The Leuchter FAQ: Overview

“His opinion on this report is that there were never any gassings or there was never any exterminations carried on in this facility. As far as I am concerned, from what I’ve heard, he is not capable of giving that opinion… He is not in a position to say, as he said so sweepingly in this report, what could not have been carried on in these facilities.” Thus did the presiding judge dismiss Fred Leuchter’s report as “ridiculous” and “preposterous” during the Canadian trial of Ernst Zündel. Lest there be any misunderstanding about the Court’s finding: “On the question of the functioning of the crematoria … the judge’s decision was unequivocal. He could not testify on this topic for a simple reason:

He hasn’t any expertise.” (Lipstadt, 166)

Fred Leuchter is a man with no formal training in either chemistry or toxicology (he obtained a BA in history in 1964), and yet he claims to be a professional engineer – an assertion that has landed him in hot water in his home state. In 1988, at the request of Canada’s Ernst ZündelMr. Leuchter went to Poland and visited the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp; (Mr. Zündel financed Leuchter‘s trip to Poland.) The result of this journey was the “Leuchter Report.” Here’s what Mr. Leuchter had to say about his “investigation:”

The purpose [of the investigation and subsequent report] does not include a determination of any numbers of persons who died or were killed by means other than gassing or as to whether an actual Holocaust occurred. It, further, is not the intent of this author to redefine Holocaust in historical terms, but simply to supply scientific evidence and information obtained at the actual sites and to render an opinion based on all available scientific, engineering and quantitative data as to the purpose and usages of the alleged execution gas chambers and crematory facilities at the investigated locations. (Foner)

You will note, as we will demonstrate using Leuchter‘s own sworn testimony, that Mr. Leuchter failed to demonstrate any concern for the truth, even while under oath.

While testifying at Mr. Zündel‘s trial in Canada, Leuchter gave false evidence concerning his professional relationship with the administration of two American prisons regarding gas chambers, and proved himself to be unfamiliar with the most basic facts about the lethal gas Hydrogen Cyanide, including its flammability and the concentrations required for delousing purposes.

The “Leuchter Report” purports to “scientifically demonstrate” that people were not killed by Zyklon-B at Auschwitz. It is composed of old claims made by the French Holocaust denier Faurisson, as well as some new ones. Many of the claims appear in the Institute for Historical Review’s “66 Q&A on the Holocaust” pamphlet, and also in arguments offered by others who deny the Holocaust.

Zyklon-B is a powerful insecticide. It releases HCN, Hydrocyanic acid, a gas – Zyklon-B is the carrier, a material soaked with the gas; usually it comes in the shape of small pellets or disks. HCN is what causes death. While interacting with iron and concrete, it creates compounds (“Hydrocyanic compounds”). Leuchter concedes that these compounds were found in the ruins of the gas chambers in Auschwitz (as reaffirmed by the findings of the Polish government institute, which completely rejects Leuchter’s conclusions – see Section 2.01).

HCN is extremely poisonous to humans. It is used in execution gas chambers in the US; the first such was built in Arizona in 1920. It is absurd to claim (as the deniers do), that Germany in the 1940’s could not handle “technical difficulties” in using HCN for execution – “difficulties” that were easily solved in 1920. Moreover, the Germans had a lot of experience with HCN, as it was extensively used for delousing. (For an extensive discussion of Zyklon B, get pub/camps/auschwitz/auschwitz.faq1)

There were two types of gas chambers in Auschwitz: those used for delousing clothes (“delousing gas chambers”) and those used for killing people on a massive scale (“extermination gas chambers”). The delousing gas chambers were a standard feature, and were left intact by the SS (as opposed to the extermination gas chambers, which were dynamited in an effort to conceal criminal activity from the rapidly approaching Soviet Army). The deniers try to confuse the issue by mixing the two types of chambers. For instance, they show pictures of the doors for the delousing chambers, and note that they are too weak to withstand the pressure of people trying to escape. Of course, the doors for the extermination chambers are completely different, but that fact is quietly overlooked (see 2.06).