The Leuchter FAQ: Leuchter’s credibility


The most current plaintext version of Part One and Part Two of this FAQ is available via ftpLeuchter’s claims during his Zündel testimony, and the reality of his perjury, Leuchter‘s admission that he is not an engineer (in American court), court order to quit publishing “reports” which claim engineering expertise.. (For an extensive examination of Leuchter‘s reception as an “expert witness” in a Canadian court, get pub/people/l/lipstadt.deborah/lipstadt.005. For the Washington Post article discussing the Leuchter Consent Decree, in which he admitted that he was not an engineer, and agreed to stop disseminating ‘reports’ which identified him as such, get pub/people/l/leuchter.fred/washington-post.0691.)

In his article of January 11, (Spotlight, “Major Historical Fact Uncovered,” January 11, 1993), Foner discusses the Canadian trial of Ernst Zündel, and tells us…

Zündel went looking for an expert on executions, particularly gassings. He found Leuchter, who specializes in the design and fabrication of execution hardware used in prisons throughout the United States. (Foner, 3)

Although Leuchter is touted by Neo-Nazi publications and Holocaust deniers as an “expert,” Mr. Leuchter‘s own testimony at the Zündel trial made it clear that he was neither an expert nor a credible witness.

The following is taken from Leuchter‘s testimony at the Zündel trial (Douglas ChristieZündel‘s attorney is the questioner) – following the testimony are verbatim quotes from two American prison officials, which were obtained after Leuchter‘s testimony at the trial. We believe you will have no difficulty in determining the value of Mr. Leuchter‘s credentials after considering both:

Q: And what is your relationship with the operation of those facilities [i.e. gas chambers] in those two States [California and North Carolina]?

A: We consulted with both States, California primarily on a heart monitoring system to replace the older type mechanical diagraph stethoscope that’s presently in use. We will be shipping to them shortly and installing a new heart monitor for both chairs in their gas chamber.

Q: You are consulted by the State, I understand?

A: Yes, Juan Vasquez.

Q: I see. And in North Carolina?

A: North Carolina. My discussions and work was with one Nathan Reise, and he had some work done by their maintenance personnel on their gas chamber two years ago, and they had a problem with the gasket on a door leaking. At which point, we discussed it with him and recommended remedial procedures to change the gas chamber.

Q: And he consults you in regard to those matters?

A: He does.

What do those two facilities have to say about the matter? First, the warden at San Quentin (California) responds:

“I can inform you, however, that San Quentin has not contracted with Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. for the installation of a heart monitoring system or for any other work.” Signed: DANIEL B. Vasquez, Warden (California)

Next, we offer the comments from North Carolina prison officials:

“I discussed your request with Mr. Nathan A. RICE, Former Warden, and he stated that he vaguely recalled a telephone conversation between him and a gentleman professing to be an expert on execution chambers. Mr. Rice further states that the gentleman called him for the purpose of selling a lethal injection machine…

Also, our records do not support that Mr. Leuchter performed either consulting or any service…I can attest that the planning and work was performed by the Department of Correction Engineering Section and our institution maintenance department.” Signed: Gary T. Dixon, Warden (North Carolina)

We discover, then, that neither California nor North Carolina have consulted with Leuchter regarding their gas chambers. Leuchter was incapable of even getting the names of the wardens right, and clearly lying about his “professional” relationships with them.

The only other state with which Leuchter has alleged consulted regarding gas chambers is Missouri. Yet, even thought Leuchter has allegedly “designed” a gas chamber for the state, we have to take his word for it since that gas chamber was never built nor installed and, in fact, Missouri does not have an operational gas chamber to this day even though Leuchter had allegedly designed one for them over 4 years ago. We would like to hear from anyone who has contacted authorities in the State of Missouri regarding this matter.

An article in the Washington Post sheds additional light upon Leuchter‘s legal problems, and his status as an engineer:

BOSTON, June 17 – Fred A. Leuchter Jr., a self-styled expert in the machinery of death who parlayed his reputation as a builder of killing equipment into a second career as a proponent of “Holocaust revisionism,” has admitted that he is not an engineer.

Made in a consent decree filed with a Massachusetts court last week, his admission should deal a blow to the movement holding that the Nazi extermination of 6 million Jews and others during World War II was a hoax or an exaggeration, according to experts in the field.

Leuchter, 48, of suburban Malden, was to face trial later this month on charges of practicing engineering without a license, a violation of Massachusetts law. But on June 11, he signed a consent agreement with the board that licenses engineers.

In it, Leuchter acknowledged that, “I am not and have never been registered as a professional engineer” and that he nevertheless had represented himself as an engineer in dealings with various states that use the death penalty and to which he supplied equipment or advice.

The agreement also requires Leuchter to stop disseminating reports in which he purports to be an engineer, most significantly a document known as the “Leuchter Report.”

That report, widely circulated by revisionists, asserts that gas chambers at Nazi concentration camps in Auschwitz, Birkenau and Majdanek could not have been used for mass killings because they were not big enough nor well ventilated or sealed. The assertion is based largely on chemical analysis of materials scraped surreptitiously from walls of those chambers by Leuchter during a visit to Poland in February 1988.

Sally Greenberg, an attorney with the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith in Boston, which was instrumental in bringing Leuchter to the attention of Massachusetts authorities, welcomed the settlement.

“It’s a blow to Holocaust revisionism because he has been the guru of the revisionists,” she said. “Now, he has as much as admitted that he is not qualified as an engineer to comment on the ‘myth’ of the Holocaust. It’s essentially an admission that he’s the charlatan and phony that we always knew he was.” (“Holocaust Revisionist Admits He Is Not Engineer.” The Washington Post. Get pub/people/l/leuchter.fred/washington-post.0691 for the complete text.)

Leuchter’s “credibility,” or rather, his lack of same, among American prison administrators

On July 20,1990, Alabama Assistant Attorney General Ed Carnes sent a memo to all capital-punishment states questioning Leuchter‘s credentials and credibility. Carnes stated that not only were Leuchter‘s views on the gas-chamber process ‘unorthodox’ but that he was running a shakedown scheme. If a state refused to use his services, Leuchter would testify at the last minute on behalf of the inmate, claiming that the state’s gas chamber might malfunction. <Memorandum from Ed Carnes, Alabama Assistant Attorney General, to all Capital Punishment States July 20,1990Shapiro ‘Truth Prevails’ pp. 17 and 21; Newsweek, Oct. 22, 1990, p. 64; Swampscott Journal, Nov. 1, 1990.> According to Carnes, Leuchter made ‘money on both sides of the fence.’ <Associated Press, October 24, 1990>. Describing Leuchter’s behavior in Virginia, Florida, and Alabama, Carnes observed that in less than thirty days Leuchter had testified in three states that their electric-chair technology was too old and unreliable to be used. In Florida and Virginia the federal courts had rejected Leuchter‘s testimony as unreliable. In Florida the court had found that Leuchter had ‘misquoted the statements’ contained in an important affidavit and had ‘inaccurately surmised’ a crucial premise of his conclusion <Carnes, Op.Cit., 2>. In Virginia, Leuchter provided a death-row inmate’s attorney with an affidavit claiming the electric chair would fail. The Virginia court decided the credibility of Leuchter‘s affidavit was limited because Leuchter was “the refused contractor who bid to replace the electrodes in the Virginia chair <Shapiro, “Truth Prevails, 22>.” (Lipstadt, 170)