National Geographic said on Jan. 29 that recently recovered research suggests that Nazi scientists may have planned to release malaria-carrying mosquitoes from airplanes.
University of Tubingen Biologist Klaus Reinhardt, who uncovered the research from the Dachau concentration camp, said that Germany had a biological warfare research program, according to National Geographic.
The Allied Forces and Japan had investigated and produced microbes for use as biological weapons, and Reinhardt said insect researcher Eduard May ran an offensive biological warfare effort under the cover of a concentration camp entomological institute.
"My opinion is that May knew that he did offensive warfare research," Reinhardt said, according to National Geographic.
Reinhardt published his findings in the December edition of Endeavour.
Reinhardt said May identified the Anopheles maculipennis as the best option to release from airplanes because it survived longer than other types of mosquitoes in a food-deprived state.
"The idea to grow malaria-laden mosquitoes and drop them on people is not very well documented other than by the words 'growing station' and 'airdropping site,'" Reinhardt said, according to National Geographic. "The equipment May had at hand was actually rather pathetic."
George Mason University bio defense graduate fellow Gregory Koblentz does not agree with all of Reinhardt's findings.
"Research to assess the threat posed by different biological agents and vectors, such as May's research on mosquitoes and malaria, is especially hard to categorize as offensive or defensive," Koblentz said, according to National Geographic. "Even if May's intent was offensive, it was very preliminary-many steps away from actually producing a viable insect-borne biological weapon."
The entomological institute was created to research lice, which infested the concentration camp.