World War II: Biolgical Warfare

biological warfare

Figure 1.--A Russian World War II internet site posted this photograph with the caption: Возвращение домой. 1943 г--Советские люди, согнанные фашистами в концлагерь и зараженные сыпным тифом, погнанные в сторону 65 армии П.И.Батова с целью распространения эпидемии в Советской Армии. БССР. Г. Калиновичи." That translates as,"Getting back home, 1943 year--Soviet people, that were taken by Nazis into concentration camps and infected by typhus, were then driven in the direction of 65th army of general Batov to infect Red army soldiers. Belarussia, town Kalinovichi." We suspect this charge was Wold War II Soviet propaganda. There is no evidence thst the NAZIs propgated typhus in their concentration camps. Typhus was certainly present in their camps, but because of the horendous conditions.

World War I beligerants did not weaponize biological agents. There are some reports that German agents in the United States inoculated horses and cattle with glanders disease before they were shipped to France. Typhus was not weaponized but the disease itself killed millions of people during World War I and the Russian Civil War. The development of DDT managed to contain it after the War. The Germans, however, remained very concerned about it. The two most important biological agents studied for weaponization in the inter-War era were typhus and antrax. Military experts varied on the potential effectiveness of biological weapoons. Major Leon Fox, U.S. Army Medical Corps, published a study which and concluded that biological agents would not be an effective weapn effective because of modern sanitation standards. World War II beligerants developed biological weapons. The two most important seem to be antrax and thyphus. Typhus may have been used to a limited extent on the Eastern Front. The British did a great deal of work on anthrax. The Japanese appear to have been the World War II beligerant country that most extensively used both chemical and biological weapons, primarily in China. The Soviets launched a major biological warfare program after the War.

World War I

World War I beligerants did not weaponize biological agents. The Germand did have, however, a biological warfare program. Thery used diplomatic pouches and couriers to supply sabatoge teamns in neutral countries. There are some reports that German agents in the United States as part of a sabatoge campaign inoculated horses and cattle with glanders disease before they were shipped to France. Typhus was not weaponized but the disease itself killed millions of people during World War I and the Russian Civil War.

Inter-War Era

The development of DDT managed to contain Typhus it after the World War I. The Germans, however, remained very concerned about it. The Geneva Convention that outlawed chemical weapons also outlawed bioloical weapons. The two most important biological agents studied for weaponization in the inter-War era were typhus and antrax. Military experts varied on the potential effectiveness of biological weapons. Major Leon Fox, U.S. Army Medical Corps, published a study which and concluded that biological agents would not be an effective weapon effective because of modern sanitation standards.

World War II

The primary concern with the outbreak of World War II was the fear of chemical warfare. Chemical agents were used extensively in World War I and now the possibility existed of aerial dispersal of poison gas. There was less concern about biological agents, presumably because they had not been used in World War I and there was no record of the impact as was the case of chemical agents. Also less work had been done during the inter-War era. Also the public was not aware of the possibility of biological weapons. The country which most actively developed and used biological weapons was Japan.

Agents

World War II beligerants developed biological weapons. The two most important seem to be antrax and thyphus. The Soviets may have used typhus to a limited extent on the Eastern Front, although considerable difference of opinion exists on this.

Countries

The Germans reported outbreaks of typhus after they invaded the Soviet Union (1941). The Germans reported outbreaks of typhus after they invaded the Soviet Union (1941). There were also serious outbreaks in French North Africa and the Middle East (Egypt and Iran) (1942-43). Large numbers of internees in NAZI concentration camps died of typhus, but the horrendouds conditions in the camps, especially lack of food, mean the victims were in poor health and thus suspectable to disease. Anne Frank and her sister Margot were two of the victims. The British did a great deal of work on anthrax. The Japanese appear to have been the World War II beligerant country that most extensively used both chemical and biological weapons, primarily in China.

Britain

The British did a great deal of work on anthrax. As a result of the current tendency to discredit Western leaders by left-wing journalists and academics, the myth has developed that Primeminister Churchill advovated using anthrax on Germany during World War II. The BBC in 1981 aired a television program which chasged that that Churchill had advocated using anthrax against Germany in reaction to the German V-weapon offensives launched after D-Day (1944). The poorly researched charges have since been disprived, but the BBC nevered gave the attention to the actual facts as they gave to the original charge. A good example of an author assembling material to support his thesis and ignoring readily available material that refutes his charges is a work published by Barton J. Bernstein published in 1987. It is true that the British were working on weaponizing antrax and the use of these weapons had come up in British military discussions. Churchill who at the time did not know about the terribly lethality of the chemical agents developed by the Germans raised the issue of the use of poison gas as aresult of the German V-weapons. He appears to have reluctantly accepted the advice of military experts (the British Chiefs of Staff and their subordinate Joint Planning Staff) not to introduce chemical weapons. There is no evidence thast he pressed for the use of biological agents. The Chiefs of Staff in their report to Churchill on chenical agents added anexamination of the biological warfare situation. The military informed Churchill that anthrax bombs were not yet available. Churchill had not advocated such bombs, the comment was just part of a comprehensive report. [Jones and Lewis]

French North Africa

There were also serious outbreaks typhus in French North Africa which have not been fully explained,

Germany

The Germans reported outbreaks of typhus after they invaded the Soviet Union (1941). Large numbers of internees in NAZI concentration camps died of typhus, but the horrendouds conditions in the camps, especially lack of food, mean the victims were in poor health and thus suspectable to disease. Anne Frank and her sister Margot were two of the victims. We notice Russian interest postings claiming that the Germans tuned lose concentration camp inmates infected with thyphus in an effort to infect Red Army soldiers. We can not yet confirm this charge.

Japan

The Japanese appear to have been the World War II beligerant country that most extensively used both chemical and biological weapons, primarily in China. Japan launched an extensive program to develop biological weapons (1937). The work was carried out in great secrecy at a facility 40 miles south of Harbin, Manchuria. The complex was identified as Unit 731. There the Japsnese worked on anthrax, tularemia, plague, botulism, small pox, glanders, typhoid, typhus, and other agents. Much of the work was on antrax. The work consisted of exposing humman subjects to the agents. While the work at the unit is thorougly documented. Use of the weapons by the Japanese military is less well documnted. Reports indicate that epidemic of bubonic plague ocuured in China and Mnchuria after overflights of Japanese aircraft (1940). Apparently the weapon system was to drop infected fleas with grain which were picked up by rats which were the carriers to humans. The Japanese at Unit 731 produced 400 kg of anthrax which they had weaponized using fragmentation bomb. Work at Unit 731 continued until the Soviet invasion and Japanese surrender (August 1945). Gen. Ishii ordered the Unit 731 complex destroyed. Because of the use of the weapons and the expeiments on civiians and POWs, Gen Ishii was guilty of war crimes. He escaped punishment by negotiating a scret deal with U.S. Army agents. The United States hushed up the research program and granted amnesty to the Japanese scientists who conducted the reseach. There was one condition. The scientists had to turn all their records and findings. This was comparable to post-War Soviet and Allied hunt to find and use the research results and the German scientists who worked on missles, rockets, jet aircraft and other high tech projects. Dr. Edwin Hill and Dr. Joseph Victor from Camp Detrick, the center for U.S. military biologicsl warfare research, traveled to Japan and interviewed 22 Japanese scientists involved with the program (1945).

Middle East

There were also reports of typhus outbreaks in the Middle East (Egypt and Iran) (1942-43).

Poland

Poland's Secret Army reported using typhus against the Germans. [Record Group] We are unsure how creditable the reports are.

Soviet Union

The Soviets had a very significant biological warfare indusdtry and capability. One report suggests that the Soviets began considering the use of typhus as a biological weapon (1928). The Soviets weaponised typhus, tularemia and Q fever before and during World War II. [Alibek] We have no details on what research was conducted. The same source suggests that typhus was used against German soldiers at Staligrad. The author suggests that the disease later spread into the civilian population, a major problem with biological weapons. [Alibek] This is not a charge we have noted earlier and we can not yet confirm this report. Others believe that this was a natural outbreak. It should be noted that typhus is a disease that was endemic in the Soviet Union. The Soviets also may have used Q fever against the Germans in the Crimea (1943). But like the Stlingrad ccharge, this can not yet be confirmed.

Cold War

The Soviets launched a major biological warfare program after the War.

Sources

Alibek, Ken with Steven Handelman. Biohazard. The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World - Told from Inside by the Man who Ran It (Random House, New York 1999). Alibek is a Soviet scientist who between 1988 and 1992 was Deputy Chief of the Red Army's Biological Weapons Program.

Bernstein, Barton J. "Churchill's Secret Biological Weapons" Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (January/February 1987).

Harris, Robert. BBC television report (May 1981).

Jones, R.V. and J. M. Lewis, "Churchill's antrax bombs -- A debate," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (November 1987).

Record Group (RG) 218, Archives of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Box 701; "Geographic File 1942-1945, CCS 231.5 Poland (9/21/43) to CCS 381 Poland (6/30/43), Sec. 2"; File folder CCS 381 Poland (6/30/43) Sec. 1, "Military Organization of Poland as Factor in General European Planning". Sec. 1 "Correspondence from 6/30/43 thru 11/4/43," Report dated September 7, 1943, from Colonel Mitkiewicz to General Deane; the text of this report was first published in French translation under "Le rapport Mitkiewicz du 7 septembre 1943 ou l'arme du typhus" in Revue d'Histoire Révisionniste, no. 1, May-July 1990, pp. 115-128. Germar Rudolf, "Reported in Aspects of Biological Warfare During World War II," Historical Revisionism – International and Independent Scientific Historical Research Mo. 1 (2005).






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Created: 5:53 AM 3/4/2010
Last updated: 8:58 PM 6/14/2013