Breaking the Spell by Nicholas Kollerstrom Review and Commentary Part Two

This is the second of a series of posts on the Holocaust revisionist book Breaking the Spell by Nicholas Kollerstrom and will examine some of his “scientific” arguments such as the Leuchter Report.


In 1988 Fred Leuchter took samples form the sites of the gas chambers at Auschwitz I and Birkenau and found they contained negligible levels of ferric-ferro-cyanide or Iron Blue, compared with the delousing chamber at Birkenau. He tried to present his findings  at the trial of the revisionist Ernst Zundel.

(Kollerstrom distances himself from Zundel  and describes him as “pro-Nazi” (Nicholas Kollerstrom, Breaking the Spell, Castle Hill Publishers, Uckfield, 2014, p 32))

From a scientific perspective, Leuchter’s findings are worthless because there was no control sample. He did not take any samples from real gas chambers, used to execute prisoners, to show how much ferric-ferro-cyanide there should be and then compared it with the samples he took from Auschwitz.

Leuchter has designed execution gas chambers. Under cross-examination during the Zundel trial, Leuchter admitted he would not expect to find any residue in one of his gas chambers forty five years later. It seems hypocritical for him to expect there to be cyanide residue in the Auschwitz gas chambers.

Leuchter was looking for ferro-ferric-cyanide which he expected to form when the hydrogen cyanide gas reacted with the iron in the bricks. If there is negligible ferro-ferric-cyanide residue, it does not necessarily mean it was never exposed to hydrogen cyanide gas, only that it did not react with the iron in the bricks.

Kollerstrom acknowledges there is no ferro-ferric-cyanide on the walls of the delousing chamber in Dachau,

“However, the walls of the Dachau delousing chamber were coated with a sealant, an eggshell paint, which would prevent cyanide gas absorption.” (Breaking the Spell, p 52)


The walls of the Birkenau gas chambers were coated with cement. Leuchter took samples from the bricks which had been behind the cement. Revisionists do not consider that cement, like paint, could have prevented the hydrogen cyanide from reacting with the iron in the bricks.

pwelt 001
Photo of the white cement coating on the walls of the gas chamber of Crematorium II taken by Omer Arbel, reproduced in Robert Jan van Pelt ,The Case for Auschwitz, Indiana University Press, 2002, p 361

Leuchter used the Birkenau delousing chamber as his supposed control sample, but delousing chambers and gas chambers were not used in the same way. A delousing chamber used a greater concentration of hydrogen cyanide over a longer period of time. A dosage of 300 ppm of Hydrogen cyanide is lethal to humans and the gassings took about 20 minutes. In contrast, a dosage of 3200 ppm was used in the delousing chambers and a delousing session could take 12 to 18 hours.

It is no wonder the results are different. There was arguably not enough time for the hydrogen cyanide to react with the iron in the bricks, which was covered by cement, and form fer0-ferric-cyanide.

This is a summary of my article The Truth about the Leuchter Report Part Two.


Other articles which address the Leuchter Report are:

The Leuchter Report, Holocaust Denial and the Big Lie

The Chemistry of Auschwitz by Richard Green

Leuchter, Rudolf and the Iron Blues by Richard Green

Chemistry is not the Science by Richard Green and Jamie McCarthy

Report of Richard J. Green for the Irving Trial

Technical Aspects of the Holocaust, Cyanide, Zyklon-B and Mass Murder by Brian Harmon

Kollerstrom says that Leuchter “was surely the first person since World War II to really see the buildings as they had functioned.” (Breaking the Spell, p 120) Presumably based on the Leuchter report, Kollerstrom claims that the gas chambers were either washrooms or morgues (Breaking the Spell, p 38). However, many Holocaust revisionists admit that Leuchter was wrong about the supposed real purpose of the gas chambers.

In the original Leuchter Report he said the gas chambers had no doors or ventilation, so they could not possibly have been gas chambers. In 1989 Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers by Jean Claude Pressac was published. It reproduced wartime construction documents for the crematoria which mentioned gas-tight doors, ventilation and other evidence for gas chambers. An extensive list of the evidence for gassings at Auschwitz can be found at the Holocaust Controversies blog here.

Instead of admitting he had been wrong. Leuchter simply made up new explanations to explain away the new evidence.

Other revisionists have invented new explanations to explain the documentary evidence. In “Technique and Operation of Anti-Gas Shelters in World War II” Samuel Crowell argues that the chambers were really anti-gas air raid shelters, designed to keep poison gas out, rather than in.

In “Morgue Cellars of Birkenau: Gas Shelters or Disinfesting Chambers?” Carlo Mattogno says there were delousing chambers in the crematoria.

During the 2000 libel trial David Irving said that the gas chambers were really both air raid shelters and delousing chambers for fumigating the corpses of typhus victims (Irving v. Penguin Ltd. and Lipstadt, January 24, 2000, Bay 8, p 85-88). In other words, the Nazis gassed Jews with Zyklon B there but they were already dead.  It is not clear why the Nazis would delouse typhus infested corpses before cremating them,rather than  just cremate them.

The evidence is pretty conclusive if revisionists have to come up with explanations like this. Quite frankly, the revisionists sound desperate. They will say they were anything other than gas chambers.

But if they were delousing chambers, shouldn’t Leuchter have found higher levels of ferro-ferric-cyanide? Revisionists only believe the scientific evidence when it suits them.

Kollerstrom says nothing about these more recent developments but relies on the outdated Leuchter Report.

Kollerstrom refers to Germar Rudolf’s use of the philosopher Karl Popper and his idea of falsifiability which basically means that if a scientific theory is valid, there must be a way to show that it is false (Breaking the Spell, p 126). If a theory cannot be disproved, it is not a valid scientific theory. For example, evolutionists say that if we fossils of rabbits in Precambrian rocks, evolution would be falsified and disproved.

Holocaust revisionism is not falsifiable. Revisionists will not accept evidence which proves they are wrong. If a witness says they saw the gas chambers, revisionists say they are lying. If a document refers to the gas chambers or the mass murder of the Jews, revisionists say it means something else, or if they cannot get away with that, they say it is a forgery. There is no amount of evidence  which will  make them change their minds. Holocaust revisionism is not falsifiable, so it is not a valid scientific theory.

On the other hand, the Holocaust is falsifiable. revisionists could show that the millions of Jews, who were killed by the Nazis in camps like Auschwitz and Treblinka , were really still alive.






Breaking the Spell by Nicholas Kollerstrom Review and Commentary Part One

Did you know that the Jews in Auschwitz ate cake and ice cream? Well, that’s what Nicholas Kollerstrom says on his book Breaking the Spell,

“Inmates were paid for their labour and services while interned at Auschwitz concentration camp, and special money was printed for their use. Through extra work, inmates could obtain such coupons, redeemable for cake and ice cream in the camp’s canteen.” (Nicholas Kollerstrom, Breaking the Spell, The Holocaust:  Myth and Reality, Castle Hill Publishers, Uckfield, 2014, p 197)

Nicholas Kollerstrom in The Jewish Chronicle Online
Nicholas Kollerstrom in The Jewish Chronicle Online

When I moved to Launceston in 1991, I met a Holocaust revisionist or denier who introduced me to the Leuchter Report and other revisionist material. There was a time when I wondered if there might be some truth to their arguments. However, I soon came to realise they were wrong. The fundamental problem with Holocaust revisionism is their inability to show, with evidence, what “really” happened to the Jews if they were not killed.

I have had some articles on the errors of the Leuchter Report and Holocaust revisionism published in the alternative magazine Hard Evidence which can he found on my Articles and Essays page.

In future posts I intend to review some revisionist books and explore their flawed arguments, beginning with Breaking the Spell by Nicholas Kollerstrom.


Kollerstrom, who has a Ph. D. in physics, was expelled from the University College. London, for his views on the Holocaust in 2008 (Breaking the Spell, p 15, 107-108). I do not agree with the censorship and persecution of Holocaust revisionists. If we only have freedom of speech for people who say things we agree with, we do not have freedom of speech. Freedom of speech means putting up with people who say things we don’t like.

Worse, suppressing Holocaust revisionism only fuels their persecution complexes, so they believe their claims cannot be debated or refuted.

If you are going to believe something controversial, which is going to result in your being persecuted and your life pretty much being ruined, you should make sure what you believe is true, which is not the case with Kollerstrom’s claims in Breaking the Spell.

Kollerstrom does not accurately define what happened in the Holocaust. He write, “The Holocaustian religion is about six million Jews who tragically died in gas cambers, then mysteriously came back to take the cash.” (Breaking the Spell, p 133) (No hint of anti-Semitism here.) He repeatedly claims six million Jews were gassed in the Holocaust (Breaking the Spell, p 28-29, 30, 52, 57, 133, 176, 223).

The only people, who say six million Jews were gassed in the Holocaust, either know nothing about the Holocaust or are revisionists making a straw man argument. About 1 million Jews were gassed using Zyklon B in Auschwitz. About 2 million Jews were gassed by carbon monoxide in the Operation Reinhard camps. Kollerstrom says nothing about the 2.5 million Jews  who were mainly shot in the occupied Soviet Union.

Kollerstrom is vague about the nature of Auschwitz and where the Jews were killed. The Auschwitz complex consisted of three major camps, Auschwitz I, the Main Camp, Auschwitz II or Birkenau, Auschwitz III or Monowitz, and several smaller satellite camps. Much of Kollerstrom’s attention is focused on Auschwitz I where the gas chamber in Crematorium I operated in 1942. In 1944 it was converted into an air raid shelter. After the war it converted into a replica gas chamber. Kollerstrom repeatedly claims it was built by Stalin (Breaking the Spell, p 37, 53, 64), but does not present any evidence Stalin had anything to do with it.

On one page Kollerstrom describes the gas chamber in Auschwitz I as a post war reconstruction (Breaking the Spell, p 56). Then, on the next page he describes a revisionist video about Auschwitz,

“David Cole in his video walks around the dreaded chamber. He points to an ordinary wooden door, opening inwards, with a thin glass panel. Clearly this and the door itself would have been immediately smashed if one attempted to put loads of people inside and gas them.” (Breaking the Spell, p 57) He is suggesting this could not possibly be a door to a gas chamber, but he has just said the building is not in its original wartime condition when it was a gas chamber. He cannot have it both ways.

Lots of buildings and ruins have been restored and reconstructed. There is nothing sinister about this. It does not mean they are fakes.

Auschwitz I’s gas chamber played a relatively minor role in the gassing of the Jews in Auschwitz. Out of the 1.1 million Jews killed in Auschwitz, it has been estimated that “only” 10,000 were cremated in Auschwitz I and not all of those would have been gassed (Jean Claude Pressac, Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers, Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, New York, 1989, p 134). The vast majority were killed in Auschwitz II or Birkenau in the two Bunkers in 1942 and the gas chambers in Crematoria II, III, IV and V in 1943 and 1945. Kollerstrom does not make this clear to his readers, giving the impression that it was all about Auschwitz I and its supposedly fake gas chamber.

The locations of these gas chambers can be found in numerous books on Auschwitz and the Holocaust, yet Kollerstrom  writes about “fairly unspecified physical locations” (Breaking the Spell, p 120) as though there is some confusion about where these gas chambers were (Breaking the Spell, p 52).

Kollerstrom quotes some Nazi documents that the death rate in the concentration camps be reduced (Breaking the Spell, p 216-217). This does not sound like an extermination program, but the purpose of the concentration camps was not to kill every inmate. Some were used as slave labour for the Nazi war effort. As the war worsened for Germany, there was a greater need for slave labour in the war industries, so more effort was put into keeping them alive. This did not apply to those unfit Jews in Auschwitz who could not be used for slave labour.

When the Jews arrived in Auschwitz, they went through a selection process where the unfit Jews were usually gassed and only the fit Jews were admitted into the camp and used as slave labour. Non-Jewish inmates did not go through a selection process.

The Nazi policy of killing the unfit Jews and keeping the fit ones alive to work is outlined in  a passage from Joseph Goebbels’ diary on March 27, 1942,

“Beginning with Lublin the Jews are now being deported eastward from the Government-General. The process is pretty barbaric, and one that beggars description, and there’s not much left of the Jews. Broadly speaking, one can probably say that sixty percent of them will have to be liquidated while only forty percent can be put to work.” (David Irving, Goebbels, Mastermind of the Third Reich, Focal Point, London, 1996, p 388)

Kollerstrom ignores this well-known passage.

Moreover, the majority of concentration camp inmates were not Jews. Peter Black writes,

“With the exception of Auschwitz and other Jewish labor camps in Poland and the Soviet Union, the overwhelming majority of the camp population, approximately 224,000 in August 1943, was non-Jewish between the end of 1942 and the arrival of the Hungarian Jews during the summer of 1944. The majority of the prisoners in Reich camps in 1942-44 were Slavs, primarily Poles and Russians; after these came the resistance fighters and forced labourers from western Europe: Italian laborers, who arrived in the camps after the Italian surrender on September 8, 1943; and finally German political and criminal prisoners.” (Peter Black, “Forced Labor in Concentration Camps. 1942-1944”, in Michael Berenbaum (editor), A Mosaic of Victims, I. B. Taurus, London, 1990, p 56)

Kollerstrom cited figures that in 1942, 65% of the inmates in Auschwitz were Poles and 39% were Jews. However, he also writes that nearly 60% of the deaths of registered inmates were Jews (Breaking the Spell, p 104) This would suggest that the Poles were treated better than the Jews.

Not all inmates in Auschwitz were equal. There was a hierarchy and some inmates, such as German political and criminal prisoners, had more right than others, such as the Jews (Wolfgang Softy, The Order of Terror: The Concentration Camp, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1997, p 117-129)

Auschwitz swimming pool, copyright unknown
Auschwitz swimming pool, copyright unknown.

Kollerstrom points to features, such as the swimming pool and brothel in Auschwitz I, to argue that Auschwitz was not such a bad place (Breaking the Spell, p 194-196), when they were only for the more privileged non-Jewish inmates and the Jews did not have access to them. Laurence Rees writes in Auschwitz, The Nazis and the Final Solution,

“The idea that Auschwitz prisoners could be found brawling in an SS-sponsored brothel seems, at first hearing , inexplicable. But it is actually a story that illustrates the sophisticated hierarchy of prisoners that had now developed at the camp. As Jozef Paczynski points out, the idea that Jews could use the brothel was inconceivable. They were considered a lower class of inmate, subject to a level of ill-treatment that some of the Polish or German non-Jewish prisoners escaped.

The Nazis could see that one of the keys to the smooth running of the camp  was the attitude of the inmates who had managed to gain relatively privileged jobs, many of whom were political prisoners who had entered the camp years before. This class of prisoner was not subjected, as a rule, to the ruthless and regular selections that other inmates endured. But the Germans wanted a better way of controlling them. A brothel, with entrance dependent on vouchers issued by the Nazis, was a reward for good behaviour for around 100 of these key inmates and a clear incentive to behave even better in the future,” (Laurence Rees, Auschwitz, The Nazis and the Final Solution, BBC Books, London, 2005, p 252)

rees auchwitz

Rees also writes,

“There is another difficulty with the existence of the brothel at Auschwitz. Holocaust deniers and other apologists for the Nazis seize upon its presence as evidence that Auschwitz was a really different place from that painted in conventional historiography. This problem s especially stark when combined with knowledge of the so-called ‘swimming pool’ at Auschwitz main camp. In reality this was a water storage tank over which the firemen had fixed a makeshift diving board, but selected inmates were certainly able to bathe in it. ‘There was a swimming pool in Auschwitz for the fire brigade,’ confirms Ryszard Dacko. ‘I could even swim there.’ This facility has become one of the totems of the Holocaust deniers’ case. ‘This is supposed to be a death camp?’ they say, ‘With a swimming pool for the inmates? Come off it!’ But in reality its existence fits into the same pattern as that of the brothel. Instead of showing how Auschwitz was a centre for mass murder, which it undeniably was, the presence of these two institutions demonstrates once again the complex make-up of the various camps that together constituted ‘Auschwitz’.

The many different hierarchical structures and purposes  of the various camps within the Auschwitz complex have allowed the Holocaust deniers  to focus on so-called anomalies such as these. There were myriad variations – from the ‘swimming pool’ and brothel at one end of the spectrum to the crematoria and murder of children at the other. It was the very complexity of Auschwitz as an institution that made the place so appealing to Himmler in 1943, and makes it a focus of the Holocaust deniers’ attentions today.” (Auschwitz, The Nazis and the Final Solution, p 253-254)

Kollerstrom writes, “Is anyone really dumb enough to believe that this pool with spring board and starting blocks was merely a water reservoir for use by firemen? Yes, see Laurence Rees Auschwitz, a New History, 2005.” (Breaking the Spell, p 196)

However, we have seen that Rees said it was both a swimming and a reservoir for firemen.

Kollerstrom and other Holocaust revisionists do not make it clear there was a hierarchy in Auschwitz and some inmates had more rights and privileges than others. They give the impression that the Jewish inmates had access to the same privileges as the top non-Jewish inmates. However, I have not seen any evidence that even these elite prisoners could eat cake and ice cream.

To be continued.


Is Gog of Magog the Muslim Antichrist?

My other posts about Bible prophecy have been written from a futurist perspective, that the Antichrist will make a treaty with Israel and will be around for the seven years of the Great Tribulation. I am different from many futurists in that I am post-tribulationist and a-millennialist. However, I have also realised there could be another possible interpretation of the roles of the Antichrist and the False Prophet during the Great Tribulation.

A minority of Bible prophecy writers, such as Joel Richardson in Antichrist, Islam’s Awaited Messiah and Mideast Beast and Perry Stone in Unleashing the Beast, believe the Antichrist will be a Muslim.


unleashing beast perry stone

Muslim prophecies and traditions speak of the Twelfth Imam or Mahdi, the Muslim equivalent of the Messiah, who disappeared in 878 and will one day return. According to a survey by the Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project,

“In most countries in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, half or more Muslims believe they will live to see the return of the Mahdi. This expectation is most widespread in Afghanistan (83%), Iraq (72%), Tunisia (67%) and Malaysia (62%). It is least common in Bangladesh (29%) and Indonesia (23%).

Outside of these regions, belief the return of the Mahdi is imminent is much less prevalent. Across Central Asia, no more than about four-in-ten Muslims surveyed in any country think they will live to see the Mahdi return; the exception is Turkey, where about two-thirds (68%) expect to witness his return. In Southern and Eastern Europe, only a quarter or less share this expectation.”[1]

According to Muslim traditions, the Mahdi will appear and conquer Jerusalem, persecute Christians and Jews and will convert the world to Islam. Some prophecies even say he will rule for seven years[2].

This sounds familiar, like they are describing the Antichrist from a Muslim perspective and the Muslim Mahdi will really be the Biblical Antichrist. However, we should not place too much value on prophecies which come from the other side. A major problem with the Mahdi-Antichrist scenario is that it looks like the Antichrist will allow the Temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem. It is impossible to believe the Mahdi will allow this. He is supposed to conquer Jerusalem for the Muslims and destroy the Jews.

Nevertheless, there still may be some truth to this scenario.

In Daniel 9: 26-27 the desecrator of the Temple is “the prince who is to come”. We assume this is the Antichrist, although elsewhere in Daniel the Antichrist is a king, not a prince (Daniel 11:29-45). Perhaps, the “prince who is to come” is not the Antichrist, but the False Prophet who is subordinate to the Antichrist, the king. The False Prophet will set up a religious-economic system based on the worship of the Antichrist (Revelation 13:15-18).  Perhaps, the False Prophet, not the Antichrist, will make the treaty with Israel which allows the Temple to be rebuilt. Revelation says about the False Prophet,

“And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.” (Revelation 13:14-15)

This is usually understood to refer to the desecration of the Temple, the abomination of desolation (Daniel 9:27), and it looks like it will involve something more elaborate than a simple statue of the Antichrist. The False Prophet will clearly play a role in the desecration of the Temple so he could fulfil the role of the “prince who is to come” in Daniel 9. That does not necessarily mean the Antichrist will not be involved. It will be a joint effort. Thus, we should not assume the Antichrist will be identifiable by the treaty with Israel. It may be the False Prophet.

The Antichrist comes out of the bottomless pit at the fifth trumpet (Revelation 9:1-12, 11:7). This does not take place at the beginning of the Tribulation, but at the fifth trumpet which was preceded by four trumpets and several seals, depending on how much Revelation overlaps. The Antichrist may not appear or be identifiable until well into the Tribulation, and he may be preceded by the False Prophet, perhaps similar to the way John the Baptist preceded Jesus.

The Antichrist may not be around for part of the Tribulation because he is already dead. Revelation appears to say the Antichrist will be killed and then come back to life (Revelation 13:3, 12). It also says there will be a seventh kingdom which will “continue a short time” between the Roman Empire and the Antichrist’s world empire (Revelation 17:10). This may refer to the coalition of Muslim nations led by Gog of Magog which Ezekiel prophesied would attack Israel and be destroyed by God. This coalition will only exist for “a short time”. At one point God says to Gog,

“Thus says the Lord God: “Are you he of whom I have spoken in former days by My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied for years in those days that I would bring you against them.”” (Ezekiel 38:17)

God appears to be asking Gog if he is the Antichrist. Joel Richardson writes,

“The question must be asked then, if Gog and Magog are spoken of by Israel’s prophets prior to Ezekiel, where are all of those references? One would be very hard pressed to find any unless one does some serious stretching of the Scriptures. But if we take the position Gog is Antichrist, then it is very passages about Antichrist and his invading Army throughout the prophets.”[3]

Gog may claim to be the Mahdi, leading a coalition of Muslim nations to destroy Israel. Gog will be a prince of Meshech and Tubal (Ezekiel 38:3, 39:1) which are in modern Turkey. While many Muslims believe the Mahdi will come from Saudi Arabia or the Khorasan region of Afghanistan and Iran, others believe he will come from Turkey[4]. Perhaps Gog will come from one of the Magog countries (Russia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan) and become a political leader in Turkey.

Gog will be killed and buried in Israel (Ezekiel 39:11-16). If he is the Antichrist, he will appear to be resurrected as Revelation says (Revelation 13:3). Then, the Antichrist and the False Prophet will desecrate the Temple and enforce world-wide worship of the Antichrist.

Daniel said the Antichrist will not worship “the God of his fathers” (Daniel 11:37). This may mean that after he has apparently been resurrected, Gog will renounce Allah and Islam, “the god of his fathers”, and demand that he be worshipped.

Revelation 17 says about the seven heads of the Beast,

“There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. The beast, that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.” (Revelation 17:10-11)

The five kings represent five kings or kingdoms before John was writing around 96 AD, probably Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia and Greece. The one, which is, is Rome. The seventh king, which has not yet come form John’s perspective and will only be around for a short time, could be Gog of Magog who leads a collation of Muslim nations against Israel and is defeated. After this, the False Prophet makes the treaty with Israel and the Temple is rebuilt. The eighth king, which is connected to the seventh, is Gog who appears to have killed, risen from the dead as the Antichrist.

This is a radical interpretation. I am unaware of anyone else who has suggested it. The traditional view of an Antichrist, who is around for seven years, could still be correct. By mentioning this other interpretation, I am basically “hedging my bets”

[1] “The World’s Muslims: Unity and Diversity, Chapter 3: Articles of Faith”,

[2] Unleashing the Beast, op cit, p 81-92, 136, Joel Richardson, Antichrist, Islam’s Awaited Messiah, Pleasant Word, Washington, 2006, p 40-71

[3] Antichrist, Islam’s Awaited Messiah, op cit., p 102

[4] “Awaited Mahdi”,,  “Istanbul and the anticipated Hazrat Mahdi (as)”, , “Hazrat Mahdi (as) will appear in Turkey with the Turkish flag”,