SWAMPSCOTT, Mass (Oct. 17)
Fred Leuchter, a self-proclaimed scientific authority whose published report stating that “there were no execution gas chambers at Auschwitz, Majdanek and Birkenau” has been most often cited by Holocaust revisionists, will have his credibility tested in Malden, Mass., District Court next week, when he is arraigned on charges that he fraudulently practices engineering.
Leuchter is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 23 on charges that he fraudulently practices engineering, claiming expertise in that profession although he never attended an engineering school or took a licensing examination.
In the case of Leuchter, a lifelong resident of Malden whose only academic credential is a bachelor’s degree in history from Boston University, that shabby impersonation has had sinister consequences.
It has given false credence to claims by assorted anti-Semites, cranks and pseudo-historians of the far right that the Holocaust never occurred and is a myth concocted by Jews to extort money and sympathy from the West.
According to Chip Berlet, an analyst with the Cambridge-based Political Research Associates, Leuchter is “dangerous” because he is being touted as a researcher who uses “scientific objectivity to disprove the Holocaust.”
HIRED BY PROPAGANDIST
The bespectacled 46-year-old “expert” was hired by neo-Nazi propagandist Ernst Zundel, the German-born Toronto printer tried under Canada’s anti-hate laws for publishing and distributing the Holocaust revisionist book, “Did Six Million Really Die?”
With $35,000 provided by Zundel, Leuchter traveled to Poland where he claims to have inspected three former concentration camps.
The result of that trip was “The Leuchter Report: the End of a Myth, ” which states with an air of unassailable authority that “there were no execution gas chambers at Auschwitz, Majdanek and Birkenau.”
Leuchter has a disarming personality at odds with his grisly business. He is chief executive officer of the only company in the United States that specializes in the development and construction of execution machinery for states that have capital punishment.
Leuchter provides gallows at $85,000 each; electric chairs for $35,000; and computerized lethal injection machines which he sells for $30,000.
Leuchter has sold lethal injection machines to New Jersey, Delaware, Illinois and Missouri, while his electrocution “systems” have been purchased by Indiana, South Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama.
Faced with outraged reaction to his report by elected officials and Jewish and other groups, Leuchter’s pre-eminence in the execution field may be on the wane.
Last month Illinois voided a $26,000 contract for a lethal injection machine.
The state acted after an expose of Leuchter’s Holocaust revisionism by Chicago’s WMAQTV triggered a lobbying campaign by survivor groups and their friends with the state Department of Corrections to break the contract.
In July, the assistant attorney general of Alabama sent a memorandum to all capital punishment states, warning that Leuchter’s views are “unorthodox,” and questioned his credentials.
Massachusetts began its investigation of Leuchter after being contacted last April by Holocaust Survivors and Friends in Pursuit of Justice, which made a detailed investigation of Leuchter’s professional claims.
The trial, expected to open in mid-fall, will be handled by the office of District Attorney Scott Harshbarger.
A conviction would harm Leuchter’s reputation more than his pocketbook.
Under the state’s Criminal Code Section 112 “falsely impersonating a professional engineer carries the penalty of a $100 to $500 fine and/or a three-month prison sentence.
Leuchter’s professional competence is closed tied to his avocation, which is denying the Holocaust.
The “Leuchter Report” gained international notoriety when it was reprinted in Britain with foreword by historian David Irving, who has been described in parliamentary circles as a “Nazi propagandist and longtime Hitler apologist.”
The House of Commons condemned it June 24, 1989 as “evil calumny” and the “work Hitler’s heirs.”
Attorney Eliza Lewis of the Boston law firm Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak and Cohen is acting pro bono consultant to the Holocaust Survivors and Friends group.
Lewis believes that “victim impact statements” from survivors will be an important factor in the outcome of the trial, helping the judge and possibly a jury, understand the impact high publicized actions of a Holocaust-denier can have on the survivors of Nazi persecution.
The Paris-based Beate Klarsfeld Foundation is a full partner with Holocaust Survivors Friends in Pursuit of Justice in bringing Leuchter case to the attention of the state Board of Registration for engineers.
PROOF OF GAS CHAMBERS
The two organizations are publishing study, “Demolishing Holocaust Denial: The End of the Leuchter Report,” written by Jean-Claude Pressac, due to be released this month. Pressac had previously written “Auschwitz: Technique Operation of the Gas Chamber,” which detailed proof of the existence and operation the gas chambers.
Shapiro believes Nazi-hunters Beate Serge Klarsfeld may come to Boston to testify the Leuchter case.
What may be disclosed when the case to trial are the financial relationships, if between Leuchter and several anti-Semitic, supremacist groups including Aryan Nations, Duke’s National Association for the Advancement of White People, and the Liberty Lobby, which have sold and distributed “The Leuchter Report.”
Meanwhile, Leuchter’s execution business is suffering.
The state of Illinois canceled its contract for technical assistance with the execution of Charles Walker after state Rep. Ellis Levin said it would be “an affront to the Jewish community and to all groups who lost people to the Nazis.”