Ralph Graham

US Militarists Plan Frightful “Germ” Warfare

(8 June 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 23, 8 June 1946, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

New terrifying weapons of war, rivalling the atomic bomb in the scope of their destructive potential, and described generally under the heading of biological warfare, have been developed in the military laboratories of American imperialism for use against armies and civilian populations in the next war. Biological warfare embraces the use of bacteria, fungi, viruses, rickettsias and toxic agents derived from living organisms to produce disease and death in men, animals or plants.

Members of the House Appropriations Committee in Washington first disclosed the existence of these instruments of mass murder to the Associated Press on May 24, but refused to permit use of their names. There are several such weapons, one member said, adding that they had been developed to a point where they could now be used.

One of the weapons, he revealed, “is a germ proposition and is sprayed from airplanes that can fly high enough while doing it to be reasonably safe from ground fire. It is quick and certain death. You would not have to drop a germ on every person in a city. One operation would be sufficient, for the effects would spread rapidly.”

Plague or Polio?

Another development, this committee member stated, would make it possible for planes to fly over the Dakotas, for example, and destroy the entire wheat crop with a single operation, even the seeds in the ground.

In this country the new germ spray is believed by some to contain, the virus of bubonic plague, for there was recent official disclosure that one of the diseases which the imperialist war-makers are planning to use, and which the Navy has been experimenting with, is “centuries old and one of the greatest killers.”

The London Daily Express, on the other hand, reported on May 29 that the new weapon was “a powder believed to be the virus that causes infantile paralysis.” One-billionth of an ounce of the powder would be sufficient to infect a man, the British paper said, and “complete paralysis of the nervous system would come within a few days.” Quoting British scientists in close touch with the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service, the paper reported that the germ powder was first developed at Camp Detrick, Maryland, and is now in mass production in Indiana.

Poison Water, Food

The weapon for destroying crops and herds, according to the N.Y. Herald-Tribune of May 31, consists of “virulent strains of plant and animal diseases, and of poisons noxious to plants.” This weapon was developed before the end of the recent war, and, says the paper, “would have been used against Japan, in its poison form, if the surrender had not come so soon. A single, small tablet of the poison was considered sufficient to kill all the rice in an average rice field. It was intended to confront the Japanese with the specter of starvation by threatening to kill their rice crop by dropping these tablets from B-29’s.”

Another weapon in the same general category, the Herald-Tribune reported, consists of “poisons sufficiently concentrated for anti-personnel use on a massive scale. Presumably they would have been dropped into the water supply of enemy cities.” Still another is presumed by the same source to be “the poison normally generated by the germ which causes botulism (food poisoning).”

The capitalist press, with a cold maniacal glee, describes the wonderful advantages of biological warfare over such weapons as the atomic bomb. Thus a N.Y. Times dispatch from Washington on May 27 declared: “Biological war differs in two important ways from atomic war. Through it, aerial attackers or saboteurs could silently set forces at work which would kill men, women and infants in their homes. Secondly, after a certain period the conqueror could enter the depopulated areas, and find the buildings, factories and resources of the country ready for his use.” No ruins, no rubble. Just as neat as that!

On May 30, while the macabre possibilities of these fiendish instrumentalities of wholesale death were being canvassed in the capitalist press, the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, in which the American imperialists have the dominant voice, summoned the world to “a war against microbes.”

Torture and Decimation

The British delegate, Philip Noel-Baker, a cabinet minister in the Attlee government, pretending, like all the others, a blithe unawareness of the deadly germ warfare which is being prepared for the torture and decimation of mankind, even suggested an amendment to the Bible, proposing an Eleventh Commandment, “Thou shalt not harbor germs.”

It is under the cover of such seemingly idealistic prattlings that the imperialist criminals are preparing, not a “war on germs,” but a war of germs.

Last updated on 18 June 2021