence to the Leuchter report. Van Pelt included in his report a
detailed critique of Leuchter, his methodology and his conclusions. His
criticisms echo those contained in a reasoned rebuttal sent to Irving
late in 1989 by a Mr Colin Beer (which at that time Irving acknowledged
had some force).

7.114 According to both van Pelt and Beer, the fundamental flaw in the
report was Leuchter's assumption that the concentration of cyanide in
the killing chambers would have needed to be greater than the
concentration in the delousing chamber, that is, in the region of 3,200
ppm or higher. According to them that assumption is simply wrong.
Moreover it demolished or at least undermined a number of the reasons
advanced by Leuchter for denying the existence of the killing chambers.
Basing himself on the high concentration of cyanide which he assumed
would have been needed to gas humans, Leuchter had argued that the
ventilation system of the chambers would have been wholly inadequate.
But, say the Defendants, if the concentration required was much lower,
it would follow that the ventilation requirements would be
correspondingly reduced. Irving accepted that this was a logical
conclusion. Similarly Leuchter's argument that the high concentration of
cyanide required to kill humans would have created a high risk of toxic
contamination of the sewers is invalidated if the concentration required
was a fraction of that assumed by Leuchter. Irving again agreed that
this is a logical conclusion. He also agrees that the need for elaborate
safety precautions, also relied on by Leuchter, would be radically

7.115 The Defendants relied on the content of an interview of Dr Roth,
the scientist at the Massachusetts laboratory which carried out the
tests on Leuchter's samples. According to Dr Roth, cyanide produces a
surface reaction which will penetrate no further than one tenth of the
breadth of human hair. The samples with which he was provided by
Leuchter ranged in size between a human thumb and a fist, so they had to
be broken down with a hammer before
analysis. Roth asserts that the resulting dilution of any cyanide traces
effectively invalidates the test results.

7.116 Apart from what the Defendants regard as the fundamentally flawed
assumption by Leuchter about the concentration of cyanide required for
killing purposes, they identified numerous errors of fact in his report.
He wrongly stated that there was no provision for gas-fitted (that is,
sealed) doors and windows in the gas chambers. Tthe walls of the
Leichenkeller were, contrary to what Leuchter claimed, sealed with a
coating of plaster. Leuchter wrongly assumed that there was a mains
sewer. He wrongly stated that there was no exhaust or ventilation system
and that the facilities were damp and unheated. He asserted
unjustifiably that there would have been a risk of death to those
inserting Zyklon-B pellets into the roof vents. Irving accepted the
validity of most of these criticisms of the Leuchter report.

7.117 Basing himself on the arguments which I have rehearsed in
abbreviated form, van Pelt, not mincing his words, dismissed the
Leuchter report as "scientific garbage".

The Defendants' case as to the absence of signs of chimneys in the roof
of Leichenkeller 1

7.118 The Defendants accept that the physical evidence remaining at the
site of Auschwitz provides little evidence to support the claim that gas
chambers were operated there for genocidal purposes. The explanation,
according to the Defendants, is that, after the revelations in the
Allied media concerning the gas chambers at the camp at Majdanek in late
1944, Himmler ordered the dismantling of the extermination installations
in the crematoria at Auschwitz. In late 1944 the Nazis duly dynamited
the crematoria and destroyed the camp archives (or so they intended: as
has been observed above, documents from the Central Construction Office
accidentally survived).

7.119 Van Pelt addressed in his evidence the argument that chimneys for
inserting Zyklon-B pellets into Leichenkeller I cannot have existed
because there is no trace of any holes in the roof of the chamber. He
agreed that the blueprints for the design of the gas chamber in
crematoria 2 did not provide for metal chimneys or ducts. They are not
included in the drawings because, according to van Pelt, the drawings
were prepared before the decision was taken to use Leichenkeller 1 as a
gas chamber.

7.120 As to Irving's claim that the pancaked roof shows no sign of the
chimneys, the Defendants point out that this is a new argument which
Irving appears first to have lighted on in November 1998. Its relevance
to the criticisms of Irving as an historian is therefore open to doubt.
In response to Irving's claim van Pelt maintained, firstly, that the
roof is in such a mess and most of it is so inaccessible that it is
impossible to verify whether or not the holes existed. In any case he
claimed that it is likely that, when the gas chambers were dismantled in
1944, the chimneys would have been removed and the holes cemented over
so as to remove incriminating evidence. (Irving regards this as highly
implausible since the Russians were by then poised on the eastern side
of the Vistula). Moreover, van Pelt repeated that there exists powerful
evidence for the existence of chimneys, namely the photographic and eye-
witness evidence (including Olere's drawings which I have summarised

The redesign of crematorium 2

7.121 The Defendants dismiss as nonsensical the claim that the reason
for the redesign of crematorium was to facilitate the fumigation of
"objects and corpses". Contemporaneous documents identified by the
Defendants show that the new design incorporated a undressing room
(Auskleiderkeller). Irving was unable to explain in cross-examination
what need there would have been for an undressing room if the facility
was to be used only for the fumigating of dead bodies and inanimate
objects. Irving's theory is in any case untenable, argued van Pelt,
because the redesign was clearly intended to enable live people to walk
downstairs (see paragraph 7.61 above). Moreover, there would have been
no need for a metal-protected, reinforced spy-hole if only corpses and
metal objects were to be gassed (see paragraph 7.68 above).

7.122 Van Pelt rejected Irving's argument that the reconstruction work
at crematorium 2 was carried out in order to convert it to use as an air
raid shelter. In the first place he pointed out that Crematorium 2 is
some 1.5 miles away from the SS barracks, that is, too far away for
members of the SS to reach in the event of a raid. The shelter would in
any event have been too small to accommodate more than a fraction of the
SS personnel and obviously wholly inadequate for the camp inmates (even
if the Nazis had wanted to protect them). Van Pelt did not accept that,
if the chamber was to become a shelter, it would have needed to have a
gas-tight door with a peep-hole protected on the inside by a metal
grill. He also disputed that, at the time of construction, there was any
reason to fear air raids. However, Irving was able to produce a document
dated 6 August 1942 setting out detailed guidelines as to the
precautions against air raids to be taken in the military area of the
General Government.

The quantity of Zyklon-B required

7.123 In relation to Irving's argument that the quantity of Zyklon-B
delivered to the camp could be explained as being needed for fumigation
purposes, Van Pelt produced a supplementary report in which he noted
that the amount of Zyklon-B delivered to Auschwitz vastly exceeded the
quantity delivered to other camps. He made a detailed calculation, based
on delivery documents and on stated assumptions about the frequency of
fumigations, that of the total amount of Zyklon-B delivered to Auschwitz
in 1943 (1,200 kilos) not more than 9,000 kilos would have been required
for fumigation. That would leave unaccounted for 3,000 kilos, which van
Pelt contended would have been more than enough to kill the 250,000 Jews
estimated to have been gassed to death that year.

The Defendants' response to Irving's logistical argument

7.124 Van Pelt dismissed the suggestion made by Irving that if cyanide
had been used to gas Jews in the chambers, there would have been a risk
of the entire water supply at the camp becoming contaminated. The gas
was evacuated from the chambers by means of the ventilation system
through a chimney and not through the floor into a drain.

7.125 Likewise van Pelt rejected the argument that the quantity of coke
delivered to Auschwitz was insufficient to fuel the incineration of the
corpses in the numbers which the Defendants claim were killed at the
camp. He challenged the premise of Irving's argument which was that as
much as 35kg of coke would have been required for each body incinerated:
basing himself on a contemporaneous calculation and assuming bodies were
burned together at the rate contemplated in the Bischoff's letter of 28
June 1943, he maintained that the quantity of coke required per corpse
would have been no more than 3.5kg)

7.126 Van Pelt calculated that the capacity of the incinerators vastly
exceeded what would have been required, even on a worst case scenario,
to deal with deaths from typhus. He did not accept that the carrying
capacity of the lift would have significantly limited that rate at which
corpses could have been incinerated. As to the disposal of those parts
of the bodies which were not reduced to ash in the ovens, van Pelt
explained that the evidence is that the remains were pulverised by the
Sonderkommandos and then buried in pits or dumped in the river Vistula.

The Defendants' response to Irving's argument in relation to the
documentary evidence

7.127 The Defendants accept that there are few overt references to gas
chambers at Auschwitz in contemporaneous documents but suggest that the
absence is readily understandable. I have already alluded to the
evidence of Ertl, the architect employed at the Auschwitz Central
Construction Office, that he was told by Bischoff that no reference
should be made to gassing and that such terms as "special action" or
special measure" should be used instead. The Defendants contend that it
was standard procedure to disguise the existence of genocidal gas
chambers either by the use of such innocuous terms or referring to their
having a delousing function.

7.128 In answer to Irving's claim that documents exist which are
irreconcilable with a programme of mass extermination at Auschwitz (for
example urging that measures be taken to reduce the mortality rate),
Longerich asserted that these documents have no bearing whatsoever on
the treatment of those who were gassed on arrival at Auschwitz without
becoming registered as inmates of the camps. The documents simply
reflect a degree of caution in carrying out the policy of extermination
by slave labour which had been proceeding in parallel with the gassing.
The Nazis were becoming concerned at the rate at which the supply of
labour was being reduced by death from typhus. Longerich further pointed
out that the figures contained in the documents relied on by Irving were
apt to mislead because they relate to both Jews and non-Jews: if the
figures were confined to Jews, the picture would be very different.

7.129 But the Defendants contend that there are in the contemporaneous
documents incriminating references. I have already made reference to
some of them. Invited to comment on the catalogue of reasons given by
Irving for denying the authenticity of Bischoff's letter of 28 June 1943
(see paragraph 7.106 above), van Pelt testified that the letter is in
the Moscow archive. It first surfaced in the 1950s, that is, before any
issue had been raised about the incineration capacity of the ovens, so
that at the time there was no reason to have forged it. Van Pelt
produced another version of the document which came from the Domburg
archive. He suggested that no forger would have inserted the forged
document into two different archives. Moreover, van Pelt would not
accept that what Irving perceived to be oddities about the document
suggesting it is a forgery were in truth anything of the kind. He
assembled a clip of Auschwitz documents which display most of the odd
features upon which Irving founded his argument that the letter is not
genuine. He was unable, however, to produce another example of an error
in the designation of the rank of an SS officer. In addition he agreed
he had not come across another document which had the abbreviation "Ne"
for the name of the secretary who typed it. Van Pelt concludes that
there was no standard format for documents at the camp. His overall
conlusion was that he had no doubt about its authenticity.

7.130 In answer to Irving's reliance on the absence of references to
deaths by gassing in either the decrypts or the camp "death books", the
Defendants contend (as already noted) that both relate to registered
inmates at the camp and not to those who were gassed on arrival. There
was moreover a natural concern to observe the greatest secrecy about the
gassing operations.

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