Monday, January 24, 2000 16:56
CASE HISTORIAN 'WANTED BUNK REPORT TO BE
Historian David Irving
was today accused of basing his rejection of the
existence of homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz on
a report he knew to be "rubbish".
The 62-year-old author of Hitler's
War, who is seeking High Court libel
damages against American academic Deborah
Lipstadt and Penguin Books over a claim that he
is a 'Holocaust denier', firmly rejected the
allegation made during cross-examination by their
Mr Richard Rampton QC dismissed as
"rubbish" the 1988 findings in a report written by
a man called Fred Leuchter, who had taken samples
from various parts of the remains at Auschwitz and
concluded that there were never homicidal gas
The defendants claim that the Leuchter
report was "bunk"; that Mr Irving knew that to
be the case, but ignored the "stupidities" of it
because he wanted it to be true.
Mr Rampton accused Mr Irving of saying "publicly
that which you know to be untrue about the validity
of the Leuchter report".
During a visit to Florida in 1995 he was
"categorical" in his dependence on the findings of
the Leuchter report.
Mr Irving, of Duke
Street, Mayfair, central London, who is
representing himself during the lengthy trial
before Mr Justice Gray in London, replied: "I
He told the court his position remained the same
and he would be justifying that during the course
of the trial.
Irving, who rejects the claim he a Holocaust
denier, is suing Professor Lipstadt and Penguin
over her 1994 book, Denying
the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and
Memory, which he says generated waves of
hatred against him.
The author, who does question the number of
Jewish dead and denies the systematic extermination
of the Jews in concentration camp gas chambers, has
been accused by the defendants of being "a liar and
a falsifier of history".
At the start of the case Mr Rampton told the
court that in 1988 a man of German origin, Ernst
Zundel, was put on trial in Canada for
publishing material which denied the existence of
gas chambers at Auschwitz.
In defence of this charge Mr Zundel's lawyers
recruited Mr Leuchter "who seems to have made his
living as some kind of consultant in the design of
execution facilities in the USA".
He was dispatched to Auschwitz to seek evidence
of the use "or otherwise" of homicidal gas
chambers. Counsel said his report was declared
inadmissible by the Canadian judge on the grounds
that Mr Leuchter had no relevant expertise.
Mr Rampton said Mr Irving gave evidence at the
trial and during his visit he read the Leuchter
report and "shortly thereafter he declared himself
convinced that Leuchter was right and that there
were never any homicidal gas chambers at
One of the main reasons Mr Leuchter advanced for
his conclusion was that it was to be expected that
any residual traces of hydrogen cyanide "the
killing agent in the Zyklon B pellets used by the
SS" should be very much higher in those parts of
the remains of Auschwitz which were identified as
gas chambers for killing people than in those parts
which were known to have been used for killing
Mr Rampton said the report recorded very small
traces of hydrogen cyanide in the gas chamber
remains and relatively large traces in the
delousing remains: "Therefore, said Mr Leuchter,
the alleged gas chamber remains could obviously
never have been gas chambers at all."
The defendants say that the Leuchter report has
been "comprehensively demolished since", but Mr
Irving submits that the "broad trend" of the report
was substantially borne out by later reports.Mr
Rampton said that the Leuchter report was at fault
in its assertion that the alleged gas chamber
remains could not have been gas chambers because
they contained very small traces of hydrogen
cyanide " while there were relatively large traces
in the delousing remains.
Mr Rampton pointed out
that it was possible to kill human beings with a
22 times lower concentration of the poison than
was required to kill lice.
Mr Irving said that he accepted that the figures
were "flawed" but asserted that the Leuchter report
was "substantially substantiated" by later
He said that in 1945, the Poles had carried out
tests on metal ventilation gratings and human hair
found at Auschwitz.
And in 1989/90, the Auschwitz authorities
carried out tests and came up with "unsatisfactory"
results which they kept secret.
A third more scientific report written later by
a qualified chemist came up with figures which
"broadly confirmed" the conclusions which Leuchter
Mr Rampton told Mr Irving that the court was not
concerned with proving or disproving what happened
at Auschwitz but "your state of mind and your
standards of truth when it comes to reporting
Mr Irving said that the remains of cyanide found
on the "gas chamber" gratings in the 1945 report
was clear evidence that the room was used for
"fumigating cadavers" or clothing which were
heavily infested with typhus lice.
Alternatively, he added, the room "which had a
door fitted with a peep-hole and double-thickness
glass" could have been planned for use as a bomb
Mr Rampton dismissed Mr Irving's theory that
Zyklon B was put into a room where people were
already dead as "bizarre".
Mr Irving said that the hair of about 500 women,
which was mentioned in the 1945 report as bearing
traces of cyanide, was actually found in the area
of Auschwitz where stolen property was stored.
Mr Irving said that the theory that all the
evidence led to the probable conclusion that this
was a mass extermination by gassing was "the
conclusion of the closed mind".
An invoice in his possession, dating from early
1943, showed, he said, that the chamber was used as
a "disinfestation plant" to combat the "appalling
plague" that hit Auschwitz in 1942/3.
Mr Rampton said that "notwithstanding this
catalogue of fundamental errors" (in the Leuchter
report) "you publicly, in your public role, have
adhered to it as if it was the Gospel of St
Mr Irving said what he had relied on was the
chemical part of Leuchter's findings.
The hearing was adjourned until
tomorrow.© Copyright 2000