Nazis 'researched use of mosquitoes for war' at Dachau

A mosquito is bloated with blood as it inserts its stinger into human flesh in this undated file photo obtained from the US Department of Agriculture Malaria is transmitted via mosquitoes

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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.

Nazi experiments

  • According to medical historian Paul Weindling, almost 25,000 victims of Nazi scientific experiments have now been identified.
  • Dr Weindling says there were different "phases" to the Nazis' experiments. The first was linked to eugenics and forced sterilisation.
  • The second phase coincided with the start of the war. "Doctors began experimenting on patients in psychiatric hospitals," Prof Weindling writes. "Sporadic experiments were made in concentration camps like Sachsenhausen near Berlin, and anthropological observations at Dachau."
  • The third phase began in 1942, when the SS and German military took greater control of the experiments. There was a surge in the numbers of experiments, with lethal diseases including malaria and louse-borne typhus administered to thousands of victims.
  • During a fourth phase in 1944-45, explains Dr Weindling, "scientists knew the war was lost but they continued their experiments".

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

Disease

The organisation's work was believed to have focused on insect-borne diseases such as typhus, which afflicted the camp inmates.

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.

Visitors walk past the main gate with the sign "Arbeit macht frei" (work sets you free) at the former concentration camp in Dachau near Munich January 25, 2014 Some prisoners at Dachau were victims of forced experimentation

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