3. The Origins

Fig. 8: Prof. Dr. Robert Faurisson

Before the publication of the Leuchter Report, discussion relating to the reliability of eyewitness testimony of National Socialist mass murder was confined to groups describing themselves as “revisionists,” usually termed “Neo-Nazis” or “right-wing extremists” by the media. But in fact, the labels used by the media were wide of the mark, as can be seen in the case of four of the most well-known revisionists: Paul Rassinier, French Socialist and former member of the French Resistance, who was an inmate of the concentration camps Buchenwald and Dora-Mittelbau;[34] German Jew Josef Ginsburg, who suffered from anti-Jewish measures taken during WWII by other countries as well as Germany.[35] The two most notable revisionists, Professors Arthur R. Butz, USA,[36] and retired Prof. Robert Faurisson, of France, can certainly not be accused of being political extremists, and nobody ever seriously tried to do this.[37]

The discussion on the technical problems of the National Socialist mass-murder of the Jews was begun in the late 1970s by Robert Faurisson, then professor of French, Greek and Latin, and an analyst of documents, texts, and witness statements at the University of Lyon II. He began to question the standard historical version of the Holocaust after he had made numerous critical studies concerning witness testimony and on documents that supposedly supported the claims of mass-murder. In 1978 for the first time, he advanced the argument that “there had not been one single gas chamber under Adolf Hitler.”[38] Later he supported this claim with physical, chemical, topographic, architectural, documentary, and historical arguments. He described the existence of the homicidal gas chambers as “radically impossible.”[39] At the end of 1979, the largest French daily newspaper, Le Monde, decided to publish Professor Faurisson’s provocative thesis, so he was given the opportunity to summarize it in an article.[40] The establishment historians’ reaction was characteristic[41] and is best illustrated by a passage from a declaration signed by Pierre Vidal Naquet and 33 other researchers:[42]

“One may not ask how such a mass-murder [of Jews] was possible. It was technically possible, because it happened. This is the obligatory starting-point of every historical investigation of this subject. We simply want to call into memory this truth: There is no debate over the existence of the gas chambers, and there must not be one.”

Such a dogmatic explanation is equivalent to a capitulation, which was well understood. Hence they reconsidered their standpoint and went back to the drawing board.

Over the years that followed, establishment historians took up the questions raised by Robert Faurisson and others, at least to some extent, although they doggedly refused to permit him, or any one else who even remotely voiced similar thoughts, to participate in any academic activities. In the early 1980s, two large Holocaust conferences were held in the cities of Paris[43] and Stuttgart.[44] Some of the more important reasons for these conferences certainly were the works of Faurisson, Butz and others.[45]

In 1983, as a counter-measure against the ongoing successes of revisionists, a compilation was published, principally the work of French and German establishment historians.[46] While this book ridiculed and insulted revisionists and cast political aspersions against them, and at the same time was intended to refute their claims, it does neither address any particular revisionist argument, nor are any revisionist publications quoted or authors named, so that it is impossible for the reader of this book to verify the polemic accusations made against the revisionists. This book also repeats the mistake often emphasized by revisionists: quotations from “eyewitness” testimony and passages from documents were taken out of context and pasted uncritically into a predetermined historical pattern.

The publication of the Leuchter Report at the end of the 1980s gave a significant boost to revisionism. From that time onward, there has been an unending stream of publications.[47] The number of persons involved in “revisionism” increases steadily; although in many European countries this development has been curtailed by the enactment of laws threatening heavy penalties.[48]

3.1. On the Problem

A fact-oriented discussion of the technical arguments brought into the public by the Leuchter Report was started in France by an attempt at refutation by the pharmacist Jean-Claude Pressac in the periodical Jour Juif.[49] His work could hardly qualify as an expert discussion in view of the absence of any references to his sources and any exact scientific argumentation. Though he did point out several deficiencies in the Leuchter Report, he made several errors himself in chemical and engineering questions due to his lack of expertise.[50]

The first response from Germany came from the official Institut für Zeitgeschichte (IfZ, Institute for Contemporary History).[51] It was based on Pressac’s work and was hardly useful due to the lack of technical expertise in the same.[52]

A little later, a contribution on the Leuchter Report appeared in an anthology on the Third Reich, authored by retired social worker Werner Wegner, who had no qualifications in chemistry or civil engineering either.[53] Instead of seeking the advice of qualified people on these matters, he drew his own conclusions – to his own massive embarrassment.[54] One may question why Dr. Rainer Zitelmann, the responsible editor of this anthology, included this ridiculous piece in his otherwise well-researched compilation.[55]

At the end of 1991, chemist Dr. J. Bailer critiqued the Leuchter Report in a little booklet published in Austria.[56] This work is notable for largely ignoring the witness testimony on the procedures supposedly used during the gassings at Auschwitz and for the author’s lack of understanding of the process by which hydrogen cyanide reacts with masonry. Despite criticism directed at his study,[57] Bailer repeated his unsustainable objections in a later publication without responding to his critics.[58]

At approximately the same time as Bailer’s first publication, G. Wellers also published a study of the Leuchter Report.[59] Wellers ‘ position was superficial, and is characterized by lack of technical and scientific knowledge.[60]

Finally, the Auschwitz State Museum itself ordered an expert report to be compiled. The Institute for Forensic Research, Toxicology Division, of Krakow, Poland, named after Prof. Dr. Jan Sehn, prepared this report under Prof. Dr. J. Markiewicz on September 24, 1990, which confined itself to the analysis of masonry samples.[61] The report concluded that the reason why Leuchter’s samples from the homicidal gas chambers were mostly negative with respect to traces of cyanide was because the cyanide compounds had been exposed for more than 40 years to weathering, which these compounds allegedly could not have withstood. Three of these authors from the Jan Sehn Institute later published additional findings,[62] which were, however, based on a verifiably incorrect analytical method – as was the first series of analyses – so that their results were flawed.[63] Correspondence with the authors failed to elucidate the reasons for the deliberate use of an incorrect method.[64]

In 1997 in France, distribution of the French edition of an earlier version of this present report produced two notable reactions, only one of which addressed factual arguments,[65] but which nevertheless failed to discuss the technical problems in a scientific manner.[66] The Chemical Department of the French Academy of Sciences chose not to make a comment publicly on factual arguments, but rather to resort to polemic phraseology and personal attacks.[67]

In 1998, in the United States, in answer to the present report, a paper appeared on the Internet, which partly discusses technical issues and partly consists of political name-calling.[68] In related correspondence,[69] however, the author of the paper avoided any discussion of the central issues.[70]

In 1999, cultural historian Prof. Robert Jan van Pelt produced an expert report on Auschwitz for the defense in the libel case of British Historian David Irving against American writer Deborah Lipstadt.[71] This report represents a retreat to the argumentative situation before Jean-Claude Pressac’s first book, published in 1989,[72] ignoring almost all arguments brought forward by revisionists since that year.[73] In 2002 van Pelt’s expert report appeared in a revised and extened version as a book.[74] It is the first book in English to intensively discuss various revisionist arguments, although it fails to mention even one of the many books and papers written by the most industrious and productive revisionist researchers, Carlo Mattogno. Van Pelt mainly relied on the works of J.-C. Pressac for his own book, even though he hardly ever mentions him.[75] It is a pity that the cultural historian van Pelt tries to address many chemical, toxicological, engineering and architectural questions for which he simply lacks both expertise and experience. But even when it comes to analyzing the historical record, van Pelt falls far short of the requirements for a serious study, as Mattogno has concluded in his 750 pp. analysis of van Pelt’s tome:[76]

“[van Pelt’s] study of Auschwitz has no scientific and historiographic value,

  • because it ignores works of crucial importance;
  • because it does not even mention essential opposing views and arguments;
  • because it fails to approach pivotal technical issues with technical means;
  • because it is highly inconsistent;
  • because it uses deceptive methods;
  • because it presents conflicting sources without due source criticism;
  • because it reveals a decidedly threadbare knowledge of the camp’s history;
  • because it deforms all sources to serve the alleged ‘extermination’ aspects of Auschwitz;
  • and because even regarding the claimed ‘extermination’ aspects it exhibits an incomplete and superficial grasp.”

Most of the above-mentioned attempted refutations of the Leuchter Report, and subsequent discussion with other revisionists, are marred by personal insinuations about the motivations of persons making use of revisionist arguments, or by polemical excursions, neither of which contribute to the scientific discussion.

3.2. On Politics

The question of whether or not systematic mass-killings of Jews in homicidal gas chambers specifically constructed for the purpose of accomplishing their extermination took place under the National Socialist regime is apparently viewed as a political issue. Whether or not a moral appraisal of the National Socialist regime depends on the existence or non-existence of gas chambers is disputable. A political evaluation of the Third Reich is not significantly dependent upon this moral evaluation. Since the present discussion contains neither a moral, nor political, evaluation of a long-dead regime, I shall make no moral or political statements. Personally, I am inclined to judge a politician, or political system, on the basis of what s/he, or it, was able to leave behind for their respective nation – everything else follows. That must suffice at this point.

Fig. 9: People who run out of arguments turn to violence. Prof. Faurisson after an attack by Jewish thugs, Sept. 16, 1989.[77]

To everyone who has ever suspected that revisionists are motivated by a desire to whitewash National Socialism, or restore the acceptability of right-wing political systems, or assist in a breakthrough of Nationalism, I would like to say the following:

While researching, our highest goal must at all times be to discover how historical events actually occurred – as the 19th century German historian Leopold Ranke maintained. Historians should not place research in the service of making criminal accusations against, for example, Genghis Khan and the Mongol hordes, nor to whitewash any of their wrong-doings. Anybody insisting that research be barred from exonerating Genghis Khan of criminal accusations would be the object of ridicule and would be subject to the suspicion that he was, in fact, acting out of political motives. If this were not so, why would anyone insist that our historical view of Genghis Khan forever be defined solely by Khan’s victims and enemies?

The same reasoning applies to Hitler and the Third Reich. Both revisionists and their adversaries are entitled to their political views. The accusation that revisionists are only interested in exonerating National Socialism and that such an effort is reprehensible or even criminal, is a boomerang: This accusation implies that it is deemed unacceptable to partially exonerate National Socialism historically, and by so doing, always also morally. But by declaring any hypothetical exoneration based on possible facts as unacceptable, one admits openly not to be interested in the quest for the truth, but in incriminating National Socialism historically and morally under any circumstances and at all costs. And the motivation behind this can only be political. Hence, those accusing revisionists of misusing their research for political ends have themselves been proven guilty of exactly this offense. It is therefore not necessarily the revisionists who are guided by political motives – though quite a few of them certainly are – but with absolute certainty all those who accuse others of attempting to somehow historically exonerate a political system which has long since disappeared.

As a consequence, our research must never be concerned with the possible “moral” spin-off effects of our findings in relation to politicians or regimes of the past or present, but solely with the facts. Anyone who argues the opposite does not understand scientific research and should not presume to condemn others on the basis of authentic research.


Notes

[34]Some of his most important works were also published in English, see The Real Eichmann Trial or the Incorrigible Victors, Torrance, CA, 1976; Debunking the Genocide Myth, The Noontide Press, Los Angeles, 1978; The Holocaust Story and the Lies of Ulysses, 2nd ed., Institute for Historical Review, New Port Beach 1990.
[35]Some of his most import works (all in German) are available online at www.vho.org/dl/DEU.html#jdd.
[36]Cf. The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, 3rd ed., Theses & Dissertations Press, Chicago 2003; “Context and perspective in the ‘Holocaust’ controversy,” JHR, 3(4) (1982), pp. 371-405.
[37]Cf. Mémoire en défense, La Vieille Taupe, Paris 1980; Serge Thion (ed.), Vérité historique ou vérité politique?; La Vielle Taupe, Paris 1980; R. Faurisson, Écrits révisionnistes, 4 vols., published by author, Vichy 1999.
[38]Cf. in addition to arguments in the works in note 37 also R. Faurisson, “Es gab keine Gaskammern,” Deutscher Arbeitskreis Witten, Witten 1978.
[39]R. Faurisson, “Le camere a gas non sono mai esistite,” Storia illustrata, 261 (1979), pp. 15-35; Engl.: “The Gas Chambers: Truth or Lie?” The Journal of Historical Review, 2(4) (1981), pp. 319-373; cf. Faurisson, “The Mechanics of Gassing,” JHR, 1(1) (1980) pp. 23ff.; Faurisson, “The Gas Chambers of Auschwitz Appear to be Physically Inconceivable,” ibid., 2(4) (1981), pp. 311ff.
[40]“‘Le problème des chambres à gaz’ ou ‘la rumeur d’Auschwitz,’” Le Monde, Dec. 29, 1978, p. 8; see also “The ‘problem of the gas chambers,’” JHR, 1(2) (1980), pp. 103-114 (ihr.org/jhr/v01/v01p103_Faurisson.html).
[41]Cf. the documentation on numerous articles and letters in R. Faurisson, Mémoire…, op. cit. (note 37), pp. 71-101.
[42]Le Monde, Feb 21, 1979.
[43]At the Sorbonne from Jun 29. – July 2, 1982, entitled “Le national-socialisme et les Juifs”; cf. Ecole des hautes études en sciences socials (ed.), L’Allemagne nazie et le génocide juif, Gallimard/Le Seuil, Paris 1985; on December 11-13, 1987, there was a second Colloquium held at the Sorbonne, cf. R. Faurisson, Écrits révisionnistes, op. cit. (note 37), vol. 2, pp. 733-750.
[44]For a transcript of the conference, cf.: E. Jäckel, J. Rohwer, Der Mord an den Juden im Zweiten Weltkrieg, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1985.
[45]Most importantly, Wilhelm Stäglich’s Der Auschwitz-Mythos, Grabert, Tübingen 1979; Engl.: The Auschwitz Myth, Institute for Historical Review, Torrance, CA, 1986; as well as Walter N. Sanning’s papers and book on Jewish population statistics: “Die europäischen Juden. Eine technische Studie zur zahlenmäßigen Entwicklung im Zweiten Weltkrieg,” 4 parts, Deutschland in Geschichte und Gegenwart 28(1-4) (1980), pp. 12-15; 17-21; 17-21; 25-31; Sanning, Die Auflösung des osteuropäischen Judentums, Grabert, Tübingen 1983; English: The Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry, Institute for Historical Review, Torrance, CA, 1983.
[46]E. Kogon, H. Langbein, A. Rückerl et al. (eds.), Nationalsozialistische Massentötungen durch Giftgas, S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt 1983; Engl.: Nazi Mass Murder, Yale University Press, New Haven 1993; French: Henry Rollet (ed.), Les chambres à gaz: secret d’Etat, Les Editions de Minuit, Paris 1984.
[47]Since a complete listing of them all is impossible here, the reader’s attention may be directed to the expanding series Holocaust Handbooks and the literature quoted in them; see the ads at the end of this book (www.HolocaustHandbooks.com).
[48]The Fabius-Gayssot Law was passed in France in 1990, rendering punishable the “denial of the facts” of the National Socialist war crimes “ascertained” at the Nuremburg Trials of 1946 convened by the Allied powers. In 1993, Austria followed suit (sec. 3h Criminal Law); in 1994, Germany (sec. 130 Criminal Code, new version), in 1995, Switzerland (sec. 216bis Criminal Code) and in 1996, Spain enacted similar laws that year, but abrogated it in 2007. A similar law passed in Belgium in 1997. Poland adopted a similar law in 1999, Czechia in 2001, and Hungary in 2010. Canada and Australia have created “Human Rights Commissions” which persecute revisionists and other offenders against political correctness. For more details see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_against_Holocaust_denial.
[49]J.-C. Pressac, Jour J, December 12, 1988, pp. I-X. See also the related discussion in the undated translation, without references; see also Pressac in: S. Shapiro (ed.), Truth Prevails: Demolishing Holocaust Denial: The End of the Leuchter Report, Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, New York 1990.
[50]On this cf. W. Schuster, “Technische Unmöglichkeiten bei Pressac,” Deutschland in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 39(2) (1991), pp. 9-13; also Paul Grubach, “The Leuchter Report Vindicated: A Response to Jean-Claude Pressac’s Critique,” JHR, 12(4) (1992), pp. 445-473.
[51]H. Auerbach, Institut für Zeitgeschichte, letter to Bundesprüfstelle, Munich, Oct. 10, 1989; Auerbach, November 1989 (no day given), both published in U. Walendy, Historische Tatsache no. 42, Verlag für Volkstum und Zeitgeschichtsforschung, Vlotho 1990, pp. 32 and 34.
[52]In this regard, see my technical appraisal, reprinted in Henri Roques, Günter Annthon, Der Fall Günter Deckert, DAGD/Germania Verlag, Weinheim 1995, pp. 431-435.
[53]W. Wegner, “Keine Massenvergasungen in Auschwitz? Zur Kritik des Leuchter-Gutachtens,” in U. Backes, E. Jesse, R. Zitelmann (ed.), Die Schatten der Vergangenheit, Propyläen, Frankfurt 1990, pp. 450-476 (www.vho.org/D/dsdv/Wegner.html, with inserted critique by the present writer).
[54]On this cf. W. Häberle, “Zu Wegners Kritik am Leuchter-Gutachten,” Deutschland in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 39(2) (1991), pp. 13-17.
[55]In a personal communication to me, he confessed that he had been forced to include the paper to avoid opposition to his book due to the fact that the other papers were “revisionist” in tone.
[56]J. Bailer, “Der Leuchter-Bericht aus der Sicht eines Chemikers,” in: Dokumentationszentrum des österreichischen Widerstandes, Bundesministerium für Unterricht und Kultur (eds.), Amoklauf gegen die Wirklichkeit, Vienna 1991, pp. 47-52. With respect to the cyanide content of human hair: Expert Opinion of the Krakow Institute, 1945, on the cyanide content of human hair, hair pins and a ventilation lid, B. Bailer-Galanda, ibid., pp. 36-40; the original is in the custody of the Auschwitz State Museum.
[57]Cf. E. Gauss (= G. Rudolf), Vorlesungen über Zeitgeschichte, Grabert, Tübingen 1993, pp. 290-293; idem, “Chemische Wissenschaft zur Gaskammerfrage,” Deutschland in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 41(2) (1993), pp. 16-24.
[58]J. Bailer, in B. Bailer-Galanda, W. Benz, W. Neugebauer (eds.), Wahrheit und Auschwitzlüge, Deuticke, Vienna 1995, pp. 112-118; cf. my critique “Lüge und Auschwitz-Wahrheit,’” in G. Rudolf, C. Mattogno, Auschwitz-Lügen, Castle Hill Publishers, Hastings 2005, pp. 185-227; Engl.: “Critique of Truth and the Auschwitz-Lie” (www.vho.org/GB/Books/cq/critique.html).
[59]G. Wellers, “Der Leuchter-Bericht über die Gaskammern von Auschwitz,” Dachauer Hefte, 7(7) (November 1991), pp. 230-241.
[60]Cf. my critique “Fantasies of a Biochemist,” in G. Rudolf, C. Mattogno, Auschwitz-Lies, Theses & Dissertations Press, Chicago 2005, pp. 35-43.
[61]J. Markiewicz, W. Gubala, J. Labedz, B. Trzcinska, Expert Opinion, Prof. Dr. Jan Sehn Institute for Forensic Research, department for toxicology, Krakow, Sept. 24, 1990; partially published, e.g. in: “An official Polish report on the Auschwitz ‘gas chambers,’” JHR, 11(2) (1991), pp. 207-216.
[62]J. Markiewicz, W. Gubala, J. Labedz, Z Zagadnien Nauk Sadowych, Z XXX (1994) pp. 17-27 (www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/orgs/polish/institute-for-forensic-research/post-leuchter.report).
[63]G. Rudolf, “Polish Pseudo-Scientists,” in G. Rudolf, C. Mattogno, op. cit. (note 60), pp. 45-68.
[64]Ibid., pp. 57-65.
[65]B. Clair, “Revisionistische Gutachten,” VffG, 1(2) (1997), pp. 102-104.
[66]G. Rudolf, “Zur Kritik am Rudolf Gutachten,” ibid., pp. 104-108.
[67]La Vielle Taupe/Pierre Guillaume, “Rudolf Gutachten: ‘psychopathologisch und gefährlich.’ Über die Psychopathologie einer Erklärung,” VffG, 1(4) (1997), pp. 224f.
[68]Richard J. Green, “The Chemistry of Auschwitz,” May 10, 1998, online: holocaust-history.org/auschwitz/chemistry/, and “Leuchter, Rudolf and the Iron Blues,” March 25, 1998, www.holocaust-history.org/auschwitz/chemistry/blue/, with considerable proselytizing “anti-fascist” bias.
[69]A detailed description of the deficiencies of the paper appeared in “Das Rudolf Gutachten in der Kritik, Teil 2,” VffG 3(1) (1999), pp. 77-82; Engl.: “Some considerations about the ‘Gas Chambers’ of Auschwitz and Birkenau,” online: www.vho.org/GB/c/GR/Green.html.
[70]Richard J. Green, Jamie McCarthy, “Chemistry is Not the Science,” May 2, 1999, www.holocaust-history.org/auschwitz/chemistry/not-the-science/. About a third of the article consists of political accusations and vilification. For a response, see G. Rudolf, “Character Assassins,” www.vho.org/GB/c/GR/CharacterAssassins.html; cf. “Green sees Red,” in: G. Rudolf, C. Mattogno, op. cit. (note 60), pp. 69-85.
[71]The Pelt Report, introduced in evidence during the libel case before the Queen’s Bench Division, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, David John Cawdell Irving vs. (1) Penguin Books Limited, (2) Deborah E. Lipstadt, ref. 1996 I. No. 1113 (www.holocaustdenialontrial.org/en/trial/defense/van).
[72]Jean-Claude Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique and operation of the gas chambers, Beate-Klarsfeld-Foundation, New York 1989 (www.holocaust-history.org/auschwitz/pressac/technique-and-operation/).
[73]Cf. G. Rudolf, “Gutachter und Urteilsschelte,” VffG 4(1) (2000), pp. 33-50; more exhaustively in English: “Critique of Claims Made by Robert Jan van Pelt,” www.vho.org/GB/c/GR/RudolfOnVanPelt.html and “Critique of the ‘Findings on Justification’ by Judge Gray,” …/CritiqueGray.html.
[74]Robert J. van Pelt, The Case for Auschwitz. Evidence from the Irving Trial, Indiana University Press, Bloomington/Indianapolis 2002; cf. Samuel Crowell, “A Holocaust Expert Moves from Moral Certainty toward Open Debate,” JHR, 21(1) (2002), pp. 39f.; Robert H. Countess, “van Pelt’s Plea against Sound Reasoning,” The Revisionist 1(1) (2003), pp. 99-104; Paul Grubach, “World War I Atrocity Propaganda and the Holocaust,” ibid., pp. 104-109.
[75]When he addresses chemical questions, he also refers to some degree to the work of R. Green, op. cit. (notes 68, 70).
[76]Carlo Mattogno, Auschwitz: The Case for Sanity, The Barnes Review, Washington, DC, 2010, p. 670.
[77]The Globe and Mail, Sept. 18, 1989, Le Monde, Sept. 19, 1989, Sunday Telegraph, Sept. 24, 1989; see also “Revisionist Historian Suffers Savage Beating” (www.codoh.com/thoughtcrimes/8909FAUR.HTML).