Monday, March 6, 2017

Did The Russians Use Biological Warfare Agents Against The Germans At Stalingrad?

Polikarpov Po-2 (Source)
       First, Ken Alibek was a bioweapons scientist back in the USSR.  In his book, Biohazard, he tells how,  as a student,  he was given the assignment of explaining a mysterious pattern of tularemia epidemics back in the war. To him, it looked artificial, whereupon his instructor said something to the effect of “you never thought that, you never said that.  Do you want a job?” Second, Antony Beevor mentions the mysteriously poor health of German troops at Stalingrad – well before being surrounded (p210-211). Third, the fact that there were large tularemia epidemics in the Soviet Union during the war – particularly in the ‘oblasts temporarily occupied by the Fascist invaders’, described in History and Incidence of Tularemia in the Soviet Union, by Robert Pollitzer. 
       Fourth, personal communications from a friend who once worked at Los Alamos. Back in the 90’s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, there was a time when you could hire a whole team of decent ex-Soviet physicists for the price of a single American. My friend was having a drink with one of his Russian contractors, son of a famous ace, who started talking about  how his dad had dropped tularemia here, here, and here near Leningrad (sketching it out on a napkin) during the Great Patriotic War. Not that many people spontaneously bring up stories like that in dinner conversation… 
       Fifth, the huge Soviet investment in biowarfare throughout the Cold War is a hint: they really, truly, believed in it, and what better reason could there be than decisive past successes?  In much the same way, our lavish funding of the NSA strongly suggested that cryptanalysis and sigint must have paid off handsomely  for the Allies in WWII – far more so than publicly acknowledged, until the revelations about Enigma in the 1970s and later. 
       We know that tularemia is an effective biological agent: many countries have worked with it, including the Soviet Union.  If the Russians had had this capability in the summer of ’42 (and they had sufficient technology: basically just fermentation) , it is hard to imagine them not using it. I mean, we’re talking about Stalin. You think he had moral qualms?  But we too would have used germ warfare if our situation had been desperate.
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