An ADL Backgrounder
Among Holocaust "revisionists," few have sparked more
controversy than Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. At the time of his entry on the
"revisionist" scene, Leuchter, 49, described himself as the
Chief Engineer of Fred Leuchter Associates in Boston, Massachusetts, a
firm specializing in gas chambers and executions, as well as "the
design and fabrication of execution hardware used in prisons throughout
the United States."
Leuchter became involved with the
"revisionists" during the 1988 trial of Ernst Zundel, a
German-Canadian neo-Nazi accused under a Canadian law of publishing hate
propaganda. Zundel hired Leuchter to testify that the Auschwitz, Birkenau,
and Majdanek concentration camps contained "no execution gas
chambers" and "could not have been then, or now, be [sic]
utilized or seriously, considered to function as executing gas
chambers." The court dismissed this testimony, because Leuchter
lacked the credentials to prove his expertise on gas chambers. Zundel was
convicted of the charges; however, Leuchter's work took on a life of its
own in "revisionist" circles as The Leuchter Report: The End
of a Myth, published by Zundel's Samisdat Publishers, Ltd. of Toronto.
Nonetheless, the "research" Leuchter conducted to make these
claims was from the start both biased and hopelessly flawed. Accompanied
to Poland by his wife Carolyn, and three assistants, Leuchter described his
procedure as follows:
"We began our work in the alleged gas chamber
at the Auschwitz facility. Unfortunately, we were unable to
accomplish much due to constant interruptions by both official and
unofficial Sunday tours. It was too dangerous to take forensic samples and
[video] tape, so we left for Birkenau about noon.
"At Birkenau. We took samples, documented our activities on video
tape and in still photos, and made scale drawings of these facilities,
carefully documenting the removal locations of all the forensic samples.
We had to break into the sauna building, since it was locked.
"The following day, Monday, we again began our work at Auschwitz,
the Sunday tours having subsided. Upon completion at Auschwitz, we drove
again to Birkenau to take our control sample. Unfortunately, the building
was locked and again we had to break and enter in order to access the
"We arrived at Majdanek. and examined the facilities. It was
extremely difficult to work here, in that a guard made rounds every ten or
fifteen minutes. It was necessary for me to trespass beyond these gates in
forbidden areas. Once we were caught short: I was forced to hurdle the
gate, and was still in the air and in mid-jump when the guard entered.
Fortunately, he was more interested in Jurgen and his camera to see me
before I touched the ground."
Although an article in the July 1, 1991, issue of The Spotlight would
claim "there have never been any questions about Leuchter's lack of
expertise soon after the publication of his "Report " it was
revealed that he had graduated from Boston University in 1964 with only a
B.A. in history, and had never taken an engineering licensing test in
Massachusetts. His supporters dismissed the importance of certification
for his peculiar industry; however, an October 13, 1990, New York Times
article quoted an expert anesthesiologist on Leuchter's lethal
injection machine: "His injection system would render an inmate
incapable of screaming about the 'extreme pain in the form of a severe
burning sensation' caused by... potassium chloride."
Newsweek additionally reported, "Leuchter was running a death
row shakedown scheme: if a state didn't purchase Leuchter's services, he
would testify at the last minute for the condemned man that the state's
death chamber might malfunction."
Before being brought to trial on criminal charges of practicing
engineering without a license, Leuchter signed a consent agreement on June
12, 1991, admitting that he had misrepresented himself as an engineer,
both in letters and proposals to correctional facilities, and in his
"Report" on the concentration camp gas chambers. He therefore
agreed to cease And desist from using the title "engineer" in
connection with his execution equipment and the distribution of his
Rather than retreat in light of these developments, Leuchter singled
out Jews for blame over the setbacks his career has suffered. In an IHR
flyer titled "Help Fred Leuchter Answer the Crazed Zionist Mob:'
Leuchter was quoted as saying, "This witch hunt must and will stop. I
give fair warning to all those who are part of this international cabal,
to all those who have unjustly attacked me and violated my rights-to the
Klarsfelds, Shapiros, and Kahns of the world, Fred Leuchter is coming for
you! You will be brought to answer in those same courts and before the
same judicial system you have sought to destroy."
Holocaust deniers have similarly clung to Leuchter's work. Indeed, when
the Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, an organization dedicated to bringing Nazi
war criminals to justice, published Jean-Claude Pressac's Auschwitz.-
Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, an oversized 564-page
book which details voluminous numbers of original Nazi documents,
drawings, and other materials relating to the gas chambers, furnaces,
buildings, and other death-camp facilities, IHR referred to the work as an
"ersatz Leuchter Report."
This article was originally published by ADL in 1993 as part of
Hilter's Apologists: The Anti-Semitic Propaganda of Holocaust "Revisionism"