Zion Island 15.

Reichsarchiv.  Nachlasse Lange.  Personal letters.

20 July 1947.

My dear Lange[1],

You must be quite bored out there to be spending time reading old intelligence circulars and speculating on such idle questions.  Still, you recall quite correctly.  Here are the details in laymen’s terms.

In 1942 we had an outbreak of typhus in a Wehrmacht division on rest-and-retraining assignment here.  The doctors initially put it down to the men having returned with the disease from Russia.  As you know, it is common throughout the East.  The entire division went through an additional round of de-lousing with Zyklon-B.  However, some local French people then came down with it as well.  A young member of the medical staff who had been trained as an epidemiologist made further inquiries.

The French victims were all from a section of the town fairly removed from the camp.  The young doctor interviewed each of the French victims.  Being French and from the same neighborhood, they naturally shared many features and activities.  However, the doctor diligently eliminated one after another.  In the end, he found that they had all fallen sick soon after purchasing some butter on the black market.  All had purchased the butter from the same shop, ironically named “Au bon beurre”!  The shop-keeper immediately was interviewed.  He admitted to having purchased a large quantity of butter from a German mess-sergeant at the nearby-by base.  Shown photographs of all the mess-sergeants from the base, he picked out the guilty man.

The sergeant admitted the theft and sale, but that did not resolve the issue of the spread of the typhus.  Chemists examined the remains of the store of butter.  They reported that it had been infected with the germ that causes typhus!  Where had French butter come to be infected with typhus?  One answer would be to follow the path of the butter back from the mess stores to its point of production.  Another answer would be to try to identify the origin of the typhus infection.  The investigation bogged down for a time as we followed both lines of inquiry.

In the end, it turned out that a researcher at the Institut Pasteur had stolen the germ culture from a laboratory.  With the assistance of a friend who worked in Les Halles market, he had infected a shipment of butter consigned to the Wehrmacht camp.

So, yes, it is possible to “weaponize” diseases.  I hope that you and Dr. Mengele find this information useful.

H H,

Knochen.[2]

 

[1] Obersturmbannfuhrer der SS Dr. Rudolf Lange, Headquarters, Sipo-SD, Theresienstadt, Madagascar.

[2] Standartenfuhrer des SS Dr. Helmut Knochen, Office of the Police Attache, German Embassy, Paris.

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