SS commander Heinrich Himmler ordered the creation of an institute at the Dachau concentration camp which would research possible uses for insects as biological weapons, new evidence shows.
Research by Klaus Reinhardt, published in Endeavor magazine in December and reported on by The Guardian on Friday, shows Himmler had an entomological institute founded in January 1942 to probe how insects, primarily mosquitoes, could be used to wreak havoc in enemy territory.
According to The Guardian, the institute was officially founded to research remedies for typhoid and other lice- and insect-borne illnesses which often plagued German troops. But its real purpose, according to Reinhardt’s research, was a unique, secret biological warfare program.
The research revealed that near the end of the war, in 1944, the institute began to research ways to keep malaria-infected mosquitoes alive long enough for them to be transported from breeding labs and released behind enemy lines.
Institute director Eduard May eventually recommended a particular genus of mosquito – anopheles, or “good-for-nothing” in Greek — 30-40 species of which can transmit malaria to humans.
The Nazis had to carry out the research in secret, as the 1925 Geneva Protocol, to which Germany was a signatory, prohibited “the use of bacteriological methods of warfare,” as well as chemical weapons.
Suddeutsche Zeitung quoted Reinhard as saying that “a bizarre mix of Himmler’s smattering of scientific knowledge, personal paranoia, an esoteric world view, and genuine concerns about his SS troops” had driven the project forward.
He added, however, that the Nazis’ biological research efforts were “risible” compared to those of the allied forces.