Published: 2000-02-15

Since end of January 2000, a fascinating libel case is being held in a London court: The British author David Irving has sued American Professor Deborah Lipstadt for libel. Irving didn’t like being labeled as a Holocaust denier and a writer who, as Lipstadt states in her book Denying the Holocaust, deliberately distorts facts about the Holocaust to make them serve his political goals. He didn’t like being labeled a "pseudo-historian", as he frequently stressed during the hearings. David Irving is indeed not a historian by education. He gained his – now tainted – reputation as one of the foremost experts on biographies of political leaders of the Third Reich era through hard work and self-education. But as a matter of fact, most established experts of the Holocaust aren’t historians either, as for example the most renowned expert in this field, Prof. Raul Hilberg, who is a political scientist.

In the law court itself, Mrs. Lipstadt has decided to stay silent and let experts of the Holocaust speak instead. British law requires her to prove the claims made in her book. To accomplish this, she has to prove first that the Holocaust itself did happen as generally believed. Furthermore, she has to refute the evidence brought forward by David Irving and his revisionist supporters.

One of those pieces of evidence is the so-called Leuchter Report, a pamphlet authored by an American technician who specialized in the construction and maintenance of killing devices for capital punishment. Since several states in the USA still have the death penalty, there is a need for such an expert. Fred A. Leuchter is that man. Leuchter’s report claims that the material and documentary evidence of the former Auschwitz and Majdanek concentration camps shows that the homicidal mass gassings of Jews in these camps were technically impossible. Mrs. Lipstadt’s defense team has clearly shown that this Leuchter Report is a weak piece of evidence. Since Leuchter has no degree in engineering, architecture or chemistry, he must be called a "pseudo-expert" regarding the alleged technique of mass murder, even though he is doubtlessly the only – self-made – expert in the world for the construction and maintenance of state-conducted killing methods.

David Irving agreed in principle that the Leuchter Report is riddled with mistakes. But at the same time, David Irving showed that the expert presented by Mrs. Lipstadt to prove the shortcomings of the Leuchter Report, the Canadian Professor for architecture Robert J. van Pelt, is a "pseudo-expert" as well. Although bearing the title "Professor of Architecture", van Pelt indeed is an artist who specialized in the history of architecture. As it was not too difficult for the defense to show the deficiencies in Leuchter’s "pseudo-expert" report, is wasn’t difficult for Irving either, to show the flaws in van Pelt’s "pseudo-expert" report.

But the "pseudo-expert" affair doesn’t stop there. Prof. van Pelt actually did not only deal with engineering and architectural matters in his report, for which he could claim at least some experience, but he dealt with chemical questions also. Chemistry is a topic here because of the poison gas Zyklon B that, according to the established version of the Holocaust, was used to kill up to a million Jews in Auschwitz. Van Pelt didn’t dare to address the questions involved with it himself. Instead, he quoted experts, who – guess what – turned out to be "pseudo-experts" as well. In the early 90’s, a team of Polish scholars from the Jan Sehn Institute in Krakow made some research about chemical questions raised by Fred Leuchter. The subjects involved are toxicology, inorganic and analytical chemistry. Their report was criticized in 1995 by a German accredited Chemist named Germar Rudolf, now a "real" expert for inorganic chemistry. According to him, the gross methodological defects of this "pseudo-expert" report clearly show that these Poles didn’t have the qualifications or scientific honesty to conduct this research. David Irving stated during the trial, that he now relies on this German expert report, which is yet to be exposed as being "pseudo"…

After having consumed all these papers and reports, I must say that I am a bit irritated. Not because it turns out that nearly everybody in this tragedy is a "pseudo-expert", and not because after this intellectual ordeal it is almost impossible to know where the truth really is. I can live with that, as not even real experts can prove anything with absolute certainty. What really upsets me is that the real experts – academically accredited historians, engineers, architects, chemists, toxicologists and what have you – obviously don’t care about the battle that is going on around the Holocaust. Couldn’t they make an end to this comedy of pseudo-historians, suing other pseudo-historians, who defend themselves by attacking pseudo-engineers with the help of pseudo-architects, who rely on pseudo-chemists?

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Ronald Reeves
Title: Pseudo-Experts
Published: 2000-02-15
First posted on CODOH: Dec. 27, 2013, 6 p.m.
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