World War II History: High Hitler

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High Hitler: How Nazi Drug Abuse Steered the Course of History

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Most anybody who reads WW2 History knows the majority of Nazi’s and Japs were HUGE Dope heads. But this book is unique in that it focuses on how their primary drug of choice was not opiates as most historians have thought, but methamphetamine.

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous

Military History: Kentucky Physician and Governor Was One of First Civilians to Attempt Biological Warfare in the Civil War

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Dr. Luke Blackburn was a respected medical doctor and philanthropist until he allegedly attempted to create a yellow fever outbreak targeting Northern civilians and soldiers during the Civil War. Despite widespread outrage at the time, he later won a landslide victory to become the governor of Kentucky.

Blackburn was a native Kentuckian who began working as a physician after receiving his medical degree from Transylvania University. Early in his career, he implemented a quarantine to shut down a cholera epidemic and he later led another that successfully stopped an outbreak of yellow fever in the Mississippi River Valley. He gave an encore performance against another outbreak in 1854.

But when the tide of the Civil War started going against the South, he found that his loyalty to the Southern cause was greater than his dedication to the Hippocratic Oath.

The vaunted doctor allegedly traveled to Bermuda in 1864 when an epidemic of yellow fever broke out. During this time in the Civil War, the disease was known for striking down cities, killing thousands.

Blackburn helped treat the sick in Bermuda, but he also stole the clothing and bedding of those who died of either yellow fever or smallpox. He then sent trunks of these items to auction places in the North where they were sold and distributed among civilians.

Godfrey Hyams, an Englishman who met Blackburn in Canada, was one of the men paid to smuggle the tainted clothing and bedding into the North. He was promised $100,000 for his services, almost $1.5 million in current dollars.

Hyams was able to sell five trunks of clothing through auctioneers, but only one Union soldier death was attributed to the men and that one was circumstantial. The soldier had died from smallpox after buying clothes at a consignment store that held Blackburn clothing.

Read the Remainder at Business Insider

Cold War Files: The Men Who Stare At Tripping Cats

“In laboratory experiments, a normal cat displays the normal hunter instinct toward a mouse,” a narrator explains in a droning monotone. Donned in a stereotypical white lab coat, the scientist locks the feline in a box and sprays it with lysergic acid diethylamide.

A hallucinogenic drug better known as LSD.

“After 45 seconds, the effects of the psychochemical become apparent,” the narrator adds, as the animal hisses and jumps in terror at two mice.

This isn’t the beginning of some cheap horror movie. It’s the opening scene from a five-minute U.S. Army film entitled Mental Incapacitators — Psychochemicals.

In May 2016, the U.S. National Library of Medicine in Maryland posted a copy of the footage online as part of a larger collection. Though the Army’s Chemical Corps produced the shorts in 1959, the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery donated this particular copy to the medical archive. At least one different version of the full compilation of the clips, with a visibly different film quality, already existed on YouTube.

The clip provides an almost painfully clinical look at the ground combat branch’s attempts to turn LSD and other chemical compounds into useful weapons. These days, the Army would probably prefer people forgot about these programs altogether.

While poisons and dangerous chemicals have played roles in battle since ancient times, chemical weapons became emblematic of modern warfare during World War I. But after seeing the devastating and highly visible after effects, the victors banded together to try and regulate deadly gasses and diseases on the battlefield.

In 1925, more than three dozen countries agreed to the Geneva Protocol banning the use of deadly gasses and bacteria in future wars. However, not all the signatories put the deal into practice immediately or without significant reservations. In the interwar period, countries such as Italy, Japan and Spain sporadically deployed chemical weapons, often in conflicts far removed from widespread scrutiny or criticism of any kind.

The United States signed the treaty in 1925, but American legislators didn’t put it into force for another 50 years. Even then, the U.S. military initially reserved the right to use chemical and biological weaponry against anyone who broke the deal.

So, throughout World War II and into the Cold War, the Pentagon went right ahead developing all sorts of new compounds and diseases and plans to use them in combat. The Pentagon put the Chemical Corps in charge of cooking up new agents.

 Read the Remainder at War is Boring

Cold War Files: 10 Sinister Groups Behind the Cold War’s Craziest Conspiracy

In 1972, a fascist named Vincenzo Vinciguerra detonated a car bomb in the Italian town of Peteano. As Vinciguerra had planned, the attack was initially blamed on left-wing extremists. Years later, Vinciguerra explained his motives: “Our movement is pledged to target . . . ordinary people, to create conditions of anarchy. The resulting state of fear will mobilize public support for a strong regime, even at the cost of democracy. We call it the strategy of tension.”

In fact, Vinciguerra’s bomb was just one of a number of terrorist attacks carried out by a bewildering array of right-wing movements and front groups with the evident support of the Italian security services. The aim was to undermine support for democracy and discredit the communists and anarchists who would be blamed for the atrocities. The exact details of this conspiracy remain shadowy, but the basic outline of the strategy of tension is now clear, as are the names of a number of the groups involved.

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10. The OAS

 

In the early 1960s, a mysterious French terrorist arrived in Portugal. His real name was Yves Guillou, but he usually went by a pseudonym, most commonly Yves Guerin-Serac. He had chosen Portugal because he admired its authoritarian government, which was waging a bloody war against the independence movements in its African colonies. Tens of thousands would die before the fascists were overthrown in 1974 and the new government agreed to independence for Mozambique, Angola, and Guinea-Bissau.

This African bloodshed appealed to Guerin-Serac, who had been radicalized during France’s own disastrous colonial conflict in Algeria. Marked by horrendous brutality on both sides, the Algerian War killed hundreds of thousands and badly destabilized France. But the large European population in Algeria was determined to preserve the status quo and was horrified when President Charles de Gaulle announced a referendum on the issue, which produced large majorities for independence in both Algeria and France.

In response to this democratic betrayal, a group of right-wing Franco-Algerians formed the OAS (Organisation de l’Armee Secrete), which virtually took control of the European enclaves in Algiers and Oran and launched a series of terrorist attacks in France and Algeria, including multiple attempts to assassinate de Gaulle. As independence approached, the OAS oversaw a “frenzy of violence,” killing at least 2,360 people in the 15 months up to June 1962.

A decorated veteran of 1950s wars in Korea and Indochina, Guerin-Serac became an enthusiastic member of the OAS. But he wasn’t ready to give up terrorism after the organization collapsed in 1962: “The others have laid down their weapons, but not I. After the OAS, I fled to Portugal to carry on the fight and expand it to its proper dimensions—which is to say, a planetary dimension.”

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9. Aginter Press

In Portugal, Guerin-Serac founded Aginter Press, supposedly a news agency along the lines of Reuters or the Associated Press. But this was simply a cover to allow Aginter’s operatives to travel freely. In reality, Aginter was a fascist paramilitary organization aimed at fighting communism around the globe. The group was openly hostile to democracy, which it viewed as weak, and developed the belief that false-flag terrorist operations could be a useful way of undermining the left and strengthening the extreme right.

An internal document summed up Aginter’s key beliefs:

The first phase of political activity ought to be to create the conditions favoring the installation of chaos. [ . . . ] In our view, the first move we should make is to destroy the structure of the democratic state under the cover of communist and pro-Chinese activities. [ . . . ] Moreover, we have people who have infiltrated these groups and obviously we will have to tailor our actions to the ethos of the milieu—propaganda and action of a sort which will seem to have emanated from our communist adversaries.

Read the Remainder at List Verse

Obscure World War II History: The Failed Japanese Coup of 1945

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A last-ditch attempt to overthrow the Japanese government at the end of World War II was a bloody embarrassment

Open Road Media sponsored this post.

By August 1945 more than two million Japanese soldiers, sailors and aviators had died in eight years of war stretching from China and Southeast Asia to halfway across the Pacific.

More than a half-million civilians died in the U.S. bombings of Japanese cities. The World War II-era Imperial Japanese Navy had been smashed, and the home islands were exposed to an imminent Allied invasion.

Even after all that death, loss and destruction, a group of high-ranking military officers planned to unleash fratricidal bloodshed to prevent an unconditional surrender.

This is the context of William Craig’s 1967 history The Fall of Japan, now available as an e-book through Open Road Media. Craig’s narrative weaves together the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, U.S. advisers in China fighting Japan while warily eyeing Maoist forces, and the infighting within Japan’s leadership during the empire’s final days.

The Fall of Japan’s strongest suit is the latter. One of the most interesting personalities is 57-year-old Gen. Korechika Anami, Tokyo’s war minister and a firm opponent of surrender. In August 1945, Anami had only held the post since April, long past time that Japan could have realistically staved off an Allied victory.

Given his position, however, Anami was well aware of the role Japan’s military establishment played in political decisions. Nine years earlier, he cautiously avoided picking sides during the February 26 Incident — an attempted military coup in 1936 when hardline officers targeted elected politicians for assassination.

Read the Remainder at War is Boring