HOLOCAUST FAQ: The "Leuchter Report" (1/2)

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Archive-name: holocaust/leuchter/part01
Last-modified: 1993/03/26


[Leuchter] [Page i]

The Leuchter Report: A Layman's Guide
Holocaust Denial & The Big Lie

1.00 Introduction & Editorial Notes......................... 1
1.10 Copyright Notice..................................... 2
1.20 Overview............................................. 2
2.00 Point, Counterpoint - Denial Claims Addressed.......... 3
2.01 Disparities in Hydrocyanic Compound Levels........... 3
2.02 Explosive Property of Zyklon B & Furnace Proximity... 6
2.03 Gas Chambers Could Not Have Been Opened Safely....... 6
2.04 The Extermination Chambers Were Actually Morgues..... 7
2.05 Impossible to Kill 6 Million People at Auschwitz..... 7

Part Two:

2.06 Doors of Gas Chambers Too Weak to Prevent Escape..... 9
2.07 They Would Not Have Used Zyklon-B for Gassing........ 9
2.08 The gas chambers were never sealed, or...............10
2.09 The gas would have killed everyone outside when
ventilated...........................................12
2.10 Where did all the ashes from the cremations go.......12
2.11 People who dropped the gas into the gas chamber would
have been killed by it...............................12
2.12 The Auschwitz death list doesn't show all those
people were killed...................................12
2.13 Why would there be a swimming pool at a death camp...13
2.14 The high water table made it impossible to burn
bodies in ditches....................................13

[Leuchter] [Page ii]

2.15 How did witnesses to the gassings survive............13
2.16 Toxicity of fumes from a diesel engine...............13
3.00 Leuchter's perjury in Canadian court...................15
4.00 Research Sources & Other Useful Appendices.............16
4.10 Recommended Reading..................................17
4.20 Abbreviations Used in Citations......................17
4.30 Glossary.............................................17
4.40 Works Cited..........................................17


[Leuchter] [Page 1]

1.00 Introduction & Editorial Notes

This document provides a counterpoint to assertions commonly made by
those who deny that anyone was gassed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau and
Treblinka death camps during World War II; who, in fact, deny that
the gas chambers even existed. (At least a million people were
ruthlessly exterminated at Auschwitz, and seven-hundred-thousand more
at Treblinka - the worst of the Nazi extermination camps in terms of
victims slaughtered.)

The most prestigious source in Germany regarding the crimes of the
Nazis during WW2, the "Institute for Contemporary History" in Munich,
sums up the facts in a recent publication.

Treblinka (district Warschau, general government) from the end of
July 1942 on had three gas chambers and received at the start of
September 1942 furthermore ten larger gas chambers. Up to the
dissolution of the camp in November 1943 altogether 700,000 Jews
were killed here by carbon monoxide.

Auschwitz-Birkenau (in the formerly Polish, in 1939 adjoined to
the "Reich" upper eastern Silesian area, south eastern of
Kattowitz): The extermination camp in Birkenau, established in the
second half of 1941, was joined to the concentration camp
Auschwitz, existing since May 1940. From January 1942 on in five
gas chambers and from the end of June 1943 in four additional
large gassing-rooms gassings with Zyklon B have been undertaken.
Up until November 1944 more than one million Jews and at least
4000 gypsies have been murdered by gas.

(Note that these numbers include only people gassed - many were
murdered using more "conventional" means)

This is by no means a replacement for serious research - just an
expose of common frauds like the "Leuchter report", and a guide to
scholarly sources.

This document was prepared by Danny Keren and Jamie McCarthy, and
edited to its present form by Ken McVay. Comments, corrections, and
additions are welcome.

The appearance of a quotation mark within a proper name indicates
that the previous letter should be read as an umlaut, although some
quoted material appends a trailing 'e' instead. (I.e. Hoess and
Ho"ss reference the same name.)

Documents cited in this work which were available from our list-server
were noted in the form (Request <archive> <filename>). Sadly, I have
had to shut the server down, as it was creating an unacceptably heavy
load on my upstream feed site. The documents referenced here are
available at several internet sites - I will update this section as
soon as I can compile a definative list. Please accept my apologies,
as I can no longer offer this popular service.


[Leuchter] [Page 2]
1.10 Copyright

This post, as a collection of information, is Copyright 1993 Ken
McVay and Danny Keren as a work of literature. Distribution by any
electronic means is granted with the understanding that the article
not be altered in any way. Permission to distribute in printed form
must be obtained in writing. The removal of this copyright notice is
forbidden.

1.20 Overview

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 Zundel, Mr. Leuchter went to Poland and visited the site of
the Auschwitz concentration camp; (Mr. Zundel 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. Zundel'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.


[Leuchter] [Page 3]
Zyklon-B

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.

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).

2.00 Point, Counterpoint

Holocaust denial often involves the same assertions, repeated
endlessly, regardless of response. We present many of them for
consideration here, along with our response.

The photographs we refer to can be found in Pressac.

2.01 Disparities in Hydrocyanic Compound Levels

Holocaust deniers often claim that since more hydrocyanic compounds
were found in the delousing chambers than in the ruins of the
so-called "extermination" chambers at Auschwitz, and the reverse
would be true if people were actually gassed there, it is clear that
no gassings occurred.

But - HCN is far more effective on warm-blooded animals (including
humans) than on insects, so the period of exposure to HCN is far
longer for delousing clothes than that required for homicidal
gassings, and a much lower concentration is necessary to kill people
instead of insects.


[Leuchter] [Page 4]

A concentration of up to 16,000 ppm (parts per million) is sometimes
used, with exposure times of up to 72 hours, to kill insects, but as
little as 300 ppm will cause death in humans within fifteen minutes
or so.

Breitman offers background information about the development of
Zyklon B as a killing device, and provides clear evidence that the
Nazis determined the effective Zyklon B concentration through a
process of trial and error.

When the difference in the concentration of gas required to kill
insects and humans was mentioned in Leuchter's cross-examination in
the Zundel trial, Leuchter responded: "I've never killed beetles. I,
you know, I don't know. I haven't made computations for killing
beetles" - Hardly the response one would expect from an "expert" on
the subject...

Because of the relatively small concentrations required to
exterminate humans as opposed to lice, and because of the far shorter
exposure time required, the HCN in the gas chambers used to kill
humans hardly had time to form chemical compounds on the walls.

The gas chambers were not very large (those in Kremas II and III were
about 210 square meters), and the Zyklon B was dropped through four
openings in the roof, spreading the gas very quickly. These openings
are still visible in the ruins of the gas chambers, and rare
photographs of them, taken while the camp was in operation, exist,
and copies are readily available (Brugioni et al) from the sources
noted in Section 6.1, below. Since the concentration used was higher
than the lethal one, death was swift.

Leuchter's data is further suspect because the delousing chambers
where he obtained his samples were left intact by the SS, while the
extermination chambers were destroyed. Clearly, their walls were
exposed to the elements for forty-five years, which would certainly
effect the validity of the samples taken. (The ruins of Krema II are
covered with about three feet of water during certain periods of the
year, and HCN compounds would eventually dissolve under such
conditions. Nonetheless, so many gassings occurred there that some
of the compound did remain).

Summarizing, the walls of the extermination gas chambers were in
contact with HCN for a much shorter time then those of the delousing
chambers, and for the last 45 years were exposed to surroundings
which dissolve the compounds, while the delousing rooms were not.
Therefore it is obvious that less traces of compounds would remain in
them. This debunks the major "amazing discovery" in Leuchter's
report, which, in retrospect, wasn't 'amazing' at all.

This fact - that all, or most, of the compounds would vanish during
45 years of exposure - is quite clearly stated in the report written
by the experts at the Cracow Institute of Forensic Research:


[Leuchter] [Page 5]

--------------------------------------------------------------
INSTITUTE OF FORENSIC RESEARCH
In the name of Prof. Dr. Jan Sehn, Krakow
Division of Forensic Toxicology

Krakow, 24 Sept. 1990
Westerplatte 9 / Code 31-033
Tel. 505-44, 592-24, 287-50
Telex 0325213 eksad ...

The hydrocyanic acid (HCN) that is released from the Zyklon B
preparation is a liquid with a boiling point of about 27 degrees
Celsius. It has an acidic character, and therefore forms
compounds with metallic salts, which are known as cyanides. The
salts of alkaline metals (such as sodium and potassium) are
water soluble.

Hydrocyanic acid is a very weak acid, and accordingly its salts
dissolve easily in stronger acids. Even carbonic acid, which is
formed as a reaction of carbon dioxide with water, will dissolve
ferro-cyanide.

Stronger acids, such as sulfuric acids, easily dissolve the
cyanides. The compounds of cyanide ions with heavy metals are
longer lasting. This includes the already mentioned Prussian
blue, although this will also slowly dissolve in an acidic
environment.

Therefore, one can hardly assume that traces of cyanic compounds
could still be detected in construction materials (plaster,
brick) after 45 years, after being subjected to the weather and
the elements (rain, acid oxides, especially sulfuric and
nitrogen oxides). More reliable would be the analysis of wall
plaster [samples] from closed rooms which were not subject to
weather and the elements (including acid rain).

The discovery of hydrocyanic acid compounds in samples of
material which had been subject to the elements can only be
accidental.
--------------------------------------------------------------

The deniers often claim that the gas chamber in Krema I was left
intact, and therefore its walls were not exposed to the elements.
Curiously, they also make great issue of the fact that Krema I was
converted into an air-raid shelter, and then rebuilt by the Soviet
Army, after the liberation of the camp, to reproduce its original
shape, saying that it has been used to mislead the public, who were
told that people were gassed in the building. (The logic of their
holding both views when it seems advantageous to do so will perhaps
escape you, but then logic has not been a demonstrated asset when it
comes to Holocaust denial. See Section 3.0.)

The modification consisted of essentially removing some partitioning
walls inside the gas chamber, which were added as a common feature of
bomb shelters. Nontheless, this is the room in which people were
gassed; there are still traces of cyanide on its walls, as Leuchter
admits (he found traces in 6 of 7 samples).


[Leuchter] [Page 6]

But - the gas chamber of Krema I was used only for a short time,
before the conversion. This, and the fact that "only" about ten
thousand people were murdered within it, compared to
three-hundred-fifty-thousand and four-hundred-thousand in Kremas II
and III, explains why relatively small amounts of cyanide compounds
remain. The other Kremas were destroyed by the SS prior to the
Soviet liberation.

Finally, cyanide compounds were found on the ventilation grills of
the extermination chambers, proving beyond doubt that gassing did
take place within.

2.02 The Explosive Property of Zyklon B & Furnace Proximity

Holocaust denial often asserts that Zyklon B could not have been used
for killing in the gas chambers, because it is explosive, and the
furnaces were nearby.

They overlook, however the fact that the concentration of HCN
necessary to cause death is nearly 200 times lower than that
necessary to cause an explosion. Although the SS used a
concentration higher than the lethal one, it was far less than what
would be required to cause an explosion.

As a reference, one can look at "The Merck Index" and the "CRC
handbook of Chemistry and Physics", or consult any manual dealing
with toxicity and flammability of chemicals. For HCN, a
concentration of 300 ppm (parts per million) kills humans within a
few minutes, while the minimal concentration that can result in an
explosion is 56,000 ppm.

2.03 Gas Chambers Could Not Have Been Opened Safely in 20-30 Minutes

The claim is often heard that it takes 20 hours to air a room which
was disinfected with Zyklon-B, and therefore the eyewitness accounts
giving a time of 20-30 minutes from when the gassing started to when
the bodies where carried out is impossible, because the people
carrying out the bodies would perish.

It is true that if one disinfects a building in ordinary commercial
use, it should not be reentered within 20 hours. That figure,
however, has no meaning relative to the extermination chambers, which
were forcibly ventilated. Fifteen minutes was ample time to replace
the air after a gassing. When ventilation was not used, the
Sonderkommando (prisoners used as forced labor) who removed the
bodies wore gas masks. The Germans had plenty of experience with
gas, especially HCN, which was widely used for delousing. They knew
how to work with it safely. It is absurd to use the 20 hour figure
in this context, as it does not assume forced ventilation and takes a
huge safety factor into account. The SS didn't care much for the
safety of the Sonderkommando who had to enter the gas chambers to
take the corpses out in any event. In some cases, these people did
suffer from the remaining gas (see, for instance, Pressac, p. 473)

Furthermore, what makes ventilation difficult and lengthy is the
presence of rugs, furniture, curtains, etc. Needless to say, these
were not present in the gas chambers - there was just bare concrete,
making ventilation very fast and efficient.

[Leuchter] [Page 7]

If the "20 hours ventilation period" above was true, this would mean
that the corpses of people executed using cyanide gas in US prisons
would remain tied to the chair 20 hours after they were
killed...clearly nonsense, as Fred Leuchter, who claims expertise in
gas chamber operation, knows full well.

2.04 The "Extermination" Chambers Were Actually Morgues

Holocaust denial often claims that the "alleged" extermination
chambers were actually morgues, and that Zyklon-B was used in them as
a disinfectant.

This claim stems from the fact that Hydrocyanic compounds were found
on the ventilation grills of the gas chambers in Krema II and III
(the chemical analysis was carried out by Dr. Jan Robel of the
Cracow Forensic Institute in December 1945, and was part of the
evidence in the trial of Auschwitz commander Ho"ss). This proves
that gassing did take place in that chamber - but since this runs
contrary to the deniers claims that it was an underground morgue,
they claimed "a morgue is disinfected with Zyklon-B."

Unfortunately for the people offering this assertion as truth,
Zyklon-B is useless for disinfecting corpses, as it does not kill
anaerobic bacteria - it kills only aerobic organisms.

Finally, the "morgue" is specifically referred to as a "gassing
cellar" in a letter from the Auschwitz construction department to SS
General Kammler, January 29, 1943. Why call a morgue "gassing
cellar?" And why is the other underground room called "undressing
cellar?" (see Pressac, p. 221; also The Final Solution: The Attempt
to Exterminate the Jews of Europe, 1939-1945 - G. Reitlinger, South
Brunswick, T. Yosellof, 1968, p. 158. These documents are
reproduced in the "AUSCHWITZ" section of the file "Original Nazi
Documents", together with other documents about the process of
gassing in Auschwitz).

2.05 It Was Impossible to Kill 6 Million People at Auschwitz

"Judging by the amount and area of the gas chambers, and the
number of the Kremas, it was impossible to kill 6 million people
in the time interval in which the concentration camps existed."

No-one claims that 6 million people died at Auschwitz. Many died in
other death camps, in the ghettos and in occupied Soviet territory.
Estimates of the number of people who were gassed to death in
Auschwitz vary, but the lowest is 900,000, and the highest about
1,600,000. It is obvious that the extermination and cremation
facilities in Auschwitz could take care of such a number.


[Leuchter] [Page 8]

Just look at the photographs of the furnaces of Krema II (Pressac,
367). There were five Kremas in Auschwitz. Number II, for instance,
had 15 huge furnaces, especially designed to burn efficiently and
quickly. Each could consume 3 to 4 bodies at once (remember that
many children were present, and many of the people were emaciated),
and do so in a maximum of 45 minutes. The SS experimented with
different combinations of corpse types and coke to determine which
would provide the most cost-efficient results! (Mu"ller, 60-61;
Klarsfeld, 99-100)

The figure Leuchter gives as the maximum number of people that could
be executed in a week - 1693 - is absurd, as is demonstrated by the
following calculation for a single Krema, number II:

One gas chamber, about 210 square meters (2220 square feet) in area,
easily accommodated a few hundred people, who were crammed into it.
(See Section 2.16)

Fifteen furnaces, each capable of incinerating at least 3 bodies in
45 minutes, could dispose of at least 720 bodies in a 12-hour day.

In a single year, Krema II could incinerate over a quarter-million
bodies. Add that to the capabilities of Kremas III, IV, and V, and
you begin to get the picture. In addition, bodies were also burned
in massive pits. Two gruesome photographs of these "burning pits",
taken in secrecy in Auschwitz-Birkenau, have survived. They are of
reasonable quality, and show men standing inside a pile of naked
bodies, with the smoking pit in front of them. Some bodies are being
dragged into the pit. The photographs are reproduced in Pressac,
(422) and are also available as GIF files.

As a reference, one can look at a letter dated June 20 1943, sent to
SS General Kammler in Berlin, citing the number of bodies that can be
disposed of in 24 working hours as 4,756. A photograph of the letter
and its serial number in German archives appears in Pressac (247).
(This is lower than 5 x 1440 = 7,200 because some of the Kremas had
fewer furnaces than II and III. The exact breakdown, specified in
the letter from Jahrling to Kammler, is 340 corpses for Krema I, 768
for IV and V, 1440 for II and III. This letter is available in GIF
format.

It is naive at best, and contemptuously dishonest, to claim that such
a number of crematoriums were provided for anything other than the
disposal of bodies created by the mass murder of helpless victims.

Leuchter arrives at his figures assuming that the people could occupy
the gas chambers at a density of maximum 1 person per 9 square feet
(!!) and that it would take a week (!!) to ventilate the gas chambers
before they could be used for another mass execution. These
assumptions are absurd.

Lastly, two other gassing installation existed in Auschwitz - the
so-called "Bunker I" and "Bunker II". They were also demolished by
the fleeing SS.

(Continued in Part Two)

--
The Old Frog's Almanac
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Ladysmith, British Columbia, CANADA

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