British plan to defeat Germany with anthrax

British plan to defeat Germany with anthrax

How dangerous could a secret program codenamed “Operation Vegetarian”? So much so that if it were realized, millions of people would die, and thousands of hectares of European land might still be uninhabitable.

By oneself

September 1, 1939 Adolf Hitler invaded Poland, it was the beginning of the Second World War. German troops invaded Poland from the west, and 16 days later Joseph Stalin, by secret agreement with Hitler, brought troops from the east to Poland. The remnants of the Polish army tried to fight ... but they had no chance. On October 6, Poland capitulated and disappeared from the world map, its territory was divided and incorporated into Germany and the USSR.

The partition of Poland was the beginning of a series of quick victories for the Nazis: on April 9, 1940, Germany invaded Denmark, which surrendered on the same day, and Norway, which capitulated on June 10.By that time, Hitler had already captured Belgium, which had surrendered in 18 days, Luxembourg, which had surrendered in a day, and the Netherlands, which had lasted five days. And even the mighty France capitulated after five weeks of fighting on June 22.

After that, on July 10, Hitler began the bombing of England in preparation for Operation Sea Lion, his planned invasion of the British Isles. The British had to fight almost alone: ​​by that time almost all the countries of Western Europe either surrendered to Germany, or joined it, or declared their neutrality in the hope of avoiding occupation. Even the United States officially declared its neutrality, and President Franklin Roosevelt was under heavy pressure from the isolationists who were trying to keep America from war. In addition, the United States could do little to help Britain, since German submarines patrolled the North Atlantic.

Desperate measures

In connection with the threat of invasion, Prime Minister Winston Churchill set new tasks for Porton Down - a secret military laboratory in the south of England, created during the First World War to develop chemical warfare agents.The laboratory appeared after the Germans first used gaseous chlorine in the battlefield in 1915. Now, on the orders of Churchill, work began on a new project: it was necessary to find a way to use the disputes of the deadly anthrax in the war. The operation “Vegetarian” began with this order.

Natural disaster

Anthrax is the name of a disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, which lives in the soil. If the spores of these bacteria affect human skin (this form of the disease is called “skin”), then the result is a serious infectious disease, the most distinctive feature of which are ulcers on the skin, covered with coal black scabs. From them, anthrax got its official name - anthracis, which in Greek means “coal”. If untreated, the skin form of anthrax ends in death in about 20 percent of cases.

When spores enter the body together with food or when breathing, they become even more dangerous: the gastrointestinal form of anthrax kills about 60% of the animals or people that have become ill, and in the pulmonary form the death rate reaches 95%.(Modern treatment methods have significantly reduced the mortality rate, but in the 1930s these methods were not yet available.)

Death from the sky

When anthrax spores go along with food into animal organisms, even if infected animals do not die, their meat cannot be eaten, because it becomes the disseminator of the disease. It was on this that the scientists from Porton Down decided to focus their efforts: they came up with a plan on how to disrupt meat production in Germany, destroying huge herds of cattle in the north of the country. It was planned with the Royal Air Force bombers to scatter small loaves of bread with anthrax spores over pasture territory. All the animals that would eat them should have died within a few days, as well as thousands or even millions of Germans who would come in contact with the meat of infected animals. It was assumed that after the cause of the mass disease in Germany would be established, all the stocks of meat in the country would fall under suspicion. Frightened by the Germans completely abandon its use in food (hence the name: “Operation“ Vegetarian ”), which will cause severe food shortages during the war and undermine the morale of Germany.

Full box

Porton Down officials ordered suppliers with enough raw materials to produce five million loaves of bread. Then they signed a contract with a manufacturer of toilet soap in London, who undertook to cut loaves of raw material about 2.5 cm in diameter and weighing less than 30 g. Then, in Porton Down, they hired a dozen women who, in a closed secret institution, introduced Siberian spores into bread ulcers. They were provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, producing disputes in their laboratory.

By the spring of 1944, all five million loaves of bread were made and stuffed with anthrax. RAF modified bombers were ready to scatter them over northern Germany. In Porton Down, it was planned that it would take the bombers about 18 minutes to reach their goals over Germany. Upon arrival during the 20 minute bombardment, they should have dropped 400 loaves every two minutes, for a total of 4000 loaves. If 12 bombers were used in the mission, they would have dropped 48,000 loaves for cattle. After that, most of the pastures of northern Germany would have been infected with anthrax.In addition, there were still millions of loaves for future bombing in other parts of Germany.

“It was necessary to choose the moment when the cattle will be released on open pastures, but the lush spring grass will begin to decline. The tests showed that in this case all the loaves would have been found and eaten in a very short time, ”said Dr. Paul Fildes, head of the biology department at Porton Down.

And since anthrax spores can remain viable in the soil for a century or more, the earth would remain poisoned for many more generations. On it it would be impossible not to graze cattle, nor to live for people.

Willing to start ...

It remains only for Winston Churchill to order the start of Operation Vegetarian. ”

But the order did not come. Why? Because by that time the course of the war had turned resolutely against Germany. Operation Sea Lion, Hitler’s landing plan in England, did not take place: the British Air Force shot down so many German planes that Hitler had to cancel the operation. Then he turned his views on Russia and invaded its territory on June 22, 1941.

After several successful months by October 1941, the Nazi offensive began to slip, Hitler could not take Moscow before the onset of winter.Instead of wintering in the city, his poorly equipped and poorly dressed troops had to endure the harsh Russian winter in the field, many thousands died or were incapacitated as a result of frostbite. Moscow never fell, and by spring the Russian troops regrouped and launched a counter-offensive. Then, on December 7, 1941, after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, the United States entered the war. The isolationists no longer tied their hands, and President Roosevelt was ready to issue an order for military aid to Britain.

When in February 1943, Hitler’s attempt to seize Stalingrad failed, the German offensive in Russia was finally disrupted. For the rest of the war, the Soviet troops were relentlessly pushing the Nazis towards Germany. In July 1943, the Allied invasion of Italy began, and then, on June 6, 1944, the Allied landings began in Normandy.

Thank you but no!

Since the question of the survival of Britain was no longer questioned, and the defeat of Germany was only a matter of time, in the spring of 1944 Winston Churchill chose to abandon "Operation Vegetarian".At the end of the war, in 1945, all five million loaves for livestock were sent to the incinerator in Porton Down and destroyed.

Any doubts as to how dangerous the use of anthrax by the British during the war could be can be resolved with the example of Grunard Island. The island has an area of ​​about 2 square. km and is located near the coast of northwestern Scotland. At the beginning of the war, the British requisitioned the island, and in 1942 and 1943 used it as a testing ground for anthrax bombs. During one of these tests, 60 sheep were released to pastures, and a bomb with anthrax was dropped from the windward side of pasture. The sheep inhaled anthrax spores, within a few days they all died.

Then they had to get rid of 60 infected carcasses - but how to do it? Scientists from Porton Down piled them in a heap near the rock, and then set them on fire. But one of the carcasses fell into the sea and was thrown out by the waves in Scotland. There she was gnawed by a dog. The dog died, but by that time she managed to infect seven cows, two horses, three cats and another 50 sheep with anthrax, they all also died.Thanks to hasty payments, the farmers who owned these animals managed to hush up this incident, and only in the 1980s the truth was revealed about what exactly caused the death of all these animals.

Island closure

When the British government requisitioned Grünard Island at the beginning of the war, it planned to return the island to its owners after the end of the war and the destruction of the anthrax dispute. But several cleanup attempts failed, and in 1946 the government surrendered. It bought the island and ordered the population to stay away from it. Warning signs appeared on the coast of Grünard, which read: “This island is government property and is used for experiments. The land is contaminated with anthrax and is dangerous. Landing is prohibited. "

Maybe someday ...

The government promised to sell the island to its former owners for £ 500 (today it is about $ 620), if someday there is a way to make the island "habitable for people and animals." For several decades, researchers from Porton Down periodically visited the island and took samples of the soil for analysis to find out if there were anthrax spores still in it. They were there.

Finally, in the 1980s, the government decided to end this. Several tons of the most contaminated topsoil were removed, and the remaining watered was 280 tons of formaldehyde. Sheep were brought back to the island. In 1990, when none of the sheep died, and new soil samples showed no signs of anthrax, terrifying ads were removed, and the descendants of the original owners were allowed to redeem the island for £ 500, as promised earlier.

stay with us

Is this the end of the story? The British government hopes so, but the Ministry of Defense has set up a fund to pay compensation to the future victims of anthrax on Grunard Island ... just in case.

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  • British plan to defeat Germany with anthrax

    British plan to defeat Germany with anthrax

    British plan to defeat Germany with anthrax

    British plan to defeat Germany with anthrax

    British plan to defeat Germany with anthrax

    British plan to defeat Germany with anthrax

    British plan to defeat Germany with anthrax

    British plan to defeat Germany with anthrax

    British plan to defeat Germany with anthrax

    British plan to defeat Germany with anthrax

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