Nazis explored potential for killer mosquitoes
Nazi researchers investigated ways to use malaria-infected mosquitoes as a form of offensive biological warfare, according to a German researcher.
In January 1942, Heinrich Himmler, head of the Schutzstaffel (SS) in Nazi Germany, ordered the creation of an entomological institute at the concentration camp in Dachau, according to a report by Klaus Reinhardt of Germany’s University of Tuebingen. It was published in the journal Endeavour.
The researchers were tasked with studying insects that could “inflict harm to humans,” according to the report, which was based on a review of the institute’s archives.
Reinhardt found evidence that Nazi researchers discussed the possibility of dropping insects from the air “on a large scale.”
Private letters between the institute’s researchers revealed how mosquitoes were grown. Placed in “large flight cages,” the females were given a rabbit every other night in order to suck on the blood. Sometimes the researchers would provide their own blood.
At the concentration camp, Dr. Claus Schilling was already conducting experiments on prisoners by infecting them with malaria. Schilling’s research is one reason the institute may have been created, according to Reinhardt.
Mosquitoes weren’t the only insects studied at Dachau. Researchers also studied chemicals in lice, bacterial and fungal diseases of the housefly, and fleas — the only project classified as secret in the archives, according to Reinhardt’s research.
The research institute was part of the culture and education division of the SS, with the mission of “proving (Himmler’s) ideas of Aryan superiority in spirit, physical strength and history,” Reinhardt wrote.
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