Debunking Holocaust Denial – The Fred Leuchter Report – #2

Fred Leuchter is an American manufacturer of execution equipment and prominent Holocaust denier who is best known as the author of the Leuchter report, a pseudoscientific document that alleges there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau. To reach this conclusion, Leuchter tested for cyanide residue using a type of analysis which was not appropriate for producing accurate results on samples he collected in an uncontrolled manner. Normally I would say that people like him design experiments to get the results they wanted, but I believe he was so incompetent that he unwittingly stacked the deck in his favour. His methods were in fact so flawed that even fellow Holocaust deniers have been critical of his findings, yet still to this day he vehemently defends is work. As someone who has been so vocal in their criticism of Holocaust denial and in particular of the Leuchter Report, it was only a matter of time before I drew his attention and scorn. What followed was a series of increasingly hostile emails followed by a rather embarrassing and lacklustre video interview of Leuchter in which he attempted to school me on chemistry. 

Fred Leuchter

Fred Leuchter

The son of a prison guard, Leuchter was exposed to the prison system at an early age. From four years old he would accompany his father to his job as superintendent of transportation in the Massachusetts state prison during the 1940s and 50s. As a teenager he helped his father move the states off electric chair when the prison relocated and would later claim that he was able to witness an execution performed in the device. His impression of the event was that the electric chairs used by American prisons were unsafe and often ineffective, leading him to propose design modifications which according to Leuchter were adopted by many American states. They did this despite Leuchter not possessing any formal education or training because no one else would do it. Those who possessed relevant qualifications would not provide advice due to their opposition against the death penalty or out of fear of reprisal leaving a gap in the market for Leuchter to capitalise on. 

For nearly three decades Leuchter had a successful career selling and installing equipment for carrying out executions. Besides building electric chairs, he would go on to build, refurbish and consult on lethal injection machines, gallows, and gas chambers. His success was not just down to those more qualified refusing to help. According to an Alabama official Leuchter was running a “death-row shakedown scheme” in which he would threaten to testify for the defence in capital cases if he was not given contracts for his services by the state. He provided his services in at least 27 states and was apparently the leading go-to expert in the area despite not having any relevant training or qualifications. However, all that changed after he was commissioned by Ernst Zündel to disprove the existence of gas chambers at several of the Nazi concentration camps. 

In 1988 Ernst Zündel, a German-Canadian Holocaust denier, was put on trial in Canada for “spreading false news”. As part of his defence he commissioned Leuchter to conduct a forensic examination of the gas chambers. On February 25 and March 3 1988, Leuchter, his then wife (who he had married only about one month before the trip and told her that this was their honeymoon), and three associates visited the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Birkenau, and Majdanek. Without permission and taking care to avoid officials and guided tours, they collected a total of 32 samples from the site. Leuchter then smuggled the samples out of Soviet-controlled Poland by hiding the samples in his dirty underwear. The samples were then sent to the Alpha Analytical Laboratories for chemical analysis with the explanation that it was for a “workman’s compensation case”. The analysts were never specifically told what to look for but determined that there was little trace of cyanide in the materials. Leuchter then concluded that without significant presence of cyanide residues on the samples, the gas chambers never existed. This was the conclusion of his report: The Leuchter Report. The End of a Myth: A Report on the Alleged Execution Gas Chambers at Auschwitz, Birkenau and Majdnk Poland who’s conclusion I thoroughly debunked a few years back. 

In May 2019 I published a 24-minute-long video criticising the Leuchter report for its flawed methodology and its conclusion which was not supported by the evidence. 

The judge in the 1988 Zündel trial refused to allow most of Leuchter’s testimony after questioning his scientific credentials. He also questioned his historical knowledge since “Leuchter was unaware of a host of documents pertaining to the installation and construction of the gas chambers and crematoria”. As a result, his report was not allowed to be presented as evidence. The trail brought Leuchter a lot of unwanted attention from the scientific community who disputed his findings and authorities in several states questioned his so-called expertise. After an investigation, Leuchter lost his credentials as an engineer in several states and was forced to sign a consent agreement that stated he had misrepresented himself as an engineer. When states started to deny his contracts on the basis of his lack of qualifications, he tried to sell parts of a lethal injection machine and other items from his execution business to the general public via wanted adds. To make ends meet, he began lecturing to Holocaust denial groups such as the Institute for Historical Review.

Recently Leuchter contacted me after watching my video critical of his report and graciously offered to correct the mistakes he believed I had made. Naturally I jumped at the opportunity to talk to such a prominent holocaust denier and welcomed any feedback he had so long as it was well referenced. Soon after we started corresponding, but before we arranged a date and time for our meeting, Leuchter began to move the goal posts and things began to deteriorate. He decided that he no longer felt comfortable talking to me alone and invited me onto his friend and fellow Holocaust denier Jim Rizoli’s internet show. I politely declined stating that I have no intention of talking to anyone else other than him.

“We can do all that on a skype with Jim. You have been hard on me in the past (without cause) and I would like a video of the discussion.  If you refuse, I will assume you are no different from all the other Exterminationists I have dealt with, all lie and no substance.  All have run from a debate because they cannot hold their own against the truth!”- Fred Leuchter

Once again, I politely declined stating that I only wanted to talk to him and him only. I assured him that I was not planning an ambush and that I was hoping for more of an informal interview rather than in-depth debate. I also admitted that I had been harsh on him in the past but not without due cause and once again stated that I would very much like to chat with him. Leuchter responded by comparing himself to the pope. 

“Call it what you will.  Interview or debate.  It was my intention to educate you, so it really would have been neither.   You have been harsh when talking about me and I do not, and cannot, understand why.  You might think it would be a debate but a debate takes place between peers.  Since I have no peers it is in reality a lesson for you.  On the existence of Gas Chambers there is no one qualified to even to begin to question what I say.  There is no one alive who has built, modified, studied, designed or has written Protocol for Gas Executions.  What would be done if Gas executions were permitted now, and not unconstitutional, would be done utilizing my protocol.  I, like the Pope, speak Ex Cathedra on matters concerning Gas Execution Chambers, there being no other experts.  Therefore, you have spoken out of turn.  I am willing to educate you on this matter but not alone where you can manipulate the recording.  The decision is up you to if you want to avail yourself of this opportunity.” – Fred Leuchter

Soon after comparing himself to the Pope, Leuchter was a guest on Jim Rizoli’s internet show in an episode titled “Fred Leuchter Jim Rizoli about Myles the LIAR” in which the pair discussed my video. However, it became apparent very early on that they had done no research before sitting down to record. Jim even started the show by letting us know that he was unable to watch my age restricted videos because he had been banned from YouTube and was not au fait with their system, and therefore did not know how to get around this problem. Jim didn’t even take the time to look into who I was, telling his audience that he thinks I’m a chemist followed by “I am not sure why he thinks he is one”. The reason why I believe I am a chemist Jim is because I studied chemistry at university and since I graduated, I have been working in industry as a professional chemist. To be fair this is not something I regularly mention as I like my work online to stand on its own merits but it is something I have mentioned several times in Holocaust denialism debunking videos which Jim would have known if he had bothered to watch them.

Jim starts the show by lying to his audience about the reason why I had not yet talked to Leuchter implying that it was I who was backing out of our agreement. 

He never talked to Fred Leuchter who was the one who went there to investigate the buildings to see if these buildings could ever be used as real bonified gas chambers. So that’s the whole beef of this argument here because Myles Power he’s a charlatan OK he gives a big talk. He likes to talk but he doesn’t like to give facts so what he does is he is a parrot he repeats all the Holocaust hoaxers information that has come down the pipeline over the years and then when it comes down to talking to somebody who is an expert in the field of gas chambers, which Fred Leuchter is he doesn’t wanna talk to him. But he said he was going to interview him and this is what bothers me, I hate people who that say that they are going do something and then they don’t do it.” – Jim Rizoli

I am not going to lie I was a little taking aback by this. I made it very clear that I wanted to talk to Leuchter and Leuchter alone and of the time this video was published I hoped this would still happen. Seeing Jim lying to his audience and watching Leuchter do nothing to correct him made me realise that these people have no interest in talking to me or what really happed at the death camps. They much prefer to spin a yarn about how no one was gassed, they are the ones with all the answers, and everyone else knows this to be the case and are too scared to confront them. 

One of the main issues Leuchter has with my videos critical of his report is that I exclusively talked about the chemical errors it contained and never addressed the document as a whole. 

“He claims he knows what he is talking about. He clearly doesn’t. He claims to have read my report and I question that, but if he did I don’t think he understood it. Perhaps he doesn’t understand the Queen’s English because that is what it was written in. But the bottom line is here is that he calls is junk science but he is only talking about the chemistry which is not a real part of the report” – Fred Leuchter 

This for the most part is a fair criticism but quite frankly there are not enough hours in the day to correct every inaccuracy that lands on my desk. Therefore, I counter what I consider to be the strongest arguments made by my opponents and in my opinion the supposed lack of cyanide-based residue on the gas chamber walls is the strongest argument Holocaust deniers have. In reality Leuchter’s rambling about pressure differentials and PPE do very little in the way of convincing people that the Holocaust never happened, and he knows this. This is why despite criticising me for focusing on the chemical aspects of his report, Leuchter spends the vast majority of his time on Jim’s show doing the exact same thing. 

“I was given a good understanding of chemistry by the gentleman who was the chief engineer and the manager of the area of Dupont that made hydrogen cyanide gas. So I had a good idea what was going on I am not a chemist and I don’t claim to be” – Fred Leuchter

Here Leuchter is referring to Dr. William Lindsey, a research chemist employed for 33 years by the DuPont Corporation who also happens to be a fellow Holocaust denier. After retiring from DuPont in 1985, Lindsey would go on to testify in court that the gassings physically could not have happened. 

“I have come to the conclusion that no one was wilfully or purposefully killed with Zyklon B in this manner. I consider it absolutely impossible” – Dr. William Lindsey

This led to DuPont publishing a statement that none of Lindsey’s activities related to the holocaust were in anyway connected to his work at Du Pont. 

DuPont Fred Leuchter

Leuchter was very careful with his working on Jim’s show. He said that he had consulted an expert in the field, Lindsey, but in the past, he has lied about his interactions with DuPont. He claimed that he consulted them on a regular basis – something which the company vehemently denied stating that they never provided him with any information on cyanides. 

Later whilst talking about his interaction with Lindsey, Leuchter would unknowingly expose either his lack of research or his lack of critical thinking when he referred to me as textbook chemist who docent have any background working with hydrogen cyanide. 

“Lindsey was an expert from a hands-on position. Not only was he a qualified chemist but he also ran their manufacturing facility. So he understood how to make it. He understood more than a text book chemist would. And I don’t think I don’t think Power had any background in that area because nobody works with hydrogen cyanide or very few people today so he would not have exposure to it.” – Fred Leuchter 

Hydrogen cyanide (for those who can smell it) has a bitter almond odour; or more accurately fruits that have a pit, such as apricots, apples, and bitter almonds, smell like hydrogen cyanide. In one of my previous videos on Holocaust denial, I discussed how I personally have smelt the gas and can confirm it does indeed have this odour. If Leuchter had watched my videos and is the brilliant maverick investigative pioneer that his peers hold him up to be, he should have been asking himself how and why I came into contact with hydrogen cyanide. The answer is that in my professional career I once worked on a process which generated hydrogen cyanide in situ. One night we had a very minor loss of containment which led to myself and two operators being exposed to a small but detectable amount of the deadly gas. The process was immediately stopped and the area evacuated. The subsequent investigation located the leak and the process was soon back up and running. So no, I am not simply a “textbook chemist” I am someone who has worked with hydrogen cyanide on an industrial scale. 

Jim believing Leuchter to be the “only gas expert on gas chambers on the planet” asked him “what do you need for a gas chamber to operate?”.

“You need a container that is air tight. That leaks in one direction inwards. And you need a means of removing the air which is in the gas chamber on a slow basis. You have to keep it for at least half an atmosphere at the average pressure. The air should be ambient outside the chamber.“ – Fred Leuchter 

Having a perfectly sealed system under reduced pressure (although 0.5 atmospheres is a little overkill) would be advantage but not necessary. So long as the concentration of hydrogen cyanide is over 300ppm (which is a fraction of the concentration required for delousing) and it is relatively contained, people will die. Leuchter’s requirements really only benefit the operators of the gassing facility but when those operators were dispensable, why bother going the extra mile? Also here Leuchter is not so subtly implying that no effort was made to contain the gas within the gas chambers. In his report he claims that “there is no provisions for gasket doors, windows or vents’ which is simply not true. For example we have a letter form Karl Bischoff, the head architect at Auschwitz-Birkenau ordering three gas tight doors” for the Crema/Gas Chamber 3. There is even a gas chamber door at the Auschwitz museum which I saw when I visited the site back in 2019. 

auschwitz gas chamber door

Gas chamber door at Auschwitz

Leuchter goes on to state that only hydrogen cyanide generated by chemical reaction there and then can be used to gas people. 

“Then you need a means for making the gas because it doesn’t work to pump the gas in. The way it is done is we take cyanide pellets what we call egg. Either sodium or hydrogen cyanide pellets. Sodium or potassium and we drop them into a 7% solution of sulphuric acid. This cause a chemical reaction that produces hydrogen cyanide gas with the remainder prussic acid which is also highly poisonous.” – Fred Leuchter 

Looking past the misconception that prussic acid is aqueous hydrogen cyanide, why would you need to generate this deadly gas via chemical reaction? How is this beneficial to using the pure highly volatile liquid? The answer is that it is not and Leuchter has simply made this up. Infact to ensure a complete reaction you would need an excess of sulphuric acid which would leave you with an acidic sulphate solution saturated with hydrogen cyanide. As Leuchter suggests only using 7% sulphuric acid this would leave you with a relatively large amount of waste which would need to be disposed of. By comparison Zyklon-B can simply be vented to atmosphere which is the same thing you would have to do with the hydrogen cyanide produced via Leuchter’s chemical reaction. Yes, cyanide salts and weak acid solutions are easier to handle, but his method of hydrogen cyanide generation would be impractical on the scale the Nazis used it to kill people. 

Next Leuchter says something which makes me question his grip on reality and ask just what has he been doing for the past 33 years. 

“The quantity which is used has to be sufficient to kill a person is a short amount of time. And that short period of time is usually 7 to 10 minutes. It is much more than you could get out of 1 can or 2 cans or 30 cans of Zykon-B. There is not enough gas absorbed in the pellets to use in a gas chamber.” – Fred Leuchter 

Lice and other insects have a far higher resistance to cyanide than humans. This is why Zyklon-B manufacture Degesch recommended a concentration between 7240-14,480 ppm (8-16 g/m3) for a prolonged period of time (up to 20 hours in the concentration camps delousing facilities) to be effective. This is well above the 330ppm (0.33 g/m3) and 15 minutes required to kill a human. If Leuchter is correct and there is not enough hydrogen cyanide in a can of Zyklon-b to be deadly to humans, how could Degesch possibly sell it as a pesticide? 

It is true that the gas chambers were larger than the delousing facilities and therefore to ensure a lethal concentration was reached multiple cans of Zykoln-B were used as stated by Rudolf Höss – the longest serving commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

“5 to 7 cans of Zyklon-B with 1kg each were needed for gassing 1,500 people; the number of cans varied depending on the size of the gas chamber, the weather conditions, which is to say, during cold weather 2 of 3 additional cans were needed” – Rudolf Höss 

American chemist Richard J. Green predicted that victims were exposed to 450-1810 ppm within 5-15 minutes far above the 300ppm lethal threshold. How anyone can say with a straight face that there is not enough cyanide in 30 cans of Zyklon-B is beyond me and shows either a willing ignorance of reality or a level of deception which I have never seen before. But apparently this is the hill Leuchter wants to die on as he doubles down on Jim’s show. 

“It is enough to use in a facility where you are killing lice in a small area, but you still have to leave it in for a long time. And you have to let the chemicals kill the insects. So one of the problems people have a look and they say Zycoln-B does this. It is not sufficient to kill a human being in the time we have to do it.” – Fred Leuchter 

As I previously said, it takes a far higher concentration of hydrogen cyanide to kill lice and other insects which is something Leuchter knows. During the 1988 Zündel trial when the difference in concentration of gas required to kill insects and humans was mentioned Leuchter responded. 

“I’ve never killed beetles. I, you know, I don’t know. I haven’t made computations for killing beetles.” – Fred Leuchter 

As of writing this blog post, it has been 33-years since Leuchter fell down this Holocaust denial rabbit hole. To put this into context, when he started the Berlin Wall still divided the German capital, Margaret Thacher was Prime Minister, and I was 2 years old. He has had ample time to learn some humility and to understand and correct the basic failings of his report. Yet instead he has decided to double down and chosen a path that has robbed him of his career and made him a social outcast. His war against people who accept the events of history who he called “extermanists” isn’t fuelled by antisemitism but narcissism and for that reason I pity him. 

You only get one chance on this planet – don’t waste it as Leuchter is. 

About Myles Power (749 Articles)
My name is Myles Power, and I run the educational YouTube channel, powerm1985. I spend what little free time I have sharing my love of SCIENCE! through home experiments, visiting sites of scientific interest, and angrily ranting at pseudoscience proponents. I am also one of the founding members of the podcast 'The League of Nerds' - which I co-host with James from 'The History of Infection'.

3 Comments on Debunking Holocaust Denial – The Fred Leuchter Report – #2

  1. Paul Blake // June 3, 2021 at 1:09 am // Reply

    I’d like to add some additional information for your debunking efforts with which you may be unaware. And if you like, I can give you informative references to back up the info I am telling you:

    1. The wartime guidelines the Germans used for fumigating buildings with Zyklon-B were posted throughout the camp system and elsewhere. A copy of these guidelines is saved in the postwar Nuremberg trials as document NI-9912. You can see a version of it along with an English translation at:

    http://robertfaurisson.blogspot.com/2015/07/a-document-among-others-stating.html

    Please read the whole document to get a better understanding of what is involved with fumigating a room with Zyklon.

    Notice the way the explosiveness issue is considered at the beginning of this document. Zyklon is not considered to be explosive unless the volume containing it forces the evaporated HCN’s concentration above LEL (Lower Explosion Limit). HCN’s (hydrogen cyanide gas) diffusion throughout air is much quicker than its evaporation off the Zyklon substrate and so one typically does not consider Zyklon explosive unless one uses an absurd initial quantity – which is not alleged to have been the case for either fumigation or the alleged mass homicidal gassings – which are very nearly the same as a fumigation for the requisite volumes of rooms we are talking about here. I can get more detailed about this if you like. Pop me an email of you wish. The only point I am making here is that no explosive precautions were made for fumigations and would not have been made for the homicidal gassings. Explosiveness is a non-issue with Zyklon fumigations. And, frankly, they’re not really much of an issue in other HCN fumigations. HCN’s diffusion rate is quite rapid. But here we have a German document emphatively stating (in bold lettering) “nicht explosiv”.

    The reason for the long fumigation times is that these procedures are procedure for killing lice and their nits (lice eggs). Lice are small and their eggs are even smaller. The nit needs to have HCN PENETRATE into the egg to kill it. It therefore needs to saturate very small areas with enough concentration. The gas needs to saturate the smallest of cracks in walls, between clothing weaves, and penetrate into lice eggs. It takes awhile to ensure that the gas does this throughout a volume.

    The Germans had delousing chambers such as the ones at Dachau where a blower was employed – for this sole purpose of PENETRATING through the clothes put on racks and placed into these chambers. The blowers are solely for this penetration aspect – not because HCN does not diffuse quickly enough (it does – just not with enough concentration and pressure to penetrate with enough in a small time). If you like, I can find quite a few references I know of about this. People confuse the purpose of the blower in these delousing facilities. It is for PENETRATION.

    I have researched this Zyklon delousing issues fairly extensively and could probably help you with any particular detail that you might want backup references for. pop me off an email with anything that I might be able to help you with.

    Like

  2. Fascinating.

    Two questions;

    Why did you want to talk to Fred alone?

    Why haven’t you talked to your actual peer Germar Rudolf?

    Like

  3. “His impression of the event was that the electric chairs used by American prisons were unsafe”

    Yeah. One of those things is going to kill someone one day.

    Like

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