Kenneth Stern's Critique of The Leuchter Report: A Critical Analysis

Published: 1997-03-23

When The Leuchter Report was first published in April 1988, there was immediate and enthusiastic welcome by the revisionists, while nary a word from the holocaustians. Indeed, it was some two years before the publishing of their first rebuttals. These consisted primarily of ad hominem arguments, such as lack of proper credentials, incoherence, or implying that, because samples taken from the alleged gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau were purloined, Leuchter's honesty in submitting the actual samples was also doubtful.[1] Understandably, a problem with critiquing the Leuchter Report was the necessarily technical nature of the discussion. No longer was it sufficient to rely on subjective eyewitness testimony or cite circumstantial evidence in terms of concentration camps, protocols or bills of lading. Comprehension and discussion now depended on persons with scientific or engineering backgrounds who could understand chemical analysis, retort rates and the functionality of structural design.

An early counter-analysis which claimed to attack the Leuchter Report on the basis of scientific and historical data was "Truth Prevails: Demolishing Holocaust Denial – The End of The Leuchter Report," by Shelly Shapiro.[2] As opposed to Fred A. Leuchter, a Massachusetts engineer who specialized in the design and fabrication of execution hardware for American prisons and the first to undertake a thorough forensic study of alleged Nazi gassing facilities (including those at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp), Shapiro relied heavily on the work of Jean-Claude Pressac, a French pharmacist who had published earlier works in support of gassing claims.[3] Remarkably, however, neither Shelly Shapiro, who attempted to attack Leuchter's scientific methods, nor Jean-Claude Pressac, who claimed to be a scientist, efforted to conduct their own forensic analysis.

That no anti-revisionist had conducted on-site, scientific research of alleged homicidal gas chambers was still true in 1993 when Kenneth Stern, a specialist on anti-Semitism and extremism for the American Jewish Committee, published Holocaust Denial.[4] Taking his lead from the above cited work by Shelly Shapiro, Stern's principal points in attempting to discredit the Leuchter Report are:

  1. Leuchter's brick and mortar samples were taken "illegally";
  2. The samples were taken "... from ruins that had been exposed to the elements since 1945" (claimed to be "... hardly scientific practice since cyanide is soluble in water");
  3. "... the rubble he collected may or may not have been residue from the gas chambers," citing, for instance, and parenthetically, "... the SS blew up Crematorium II in January, 1945."[5]

Let us consider these criticisms in the order presented. First, it is true Fred Leuchter did not ask permission to remove the samples. Even if such a request would have been granted, this infraction has no bearing on the authenticity of the samples nor the validity of their analysis. Viewed from a purely scientific standpoint, this criticism is without merit.

As to the fact Fred Leuchter took his samples from ruins exposed to the elements since 1945, this criticism, while certainly more germane, does not apply to at least ten of the 32 samples, and furthermore misses its mark through misidentification of the substance in question. To-wit, Mr. Stern speaks of "cyanide" being soluble in water. True, hydrogen cyanide (HCN) is miscible in all proportions with water.[6] Sodium cyanide (NaCN), on the other hand, is 58.3% soluble in water, by weight, at 20 degrees Centigrade (68 degrees Fahrenheit).[7] Yet the substance in question, the cyanide residue found in the brick and mortar samples Fred Leuchter collected, is neither hydrogen cyanide nor sodium cyanide, but the more complex ferric ferrocyanide (Fe4[Fe(CN)6]3), otherwise known as "Iron Berlinate" or "Prussian Blue." And this substance, according to The Merck Index, is "... practically insoluble in water."[8] Accordingly, this compound is used as a pigment in printing inks, paints, carbon papers, typewriter ribbons, rubbers, plastics and artists' colors. It is also quite stable, not only to water, but air, ultraviolet radiation and the elevated temperatures of summer.[9] Furthermore, if we look at Leuchter's samples, numbered 25 through 31, extracted from Crematorium I, Stern's initial argument does not apply. These samples, taken from a facility which was not destroyed and has remained intact since the end of the war, were not exposed to the elements. The same might be said for samples 4, 5 and 6 taken from Crematorium II. Leuchter removed these samples from a pillar, wall and ceiling which, though accessible, were nevertheless well protected against wind, rain and sun. The foregoing ten samples then, nearly a third of Leuchter's total, must be excluded from Stern's argument a priori.

Regarding the concern "the rubble" Fred Leuchter collected "may or may not have been residue from the gas chambers," one can readily ascertain what manner of samples Fred Leuchter extracted from which archaeologic locations by reviewing the on-site, real-time video of the collection process.[10] On May 30, 1996, this author retraced Fred Leuchter's steps and visually identified the exact locations from which samples 25-31 were extracted relative to Crematorium I. With a reprint of Mr. Leuchter's map showing reference measurements for each extraction, I was able to visually confirm sample removal by identifying corresponding blemish marks.

Of course, one may choose to be skeptical as to whether the collected samples were actually the basis for the certified results concluded by Alpha Analytical Laboratories[11], but in the absence of a rationale for such skepticism, one may reasonably depend on these results as a starting point. This, in fact, is exactly what Mr. Stern does in referring to Jean-Claude Pressac, as we shall soon see. Mr. Stern's parenthetical remark about Crematorium II having been blown up (also true for Crematoria III-V), seems intent to imply that the residual structure is so completely obliterated as to make it impossible to identify and therefore extract samples from the alleged gassing chamber walls, pillars, floor and ceiling. Yet Mr. Stern is demonstrably wrong in this implication, not only in regard to Crematorium II, but I and III as well, and at least partially mistaken in regard to Kremas IV and V. In the first instance, the Germans did not attempt to destroy Crematorium I at Auschwitz main camp, and, as mentioned earlier, it remains standing today. As to Crematoria II and III, although most of the above-ground structure was destroyed and is now removed, the alleged gas chambers, situated below-ground, still retain their associated walls, floors, pillars and ceilings. And while the respective ceilings are indeed collapsed, it is for this very reason there is no mistaking what part of the original facility they are associated with. I might add that the Auschwitz State Museum assists its visitors in regard to identifying each room with an on-site floor-plan. One presumably knows, for example, which rooms were used for gassing and which were used as morgues, coke rooms, et cetera. Floor-plans are also provided with regard to Crematoria IV and V, but here a caveat applies. For although the floors still exist and cannot be mistaken, there is the possibility that what exists of the remaining walls is a reconstruction rather than part of the original structure.[12]

Before proceeding to a discussion of Jean-Claude Pressac, an oversight regarding Fred Leuchter's sample-gathering must be conceded with respect to Kenneth Stern's and the Beate Klarsfeld Foundation's skepticism: it appears that only sample 20 relative to Crematorium IV, and sample 24 relative to Crematorium V, were actually removed from locations currently designated as "gas chambers," while the various other samples from these two sites were removed from Sonderkommando quarters[13], undressing rooms, and, in the case of Krema IV, the chimney room. This can readily be seen by comparing the documented removal locations as cited in The Leuchter Report with the current Auschwitz State Museum on-site schematics. Yet this is anything but a triumph for the Holocaust establishment. The anomaly instead allows for an extraordinary insight. For it turns out that sample numbers 20 and 24 reveal levels of cyanide residue either less than or nearly equivalent to what was found, on average, across all the samples taken throughout each of the two facilities. For example, there were nine cyanide analyses carried out on the eight samples extracted from Crematorium IV. If we allow each non-detection (ND) to indeed be 0.99 mg/kg (ND being anything below 1.0 mg/kg) and sum across the nine samples analyzed, we obtain (0.99 + 0.99 + 2.3 + 1.4 + 0.99 + 0.99 + 0.99 + 0.99 + 1.4 =) 11.04 mg/kg, which, when divided by the number of samples, gives 1.23 mg/kg average cyanide residue per sample. It so happens Fred Leuchter's sample #20, the one from what is still claimed to be a "gas chamber," was partitioned and analyzed twice, giving two results, the average of which being 1.195 mg/kg, slightly less than the average taken across the facility as a whole. But at these trace levels the difference is so negligible as to suggest a rather dramatic conclusion: the entire facility, including not only the alleged gas chamber but undressing room, chimney room and Sonderkommando quarters, were exposed to essentially the same gassing levels! So far as concerns Crematorium IV then, the results of quantitative analysis tend to support the rationale for the presence of cyanide residue offered by both Fred Leuchter and Robert Faurisson to begin with, i.e., the premises, as a whole, were subjected to fumigation one or several times during their operational existence.

If we now look at Crematorium V, the situation is even more ironic (from the homicidal point of view) in that the overall sample average is 2.02 mg/kg, whereas sample #24, the only one extracted from a location currently identified as a "gas chamber," (as of 31 May 1996) is a worst case of 0.99 mg/kg (it was, in fact, "ND"). Sample numbers 21 and 22, from what the on-site floor plan reveals to be the Sonderkommando quarters were, by contrast, 4.4 and 1.7 mg/kg, respectively! Recall that all else is equal here: sample age and exposure to the elements. Either the Holocaust establishment's current understanding of the identity of these rooms is incorrect, or something other than homicidal purposes for cyanide presence must be considered.[14]

To respond to these facts, Stern depends on French pharmacist Jean-Claude Pressac, who serves as the Holocaust establishment's chief representative in the physical sciences. Pressac's proposition, according to Stern, is that the lack of blue stain (Prussian blue) relative to the alleged homicidal gas chambers "proves" rather than refutes the existence of the gas chambers. How so? According to Pressac:

A hydrocyanic gas concentration of 0.3 g/m3 – a lethal dose – is immediately fatal to man[15], while killing lice requires a concentration of 5 g/m3 for a period of at least two hours... The dose used at Birkenau was lethal 40-70 times over (12-20 g/m3), which infallibly killed a thousand persons in less than five minutes.

... The HCN was in physical contact with the gas chamber walls for no more than ten minutes per day at a temperature of about 30 degrees Celsius. In the delousing chambers, a minimum concentration of 5 g/m³ was used over the course of several daily cycles... This cyanide saturation for 12 to 18 hours a day was strengthened by the heat of the stoves in the room emitted, providing a temperature of 30 degrees Celsius. The walls were impregnated with hot HCN for at least 12 hours a day, which would induce the formation of a stain: Prussian Blue, or potassioferric ferrocyanide...[16]

The appearance of blue walls in the delousing chambers now allows us to distinguish them visually from the homicidal chambers, where the phenomenon did not occur, in an empirical but absolutely certain manner. Without heat induction of long continuance, the cyanide doses, as high as they were, were not in contact with the walls of the homicidal installations long enough to provoke the reaction to an appreciable—that is to say visible—degree.

Despite the fact this akwardly translated description may at first appear both logical and compelling, I shall attempt to show several key faults in Pressac's rationale.

Fault one: No sources cited

One might begin by questioning what sources Pressac used to establish his estimation of homicidal HCN concentrations, for indeed, no sources are cited. This is key fault number one. By contrast, Dr. Franciszek Piper, Chief Curator for Auschwitz State Museum, bases the official museum position on the testimony of former Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Höß, who described the dosage at four to six kilograms Zyklon (i.e., 4-6 kg HCN) per every 1,400 victims.[17] Using this figure, we can construct the following table:

Krema Area
HCN (g) Conc.(g/m3)
I 78 3.0 234 780 2229-3343 9.5-14.3
II 210 2.4 504 2100 6000-9000 11.9-17.8
III 210 2.4 504 2100 6000-9000 11.9-17.8
IV 270 3.0 810 2700 7714-11571 9.5-14.3
V 270 3.0 810 2700 7714-11571 9.5-14.3

Note that we are here accepting the extraordinary but persistent claim that one square meter of floor space could accommodate 10 persons. At first glance then, Pressac has immoderately assessed larger gas concentrations than those given by Piper or Höß. Yet, let us now take into account the fact our alleged victims, by their very presence, effectively occupied a part of the original chamber volume. In order to account for this contribution, or rather, diminution, let us assess an average height of 1.5 meters (4.92 feet), recalling the fact we are presumably dealing with a significant population of women and children.[18] We will also suppose the population density of 10 persons per square meter effectively occupies its allotted volume. By this assumption, we see that the overall volume of each chamber is reduced by half, while the gas concentration is consequently doubled. Rather than the concentration range given by the foregoing table, we now arrive at the following gas concentrations:

KremaTheoretical HCN Gas Concentration (g/m³)

In actuality then, Jean-Claude Pressac has somewhat under-estimated the intensity of hypothetical HCN exposure relative to the alleged homicidal gas chambers. What is more, the situation becomes even worse if one considers that the number of grams Zyklon per victim population is derived by mathematical proportion, applying the ratio of 4-6 kilograms per 1,400 persons, whereas in truth, the Zyklon came in canisters of specific quantity, e.g., 100, 200, 500, 1,000 and 1,500 grams,[19] and one might, without fear of contradiction, presume the Germans always poured the full contents of a can, rounding upwards in so doing. In regard to Crematorium I, for example, the applicable quantities of Zyklon would not be 2229 to 3343 grams relative to 780 persons, but something more on the order of 2300 to 3400 grams, given whole-can quantities. I now present, therefore, a revised table of HCN gas concentrations based on a consideration of whole-can quantities:

Krema Adjusted Vol.(m3) Zyklon (g) HCN Conc.(g/m3)
I 117 2300-3400 19.7-29.1
II 252 6000-9000 23.8-35.7
III 252 6000-9000 23.8-35.7
IV 405 7800-11600 19.3-28.6
V 405 7800-11600 19.3-28.6

Lastly, we must also realize that some quantity of HCN is consumed by each hypothetical victim due to inhalation. In his book Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers (p. 16), Pressac dismisses this factor as "negligible" relative to the total quantity of gas, but we shall account for it regardless. To calculate the reduction in gas concentration relative to inhalation we again appeal to Sax's Dangerous Properties of Industrial Materials to determine the lowest lethal concentration of HCN in air over time known to kill humans, this quantity being 200 mg per cubic meter over 10 minutes. To calculate the amount of consumed HCN per victim, we must also appeal to Black's Medical Dictionary to learn that (1) normal, rhythmic respirations occur at the rate of approximately 18 per minute, and (2) the tidal air of quiet breathing involves the flow of roughly 500 milliliters per inhalation. It is to be realized that a person under conditions of fear and excitation would neither breathe rhythmically nor calmly, yet for purposes of rough estimation let us assume this equilibrium. Doing so, and performing the simple arithmetic, we have:

(10 min.)(200 mg/m3)(18 breaths/min.)(0.5 liters/breath)(m3/103 liters) = 0.018 g/victim.

So, we now adjust our HCN concentration table once again, downward this time, by subtracting out the total amount of consumed HCN [20] according to the hypothetical maximum number of victims for the given crematorium. The results are seen in the following table:

Krema Victims/Gassing Total HCN
(Victims x 0.018 g)
Zyklon (g) HCN Conc.(g/m3)
I 780 14.04 2300-3400 19.5-28.9
II 2100 37.80 6000-9000 23.7-35.6
III 2100 37.80 6000-9000 23.7-35.6
IV 2700 48.60 7800-11600 19.1-28.5
V 2700 48.60 7800-11600 19.1-28.5

In sum, we conclude that the homicidal gas concentrations are theoretically greater than what Pressac set forth, primarily because he did not commence with usage figures founded on any firm basis, and further, did not take into account any of the foregoing considerations. Yet this is not the primary case against him. The true "rub" lies elsewhere.

As to Pressac's statement that "... the dose used at Birkenau... infallibly killed a thousand persons in less than five minutes," I would agree. In fact, given that it requires approximately 0.018 grams HCN to kill an average human (averaged across man, woman, child), the smallest concentration cited in the foregoing table would theoretically do the job in under seven seconds (approximately two tidal breaths)! Yet, let us recall this situation obtains once the cyanide has reached the specified atmospheric concentration, which may take a variable number of minutes from the time Zyklon B pellets are first introduced into the chamber.[21]

Fault two: Gassing duration

I do not agree, however, with Pressac's assumption that "... the HCN was in physical contact with the gas chamber walls for no more than ten minutes a day..." In the first place, Pressac again offers no explanation to support how he arrived at this figure: key fault number two. By contrast, a survey of existing testimonies regarding the operation of the homicidal gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau typically cites three to ten minutes for death, but 20-30 minutes overall gas duration from the moment of introduction till the beginning of the aeration process. In cases where there were ventilators, and these apparently existed in Crematoria I, II and III, we can conceive a non-linear reduction in gas concentration during de-aeration, a period of roughly three to four minutes (accepting 8,000 cubic meters per hour)[22], but for purposes of simplicity – again, to favor Monsieur Pressac's thesis – we shall discount the presence of gas altogether during this de-aeration period. Given the prevalence and consistency of references, however, and particularly on the authority of museum curator Franciszek Piper, we shall accept a relatively stable period of 20 minutes per application.

Nevertheless, I think we can again do Jean-Claude Pressac, and his impresario, Kenneth Stern, a favor here. For Pressac speaks of HCN being in "physical contact with the gas chamber walls for no more than ten minutes a day...," while I propose the gas chambers were not used every day, and instead claim we can approach the actual usage in a different and hopefully more reasonable manner. In the absence of official knowledge as to how many deaths are attributable to a given gassing facility, and without benefit of monthly transport data, one must devise secondary means of assessing approximate throughputs for Kremas I – V and Bunkers I and II. We shall begin by accepting Dr. Piper's figure of 985,671 deaths at Auschwitz due to gassing (1,095,190 deaths total, of which 90% gassing victims) and Pressac's estimate of 10,000 gassing victims for Krema I. We shall also subtract 850 victims relative to Block 13.[23] This leaves 974,821 victims respective to Bunkers I & II and Kremas II – V. At this juncture, a major assumption must be made as to how to apportion the number of theoretical victims according to the number of operational facilities. For this purpose, I have chosen to assign chamber throughputs according to their respective time-in-use.[24] Accordingly, I now present the following periods of operation for the crematoria of Auschwitz-Birkenau:[25]

Chamber Period of Operation Total Months
Block 13 September 3 -5, 1941 0.1
Bunker I January 30, 1942 – March 31,1943 14
Bunker II June 30, 1942 – March 31,1943 +
May 1, 1944 – September 30,1944
Krema I September 6, 1941 – July 1,1942 10
Krema II March 31, 1943 – October 30,1944 19
Krema III June 26, 1943 – October 30,1944 16
Krema IV March 22, 1943 – October 7,1944[26] 18.5
Krema V April 4, 1943 – October 30,1944 19

Because we have already accounted for the number of hypothetical gassing victims relative to Block 13 and Krema I, it is necessary to normalize victims per month relative only to total victims and total months for Bunkers I and II, and Kremas II – V. On this basis, a given chamber's average throughput is 974,821/100.5 = 9,700 victims/month. This number may now be used to predict the total number of victims for each chamber:

Bunker I:14 monthsx 9,700 victims/month = 135,800 victims;
Bunker II:14 monthsx 9,700 victims/month = 135,800 victims;
Krema II:19 monthsx 9,700 victims/month = 184,300 victims;
Krema III:16 monthsx 9,700 victims/month = 155,200 victims;
Krema IV:18.5 monthx 9,700 victims/month = 179,450 victims;
Krema V:19 monthsx 9,700 victims/month = 184,300 victims.

In actuality, we are interested in only those facilities for which there are comparable archeologic remains and shall hereinafter exclude Bunkers I & II. The following table now computes the minimum HCN exposure time for Kremas II – V, assuming each iteration entailed use at maximum capacity (the number of iterations is rounded upwards, however, which allows the final iteration to account for a less-than-maximum capacity remainder):

Krema Max Capacity Total Victims Iterations HCN Exposure
I 780 10,000 13 260
II 2100 184,300 88 1,760
III 2100 155,200 74 1,480
IV 2700 179,450 67 1,340
V 2700 184,300 69 1,380

Given the number of days per month, Pressac's estimated time exposure of 10 minutes per day would give:

Krema Operation, days Pressac's HCN
Exposure (Minutes)
I 298 2980
II 579 5790
III 492 4920
IV 565 5650
V 575 5750

One readily observes, when comparing Jean-Claude Pressac's HCN exposure times with the ones I have derived, that mine are more conservative. Certainly, the Holocaustians, Pressac and Stern, have no reason to complain so far, as I have only made their case stronger than what they had advanced on their own. But now, the "rub." Kenneth Stern reiterates Jean-Claude Pressac's criticism of Fred Leuchter's "poor scientific procedures," but what is one to think when he asserts that the lack of blue stain "... proves, rather than refutes, the existence of the gas chambers"? This, too, is not very scientific. In fact, the absurdity is readily made apparent by pointing out that, according to Stern's sterling premise, every building at Auschwitz-Birkenau, other than those with blue stains, is "proven" to be a gas chamber! Patently, Stern's and Pressac's argument suffers from "non-causa, pro-causa," or the fallacy of attributing causes which are insufficiently or falsely premised. Pressac's argument is valid only to the extent he perceives a relation between temperature, gas concentration and HCN exposure time relative to producing various levels of cyanide residue in delousing or "homicidal" gas chambers, yet there is a crucial part of the equation he does not know, and has not established, and that is this: what duration of HCN exposure to the specific surfaces of the delousing and "homicidal" gas chambers, at a given temperature and concentration, causes a given level of ferric ferrocyanide residue? What is the rate of reaction between HCN gas and the particular mortar of the "homicidal"/delousing chamber walls? In the absence of possessing this critical knowledge, it is fallacious to base conclusions solely on the visibility of blue stain or even spectrographically determined levels of cyanide residue. It is quite possible, for instance, that even the more modest concentration-exposure times I have calculated would have produced much larger residues than what was found by Fred Leuchter. We will not know, of course, until such work has been undertaken and completed.

But we do know, thanks to Leuchter's sample numbers 13-19 taken from Crematorium IV, and sample numbers 21-23 from Crematorium V, that Zyklon B was used in areas of the building complex other than what is now designated as the execution gas chambers. Kenneth Stern was chagrined over Robert Faurisson's "annoyance" relative to the trace amounts of cyanide found in Leuchter's analysis, claiming he drew upon "one of the most often-used lies in explanation." To use Faurisson's own words:

The extremely low levels of cyanide found in some crematoria was likely, in my opinion, to have resulted from disinfection of the premises during the war.[27]

And while it may have been an unfortunate choice of words on the part of Faurisson or his translator to use the word "disinfection" (in Holocaust Denial, Stern spends half of page 74 taking him to task for it), the thrust of the opinion, because of Leuchter's fortuitous sample gathering, has greater plausibility of truth than falsehood. For the uncanny fact is that the cyanide levels within and without the alleged execution gas chamber rooms are of the same order of magnitude, while indeed, certain samples from without, in both cases, measure slightly higher.[28]

Because this situation prevails for Crematoria IV and V, we might plausibly presume (although not conclude) it does as well for Crematoria I – III. But the point is this: what is the meaning of gas residue in undressing rooms and Sonderkommando quarters relative to Crematoria IV and V? If not from periodic delousing, then what is the explanation? In contradistinction to Faurisson, it is now up to Stern and Pressac to offer their hypothesis.

The foregoing text covers what I believe to be the most salient criticisms leveled by Kenneth Stern et al. relative to the work of Fred Leuchter. Certainly, it is important to the reader to know what these criticisms are. But it is further necessary the reader understand the mechanisms of analysis and physical truths which lead to more plausible conclusions on this score. One now has, for the first time I believe, a more thorough interpretation of Fred Leuchter's original findings, coupled with a more precise set of premises for concluding the reality or irreality of homicidal gassings at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Unfortunately, I do not believe we are there yet, but the way has been pointed and it is only a matter of time and additional effort before the issue of homicidal use of Zyklon B at Auschwitz-Birkenau can be laid to rest once and for all.


© March 23, 1997

See companion article where information for this paper was gathered: My Visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, May 30-31, 1996

See Journal of Historical Review, Volume 12, number 4.
Beate Klarsfeld Foundation and Holocaust Survivors & Friends, New York, 1990.
Pressac, Jean-Claude, Technique and operation of the gas chambers, published by the Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, New York, 1989.
Kenneth S. Stern, Holocaust Denial, the American-Jewish Committee, New York, 1993, Library of Congress catalogue # 93-040665. The Jan Sehn Institute at the University of Cracow, shortly after Leuchter's study, undertook an independent chemical analysis with results favorable to Leuchter. Though hired by the Auschwitz State Museum to conduct the study, the Institute, a scientific establishment, is politically neutral.
Ibid., p. 72. See also, Truth Prevails: Demolishing Holocaust Denial—The End of "The Leuchter Report," 1990, and Jean-Claude Pressac, The Deficiencies and Inconsistencies of "The Leuchter Report," p. 41.
See, for example, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company's "Material Safety Data Sheet," for Hydrogen Cyanide, E-73318, August 1985, page 1.
See E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company's "SODIUM CYANIDE: Properties, Uses, Storage and Handling," p. 2 ("Physical Properties")
An Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs, and Biologicals, 12th edition, 1996, p. 683.
See Paul Grubach's "The Leuchter Report Vindicated," The Journal of Historical Review, Volume Twelve, Number 4, Winter, 1992-93, p. 452. Many sources are cited relative to the insolubility of ferric ferrocyanide, while the testimony of Dr. James Roth, Manager and Chief Chemist of Alpha Analytic Laboratories, given at the April 1988 trial of Ernst Zündel in Toronto, attests to the physical durability of this substance more generally.
"Leuchter in Poland," available through Samisdat Press, Ltd., 206 Carlton Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
200 Homer Avenue, Ashland Technology Center, Ashland, Massachusetts 01721.
The suspicion the walls of Krematoria IV and V were rebuilt from "remainders" of the destroyed original structures has indeed been astutely suggested by Germar Rudolf, in his letter to me of 21 February 1997. However, close-up photographs of the brickwork I retain relative to both sites suggests integral continuity of brick and mortar for the lower portions of the existing walls, with loosely fitted, and in some cases, haphazard, individual brick/mortar remnants placed on top. I therefore have the distinct impression the lower, integral walls are original. If, however, this lower brickwork is post-war, obviously its interstitial mortar would contain no cyanide residue; testing for such would thus be a definitive means of determining this issue.
The floor-plan, in actuality, does not specify these rooms by name, however, their identification can be determined by the description provided by Dr. Franciszek Piper: "Near the crematorium entrance were lodgings of Sonderkommando prisoners and a kitchen. To the left of these structures set three gas chambers..." (Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Indiana University Press, 1994, p. 169).
In passing, one might note that the cyanide residue levels for Krematoria IV and V are not appreciably different from residue levels for Krematoria II and III, nor the hypothetically less utilized and weather-protected Krematorium I. This suggests several important hypotheses: first, that each facility received the same exposure to HCN consistent with equal periodic fumigation treatments, rather than varied homicidal throughputs; second, assuming uniform exposures, weathering did not alter the residue levels between protected and exposed crematoria; and finally, if samples from Krematoria IV and V were truly randomized by virtue of the pell-mell nature of the reconstructed brickwork, this is all the more reason to conclude there is no distinction between alleged homicidal gassing locations within Krematoria IV and V and the building as a whole, i.e., either the entire building was a "homicidal gas chamber," or none of it was (the gassing entailed a general fumigation). Given the relative uniformity of residue levels between Krematoria IV and V, and I through III, one can reasonably deduce this same hypothesis for the latter as well.
This appears somewhat exaggerated. Application to Sax's Dangerous Properties of Industrial Materials (Eighth Edition, 1992, Volume III, p. 1896) shows that the lowest lethal concentration in air (LCLo) which has been reported to have caused death for an adult man is 400 mg/m3/2M, which is 0.4 grams per cubic meter over a period of two minutes. By contrast, the LCLo for inhalation by a "human" (where there is no distinction in the reference study as to man, woman, child or infant) is 200 mg/m3/10M.
Monsieur Pressac is here identifying the soluble variety of Prussian blue: KFe[Fe(CN)6]:15H2O, whereas the one of interest is the insoluble variety, ferric ferrocyanide: Fe4[Fe(CN6)]3.
Face-to-face interview between Dr. Franciszek Piper and author, 30 May 1996. See also, Leon Poliakov, Harvest of Hate; the Nazi program for the destruction of the Jews of Europe, Greenwood Press, 1971, p. 205. This source cites the use of from five to seven kilograms Zyklon for every 1,500 victims.
Indeed, this was the rationale provided by Dr. Piper supporting the 10 person per square meter estimation to begin with.
These sizes are mentioned in Nazi Mass Murder, A Documentary History of the Use of Poison Gas edited by Eugon Kogon, Hermann Langbein and Adalbert Rückerl (Yale University Press, p. 206), while Jean-Claude Pressac's Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers (Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, 1989, p. 17) mentions only the latter three sizes.
Recall that # grams Zyklon = # grams HCN.
Pressac's "five minutes," I presume, is intended to include this total time. William Shirer is equally aware it took time for the gas to have its effect, for he quotes Rudolph Höss as saying: "It took from three to fifteen minutes to kill the people in the death chamber, depending upon climatic conditions" (W. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, 1988, p. 970).
Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Indiana University Press, 1994, Chapter 8: "The Machinery of Mass Murder at Auschwitz," Jean-Claude Pressac, Robert-Jan Van Pelt, p. 232.
Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Chapter 7: "Gas Chambers and Crematoria," Franciszek Piper, p. 157.
A word about this assumption is in order. There are several others which might have been chosen. For instance, one can realize we are dealing with an historical time-line of 33 months and assume constant monthly processing of 974,821 victims/33 months = 29,540 victims/month. However, this approach would have us assume too many victims over the initial period of 14 months when there were just two gassing facilities and yet this same number over the final 19 months when there were four facilities, all of much greater capacity: a case of too many victims with too few crematoria and too few victims with too many crematoria. On the other hand, one could assume the monthly processing varied according to total available throughput capacity, i.e., proportionally less victims per month when Bunker I was operating alone at 830 victims per application, versus a more sizeable number of monthly victims when Kremas II – V were operational with a combined capacity of 9,600 victims per application. This would assume, however, a best case scenario of transport arrivals ideally accomodating execution capability, which I believe to be overly optimistic. Still, there is the approach of conceding proportionally higher monthly victim rates according to number of chambers in use (the method I actually chose), but assuming each chamber was used in parallel such that all operated roughly the same number of times per month. For example, with Kremas II – V operational @ 4 x 9,700 = 38,800 total victims per month, the four chambers together would be employed 38,800/9,600 = 4.04 iterations to dispatch the given number of victims (actually, together they would be used an even four times with one of the smaller chambers picking up the 384 victim residual with a fifth usage), while this assumes all 38,800 victims were delivered at the outset of a given month – again, overly optimistic. One might consult William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (Simon and Shuster, 1988) to see this in the context of worst-case requirements. According to Shirer (p. 967): "Speed was an important factor, especially at Auschwitz, where toward the end the camp was setting new records by gassing 6,000 victims a day." This could have entailed using three chambers in parallel, one each day, the two largest (Krema IV & V) and one of the smaller (Krema II or III), or the two smallest and one of the larger, or else all four, running at less than maximum capacity, once per day. By contrast, just one chamber, either one of the smaller or one of the larger, could have been used three times a day to do the job. While maximum economy suggests three chambers in parallel, this by no means predicts equal monthly use among the four. All in all, short of having transport quantities and schedules (let alone gas chamber use logs), I believe I have made a reasonable assumption. While the assumption predicts greater usage rates for smaller chambers, it does predict transport processing proportional to the number of chambers on-line and accounts for the total number of hypothetical victims as well.
Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, edited by Yisrael Gutman and Michael Berenbaum, Indiana University Press, 1994. Page 157 covers dates of operation for Block 11, while pages 158-159 cover crematorium I at Auschwitz main camp. Crematorium I, although operational from September 1940, apparently did not begin using Zyklon until after September 5, 1941, for we learn on page 147: "The first experiments with prussic acid as a killing agent took place in late summer 1941 in the basement of block 11... The first and best-known killing operation during this period [being] on September 3-5." We learn from this same passage that at least 850 victims were murdered in block 11 before it was discontinued in favor of operations at Krema I. Page 161 cites mid-1942 as the starting period for Bunker I (the "little red house"), while Death Dealer, by Rudolph Höss, Prometheus Books, 1961?, p. 157 cites "the spring of 1942 [January]" as the period of first implementation for Bunker I. Anatomy... page 161, however, gives the specific launch date of June 30, 1942 for Bunker 2 (the "little white house"), citing that both bunkers I and II were shut down by the spring of 1943, though Bunker II went into operation again between May of 1944 and the fall of that same year (page 163). The start dates for Kremas II – V can be found on the Auschwitz State Museum placards posted in front of each site. The end dates for these facilities are based on the statement in Anatomy..., page 174, to the effect that the last selection for gassing occurred on October 30, 1944.
The activity of this crematorium was cut short by destruction from a Sondercommando revolt.
An Engineering Report On The Alleged Execution Gas Chambers At Auschwitz, Birkenau and Majdanek Poland, Samisdat Publishers, Ltd., 1988, Foreword, p. 3.
One can compare, for example, sample 20 from Krematorium IV at 1.4 mg/kg with sample 15 at 2.3 mg/kg, and sample 24 from Krematorium V at 0.99 mg/kg (actually "ND") with samples 21 at 4.4 mg/kg and 22 at 1.7 mg/kg, the former from within the alleged execution gas chamber, the latter from without, respectively.

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Author(s): Daniel D. Desjardins
Title: Kenneth Stern's Critique of The Leuchter Report: A Critical Analysis
Published: 1997-03-23
First posted on CODOH: March 21, 1997, 6 p.m.
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