Nazis may have tried to use mosquitoes as weapons, research says

Discussion in 'Military History' started by kseeker, Feb 16, 2014.

  1. kseeker

    kseeker Retired

    Jul 24, 2013
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    LONDON: Vectorborne diseases like malaria and dengue continue to be global killers. And it is this deadly effect of mosquitoes that impressed the Nazis.

    Historical evidence of biological weapons research during Nazi Germany has confirmed that Nazis wanted to use mosquitoes - which host malaria in biological warfare.

    It is now confirmed that in 1944, Germany's SS Entomological Institute was tasked with testing various species of mosquito for their ability to survive without food or water - and thus, their suitability to be infected with malaria and air-dropped into enemy territory.

    It has been debated for many years whether Nazi Germany sought to produce biological weapons despite Hitler's ban on them. Tubingen University's Dr Klaus Reinhardt latest finding is likely to re-ignite that discussion.

    Heinrich Himmler, head of the Nazi research commissioned the Entomological Institute in Dachau in January 1942, presumably after reports of lice infestation among troops, and following an outbreak of typhoid fever at Neuengamme concentration camp.

    The instructions Himmler issued in 1942 were for basic research required to combat germ-carrying insects - involving the life cycles, diseases, predators and preferred hosts of beetles, lice, fleas and flies.

    While studying documents from the Waffen-SS Entomological Institute, an annex of Dachau concentration camp, Dr Reinhardt asked the question "Why did the armed wing of the Nazi party need to study insects?"

    He said: "It made no sense - during World War II, Germany already had several respected entomological research centers; nor did the SS institute study insects which presented a potential threat to Germany's all-important food supplies".

    After combing the archives and building upon post-war studies, Dr Reinhardt came to the conclusion that although the institute was intended to combat insect-borne diseases such as typhoid, it also carried out research into whether mosquitoes - which host malaria - could be used in biological warfare.

    The results of Dr Reinhardt's research are published in the latest edition of the journal Endeavour. Dr Reinhardt examined notes by the institute's director, Eduard May.

    Lab reports detailed experiments with anopheles mosquitoes, which can host malaria during part of its development. May recommended the use of one particular anopheles mosquito species which could survive for more than four days.
    Reinhardt considers this a clear indicator that the insects were to be used as an offensive biological weapon.

    Dr Reinhardt's article describes how scientifically more suitable candidates were passed over in favour of May, who was regarded by the regime as ideologically sound.

    One reason why Dachau was chosen as the location for the insect study facility was one of the infamous experimentation programs carried out there - the inoculation of prisoners with malaria by Professor Claus Schilling.

    However, Dr Reinhardt found no evidence that May collaborated with Schilling "May knew that somebody carried out experiments related to malaria in the prisoners' camp but it is not clear whether he deliberately stayed clear of them or simply was not allowed to enter the prisoners' camp."

    Nazis may have tried to use mosquitoes as weapons, research says - The Times of India

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