The Time the Allies Tried to Disarm Hitler With Female Sex Hormones

Rebecca O'Connell/Getty Images/iStock
Rebecca O'Connell/Getty Images/iStock

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the situation during World War II definitely qualified as desperate. Accordingly, it seems very few proposed plans for defeating the Nazis were dismissed as being too over-the-top. At one time or another, the Allied forces debated dripping glue on Nazi troops in an attempt to stop them in their tracks, disguising bombs in tins of imported fruit, dropping boxes of venomous snakes, releasing live bat bombs, or using the "Great Panjandrum"—a massive rocket-propelled wheel of explosives.

But perhaps the most outlandish idea proposed involved making the Führer more like his sister—the mild-mannered Paula, who worked as secretary.

A study at the time by the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, a precursor to the CIA, claimed that on the gender spectrum, Adolf Hitler fell notably near the middle—"close to the male-female line," wrote the OSS’s director of research and development, Stanley Lovell. The Allies thought if they could just tip him over the line into "female" territory, he would lose his hold on Germany and the war would be won.

Sources differ on whether the hope was that a more feminized Hitler would be less aggressive, and thus, less inclined to commit mass genocide, or that if he lost his facial hair and grew breasts he simply wouldn't have the confidence or charisma to allow him to serve as an effectively malevolent dictator.

But how to go about making Mr. Hitler more like Mrs. Hitler? By putting female sex hormones in his carrots, of course.

"There were agents who would be able to get it into his food—it would have been entirely possible," said Brian Ford, a British professor and the author of the book that first revealed the plot, Secret Weapons: Technology, Science And The Race To Win World War II.

If the plan was carried out, spies and members of the OSS would bribe Hitler's gardener to inject his carrots with estrogen. Over time, the estrogen consumption would make him more "feminized."

You're probably wondering: If the Allies had the means to inject foreign substances into Hitler's food, why didn't they just poison him and be done with it? Unfortunately, it wasn't that simple. Hitler, aware of his many enemies, employed a host of food tasters whose sickness or death would have sent up immediate red flags. Estrogen was chosen instead because it is tasteless, and would work slowly and subtly enough on the Führer and his army of testers to go undetected—until it was too late.

Lovell speculates that this plan ultimately failed either because someone noticed something suspicious about the carrots, or because the gardener found it just as easy to pocket the bribe and not alter the carrots at all. Either scenario implies that the Allies really did at least attempt to defeat Hitler with female sex hormones.

They should have stuck with the bat bombs.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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Florence’s Plague-Era Wine Windows Are Back in Business

A wine window in Florence's Via Santo Spirito.
A wine window in Florence's Via Santo Spirito.

Many bars and restaurants have started selling takeout cocktails and other alcoholic beverages to stay in business—and keep customers safe—during the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, 17th-century Florentines are surely applauding from their front-row seats in the afterlife.

As Insider reports, a number of buildings in Florence had been constructed with small “wine windows,” or buchette del vino, through which vendors sold wine directly to less affluent customers. When the city suffered an outbreak of plague in the 1630s, business owners recognized the value of these windows as a way to serve people without spreading germs. They even exchanged money on a metal tray that was sanitized with vinegar.

Wine not?sailko, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Things eventually went back to normal, and the windows slowly fell out of fashion altogether as commerce laws evolved. This year, however, they’ve made a comeback. According to Food & Wine, there are currently at least four in operation around Florence. Osteria delle Brache in Piazza Peruzzi is using its window to deliver wine and cocktails, for example, and the Vivoli ice cream shop, a go-to dessert spot since 1929, is handing out sweet scoops and coffee through its formerly dormant aperture.

Apart from the recent resurgence of interest, the wine windows often go unnoticed by tourists drawn to the grandeur of attractions like the Uffizi Gallery and the Florence Cathedral. So in 2015, locals Matteo Faglia, Diletta Corsini, and Mary Christine Forrest established the Wine Window Association to generate some buzz. In addition to researching the history of the windows, they also keep a running list of all the ones they know of. Florence has roughly 150, and there are another 100 or so in other parts of Tuscany.

They’re hoping to affix a plaque near each window to promote their stories and discourage people from defacing them. And if you want to support their work, you can even become a member of the organization for €25 (about $29).

[h/t Insider]