Irving v. Lipstadt


Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Transcripts, Day 32: Electronic Edition

Pages 21 - 25 of 222

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    And, my Lord, indeed so it is. Fred Leuchter
 1element in the Zyklon-B pellets used for the gassings, the
 2sample from the delousing facility, relatively high
 3traces. Therefore, concluded Leuchter, the "gas chambers"
 4could never have been gas chambers, because, according to
 5Leuchter, the concentration of hydrogen cyanide needed to
 6kill humans was higher than that needed to kill lice.
 7     The Leuchter report (as Mr Irving has accepted
 8during this trial) was riddled with numerous errors of
 9various kinds, but this error was colossal. As the
10material contained in the Leuchter report itself showed,
11the concentration of hydrogen cyanide required to kill
12humans is, in fact, some 22 times lower than that required
13to kill lice. Thus, so far from disproving the existence
14of homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz, the Leuchter
15Report actually succeeded in proving the opposite.
16     Despite this, Mr Irving continued to cling, and
17still clings, to Leuchter's "forensic chemistry" as the
18flagship of his Holocaust denial. In consequence,
19Mr Irving has, ever since 1988, used the Leuchter Report
20as the foundation not only for his denial of the existence
21of any homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz, but also,
22quite illogically, for the existence of any gas chambers
24     In the end, at the trial of this action,
25Mr Irving has been driven, in the face of overwhelming
26evidence presented by Professor Robert Jan van Pelt,

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 1Professor Christopher Browning and Dr Longerich, to
 2concede that there were indeed mass murders on a huge
 3scale by means of gassing at Chelmno in the Warthegau and
 4at the Reinhardt camps of Belzec, Treblinka and Sobibor;
 5and even that there were "some gassings" at Auschwitz.
 6     His last remaining defence against the evidence
 7showing that the crematoria at Birkenau were used to
 8murder vast numbers of Jews by means of Zyklon B was to
 9make the slippery concession that the gas chambers --
10known as Leichenkeller I at crematoria II and III at
11Birkenau -- were, indeed, gas chambers, but for gassing
12only (I quote Mr Irving's words) "objects and cadavers".
13     This last proposition is ludicrous. If this
14were not such a serious matter, it would be hilarious.
15For the evidence, clearly explained by Professor van Pelt,
16is that the gas-tight doors in Leichenkeller I at both
17those crematoria were equipped with thick glass spyholes,
18protected by metal grilles. Why, it was asked of
19Mr Irving, should these be required for the observation of
20the gassing of lice-infested "objects" and corpses? Faced
21with this, Mr Irving retreated to the position that
22Leichenkeller I had been intended to serve an alternative
23purpose as an air-raid shelter. This last refuge will be
24dealt with shortly below. Meanwhile, Professor van Pelt
25also explained that when the plans of crematoria II and
26III were redesigned in late 1942 and early 1943, the

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 1corpse-slides or chutes appearing on the original plans
 2were removed, and the entrance to the basement moved to
 3the other side of the building. Thus, if the re-design
 4was intended to facilitate the gassing of corpses, people
 5who are already dead, it had only succeeded in compelling
 6those who were carrying the corpses to negotiate a series
 7of small rooms, narrow passages, and staircases to reach
 8the gassing-space. Moreover, the plans were re-designed
 9at that time so as to change the way in which the doors of
10the gassing-space opened from inwards to outwards, thus
11further impeding the carrying of corpses into the space.
12     Mr Irving's air-raid shelter proposal is equally
13absurd. It is obvious that the Leichenkellers could never
14have served as air-raid shelters for an inmate population
15of 100,000 or more, even if it thought likely that the SS
16should have wanted to protect the inmates against
17air-raids. Therefore, if the Leichenkellers were ever
18intended to be used as air-raid shelters, they must have
19been intended for the SS. In fact, crematoria II and III
20are about one and a half miles from the nearest SS
21barracks. The picture of SS personnel running from their
22barracks, round the perimeter wire, in full gear, one and
23a half miles to the crematoria, under a hail of bombs, is
24just plain daft.
25     Mr Irving's concession that Leichenkeller I was
26indeed a gas chamber is, of course, entirely inconsistent

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 1with his continued adherence to Leuchter's chemical
 2analysis as being conclusive evidence that Leichenkeller I
 3never was a gas chamber. It is also wholly inconsistent
 4with his final line of defence, which is
 5that Leichenkeller I could never have been a gas chamber
 6because the remains of the roof that can be seen at
 7Birkenau do not show the holes through which the gas
 8pellets were thrown.
 9     This last line of defence, which emerged at a
10very late stage in Mr Irving's Holocaust denial, is, in
11any case, easily demolished. In the first place,
12Professor van Pelt, who has subjected the remains of the
13roof of Leichenkeller I at crematorium II to careful
14examination (which Mr Irving has never done), told the
15court that the remains are so fragmentary that they do not
16allow any firm conclusions to be drawn as to the existence
17or non-existence of the holes. Second, if, as Mr Irving
18accepts, Leichenkeller I was a gas chamber (for whatever
19purpose) it would always have needed apertures for
20inserting the Zyklon-B, since it never had any windows and
21only one gas-tight door. Third, even if Mr Irving were
22right that it was used for gassing objects and corpses,
23the concentration of hydrogen cyanide required for this
24would have been comparatively high, with the consequence
25that the need for tight fitting apertures which could be
26opened and closed quickly and easily, would, for the

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 1protection of those throwing in the pellets, have been all
 2the greater. Finally, leaving aside all the mass of
 3eyewitness testimony, there is a coincidence between two
 4pieces of independent evidence which demonstrates
 5conclusively the existence of these holes or apertures.
 6In 1945, a former inmate of Auschwitz, David Olere, an
 7artist, drew the ground plan of Leichenkeller I in
 8crematorium III. This drawing shows a zigzag alignment of
 9the gassing columns in Leichenkeller I. These are the
10columns which would have ended in the apertures through
11which the gas pellets were inserted. It happens that that
12zigzag alignment is precisely matched by an aerial
13photograph taken by the Allies in 1944, which was not
14released to the world until 1979. There can, therefore,
15be no possibility of any cross-contamination
16between Olere's drawing and the aerial photograph. No
17doubt recognizing this, Mr Irving sought to suggest at
18this trial that the aerial photograph had been faked by
19the CIA. Professor van Pelt, however, explained to the
20court that he had had the photograph tested by Dr Nevin
21Bryant at NASA and that the result of those tests showed
22conclusively that the photograph was authentic.
23     In the light of Mr Irving's concession that
24Leichenkeller I was indeed a gas chamber and of the fact
25that it is clear that it was never intended for the
26gassing of corpses or other inanimate objects, or for use

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