Though the Allies considered some highly inventive schemes to beat Adolf Hitler, few are more "bizarre" than an alleged plot to make the Fuhrer lose interest in world domination by secretly drugging him with female sex hormones. Cardiff University professor Brian Ford says he uncovered the plan while reviewing recently declassified documents for his new book, Secret Weapons: Technology, Science, And The Race To Win World War II. Three key questions:
How was the plan supposed to work?
British spies figured that if they could lace Hitler's food with estrogen, over time he would become less cruel and aggressive, Ford says. The idea was to "feminize" Hitler, and make him behave more like his sister, Paula, a "mild-mannered secretary." The Brits were encouraged by then-recent research into the effects of sex hormones in therapy. "There were agents who would be able to get it into his food," Ford says, as quoted by The Telegraph. "It would have been entirely possible."
Why didn't they just poison him?
Hitler used food tasters, so any substance designed to kill him might have provoked a reaction in his tasters. Estrogen, which is tasteless and affects subjects gradually, was thought to be less detectible.
Did anyone try to put this plan into action?
No. It was just one of the many "hare-brained" schemes Ford details in his book. Other strategies: Dropping glue on Nazi troops to stick them to the ground, disguising bombs in tins of fruit imported to Germany, and dropping boxes of poisonous snakes on German soldiers. In Ford's opinion, the "nuttiest" of all was a 10-foot-tall wheel packed with 400 lbs of explosives — called the Great Panjandrum — that was to be used in an assault on the Normandy coast. That one was built and tested at a cost of $1 million in today's dollars, but it didn't work.
Sources: Mirror, Telegraph, Jezebel, TIME
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Yes, Republicans can impeach President Obama
- The 5 best and worst states for a well-lived life
- What religious traditionalists can teach us about sex
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- The 6 best low-cost smartphones
- Paul Ryan's anti-poverty plan is another sign of life in the GOP
- Why Texas' abortion rates aren't falling as quickly as everyone expected
Subscribe to the Week