Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Judgment: Electronic Edition, by Charles Gray

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Irving's response to the ... >>

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 concluded:
" [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 inspection".
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.
Irving's response to the ... >>

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