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.

On This Day in 1953, Jonas Salk Announced His Polio Vaccine

Getty Images
Getty Images

On March 26, 1953, Dr. Jonas Salk went on CBS radio to announce his vaccine for poliomyelitis. He had worked for three years to develop the polio vaccine, attacking a disease that killed 3000 Americans in 1952 alone, along with 58,000 newly reported cases. Polio was a scourge, and had been infecting humans around the world for millennia. Salk's vaccine was the first practical way to fight it, and it worked—polio was officially eliminated in the U.S. in 1979.

Salk's method was to kill various strains of the polio virus, then inject them into a patient. The patient's own immune system would then develop antibodies to the dead virus, preventing future infection by live viruses. Salk's first test subjects were patients who had already had polio ... and then himself and his family. His research was funded by grants, which prompted him to give away the vaccine after it was fully tested.

Clinical trials of Salk's vaccine began in 1954. By 1955 the trials proved it was both safe and effective, and mass vaccinations of American schoolchildren followed. The result was an immediate reduction in new cases. Salk became a celebrity because his vaccine saved so many lives so quickly.

Salk's vaccine required a shot. In 1962, Dr. Albert Sabin unveiled an oral vaccine using attenuated (weakened but not killed) polio virus. Sabin's vaccine was hard to test in America in the late 1950s, because so many people had been inoculated using the Salk vaccine. (Sabin did much of his testing in the Soviet Union.) Oral polio vaccine, whether with attenuated or dead virus, is still the preferred method of vaccination today. Polio isn't entirely eradicated around the world, though we're very close.

Here's a vintage newsreel from the mid 1950s telling the story:

For more information on Dr. Jonas Salk and his work, click here.

Drunken Thieves Tried Stealing Stones From Notre-Dame

Notre-Dame.
Notre-Dame.
Athanasio Gioumpasis, Getty Images

With Paris, France, joining a long list of locales shutting down due to coronavirus, two thieves decided the time was right to attempt a clumsy heist—stealing stones from the Notre-Dame cathedral.

The crime occurred last Tuesday, March 17, and appeared from the start to be ill-conceived. The two intruders entered the cathedral and were immediately spotted by guards, who phoned police. When authorities found them, the trespassers were apparently drunk and attempting to hide under a tarpaulin with a collection of stones they had taken from the premises. Both men were arrested.

It’s believed the offenders intended to sell the material for a profit. Stones from the property sometimes come up for sale on the black market, though most are fake.

The crime comes as Paris is not only dealing with the coronavirus pandemic but a massive effort to restore Notre-Dame after the cathedral was ravaged by a fire in 2019. That work has come to a halt in the wake of the health crisis, though would-be looters should take note that guards still patrol the property.

[h/t The Art Newspaper]

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