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> Soviet Biological weapon, WW2 ~ PRAVDA, Infected rats used to spread disease
Der Maresal
Posted: February 11, 2005 12:06 am
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http://english.pravda.ru/main/18/90/363/14923_tularemia.html

Soviet Army used 'rat weapon' during WWII
02/05/2005 15:14

Rats spread the disease in German troops very quickly. The effect was astonishing

Tulameria, or rabbit fever is reputed to be a record-breaking infection. Humans will most likely conquer the disease in the near future: scientists have recently decoded the genome of Francisella tularensis microbe. Only ten of these bacteria are enough to cause an extremely dangerous disease. Western specialists believe that the microbe can be used as a very effective biological weapon, for it possesses an inhalational capacity.

The microbe was discovered in 1911 during an outburst of rabbit fever, when the disease killed a large number ground squirrels in the area of Tulare Lake in California. The lake gave the name to the disease - tularemia. Scientists determined that tularemia could be dangerous to humans: a human being may catch the infection after contacting an infected animal. The ailment soon became frequent with hunters, cooks and agricultural workers. Pathogenic organisms penetrate into a body through damaged skin and mucous membranes.

(IMG:http://english.pravda.ru/img/2005/02/micer.jpg)

The disease has a very fast and acute beginning. A patient suffers from headache, fatigue, dizziness, muscle pains, loss of appetite and nausea. Face and eyes redden and become inflamed. Inflammation proceeds to lymphadenitis, fever and gland suppuration, which eventually develops life-threatening complications.

An epidemic of tularemia broke out in the spring of 2000 in Kosovo. About 650 people fell ill with rabbit fever by the beginning of May. Kosovo's water pipelines were destroyed with the bombing - the region was suffering from the shortage of fresh water, and it was impossible to stop the epidemic.

As it turned out later, tularemia was a respiratory-transmissible disease. An American man caught the infection in 2000, when his lawn-mower ran into an infected rabbit.

The problem became a lot more important for the USA in 2001, when tularemia obtained a potential biological threat. Francisella tularensis was a perfect example of biological weapon for terrorists. The microbe possesses a large infecting capacity, which results in a high death rate. In addition, only a microscopic amount of the bacteria will be enough to trigger a massive epidemic.

It goes without saying that secret services were conducting scientific researches of so-called "rat weapons." The USSR used it during WWII against Friedrich von Paulus's army. The Soviet government did not risk to infect fascists with plague or ulcer - they chose tularemia. Rats spread the disease in German troops very quickly. The effect was astonishing: Paulus had to take a break in his offensive on Stalingrad. According to archive documents, about 50 percent of German prisoners, who were taken captive after the battle of Stalingrad, were suffering from classic symptoms of tularemia. Unfortunately, every action leads to a counteraction. The use of infected rats against the Nazi army had an inverse effect too: the disease came over the front line, and infected a lot of Soviet soldiers.

Soviet scientists continued their research with the tularemia microbe after the end of WWII. Military biologists brought the bacteria to perfection at the end of the 1970s, having increased its destructive capacity.

Russian medics, however, do not believe that the tularemia pathogen can be referred to as an efficient bacteriological weapon. The body develops a life-long immunity against tularemia, if the disease is treated properly and timely. Furthermore, an infected individual does not pose a danger to other people. To crown it all, direct sunlight kills Francisella tularensis in only 30 minutes. The microbe dies in boiling water within one or two minutes. Disinfecting fluids kills the pathogen in 3-5 minutes. Well-known antibiotics, such as streptomycin, levomycetin, tetracycline destroy the germ within a very short period of time too.

British scientists have recently discovered that the tularemia pathogen contains the genes, which cannot be found in any other organism in the world. The genome has been declassified: humans will soon invent the anti-tularemia vaccine, which will push aside the opportunity of using the disease as a weapon of mass destruction.


Read the original in Russian: (Translated by: Dmitry Sudakov)
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Der Maresal
Posted: February 11, 2005 12:40 am
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From another source: !

(IMG:http://www.ihr.org/graphics/IHRlogos.gif) - Institute of Historical Review

QUOTE
Were Biological Weapons Used Against Germans at Stalingrad?
Secrets of the Soviet Disease Warfare Program
Mark Weber
Of humanity's many noteworthy achievements and inventions, few are as evil and as horrifying as biological warfare: deliberate, government-ordered mass killing of people with lethal diseases. During the Second World War, the Japanese army maintained a secret biological warfare testing program, as did the United States during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1969 President Nixon renounced the use of such weapons, and the US dismantled its extensive biological warfare operation, thereafter restricting research to defensive measures such as immunization.

But as a remarkable new book lays out in grim detail, no regime made greater "progress" in biological warfare than did the Soviet Union. >From a unique insider's perspective, a former high-level scientist in the Soviet biological warfare program tells the story in Biohazard: The Chilling Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World (Random House, 1999). Ken Alibek (born Kanatjan Alibekov) joined the Soviet "Biopreparat" program in 1975, and was its first deputy chief from 1988 to 1992, when he defected to the United States.

During the terrible Russian civil war of 1917-1921, in which the fledgling Soviet regime defeated the dispersed and divided anti-Communist "White" forces, as many as ten million people lost their lives. Most of these deaths came not in combat, but instead were caused by famine and disease -- especially typhus.

Conscious of this, the revolutionary Soviet government early on put a high priority on diseases as a method of warfare. In 1928 it issued a secret decree ordering the development of typhus as a battlefield weapon. In the decades that followed, the USSR built and maintained a wide-ranging biological warfare program. For example, Alibek relates, Soviet scientists developed a sophisticated plague warfare capability, and an arsenal in Kirov (now Vyatka) stored 20 tons of plague aerosol weaponry (p. 166).

Wartime Use Against Germans
While he was a graduate student at the Tomsk Medical Institute (1973-75), Alibek studied Soviet wartime medical records that strongly suggested that the Red Army had used tularemia as a weapon against German troops outside Stalingrad in 1942 (pages 29-31). Tularemia is a highly infectious disease that produces debilitating headaches, nausea and high fevers. If untreated, it can be lethal. It is also hard to extinguish, which makes it attractive to anyone trying to produce biological weapons.

Alibek discovered that the "first victims of tularemia were German panzer troops, who fell ill in such large numbers during the late summer of 1942 that the Nazi campaign in southern Russia ground to a temporary halt." In addition, he relates, thousands of Russian soldiers and civilians living in the Volga region came down with the disease within a week of the initial German outbreak. Never before had there been such a widespread outbreak of the disease in Russia.

Why had so many men first fallen sick with tularemia on the German side only? Furthermore, 70 percent of the Germans infected came down with a pneumonic form of the disease, which (Alibek reports) "could only have been caused by purposeful dissemination."

Whereas there were ten thousand cases of tularemia reported in the Soviet Union in 1941, in the year 1942 -- when the battle of Stalingrad was at its height -- the number of cases soared to more than one hundred thousand. Then, in 1943, the incidence of the disease returned to ten thousand. The battle for Stalingrad raged from September 1942 until February 2, 1943, when Friedrich von Paulus, commander of the German Sixth Army, surrendered along with 91,000 officers and men (of whom only 6,000 survived Soviet captivity).

Alibek became convinced that "Soviet troops must have sprayed tularemia at the Germans. A sudden change in the direction of the wind, or contaminated rodents passing through the lines, had infected our soldiers and the disease had then spread through the region."

To his professor, a Soviet colonel named Aksyonenko, he explained that the evidence he had found "suggests that this epidemic was caused intentionally." Aksyonenko responded with a stern warning: "Please. I want you to do me a favor and forget you ever said what you just said. I will forget it, too ... Never mention to anyone else what you just told me."

Some years later, an elderly Soviet lieutenant colonel who had worked during the war in the secret bacteriological weapons facility in Kirov told Alibek that a tularemia weapon had been developed there in 1941. He also left him "with no doubt that the weapon had been used." This same officer further suggested that an "outbreak of Q fever among German troops on leave in Crimea in 1943 was the result of another one of the [Soviet] biological warfare agents" (p. 36).


=> http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v18/v18n2p32_Weber.html

This post has been edited by Der Maresal on February 11, 2005 12:41 am
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Curioso
Posted: February 11, 2005 08:43 am
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A classic example of rubbish news used for propaganda purposes.

First, let's throw away the IHR wares. That's an infamous revisionist organ with a very clear neo-Nazi agenda. So anything coming from there has to be treated as damaged goods.

Then let's look at the Pravda article. It claims that the Soviets used tularemia as a biological weapon. Does it quote a source for that? No, not at all, none, nothing.
Then how can it claim that? Well, because _unspecified_ archival sources claim 50% of the POWs in Stalingrad were infected with the illness. Note that this is akin to say that HIV/AIDS "must" be a willfully employed weapon, since there are areas in Africa where it hit the 50% figure - deducing that it is a weapon not by actual data stating so, but by the effects. Note also how the archival sources are not specified. Who knows who dug them up, or _if_ somebody actually dug anything up.

But let's assume that's true; let's assume 50% of the 6th Army POWs had tularemia. Now let's look at how the illness spreads normally and naturally. By contact with rats, and by the lack of clean water to drink. Is there anybody here who thinks that in the last months of the Stalingrad siege the Germans enjoyed good sanitation conditions, plenty of clean fresh water to drink, and no contact with the rats infestating a dying city full of dead bodies, with bombed-out sewers?

Let's look at the one other example of a widespread epidemic given by the article. In Kosovo, a war situation, how it happened that the 650 persons were infected? Well, they lacked clean water. Does the article hypothesize that somebody used tularemia as a weapon in Kosovo? No, of course not. However, the basic data is exactly the same as in Stalingrad - an epidemic, in conditions where the disease can naturally and normally spread out.

Another small point. When were the German POWs tested for tularemia? Straight away after capture? You bet not. Stalingrad POWs died like flies, because of their previous exhaustion and wounds, because of the weather, because the Soviets were almost totally unprepared to handle such large numbers of POWs and, perhaps most importantly, because the Soviets weren't actually giving a big deal of priority to POW survival.
So would they test the ill prisoners right away? No. My bet is that, assuming the unspecified archival sources do exist, the tests were carried out some time during detention, possibly months after the capture. Which would mean
a ) that the 50% figure refers to the POWs surviving then, not to the total captured POWs - which is a remarkable downsizing, and
b ) that tularemia could very well be endemic _in POW camps_, not in Stalingrad. Which speaks ill of the Soviet treatment of POWs but proves not one thing about biological weapon use.

As I said in the first line, rubbish news used for propaganda purposes.

This post has been edited by Curioso on February 11, 2005 08:44 am
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Der Maresal
Posted: February 11, 2005 04:44 pm
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When the Russian communist newspaper PRAVDA puts this news to daylight you can't call it neonazi propaganda.

I put sources from two different sides - and they both confirm the same story.
The fact is that infected rats were used, and you can't do anything about it.
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Curioso
Posted: February 11, 2005 05:49 pm
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QUOTE (Der Maresal @ Feb 11 2005, 04:44 PM)
When the Russian communist newspaper PRAVDA puts this news to daylight you can't call it neonazi propaganda.

I put sources from two different sides - and they both confirm the same story.
The fact is that infected rats were used, and you can't do anything about it.

I can call neonazi propaganda whatever I want to; it remains to be seen whether that is reasonable or not. As to what comes from the IHR, it's quite reasonable to call it neonazi propaganda. That's what it's for.

As to the news from PRAVDA I did _not_ call it neonazi propaganda. I called it rubbish news. And it is just that.

The fact is that infected rats were used you say? Go ahead and provide some proof. Read again the PRAVDA article. Where is the proof in it? Nowhere, nothing, none. The one little bit of supposed hard data is that 50% of German POWs were, allegedly, infected. And this comes from supposed "archival sources". Which sources, where from, unearthed by whom? We don't know. The article doesn't say. Rubbish.
Can the infection be explained with a perfectly normal, natural disease? Yes. Do we know when the POWs were tested? No - though we can safely assume this did not happen any time soon after the capture.

I'm sorry I have to repeat all of that, but it seems you lack the capability of seeing that what you posted is
a ) a propaganda text, and
b ) a newspaper article lacking anything in the way of corroborating evidence.

In other words, the fact, so far, is that no infected rats were used. I'll gladly change my mind about it when you post something even vaguely resembling serious evidence. Good luck for your research; I'd suggest you to read history books rather than dubious newspapers and outright propaganda sites. Those are not the sources used by students of military history. But maybe you are not here for that, are you?

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Curioso
Posted: February 11, 2005 06:07 pm
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QUOTE (Der Maresal @ Feb 11 2005, 04:44 PM)
When the Russian communist newspaper PRAVDA puts this news to daylight you can't call it neonazi propaganda.

I put sources from two different sides -

I find this particularly pathetic. Since the Pravda is a Russian newspaper, you think it's Communist. You do live in the past.
One thing is right, though - the IHR is a _sided_, i.e., not unbiased source. I'm glad you acknowledge that. Now do the sensible thing and throw away its propaganda.
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Der Maresal
Posted: February 11, 2005 10:47 pm
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Why should I buy what you'r telling here?
You'r the guy who said that the Atomic bomb of Hiroshima was not a crime - because there was no law for it to make it a crime. Forgive me ~ that's the dummest and most insulting thing I have seen on this forum.

I believe in Germany there is a law that is something like "against Insulting the memory of the dead" (it mainly applies to revisionists of ww2).
Maybe you are insulting the memory of the dead here a little, don't you think? B)

These articles especially the one from the Russians are both convincing, so of course I have better reason to believe their "propaganda" then yours.

This post has been edited by Der Maresal on February 11, 2005 10:49 pm
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mabadesc
Posted: February 12, 2005 07:28 am
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I have no proof going in either direction, but judging by the SU's lack of scruples, I find it quite possible that such events did occur.

To draw a parallel, fairly recently (appr. 20 years ago) Soviet Lt. Col. Alibek defected to the US. He wrote a book describing how he was the head of a large biological weapons laboratory in the USSR in the late '80's. As it turns out, despite all the treaties forbidding development of biological agents, the USSR was producing mass quantities of Anthrax and tularensis, and was experimenting as well with the plague and botulinic toxin. BTW, I highly recommend the book.

Given that they had no problem doing this in the 1980's, why would they hesitate in doing it during the 1940's, when their very existence was at stake.

In short, as I stated above, although I have no proof, it wouldn't surprise me at all.

P.S. On one hand, yes, Pravda does tend to produce a lot of rubbish.
On the other hand, Pravda is still quite leftist, if not communist, which makes it hard to believe they would invent such an article knowing that it would damage the reputation of the people they still admire to a certain extent.

This post has been edited by mabadesc on February 12, 2005 07:31 am
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Curioso
Posted: February 12, 2005 09:20 am
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QUOTE (Der Maresal @ Feb 11 2005, 10:47 PM)
Why should I buy what you'r telling here?
You'r the guy who said that the Atomic bomb of Hiroshima was not a crime - because there was no law for it to make it a crime. Forgive me ~ that's the dummest and most insulting thing I have seen on this forum.

I believe in Germany there is a law that is something like "against Insulting the memory of the dead" (it mainly applies to revisionists of ww2).
Maybe you are insulting the memory of the dead here a little, don't you think? B)

These articles especially the one from the Russians are both convincing, so of course I have better reason to believe their "propaganda" then yours.

What I really find surprising is that you can deal with these topics without ever confronting the hard facts.

Take the issue of the atomic bombs. You claim about "insulting" and "dummest", but can you prove they actually were crimes in the light of the existing laws of war at the time? No. You can't deal with the hard facts. Your opinions hold more sway on you than the actual facts.

Atomic bombs aside, let's look at the factual issues concerning this alleged biological weapon.
The article is convincing, you say. How can it be convincing if it _does not provide one shred of actual evidence?_

I'll put the factual issues as questions, so that you answer them - but you won't, because you can't. You'll evade.
1. The one snippet of supposed hard data is the 50% figure concerning infected German POWs. This comes from alleged "archival sources".
What are these sources?
How reliable are them, can we asusme they weren't tampered with?
Who unearthed them, where, how?

2. Now, assuming you answer the above, let's look into the methods.
When were the tests carried out? One day after the fall of Stalingrad? One week? One month? Three months? How can we be sure that tularemia wasn't simply endemic in the POW camps, instead of in Stalingrad?
Is the supposed source stating that _all_ the tens of thousands of German POWs were tested (extremely hard to believe)? Or was that only a sample that was tested? How can we know the sample wasn't skewed? Won't it be, by any chance, that only POWs reporting as ill were tested (which would evidently skew the sample)?
Who carried out the tests? According to which standards of laboratory quality?

3. Even if you reply to the above - and you won't, because these are factual issues, and you have none in the way of them - there remains the fact that it would "prove" the use of biological weapons by the effects.
If that is enough for you, I will now claim that the outbreak of AIDS, Ebola, and influenza are all biological weapon uses. They are epidemics. It's the same level of proof you'd be providing if you answered to the questions above. Agreed on that?

By the way, the lack of any serious basis in the claims can be seen by the wording you and your source used. "It goes without saying that...", "the fact is...". Those are the arguments used to state that the sun revolved around the earth. Then up came Galilei and followed the scientific method.

Historians, including amateur ones, want to follow scientific methods in their research. Propagandists, of course, don't need that; nor do rubbish media writers. Provide some real evidence and you'll be believable. So far you haven't provided any, so you aren't believable. Can you answer to the questions above?
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Curioso
Posted: February 12, 2005 09:23 am
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QUOTE (mabadesc @ Feb 12 2005, 07:28 AM)
I have no proof going in either direction, but judging by the SU's lack of scruples, I find it quite possible that such events did occur.

(snip)

In short, as I stated above, although I have no proof, it wouldn't surprise me at all.

P.S. On one hand, yes, Pravda does tend to produce a lot of rubbish.
On the other hand, Pravda is still quite leftist, if not communist, which makes it hard to believe they would invent such an article knowing that it would damage the reputation of the people they still admire to a certain extent.

So the evidence would be that they were evil and ready to do anything. On that basis, I could claim the Soviets actually used a dirty nucler bomb to get rid of Army Group Center.

I'm glad you acknowledge that it is actually no proof. Being unsurprised is possible, but it is not the same as being able to brazenly state "the fact is that...", which is ridiculous on the basis of the currently available data.
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Victor
Posted: February 12, 2005 11:07 am
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Der Maresal, refrain from insulting other members.
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mabadesc
Posted: February 13, 2005 07:53 pm
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So the evidence would be that they were evil and ready to do anything.


I didn't say there was any evidence, Curioso. I didn't even use the term. Re-read my post if you wish.

I clearly stated I have no proof, but that it wouldn't surprise me, given the USSR's behavioral pattern. I still hold the same opinion.

All clear?

Thanks.

P.S. Do read Alibek's book if you have the time. It's quite interesting.

This post has been edited by mabadesc on February 13, 2005 07:56 pm
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Victor
Posted: February 14, 2005 07:56 am
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By behavioral pattern you mean that the USSR used biological weapons before the winter of 1942? I personally haven't read anything that would suggest that. Not even a year before, when the situation was much more desperate, had such an action occured.

What I read and heard from veterans regarding the apalling conditions in the Soviet POW camps and during transport to these camps, however, makes the theory that there was just a natural epidemic much more plausible.
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Curioso
Posted: February 14, 2005 08:34 am
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QUOTE (mabadesc @ Feb 13 2005, 07:53 PM)
QUOTE
So the evidence would be that they were evil and ready to do anything.


I didn't say there was any evidence, Curioso. I didn't even use the term. Re-read my post if you wish.

I clearly stated I have no proof, but that it wouldn't surprise me, given the USSR's behavioral pattern. I still hold the same opinion.

All clear?

Thanks.

P.S. Do read Alibek's book if you have the time. It's quite interesting.

Thank you for your correction, Mabadesc, indeed you are right, you did not mention evidence - that's just what I wanted to point out.

As to Alibek's book, I don't know if I'll read it, but at least by mentioning it you have raised the level of the discussion from muckraking news media and propaganda outlets to a serious publication. We should be grateful to you for this, too.

However, as I said I don't know if I'll read that book. Since the first posting by our Maresal, I've been looking for serious, reliable on-line sources (as opposed to news media and propaganda sites), and among other things I've found a review of that book. It's an editorial from Military Medicine, 2001. It specifically states that in the light of current knowledge, the Stalingrad epidemic was very likely a perfectly natural outbreak. Tularemia was already endemic in the Rostov region, with 14,000 cases in January, 1942 (i.e., way before the Stalingrad campaign).
The article can be found here:



http://cns.miis.edu/research/cbw/tula.htm

And if you read it, you'll find that it specifically refutes Alibek's theory. By the way, the article confirms that Alibek in his book does not provide firm data, such as "doctor X weaponized tularemia by means Y in laboratory Z on 00.00. 1943, and the XXXth unit of the Red Army delivered it in Stalingrad on 00.00.1943". What Alibek provides is indirect clues - which can be explained as a natural outbreak.

As a matter of historical methodology, I'd like to highlight the different quality of the so-called sources posted by Maresal. This difference will be obvious to anybody visiting the above link.

There is another interesting article abstract on-line:
Abstract: "Consensus Statement: Tularemia as a Biological Weapon: Medical and Public Health Management"
Abstracted from Dennis DT, Inglesby TV, Henderson DA, et al. Journal of the American Medical Association, June 6, 2001; vol. 285, no. 21: 2763-2773. View full article
Download PDF version formatted for print (214 KB/5 pages)

This is interesting because, among other things, it states that " Simple, rapid, and reliable diagnostic tests to identify infected patients need to be developed." In other words, to this date the diagnosis of tularemia is not simple, rapid and reliable. We can bet how simple, rapid and reliable it was in 1943, in wartime conditions, in POW camps run by the Soviets - which tells us that the "50%" figure should be handled with great care.
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Der Maresal
Posted: February 23, 2005 06:28 pm
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http://cns.miis.edu/research/cbw/tula.htm
Tularemia, Biological Warfare, and the Battle for Stalingrad (1942-1943)
An editorial from Military Medicine, Vol. 166, No. 10, October 2001.

Guarantor: Eric Croddy. MA
Contributors: Eric Croddy. MA: Sarka Krcalova MA

During World War II both Soviet Red Army and German Wehrmacht forces suffered hundreds of thousands of casualties, many from infectious disease. In a recent book, Dr. Kenneth Alibek has suggested that the Soviet Red Army used tularemia (causative agent: Francisella tularensis) as a biological weapon during the battle of Stalingrad (1942-l943). Based on past clinical cases and the nature of the pathogen we propose that an outbreak resulting from natural causes is more likely.

One of the most fiercely fought engagements in the Eurasian theater during World War II was the siege of Stalingrad, which involved at least two German group armies and resulted in the loss of millions on both sides, dead, wounded or captured.[1] Recently Dr. Kenneth Alibek has alleged that the Soviet Union used tularemia against German troops during this pivotal engagement, causing an epidemic that also affected Russian soldiers and civilians. From what we know of tularemia and its transmission, however, a natural outbreak at Stalingrad seems more likely.

In his 1999 book, Biohazard, Alibek (formerly known as Kanatjan Alibekov) describes in great detail the history and possibly ongoing work in the former Soviet Union/Russian biological weapons program.[2] Much of what Alibek relates in his book, including the fact that the Soviet Union loaded a smallpox weapon on intercontinental missiles, is based on his experiences and knowledge gained while working for Biopreparat a very large, ostensibly civilian biotechnology concern established in 1973 for the development of biological weapons. It is unknown if research to offensive biological warfare (BW) continues in Russia.

Alibek is generally considered to be reliable, and he has briefed the U.S. intelligence community at great length regarding former Soviet BW capabilities.[3] A former deputy director of the Soviet Russian Biopreparat. Alibek claims in his book that tularemia (caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis) was deployed against Nazi troops during the battle for Stalingrad (August 1942 to February 1943). Alibek bases his allegation on the hundreds of thousands of tularemia infections that quickly arose at the beginning of the siege and the collaborative statements of an elderly lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Red Army. Alibek also reports a significantly high (70%) pulmonary involvement among those infected with tularemia from both sides, suggesting man-made air-borne dissemination.

Although no doubt exacerbated by wartime conditions at Stalingrad we believe that the tularemia epidemic of 1942-1943 was a natural outbreak. With regard to the high percentage of pleural involvement reported by Alibek (and others) one should note that even in the 1960s the mechanism of the disease process was not well understood nor was it certain if there was a primary pulmonary form of tularemia.[4] The fact that a large percentage of tularemia infections were associated with pleural involvement--an outcome that could have been induced via other portals of entry--may not he very helpful in identifying the route of the initial infection.

Second the Rostov region alone already had 14,000 tularemia cases in January 1942, several months before the major Panzer assault on the city. With the large epizootic pool of F. tularensis among mice and water rats (and a severely if not completely disrupted hygiene and sanitation system), it probably required no help from Soviet bioweaponeers to create the conditions for an epidemic. One Soviet Red Army commander, Marshal K.K. Rokossovisky reflected in his memoirs on a counteroffensive in Stalingrad: "...just during these tense days, tularemia, a disease spread by mice suddenly emerged among our pilots. The number of infected pilots became so high, that it was necessary to take steps to save personal structure and aircrafts: The mice chewed all rubber and rubber insulation."[5] Finally, postwar U.S. intelligence surveys of German biological weapons research does not indicate that the Wehrmacht suspected the Soviets of deliberate transmission of tularemia.[6]

Tularemia, caused by the Gram-negative Intracellular bacterium F. tularensis, can be separated into two major biovars: in the United States, the F. tularensis biovar tularensis is most commonly found, whereas outside of the continental United States, especially in Scandinavia, the biovar palearctica is more prevalent and can be isolated from water, aquatic mammals, and mosquitoes.[7] When inhaled as an aerosol, fewer than 50 F. tularensis bacteria can cause disease in humans. Because of this high infectivity, tularemia was investigated as a BW agent by both the United States and the former Soviet Union. Ingestion of bacteria, presumably a cause for at least a significant percentage of civilian tularemia cases during the siege of Stalingrad, requires as many as 1 billion organisms to cause disease. According to the literature, the severity of disease caused by the European-variant is somewhat milder than that of the biovar found in North America.[8]

Although somewhat suspect because of the possible biases and political overtones, Soviet-era published epidemiological reviews of tularemia during the battle of Stalingrad help corroborate our view that a complete breakdown in public health infrastructure led to the epidemic. According to one Soviet retrospective: "Late in the fall of 1942, epicenters of the tularemia epizootic in the field mouse [lit: vole] were detected in the basin of the Don-delta. Concurrently, cases of tularemia were registered among the local population. More than 75% of the population was hit by tularemia in individual locations of the Stalingrad area.... As the health centers were practically out of order at this time, the entire burden of the treatment of the infected population was taken up by the military-medical front service."[9]

One of these studies reports an even higher rate of pulmonary involvement in tularemia infections (95.2%) during the battle of Stalingrad caused by inhaled dust from infected straw. (The production of similar airborne fomites--as well as the predominance of the inhalation route of infection among certain populations--is consistent with other outbreaks that have occurred in Martha's Vineyard[10] in the United States as well as in Finland[11] and Sweden[12].) According to one Russian Journal article in 1980, the war disturbed normal agricultural activities of the population in the areas near the front. Crops remained unharvested and the grass uncut. Thus was created a large source of food for rodents, and in the fall of 1942 large numbers of mice, field mice, forest mice, shrews, and others appeared in the trenches and dugouts.[13] The high prevalence of tularemia among Red Army soldiers was "associated with the use of hay for bedding in entrenchments, dig-outs, and trenches" and only got worse as infected rodents followed the soldiers into their hastily built military fortifications.[5] However, In addition to inhalation exposures, many of the tularemia infections were also linked to "eating biscuits and other baked food touched by the rodents, using water from wells, which was infected by the bodies of the rodents that died as a result of tularemia." This same article also implicates mosquitoes as a disease vector in some cases of tularemia among civilian and military personnel.[l3] As seen in case studies from Finland and elsewhere, mosquitoes could have been a significant factor in the transmission of tularemia.[11]

Interestingly, The Soviets reported that a live tularemia vaccine prepared by H.A. Gaiskii and B.Y. Elbert was tested at the Stalingrad front. (Sources conflict regarding whether or not large-scale tularemia vaccinations were administered for Soviet Red Army troops.) Although it showed some efficacy, the most effective countermeasures still involved standard pest control especially that of rodents. In the United States, a phenol-inactivated tularemia vaccine was developed in 1944, and an improved, acetone-based preparation was later used in 1945 that had fewer adverse reactions.[14] During the now defunct U.S. BW program, tularemia was weaponized by freeze drying bacteria-laden slurry and muting it into a flue powder for aerosol delivery.

Tularemia does not have the name recognition nor the lethality of anthrax or smallpox. Still, F. tularensis poses a threat by its use as a weapon in terrorism or criminal malfeasance. Although a terrorist or state-sponsored attack using tularemia would be mitigated by modern antibiotics--prompt treatment is usually successful--the numbers of casualties could easily overwhelm existing capacity to treat both the sick and the "worried well."

References

Clodfelter M: Warfare and Armed Conflicts. Jefferson, NC, McFarland & Company, 1991.
Alibek K: Biohazard. New York, Random House, 1999.
Preston R: The bioweaponeers. New Yorker 1998; March 9: 52-65.
McCrumb FR Jr: Aerosol Infection of man with Pasteurella tularensis. Bacteriol Rev 1961; 25: 262.
Rogozin I: Prophylaxis of tularemia during the Great Patriotic War. [Translated by Krcalova S.] Zh Mikrobiol Epidemiol Immunobiol 1970; 47(5): 23.
ALSOS Mission Report. Washington, DC, US War Department, September 12, 1945.
Evans ME: Friedlander AM: Tularemia. In Textbook of Military Medicine, Part I. Warfare, Weaponry, and the Casualty: Medical Aspects of Chemical and Biological Warfare, p 504. Edited by Sidell FR, Takafuji ET, Franz DR. Washington, DC: Borden Institute, 1997.
Kaye D: Tularemia. In Harrison’s Principals of Internal Medicine, Ed 13, p 687. Edited by Isselbacher KJ, Braunwald E, Wilson JD, Martin JB, Fauci AS, Kasper DL. New York, McGraw-Hill, 1994.
Agafonov I, Tararin RA: Some organizational-tactical forms and methods of anti-epidemiological work in troops of Stalingrad (Donsk) front in 1942-43. [Translated by Krcalova S.] Zh Mikrobiol Epidemiol Immunobiol 1975; 5: 6-7.
Teutsch SM, Martone WJ, Brink EW, et al; Pneumonic tularemia on Martha’s Vineyard. N Engl J Med 1979; 301: 826-8.
Syrjälä H, Kujala P, Myllylä V, Salminen A: Airborne transmission of tularemia in farmers, Scand J Infect Dis 1985; 17: 371-5.
Sanford JP: Tularemia. In Infectious Diseases, p 1282. Edited by Gorbach SL, Bartlett JG, Blacklow NR. Philadelphia, WB Saunders, 1992.
Elkin M: Military-epidemiological doctrine (based on the lessons from anti-epidemic protection of the troops in the Great Patriotic War in 1941-1945). [Translated by Krcalova S.] Zh Mikrobiol Epidemiol Immunobiol 1980; May: 11.
Cochrane RC: History of the Chemical Warfare Service in World War II. Vol. II. Biological Warfare Research in the United States, p 150. Fort Detrick, MD, Historical Section, Plans, Training and Intelligence Division, Office of Chief, Chemical Corps, November 1947.
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