Scrapbookpages Blog

February 15, 2014

Did the Nazis plan to use mosquitoes as a weapon of war?

One of the regular readers of my blog wrote a comment in which he included this link:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26193808

(The BBC specializes in demonizing the German people.)

Did the Nazis really conduct experiments at Dachau, using mosquitoes?  Yes, but I will get to that later.

First, you must read this quote from the news article, cited above:

German scientists at Dachau concentration camp researched the possible use of malaria-infected mosquitoes as weapons during World War Two, a researcher has claimed.

Dr Klaus Reinhardt of Tuebingen University examined the archives of the Entomological Institute at Dachau.

He found that biologists had looked at which mosquitoes might best be able to survive outside their natural habitat.

He speculates that such insects could have been dropped over enemy territory.

Heinrich Himmler, the leader of the SS, set up the institute at Dachau in 1942.  […]

Dr Reinhardt, writing in the journal Endeavour, has found evidence that the unit’s researchers investigated a particular type of mosquito which could live without food and water for four days.

That means it could be infected with malaria and then dropped from the air – and survive long enough to infect large numbers of people, he says.

He speculates that the scientists were investigating the possible use of malaria – transmitted via mosquitoes – as a biological weapon.

It is not known whether there is a connection between the work of the Entomological Institute at Dachau and the experiments carried out by Dr Claus Schilling at the camp.

Schilling used prisoners as experimental subjects in his research on malaria – deliberately infecting them – and was sentenced to death by hanging at the Dachau trials held after the war.

Sounds bad, doesn’t it?

Here is the real story:

It is true that Dr. Klaus Schilling did experiments on prisoners at Dachau while doing research on malaria.

Dr. Klaus Schilling on the witness stand at his trial

Dr. Klaus Schilling on the witness stand at his trial

This quote is from Dr. Johannes Neuhäusler’s book entitled  What Was It Like in the Concentration Camp at Dachau?  Dr. Neuhäusler was a prisoner at Dachau.  I purchased his book at the Dachau Memorial Site in 1997.

“A physician, Dr. Klaus Schilling (sentenced to death by the Allied court), wanted to test a remedy for malaria. Malaria, a tropical disease, did not prevail in Dachau. He could have gone to the tropics to make his tests there. But why go to such trouble? One could make everything more convenient in the concentration camp.”

Dr. Klaus Schilling

Dr. Klaus Schilling

Dr. Klaus Schilling was one of the world’s foremost experts on tropical diseases when he was ordered by Heinrich Himmler, the head of all the Nazi concentration camps, to come out of retirement to work on a cure for malaria after German soldiers began dying of the disease in North Africa. Before his retirement, Dr. Schilling had worked at the prestigious Robert Koch Institute in Berlin. He had begun specializing in tropical diseases after he himself had contracted malaria.

After the war, Dr. Schilling was arrested by the American Army and charged with participating in a “common plan” to violate the Laws and Usages of War because he had conducted experiments on Dachau prisoners, using various drugs in an effort to find a cure for malaria. Most of his subjects were young Polish priests whom Dr. Schilling infected by means of mosquitoes from the marshes of Italy and the Crimea, according to author Peter Padfield in his book entitled Himmler. The priests were chosen for the experiments because they were not required to work, as were the ordinary prisoners at Dachau.

One of the prosecution witnesses at the trial of the German Major War Criminals at Nuremberg was Dr. Franz Blaha, a Czech medical doctor who was a Communist political prisoner at Dachau. An affidavit signed by Dr. Blaha had been entered into the main Nuremberg trial. It was marked Document Number 3249-PS, Exhibit USA-663. His comments in this affidavit about Dr. Schilling are quoted below from the transcript of the Nuremberg trial for January 11, 1946

“3. During my time at Dachau I was familiar with many kinds of medical experiments carried on there on human victims. These persons were never volunteers but were forced to submit to such acts. Malaria experiments on about 1,200 people were conducted by Dr. Klaus Schilling between 1941 and 1945. Schilling was personally ordered by Himmler to conduct these experiments. The victims were either bitten by mosquitoes or given injections of malaria sporozoites taken from mosquitoes. Different kinds of treatment were applied including quinine, pyrifer, neosalvarsan, antipyrin, pyramidon, and a drug called 2516 Behring. I performed autopsies on the bodies of people who died from these malaria experiments. Thirty to 40 died from the malaria itself. Three hundred to four hundred died later from diseases which were fatal because of the physical condition resulting from the malaria attacks. In addition there were deaths resulting from poisoning due to overdoses of neosalvarsan and pyramidon. Dr. Schilling was present at my autopsies on the bodies of his patients.”

The 74-year-old Dr. Schilling was convicted at Dachau and hanged. In his final statement to the court, Dr. Schilling pleaded to have the results of his experiments returned to him so they could be published. During his trial, he tried to justify his crime by saying that his experiments were for the good of mankind.

I don’t know what happened to the results of his experiments, but they were probably confiscated by the Americans who conducted his trial at Dachau, and used for medical purposes in the USA.  Since he was tried under the ex-post facto law called “common design,” he had no defense.  He was guilty because he had conducted his experiments in a concentration camp.