The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Is there any proof that gas chambers for the purpose of killing human beings existed at or in Auschwitz?

5. Auschwitz was in Poland, not Germany. Is there any proof that gas chambers for the purpose of killing human beings existed at or in Auschwitz?

The IHR says:

No. A reward of $50,000 was offered for such proof, the money being held in trust by a bank, but no one came up with any credible evidence. Auschwitz, captured by the Soviets, was extensively modified after the war and a mortuary was reconstructed to look like a large "gas chamber." It is now a big tourist attraction for the Communist Polish government.

The IHR says (revised):

No. Auschwitz, captured by the Soviets, was modified after the war, and a room was reconstructed to look like a large "gas chamber." After America's leading expert on gas chamber construction and design, Fred Leuchter, examined this and other alleged Auschwitz gassing facilities, he stated that it was an "absurdity" to claim that they were, or could have been, used for executions.

Nizkor replies:

Regarding the $50,000 reward offer: it was paid, to the last cent (actually $90,000), to Mel Mermelstein, an Auschwitz survivor who took the IHR to court. Here is the statement made by the judge:

The Honorable Thomas T. Johnson, on October 9, 1981, took judicial notice as follows:

Under Evidence Code Section 452(h), this court does take judicial notice of the fact that Jews were gassed to death at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland during the summer of 1944


It just simply is a fact that falls within the definition of Evidence Code Section 452(h). It is not reasonably subject to dispute. And it is capable of immediate and accurate determination by resort to sources of reasonably indisputable accuracy. It is simply a fact.

The IHR complains that they were not given a chance to dispute this fact, but then the American court system is not meant to be a place for people to try to prove crackpot theories. No "credible evidence" was produced because there was no call for it -- a courtroom is not the place to rehash the work of historians over the last half-century.

Besides, "credible evidence" means only what Holocaust-deniers want it to mean. Michael Shermer, in an open letter, has offered to take the IHR up on a similar offer, but only if they precisely define ahead of time what they will accept as evidence. He has received no reply. (In fact, to date, his letter has not even been printed.)

After this trial, both Mermelstein and the IHR sued each other for libel, but both decided not to go to court. The Holocaust deniers claim this is a "stunning victory" which "nullifies the result of the first trial." Nonsense: the two were unrelated, and the second trial would have had nothing to do with the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

As with most legal proceedings, the details get quite complicated. Great detail, including copies of several official documents, is available in the FTP archives.

Regarding Fred Leuchter's fraudulent "Report," a separate FAQ is available.

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