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Epidemics and Genocide in Eastern Europe, 1890–1945$
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Paul Weindling

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198206910

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206910.001.0001

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From Medical Research to Biological Warfare

From Medical Research to Biological Warfare

(p.373) 12 From Medical Research to Biological Warfare
Epidemics and Genocide in Eastern Europe, 1890–1945

Paul Julian Weindling

Oxford University Press

Campaigns against insects in the east became entwined with preparations for biological warfare. The idea of unleashing disease pathogens to destroy Nazi Germany's enemies fascinated disinfection experts, for it seemed to them that if a disease could be prevented, it should also be possible for epidemics to be deliberately spread. The fear that Germany's opponents were stockpiling arsenals of biological and chemical weapons spurred on offensive preparations. Consequently, disease control programmes became radicalized, shifting from containment and prevention to strategies for total eradication of pathogens and their carriers. Whereas the Germans clung to delousing by poison gas, the Allies adopted innovative DDT-based methods, and accelerated louse- and mosquito-control studies. Ironically, Germany's development of biological warfare remained stunted. Leading figures in biological warfare profoundly disagreed over theoretical approaches to epidemiology. As the German sanitary measures became more draconian, they accelerated genocide.

Keywords:   Nazi Germany, Allies, biological warfare, DDT, delousing, epidemiology, chemical weapons, disease control, pathogens, poison gas

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