The British tabloids love two things above all else: a cheesy pun and a Hitler story. And so today’s news amounted to something akin to the Holy Grail for the Daily Mail: “Her Hitler!” shouted their headline: “The bizarre plot by British spies to make the Führer a fraulein”. By REBECCA DAVIS.
A new book by popular English scientist Brian Ford, entitled “Secret Weapons: Technology, Science And The Race To Win World War II”, claims that British secret agents, desperate to score any advantage during a stalemate lull in World War II, hatched a plan to smuggle oestrogen into Hitler's food. Because Hitler had food-tasters, any kind of poison would have been detected immediately. Oestrogen, however, is tasteless and would have a “slow-burning”, incremental effect - the idea being that one day Hitler would eventually wake up flooded with peace-loving female hormones and drop the whole silly Third Reich plan to take up knitting, or something like that.
The idea is laughably absurd, but is only one among a number of similarly lunatic plans Ford describes - another being a scheme where Allied forces would drop glue on Nazi troops to, yes, stick them to the ground. Genius.
But Ford points out that the Nazis had equally nonsensical plans. One idea involved offering doctored cigarettes to Allied soldiers, which would instantly induce a headache. The helpful ciggie-pusher (a Nazi spy) would then produce a poisoned “aspirin”, killing the hapless soldier within minutes.
As much as we might chuckle, these ideas aren’t that far off some of the attempts made by the CIA to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro during the last half-century. It’s been estimated at least 638 attempts have been made on Castro’s life by American intelligence agents, most recently in 2000, when incendiary devices were placed under a podium where he was due to speak.
The most notorious – though possibly apocryphal - of these occurred in the mid-60s, when CIA agents planned to capitalise on Castro’s known fondness for cigars by getting him to smoke one packed with explosives. Arguably the most absurd, however, was the idea to lure Castro to a brightly-coloured mollusc while the Cuban was scuba-diving, which would then detonate. This scheme was hatched in tandem with one proposing to infect his wetsuit with a fungus producing a debilitating skin condition. Pretty much on a par with oestrogen in Hitler’s bratwurst. DM