It carries a disease that has defeated armies for centuries, so it is perhaps not surprising that the Nazis tried to harness it for their own twisted purposes.
The existence of an offensive biological warfare research program in Nazi Germany has been confirmed, according to an article in Endeavour, a science journal.
The SS Entomological Institute at Dachau was instructed by Heinrich Himmler, the leader of the feared black-uniformed corps that enforced racial purity and ran the concentration camps, to test mosquitoes as possible weapons, writes Klaus Reinhardt of Tübingen University.
Notes by the institute’s director reveal experiments with anopheles mosquitoes, whose females transmit malaria to humans.
The director recommended the use of one particular mosquito species which could survive for more than four days without food or water, an obvious sign that the insects were to be used as an offensive biological weapon, Reinhardt concludes.
The research went nowhere. When compared with the work done by the allies, Reinhardt says, Nazi biological research was “risible.”
The scourge of malaria did, however, play “a significant role in determining the outcome” of battles in the Pacific Theater during World War II, the Army Heritage Center Foundation notes.