"Speaking of Annihilation": Mobilizing for War Against Human and Insect Enemies, 1914-1945

by Edmund P. Russell
"Speaking of Annihilation": Mobilizing for War Against Human and Insect Enemies, 1914-1945
Edmund P. Russell
The Journal of American History
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"Speaking of Annihilation": Mobilizing for War against Human and Insect Enemies, 1914-1945

Edrnund P. Russell I11

In 1944 and 1945, two periodicals with very different audiences published similar images. Both showed half-human, half-insect creatures, talked of the "annihilation" of these vermin, and touted modern technology as the means to accomplish that end. One piece, a cartoon in the United States Marines' magazine Leatherneck, showed a creature labeled "Louseous Japanicas" and said its "breeding grounds around the Tokyo area . . . must be completely annihilated." (See figure 1.) A month after the cartoon appeared, the United States began mass incendiary bomb- ings of Japanese cities, followed by the atomic blasts that leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Although the Leatherneck cartoon was surely intended to be humorous and hyperbolic, calls for annihilation of human enemies had, by the end of the war, become realistic.

So too with insect enemies. The second cartoon, an advertisement in a chemical industry journal, promoted perfumes to eliminate insecticide odors. (See figure 2.) Tapping the rhetoric that pervaded World War 11, the text began, "Speaking of annihilation." The accompanying image showed three creatures with insect bodies, each with a stereotypical head representing a national enemy. The Italian creature lay on its back, an allusion to Allied victory over the Italian army. The German and Japanese creatures remained standing, as guns blasted all three with chemical clouds. Like human enemies, the advertisement implied, insect enemies could and should be annihilated. That possibility, too, had come within reach by the end of World War 11. The Allies killed disease-bearing lice and mosquitoes over wide areas using a powerful new insecticide called DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), and entomologists called for the extermination of entire species.

Edmund P. Russell I11 is assistant professor of technology, culture, and communication at the University of Virginia.

I am grateful for comments by Susan Armeny, Brian Balogh, Amy Bentley, Amy Bercaw, Paul Boyer, Alan Brinkley, Craig Cameron, W. Bernard Carlson, Pete Daniel, Thomas Dunlap, Paul Forman, Brett Gary, Barton Hacker. Pamela Henson, Michael Holt, Linda Lear, Gerald Linderman, Allan Megill, David Nord, Peter Onuf, Katherine Ott, John Perkins, Beverly Rathcke, Terry Sharrer, Merritt Roe Smith, David Thelen, Richard Tucker, John Vandermeer, Earl Werner, Donald Worster, Susan Wright, an anonymous reviewer, and scholars who attended presentations at the 1993 meeting of the Society for the History of Technology, the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Virginia, and the Smithsonian Institution. I am also grateful for a predoctoral fellowship from the Smithsonian Institution and grants from the University of Michigan and the National Science Foundation (SBR 9511726). I thank Paul Milazzo for help with research. This article draws on Edmund P. Russell 111, "War on Insects: Warfare, Insecticides, and Environmental Change in the United States, 1870-1945" (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 1993).

The Journal of American History March 1996 The Journal of American History March 1996

Tkte hrst senuus uutbreak of tl.lzs lice epidemic was ogcially naked on December 7, 1941 at Monnlufu, T H. To the Marine Corps, eswcially trained in combating this type of pcstalcnee. was assigrrd the gigantic task of exterminat~on. Extensive ex~ei- wcnts nn Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Saipan have shown that this jouse ii~habit$ car& at~lic12%the Saue'n PaaFic, particularly pdl bbaxes, palm trees, caves, swampsand jungfes,

Flarr~cthrowers, IBST~RTS,grenades and bayonets have proven to be an eEeckive rem-


E?.11kheCc)re a complete cure may be effected the origin of the pjagur, the breeding gr8,urlcic artgund the Tokyo area, must be completely atmihilsked.

Figure 1. In 1945, United States Marine Sgt. Fred Lasswell praised efforts to annihilate
"Louseous Japanicas." Fred Lasswell, "Bugs Every Marine Should
Know," Leatherneck, 28 (March 1945), 37.
Printed with permission of Leatherneck magazine.

Most Americans welcomed technology that brought "total victory" over national and natural enemies. They felt grateful for a bomb that saved the lives of American soldiers and for a chemical that enabled people to "bomb" insect pests. As time passed, however, many came to wonder whether human beings had struck a Faustian bargain. Did "weapons of mass destruction" threaten, rather than promote, human welfare? Opponents of chemical and nuclear weapons thought so. Had the ability of human beings to conquer nature surpassed some limit, threate.ning not only human well-being but the planet itself? After Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1962, many feared that DDT exemplified this threat.'

Although war and concerns about the impact of human beings on the environ- ment have been among the most important forces shaping the twentieth century, scholars have tended to analyze these issues separately. Several historical fields illustrate this tendency. Military historians have pushed beyond studies of battles and armies to examine the impact of military institutions on society, politics, and economics- but rarely on the environment. Environmental historians have emphasized the role of nature in many events of our past- but rarely in war. Historians of technology have analyzed the impact of military technology on

' Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (New York, 1962).

by our trdepi pcrlurnc? rfirsrnzsts fc~ayour insti freidr-8 .ilicry tk*. brllrng ayent ptirnfil and ~(ttrc*llycirport the fantlle scene Ncl grace re

Figure 2. This 1944 advertisement, which appeared in a journal that served the National
Association of Insecticide and Disinfectant Manufacturers, took it for granted
that national and insect enemies required annihilation. Reprinted from
Soap and Sanitary Cbemicalj (April 1944), 92.

society- but rarely on the environment. Cultural historians have emphasized the impact of war on interactions among people- but rarely its impact on people's interactions with the environments2

Although war and military institutions are different, I follow the practice among British historians and use the former term to encompass the latter. For a sample of works in military, environmental, technological, and cultural history, see Peter Paret, "The New Military History," Parameters, 21 (Autumn 1991), 10-18; William

H. McNeill, The Pursuit ofpower: Technology, Arned Force, and Society since A.D. 1000 (Chicago, 1982); Carolyn Merchant, ed., Major Problems in American Environmental History (Lexington, Mass., 1993); Jeffrey

K. Stine and Joel A. Tarr, "Technology and the Environment: The Historians' Challenge," EnvironmentalHistory

The tendency to separate war from environmental change (or military from civilian affairs) has deep roots. Isaiah's metaphor, "They shall beat their swords into plowshares," suggests that people have long seen one of the most important ways they change the environment -agriculture-as the opposite of war. In Carte- sian philosophy, relations among human beings belong to a separate sphere from relations between human beings and other species. Observers have argued that Americans in particular "are inclined to see peace and war as two totally separate quanta. War is abnormal and peace is normal and returns us to the status quo ante."

Historians of insecticides have shown, however, that efforts to control human and natural enemies have not proceeded independently. Between them, Emory Cushing, Vincent Dethier, Thomas Dunlap, and John Perkins have pointed out that manufacturing of explosives in World War I produced a by-product called PDB (paradichlorobenzene), which entomologists then developed into an insecti- cide; that entomologists often used military metaphors; that World War I1 stimu- lated development of DDT; and that some insecticides were related to nerve gases. Historians of chemical weapons, too, have noted this last point.4

These events were, I believe, part of a larger pattern. The ability of human beings to kill both national and natural enemies on an unprecedented scale, as well as fears about those abilities, developed in the twentieth century partly because of links between war and pest control. This article focuses on three such links: science and technology, institutions, and metaphor.

In the first half of the twentieth century, the science and technology of pest control sometimes became the science and technology of war, and vice versa. Chemists, entomologists, and military researchers knew that chemicals toxic to one species often killed others, so they developed similar chemicals to fight human

~ ~p -pp -

Review, 18 (Spring 1994), 1-7; Merritt Roe Smith, ed., Military Enterprise andTechnologicalChange: Perspectives on the American Experience (Cambridge, Mass., 1985); Barton C. Hacker, "Military Institutions, Weapons, and Social Change: Toward a New History of Military Technology," Technology and Culture, 35 (no. 4, 1994), 768- 834; Elaine Tyler May, HomewardBouna? American Families in the Cold War Era (New York, 1988); and Paul Boyer, By the Bomb's Early Light: American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age (New York, 1985).

On war and the environment, see Susan D. Lanier-Graham, The Ecology of War: Environmental Impacts of Weaponry and Warfare (New York, 1993); Seth Shulman, The Threat at Home: Confronting the Tomc Legacy of the U.S. Military (Boston, 1992); J. P. Robinson, The Effects of Weapons on Ecosystems (Oxford, 1979); Arthur H. Westing and Malvern Lumsden, Threat of Modern Warfare to Man and His Environment: An AnnotatedBibliography Prepared under the Auspices of the International Peace Research Association (Paris, 1979); Avner Offer, The First World War: An Agranan Interpretation (Oxford, Eng., 1989); and Alfred W. Crosby, Ecological Impenalism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900 (New York, 1986).

Isa. 2:4; Joseph A. Wildermuth to editor, Washington Post Book Worla', Feb. 20, 1994, p. 14. See also Keith Thomas, Man and the Natural World: A History of the Modern Sensibihy (New York, 1983). For the suggestion that neoclassical economics (which views the military as an "externality ") and "the peculiarly American blindness to the presence of the military" contribute to the view that civilian and military enterprises are separate endeavors, see David F. Noble, "Command Performance: A Perspective on the Social and Economic Consequences of Military Enterprise," in Military Enterpnie and Technological Change, ed. Smith, 329-46, esp. 330-31.

John H. Perkins, Insects, Experts, andthe Insecticide Crisis: The Quest for New Pest Management Strategies (New York, 1982), 4-10; John H. Perkins, "Reshaping Technology in Wartime: The Effect of Military Goals on Entomological Research and Insect-Control Practices," Technology and Culture, 19 (no. 2, 1978), 169-86; Thomas R. Dunlap, DDT: Scientists, Citizens, and Public Policy (Princeton, 198 I), 36-3 7, 59-63; Emory C. Cushing, History of Entomology in World War II (Washington, 1957); V. G. Dethier, Man 's Plague? Insects and Agriculture (Princeton, 1976), 112; Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, The Problem of Chemical and Biological Warfae: A Study of the Historical, Technical, Military, Legal, and Political Aspects of CBW, and Possible Disarmament Measures, vol. I: The Rise of CB Weapons (New York, 1971), 70-75.

and insect enemies. They also developed similar methods of dispersing chemicals to poison both.

Ideas and hardware moved between civilian and military spheres partly because of institutional links. The two world wars stimulated nations to mobilize civilian and military institutions to achieve military victory. They also catalyzed the found- ing of new organizations that coordinated civilian and military efforts. Peace also catalyzed links among institutions. When guns fell silent on battlefields, military and civilian institutions worked together to apply military ideas and technology to farm fields as a way to survive and meet their institutional goals.

Shared metaphors helped military and civilian institutions shape and express the way people experienced both war and nat~re.~

As figures 1 and 2 show, publicists described war as pest control, pest control as war, and the two endeavors as similar. On the one hand, describing war as pest control transformed participation in war from a potentially troubling moral issue to a moral virtue. Comparing chemical weapons to insecticides made it easier to portray poison gas as natural and humane. (Ironically, opponents of poison gas used the same metaphor to argue that chemical warfare was inhumane because it treated human beings like insects.) On the other hand, describing pest control as war helped entomologists portray nature as a battlefield, elevate the status of their profession, and mobi- lize resources.

The evolution of a word used for both human and insect enemies, exterminate, suggests that these metaphors appealed to long-standing values. The Latin root meant "to drive beyond the boundaries." People and insects that did not respect the boundaries of nations, farms, and homes were enemies, this meaning implied, and could or should be driven out. Often, however, twentieth-century publicists used exterminate with a connotation that emerged in the fourth century: "to destroy utterly," or annihilate. Since people had previously imagined (and some- times succeeded in) annihilating enemies, what set the twentieth century apart? The scale on which people could plan and carry out killing stands out. Technology, industry, and governments grew large enough to enable us to wage "total war"- not just against armies, but against insects and civilians. People could plan, carry out, and (even when it did not come to pass) fear annihilation on a breathtaking scale across geographic and phylar boundaries. Zygmunt Bauman has suggested that modernity aimed to make the world into a garden in which some organisms belonged and from which others, which did not belong, were extirpated. The story told here complements his argument. Warfare resembled gardening, gardening resembled warfare, and both were attempts to shape the world to long-standing human visions.

Military metaphors have been used to describe a variety of civilian endeavors, so the events described here are part of a larger pattern. I use the term metaphor to include simile, analogy, and imagery. On the role of metaphor in thought and communication, see David E. Leary, "Psyche's Muse: The Role of Metaphor in the History of Psychology," in Metaphors in the Histoq of Psychology, ed. David E. Leary (New York, 1990), 1-78; George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By (Chicago, 1980); and Mary B. Hesse, Models and Analogies in Science (Notre Dame, 1966).

Oxford English Dictionaq, 2d ed., s.v. "Exterminate." On imagination, technology, and the expansion of war in the twentieth century, see Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity andthe Holocaust (Ithaca, 1989); Craig M. Cameron, American Samurai: Myth, Imagination, andthe Conduct ofBattle in the First Marine Division, 1941

This article explores only some aspects of the topic. It focuses more on alliances among institutions than on conflicts, more on institutional politics than on econom- ics, more on harms than on benefits, and more on similarities than on differences. Noting similarities does not mean equating. In World War 11, for example, Germans, Americans, propagandists, and entomologists all talked of annihilating enemies. However, the actions of the United States and entomologists differed in critical moral ways from those of Germany and of the architects of the horrors of the Holocaust.

This story prompts two reflections about the ways we write history. First, we often talk about the impact of one aspect of life (war, science, politics) on another (the state, culture, the environment). This framework tells us a great deal, but is it complete? Few forces are monolithic, and two-way interactions may be more common than one-way impacts. War changed the natural environment, and the environment changed war. Metaphors shaped human understanding of the material world, and the material world shaped metaphors. Second, we may tend to tell stories of progress or decline, but life is a mixture of the two.' For some people insecticides and chemical weapons were blessings; for others they were curses; and for some they were both. The world gets both better and worse, and we have yet to exterminate either good or evil.

World War 3: Chemistry and War, 1914-1918

On April 22, 1915, Germany initiated a new chapter in the evolution of war. That day, Allied troops huddled in trenches near Ypres, France, found themselves enveloped in a greenish yellow cloud of chlorine gas released by German troops. Allied soldiers futilely tried to outrun the cloud, which reportedly killed 5,000 soldiers and injured 10,000 more. German military leaders lost the initial advantage when they failed to mount a large-scale attack, but they succeeded in demonstrating the military power that flowed from knowledge and control of nat~re.~

Knowledge about nature came in many forms, including scientific understanding of molecules, and Germany's preeminence in chemistry underpinned its initial success with chemical weapons. This preeminence depended both on the brilliance of civilian scientists such as Fritz Haber, the chemist who oversaw development of chemical weapons at the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft (institute) in Berlin, and

19Jl (New York, 1994); and Michael S. Sherry, The Rise ofAmencan Air Power: The Creation ofArmageddon (New Haven, 1987).

For examples of the impact of the weak on the strong, see Eugene D. Genevese, Ro4 Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made (New York, 1974); and James C. Scott, Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance (New Haven, 1985). On stories of progress and decline as master narratives, see William Cronon, "A Place for Stories: Nature, History, and Narrative," Journal of Ame~ican History, 78 (March 1992), 1347-76.

See Hugh R. Slotten, "Humane Chemistry or Scientific Barbarism? American Responses to World War I Poison Gas, 1915-1930," Jou~nal of Amencan Histoy, 77 (Sept. 1990), 476-98; Robert Harris and Jeremy Paxman, A Higher Form of Killing: The Secret Story of Chemicaland Biological Warfare (New York, 1982):

L. F. Haber, The Poisonous Cloud: Chemical Warfare in the First World War (Oxford, 1986); and Daniel Patrick Jones, "The Role of Chemists in Research on War Gases in the United States during World War I" (Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin, 1969).

on Germany's huge chemical industry. Haber relied on chlorine for Germany's first gas attack partly because Germany had an ample supply of this dyestuff inter- mediate.9

Other nations followed Germany's lead in turning civilian science and industry to military research and production. Great Britain set thirty-three laboratories to work testing 150,000 compounds as chemical weapons. In the United States, the National Research Council (an arm of the National Academy of Sciences) organized academic, industrial, and governmental scientists to work on offensive and defensive aspects of poison gases. In 1918 the United States Army incorporated this mammoth civilian enterprise into its new Chemical Warfare Service. Other nations created similar organizations, and tons of poison gases wafted across Europe. By the end of the war, gas reportedly had killed 90,000 people and caused 1.3 million casualties. Observers dubbed World War I "the chemist's war."1°

Chemists relied on their knowledge of laboratory curiosities to find some new chemical weapons. The most heavily used gas in World War I, chloropicrin, followed this route. Russia introduced chloropicrin in battle in 1916, and other nations soon followed suit. Although sometimes lethal to human beings in its own right, chloropicrin found wide use primarily because it penetrated gas masks. The compound induced tearing and vomiting, which led soldiers to rip off their masks and expose themselves to less penetrating, but more lethal, gases mixed with chloropicrin. By January 1, 1919, the United States Chemical Warfare Service's arsenal at Edgewood, Maryland, could produce 3 million pounds of chloropicrin per month. l1

Chemical warriors also relied on compounds already known to kill organisms, including insects. French soldiers demonstrated this approach at the battle of the Somme in 1916, when they fired artillery shells containing hydrogen cyanide. Since the nineteenth century, farmers and entomologists had used hydrogen cyanide to fumigate insects in orchards and buildings. Arsenic, too, made its way from farm fields to battlefields. In the United States, the Chemical Warfare Service turned a third of the country's arsenic supply into the poison gas diphenylchloroar- sine, causing shortages of arsenical insecticides used to kill orchard pests.12

Harris and Paxman, Higher Form of Killing, 9-11.

lo In 1915, combatants released 3,600 tons of gas; in 1916, 15,000 tons. In 1916, the National Academy of Sciences created the National Research Council (NRC) to promote the "national security and welfare" by organizing scientific research in government, industry, and educational institutions for the federal government. In 1917, the council created a Subcommittee on Noxious Gases with members from the army, navy, and the NRC Chemistry Committee. The civilian researchers became part of the Gas Service of the army, which became the Chemical Warfare Service three days later. In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson issued an executive order asking the National Academy of Sciences to perpetuate the NRC. Rexmond C. Cochrane, The NationalAcademy of Sciences: The First Hundred Years, 1863-1963 (Washington, 1978), 209, 23 1-36; Leo P. Brophy, Wyndham

D. Miles, and Rexmond C. Cochrane, The Chemical Warfare Service: From Laboratory to Field (Washington, 1959), 1-27; W. A. Noyes Jr., "Preface," in Chemistry: A History of the Chemistry Components of the National Defense Research Committee, 1940-1946, ed. W. A. Noyes Jr. (Boston, 1948), xv-xvi; and Harris and Paxman, Higher Form of Killing, 22-23, 34.

" Williams Haynes, American Chemidlndustry, vol. 111: The World War 1Penod, 1912-1922 (New York, 1945), 111; R. C. Roark, A Bibfiography of Chloropicrin, 1848-1932 (Washington, 1934), 1-2. lZ Hydrogen cyanide (also called hydrocyanic acid and prussic acid) dispersed in open air too quickly to kill soldiers effectively, and only the French persisted in using it during World War I. (To kill insect pests in orchards,

War prompted scientists not only to convert insecticidal chemicals into chemical weapons but also to reverse the process. Lice, which sometimes carried deadly typhus, infested American troops in France. Military and civilian researchers alike hoped that war gases might offer a way to conquer this plague of war. In a collaborative experiment, researchers from the Chemical Warfare Service and the Bureau of Entomology of the United States Department of Agriculture tested four chemical weapons on lice. They hoped to find "a gas which can be placed in a chamber and be experienced safely for a short period of time by men wearing gas masks and which in this time will kill all cooties and their nits."13

These experiments stimulated tests of other chemical weapons as insecticides. The Chemical Warfare Service, the Bureau of Entomology, and other agencies of the Department of Agriculture researched the efficacy of war gases against dozens of species of insects. Most of the gases fell short, but chloropicrin, the compound that chemical warfare had lifted from obscurity, killed insects effectively. Chloropic- rin harmed civilian exterminators as readily as enemy soldiers, of course, but entomologists found it less dangerous (as a tear gas, chloropicrin had good "warning properties") or more effective than other fumigants. The battlefields of Europe approximated, albeit unintentionally, laboratory experiments on a massive scale, and entomologists took note. Amencan Miller magazine reported that the "scarcity of insect pests around Rheims is attributed to the use of poisonous gases in that region during the World War," and French researchers tested chloropicrin as an insecticide on grain in closed rooms.'*

While scientists researched ways to use pest control technology in war, soldiers and publicists in World War I, like their predecessors in previous wars, described military enemies as animals, including insect pests. A British soldier, for example, described German soldiers as running around like "disturbed earwigs under a rotten tree stump." By dehumanizing enemies, animal metaphors reduced the sense of guilt about killing human beings in battle. The "lower" the phylum, the lower the sense of guilt, and few phyla ranked lower than insects. Moreover, Europeans had long regarded nature, defined as everything on earth other than humans and their creations, as something that human beings not only could but

fumigators enclosed trees in tents before releasing the gas.) Arsenic found use against insects after it was known to be poisonous to humans. Haber, Pozsonous Cloud, 62-63, 117-18; Brophy, Miles, and Cochrane, Chemical Warfare Service, 55-56; Haynes, American Chemical Industry, 111, 111-12; L. 0. Howard, "Entomology and the War," Scientific Montbfy, 8 (Jan.-June 1919), 109-17; and Dunlap, DDT,20.

'j Surviving records do not indicate whether experimenters tested gases on humans in chambers. W. Dwight Pierce to L. 0. Howard, n.d., Correspondence on Body Lice, Vermin, Cooties, in Army, Tests and Recommenda- tions 1918, Correspondence and Reports Relating to a Study of Body Lice 1918, Records of the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine, RG 7 (Washington National Records Center, Suitland, Md.); "Report on Experiments Conducted on October 16, 1918, Testing the Effect of Certain Toxic Gases on Body Lice and Their E~~S,"


l4 "Killing Weevils with Chloropicrin," abstract, in Roark, Bibliography of Chloropictin, 3. The Bureau of Chemistry, the Bureau of Plant Industry, and the Federal Horticultural Board helped conduct research at Chemical Warfare Service laboratories at ~mericakuniversity. "The Chemical Warfare Service in Peace," n.d., file 029.0611: Articles and Speeches-Peacetime Activities, Station Series, 1942-1945, Security Classified, Records of the Chemical Warfare Service, U.S. Army, RG 175 (Washington National Records Center); I. E. Neifert and G. L. Garrison, Experiments on the Toxic Action of Certain Gases on Insects, Seeds, and Fungi (Washington, 1920); Haynes, Amencan Chemical Industry, 111, 11 1.

should conquer. Describing war as an exercise in control of nature helped define war as not just morally permissible, but morally necessary."

While soldiers found insect metaphors useful in minimizing the significance of killing human beings, entomologists found war metaphors useful in elevating the significance of killing insects. L. 0.Howard, chief of the Bureau of Entomology, for example, described his bureau as waging "warfare against insect life." Military rhetoric was not new to science. Francis Bacon had described science as an antagonist of nature, and Darwinian rhetoric had portrayed nature as a giant battlefield. But such rhetoric took on added resonance in wartime. It implied that insects threatened the nation much as human armies did, associated scientific activity with patriotic national priorities, imbued the Bureau of Entomology with the prestige of the armed forces, and provided a rallying cry to mobilize resources against nonhu- man threats. l6

"Peaceful War" in the United States, 1919-1939

Links between military and civilian endeavors forged in World War I bent, but did not always break, after the Treaty of Versailles. In the United States, the Bureau of Entomology and the Chemical Warfare Service continued to borrow each other's technology and metaphors, a process facilitated by explicit collaboration. On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Germany surged ahead in the search for new chemical weapons by uniting research on poison gases and insecticides. Out of these alliances came technology that shaped campaigns against both human beings and insects in World War 11.

For L. 0. Howard of the Bureau of Entomology, the cessation of the war in Europe set the stage for escalating "the war against insects." Long worried about public and congressional tendencies to view entomologists as engaged in "trivial" studies, Howard chose his December 1921 address as retiring president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science to promote a new image. Titled "The War against Insects," the speech sounded like propaganda from the just-completed war in Europe. Ignoring the benefits insects provided- which he had praised earlier in his career- Howard portrayed his enemy in only one dimension. Quoting Maurice Maeterlinck, Howard said that insects seemed to have a quality born of "another planet, more monstrous, more energetic, more insensate, more atrocious, more infernal than ours." How was the nation to protect itself from

'IFor the descripton of soldiers as "earwigs" and other animal metaphors used in World War I, see Paul Fussell, The Great WarandModern Memory (New York, 1975), 77. On views of enemies, see Sam Keen, Faces of the Enemy: Reflections of the Hostile Imagination (San Francisco, 1986), 60-64; Peter Paret, Beth Irwin Lewis, and Paul Paret, Persuasive Images: Posters of War and Revolution fiom the Hoover Institution Archives (Princeton, 1992); and J. Glenn Gray, The Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle (New York, 1970). American pioneers talked of wilderness as an "enemy" to be "conquered," "subdued," and "vanquished" by a "pioneer army ." See Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind (New Haven, 1982), 27.

'Woward, "Entomology and the War," 117. On bellicose traditions in science and entomology, see Carolyn Merchant, The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientzfic Revolution (San Francisco, 1980); and Dunlap, DDT, 36-37. On the use of metaphor to mold public image, see JoAnne Brown, The Definition ofa Profission: The Authority of Metaphor in the H2Story oflntelligence Testing, 1890-1930 (Princeton, 1992).

this threat? Federal entomologists, "a force of four hundred trained men," fought a "defensive and offensive campaign" against these hordes.''

With this speech, Howard moved military metaphors- which had jostled with public health metaphors in entomological discourse- to the center of his agency's public rhetoric. Other entomologists repeated Howard's warning that insects threat- ened human survival. After quoting Howard's bellicose rhetoric to a 1935 meeting of exterminators, R. C. Roark, chief of the Insecticide Division of the Department of Agriculture, identified the mix of altruism and self-interest that led entomologists to promote insects as enemies: "People must be taught that insects are enemies of man; and as the public becomes insect conscious the opportunities for service by the entomologist, the insecticide chemist, the chemical manufacturer and the exterminator will increase." Chemical companies, too, called on martial and cultural traditions to promote their products. (See figure 3.) As Thomas Dunlap has suggested, it is difficult to resist the idea that the appeal of insecticides arose partly from their promise of victory over, rather than coexistence with, insect enemies.18

Howard could not have asked for a better symbol of "the war on insects" than the airplane, the technology that epitomized martial glory in World War I. The text of Howard's "War against Insects" speech appeared in Chemical Age with a photograph of an airplane dusting a farm with insecticides. This technique was so new that it went unmentioned in Howard's speech; Howard praised airplanes for their usefulness in scouting for insect infestations. But three days after Howard's talk, entomologist J. S. Houser announced that, in collaboration with Army Air Service researchers, he had converted a military airplane to disperse insecticides.'9

Chemical warfare may have inspired this development. McCfurei Magazine reported that a colonel returning from France to his job as an Ohio entomologist "knew that near the close of the war preparations were being made to sprinkle poison gas and liquid fire by airplane on soldiers in the trenches and he thought something like this could probably be used against caterpillars." The New York Times suggested a more mundane origin of the idea, saying that birds inspired aerial dispersal. Whatever the inspiration, the availability of military airplanes and the willingness of the Army Air Service to work on this technique made aerial

Since insects were already considered lowly, perhaps describing them as creatures from another world was one of the few ways to portray them as unworthy of "fraternity." L. 0.Howard, "The War against Insects: The Insecticide Chemist and Biologist in the Mitigation of Plant Pests," Chemical Age, 30 (no. 1, 1922), 5-6. On how World War I helped entomologists argue that they were not engaged in "trivial studies," see Howard, "Entomology and the War," 109, 117.

Is Howard identified the 1921 address as a turning point in his representation of insects and hoped that appreciation for the "insect war" would lead to support for entomology. L. 0. Howard, The Insect Menace (New York, 1931), ix; Howard, "U.S. Wages Insect War"; R. C. Roark, "Household Insecticides," Soap and Sanitaq Chemicals, 11 (Nov. 1935), 117 (emphasis added); Dunlap, DDT, 37. Similarity of rhetoric suggests that Howard may have been influenced by entomologist Stephen Forbes, who in turn was influenced by Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer, but Howard's practice of rarely citing sources makes it difficult to trace intellectual debts. On Forbes, see Sharon E. Kingsland, Modeling Nature: Episodes in the History of Population Ecology (Chicago, 1985), 12-17. On preventive and remedial measures for pest control, see, for example, C. L. Marlatt, The Principal Insect Enemies of Growing Wheat (Washington, 1908); and W. D. Hunter, The Boll Weevil Problem, with Special Reference to Means of Reducing Damage (Washington, 1909).

l9 Eldon W. Downs and George F. Lemmer, "Origins of Aerial Crop Dusting," Agricultural History, 39 (July 196S), 123-35, esp. 126.

dispersal of insecticides feasible. J. A. Truesdell, a newspaperman impressed by Houser's experiments, in 1922 told a congressional committee that the Army Air Service wanted to combine experiments on crop-dusting with pilot training. Truesdell thought the growth of commercial aviation, including crop-dusting, would create an auxiliary to the air service. The hearings led to a policy of coopera- tion between the Army Air Service and the Bureau of Entomology, which in turn led to the development of aerial dusting of cotton.20

Collaboration between military and civilian institutions also transferred airplanes from experimental farms to commercial agriculture. In March 192 3, acting Secretary of War Dwight F. Davis declared that the United States Army should do whatever possible to help crop-dusting "in a commercial way." The Huff-Daland Corpora- tion, which built experimental planes for the air service, sent representatives to a Bureau of Entomology laboratory in 1923 to work on a special dusting plane. In 1924, Huff-Daland formed Huff-Daland Dusters. Lt. H. R. Harris of the Army Air Service, formerly chief of the flying section at McCook Field, became the company's chief of operations. The air service temporarily released Harris, who selected twelve pilots and about eighteen mechanics from army airfields to join Huff-Daland Dusters. In 1925, Huff-Daland Dusters began large-scale dusting in Louisiana. In 1926, Harris resigned from the military to work full-time for Huff-Daland. Before long, commercial crop dusters became important symbols of wars on insects, especially on the boll weevil

Despite Howard's predictions, and unlike airplanes, most chemical weapons did not prove immediately impressive in fighting insects. Howard told the 1924 meeting of the Entomological Society of America that postwar collaboration be- tween the Chemical Warfare Service and the Bureau of Entomology had produced mountains of data of "undoubted value," but the Chemical Warfare Service was keeping almost all of the results secret. But in 1931 Howard laconically reported that the experiments were "not promising, on account of the resultant damage to vegetation," which ended the Bureau of Entomology's public discussion of the war gas experiments. The exception was chloropicrin, which became a popular fumigant for clothing, households, and grain elevators.22

The disappointing results did not derive from lack of effort. For its own reasons, the Chemical Warfare Service devoted resources in the 1920s to the search for insecticidal uses of war gases. Because poison gases had symbolized, for many, the brutality and senselessness of modern warfare, post-World War I peace movements focused much of their energy on chemical weapons. International conventions twice almost banned use of chemical weapons in the 1920s, and even within the

2o Corley McDarment, "The Use of Airplanes to Destroy the Boll Weevil," McClure's Magazine, 57 (Aug. 1924), 90-102, esp. 91-92; Downs and Lemmer, "Origins of Aerial Crop Dusting," 124, 127.

Ina L. Hawes and Rose Eisenberg, eds., Bibliography on Aviation andEconomic Entomology (Washington, 1947), 8-9; Downs and Lemrner, "Origins of Aerial Crop Dusting," 130-32, esp. 130; Douglas Helms, "Technolog- ical Methods for Boll Weevil Control," Agricultural History, 53 (Oct. 1979), 286-99.

L. 0. Howard, "The Needs of the World as to Entomology," Smithsonian Institution Annual Report, 192s (Washington, 1925), 355-72, esp. 370; Roark, Bibliography of Chloropictin; Howard, Insect Menace, 283.

The Journal of American History March 1996

Figure 3. Old Testament writers described insects as invading armies, and subsequent
generations updated the metaphor. In 1938, an advertisement for a chemical
company suggested that rifle-toting insects stood no chance against
snipers spraying scentless insecticides. Reprinted from
Soap and Sanitaty Chemicals, 14 (Feb. 1938), 80.

United States Army powerful individuals wanted to eliminate the Chemical Warfare Service and to transfer its responsibilities to other units.23

The Chemical Warfare Service and its allies responded by emphasizing the humanity of poison gas (which killed a smaller proportion of casualties than did bullets and bombs) and the civilian uses of war gases, including their use as insecticides. Borrowing a metaphor from Isaiah, the journal Chemical Warfare

23 Frederic J. Brown, Chemical Warfare: A Study in Restraints (Westport, 1968), 52-96; Daniel P. Jones, "From Military to Civilian Technology: The Introduction of Tear Gas for Civil Riot Control," Technology and Culture, 19 (no. 2, 1978), 151-68.

reported in 1922 that chemical warriors had beaten "the sword into the plowshare." By emphasizing agricultural uses of war gases, the service tried to reverse its image from agent of war to agent of peace. According to the Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Amos Fries, chief of the Chemical Warfare Service, described his agency as doing "peace work principally." Since conquest of nature had long been seen as a morally uncontroversial endeavor, insecticide projects provided an ideal way to place chemi- cal warfare in a more positive light. An article in Chemical Warfare, for example, stated, "Efficient offensive warfare must be developed against animal, bird and insect life." In 1922 the Boston Transcript captured the Chemical Warfare Service's dissonant message in an oxymoron: "'peaceful' war. "24

One of the most heavily publicized "swords into plowshares" projects involved the search, in collaboration with the Bureau of Entomology and state experiment stations, for insecticides to kill the boll weevil. For seven years, the Chemical Warfare Service held out hope for a solution to "the boll weevil problem, the curse of the cotton states of the South," to the public and Congress. In the end, however, it had little to show. In 1926, H. W. Walker and J. E. Mills of the Chemical Warfare Service reported that toxic gases were "ineffective against the weevil due to its apparent ability to suspend breathing more or less at

Although of little use to farmers, the research project did help the Chemical Warfare Service. The advantages grew partly out the service's ability to conduct military research while publicizing civilian applications. Substances toxic to insects stood a good chance of being toxic to human beings, and the Chemical Warfare Service could learn about the physiology of poisoning in human beings by studying the effects of chemicals on insects. The Chemical Warfare Service lauded this side of the boll weevil investigations in its 1927 report, saying that the project had "extended our knowledge of the fundamental facts concerning the tom'city of compounds which will prove beneficial to certain investigations undertaken with a view to the solution of speczj5c Chemical Warfare problems."26

Similarly, projects on aerial dispersal of insecticides helped develop aerial dis- persal of poison gases, which chemical warriors expected to be a prominent feature of future wars. A 192 1 pamphlet issued under the auspices of the National Research Council predicted, "Armed with such [poisonous] liquids and solids the airman of the next war will not need a machine gun or even bombs to attack the enemy underneath. . . . All he need do is to attach a sprayer to the tail of his machine

24 "Chemical Warfare Making Swords into Plowshares," Chemical Warfare, 8 (no. 2, 1922), 2-5, esp. 2; "Its Greater Service to Peace: From Gazette Times, Pittsburgh, Pa., November 24, 1924," ibid., 11 (no. 2, 1925), 22; "Chemical Warfare: Editorial in 'Army and Navy Register,'January 7, 1922,'' ibid, 8 (no. 1, 1922), 20- 21, esp. 20; "Gassing the Boll-Weevil: Editorial from Boston Transcript, September 19, 1922," ibid (no. 10, 1922). 11; "Chemists Protest Ban on Poison Gas," ibid., 11 (no. 8-9, 1925), 13.

2' Amos A. Fries, "Chemical Warfare Inspires Peace," ibid., 6 (no. 5, 1921), 3-4, esp. 3. See also Amos

A. Fries, "Chemical Warfare and Its Relation to Art and Industry," ibid , 7 (no. 4, 1921), 2-8, esp. 6-7. H. W. Walker and J. E. Mills, "Progress Report of Work of the Chemical Warfare Service on the Boll Weevil Anthonomus Grandis,"Journal of Economic Entomology, 19 (Aug. 1926), 600-601.


W. Walker, "A Brief Resume of the Chemical Warfare Service Boll Weevil Investigation," Chemical WarJare,13 (no. 12, 1927), 231-37, esp. 233. Emphasis added.

and rain down poison on the earth beneath as the farmer kills the bugs on his potato field."*'

Insecticide projects allowed the Chemical Warfare Service not only to equate chemical weapons and insecticides but also to portray the targets of those chemi- cals-human beings and insects -as similar. Fries made this comparison explicit in 1922 when he said "that the human pest is the worst of all pests to handle." Others saw parallels between gassing insects and gassing human beings but resisted the implication that such similarities were desirable. A 1921 piece in the New Yorh Heraldcriticized a report of potential use of poison gas against moonshiners, saying, "In the great war the world saw too much of human beings killed or tortured with poison gas. . . . Ordinary killing is bad enough, but that man should treat his fellow as he treats a rat or a cockroach is inherently repugnant to all from whom decent instincts have not fled."2s

The Chemical Warfare Service's projects on insecticides and other civilian applica- tions for war gases faded away in the late 1920s, perhaps because the need for improved public relations declined after the United States rejected the 1925 Geneva Protocol.29 Although neither the Chemical Warfare Service nor the Bureau of Entomology discovered powerful new chemicals in the 1920s, they made heavy use of each other's metaphors. Portraying insect control as war built up the practical significance of entomology, while portraying war as insect control played down the political and moral issues associated with chemical weapons.

Mobilization in Germany, 1935- 1939

In Germany, too, researchers in the interwar period saw the value of linking research on insecticides and chemical weapons. But while heavy publicity and meager results marked the American efforts, the opposite held true in Germany. Out of a laboratory in the giant chemical combine I.G. Farben came little publicity and big discoveries, including a new family of chemicals called organophosphates with tremendous lethality to insects and human beings.

The difference in outcomes arose largely from differences in attitudes toward mobilization. While Americans struggled with the legacy of World War I-Congress went so.far as to hold hearings on whether corporations stimulated the war in order to boost profits-and the economic distress of the Great Depression, Germany prepared its civilians and industry for war. In 1936 Adolf Hitler ordered the armed forces to be ready for war within four years. Politicians used poison

''"Chemistry and War: The Following Was Printed in a Pamphlet Issued under the Auspices of the National Research Council," ibid., 6 (no. 6, 1921), 13-15, esp. 14. This was not mere rhetoric. As entomologists developed aerial dispersal of insecticides in the 1920s, the Chemical Warfare Service developed aerial dispersal of chemical weapons. Brophy, Miles, and Cochrane, Chemical War$are Service, 32.

Amos A. Fries, "Address before Chemical Industries Exposition, New York City," Sept. 12, 1922, file 029.0611: Articles & Speeches-Peacetime Activities, Station Series, 1942-1945, Security Classified, Records of the Chemical Warfare Service, U.S. Army. On the piece in the New York Herala', see "Not Poison Gas!," Chemical Warfare, 9 (no. 2, 1921), 22.

29This hypothesis is the author's. Documents searched for this study, both at the National Archives and in journals, are silent as to why the insecticide projects ended.

gas and gas-dispersing airplanes as icons of the threat posed by other nations, and drills with gas masks reinforced the need for discipline and technology to protect the nation.30

Similarly, the central government mobilized chemical technology to protect the nation from insect enemies. In 1937, the German government mandated that farmers use insecticides. Unfortunately for this program, Germany imported most of its insecticides. The country's reliance on expensive imports stimulated the German chemical industry to search for cheaper synthetic insecticides. 31

The giant German chemical combine I.G. Farben developed a working relation- ship with the Nazi leadership and became involved in the chemical warfare program. In November 1936, I.G. Farben officers urged the military economic staff to produce and stockpile chemical weapons. Poison gas, they argued, could determine the outcome of the next war if it were used against civilian populations, who would be panic-stricken and find "every door-handle, every fence, every paving stone a weapon of the enemy." I.G. Farben officials thought Germans were too disciplined and technically equipped to collapse should an enemy retaliate.32

The search for new insecticides and poison gases came together in the laboratory of I.G. Farben's Gerhard Schrader. In fact, all German chemical laboratories became de facto parts of the country's chemical warfare program in 1935, when the central government mandated the reporting of all toxic substances. The definition of toxicity issued by the War Ministry -substances that killed when inhaled in low concentration-left little doubt about the reason for the order. When Schrader sprayed chemicals on insects, he was in fact screening chemical weapons. Schrader began with a compound, chloroethyl alcohol, known to be toxic to human beings and dogs, varied the atoms on the molecule, and screened the resulting compounds on insects. A series of substitutions led him to a little-studied family of compounds called organophosphates, which killed insects effectively. Schrader and a colleague patented the generic blueprint of the molecule in 1939.33

Few people knew about this patent, for it was declared "top secret." The basic molecule constituted the basis not only for new insecticides but also for highly lethal new nerve gases. On December 23, 1936, Schrader had attached cyanide

'O Rolf-Dieter Miiller, "World Power Status through the Use of Poison Gas? German Preparations for Chemical Warfare, 1919-1945," in The Genan Military in the Age of Total War, ed. Wilhelm Deist (Dover, N.H., 1985), 171-209, esp. 183; Peter Fritzsche, "Machine Dreams: Airmindedness and the Reinvention of Germany," American Historical Review, 98 (June 1993), 685-709.

'l "Chemicals-Use of Agricultural Insecticides Compulsory in Germany ," Commerce Reports, May 1, 1937,

p. 354; A. Buxtorf and M. Spindler, Fifteen Years of Geigy Pest Control (Basel, 1954), 8.

'2 Originally, the trust emphasized quantitative superiority in traditional chemical weapons, especially mustard gas. For the argument that German chemical companies promoted the use of poison gas because they expected to win large contracts, see Miiller, "World Power Status through the Use of Poison Gas?," 184-86, esp. 186. For the argument that I. G. Farben executives held ambivalent views toward Nazi war preparations, see Peter Hayes, Industry and Ideology: IG Farben in the Nazi Era (New York, 1987), xvii.

"The War Ministry defined an inhalation toxicity index: (death time in minutes) x (concentration in mg. per cubic meter). The War Ministry was interested in compounds with values less than 10,000. Combined Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee, "A New Group of War Gases, No. 23-7," n.d., p. 7, Library Project Files 1946-1951, Records of Assistant Chief of Staff (G-2) Intelligence, Administrative Division, U.S. Army, RG 319 (Washington National Records Center); British Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee, "The Development of New Insecticides, Report No. 714 (Revised)," n.d., pp. 13-14, 21-24, ibid

to his basic organophosphate molecule. The compound killed plant lice at a concentration of only 1 part per 200,000. When inhaled in small doses, it also killed human beings. I.G. Farben patented the substance in February 1937 and sent a sample to the chemical warfare section of the Army Weapons Office in May. Schrader traveled to Berlin to demonstrate its effects. Later named tabun, the compound was the first organophosphate nerve gas.34

In 1938, Schrader found a related compound whose potential "as a toxic war substance" he judged to be "astonishingly high." On animals, the substance tested ten times as toxic as tabun. Schrader dubbed it sarin. Other nerve gases followed. Through his superiors at I.G. Farben, Schrader reported between one and two hundred highly toxic compounds to the government in the late 1930s and early 1940s. In 1939, Germany set up a tabun pilot plant at Munster-Lager (Heidkrug) to make gas for the army.35

At the same time that Schrader's work demonstrated biochemical similarities between human beings and insects, Nazi propagandists promoted metaphorical links between human and insect enemies. Nineteenth-century German theologians had described Jews as "vermin, spiders, swarms of locusts, leeches, giant parasite growths, poisonous worms." Nazis capitalized on such long-standing metaphors, with Hitler calling Jews a "pestilence," "typical parasites," and "carriers of bacilli worse than Black Death." As Nazis grew in power, so did their propaganda. Joseph Goebbels said that "since the flea is not a pleasant animal we are not obliged to keep it, protect it and let it prosper so that it may prick and torture us, but our duty is rather to exterminate it. Likewise with the Jew." Metaphor and "reality" blurred in Nazi rhetoric: Jews were to be exterminated as deliberately, and literally, as insects. 36

World War 11: War on Human Beings and Insects, 1940-1945

World War 11, scientific discoveries, and a massive bureaucracy offered Nazi Ger- many the chance to put the rhetoric of extermination into practice on a massive scale. Heinrich Himmler organized ss troops to begin mass slaughter when German armies conquered Poland, and Germany set up the first extermination center at Chelmno, Poland, in the fall of 1939. Himmler's troops relied on carbon monoxide from the exhaust of vans to gas the first victims, and the center became efficient

j4 Harris and Paxman, Higher Form ofKilling, 57; Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Problem of Chemicaland Biological Warfare, I, 71-72: British Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee, "Development of New Insecticides," 23; Robert L. Metcalf, "The Impact of Organophosphorous Insecticides upon Basic and Applied Science," Bulletin of the Entomological Society of Amenca, 5 (19 59), 3-1 5.

j' Gerhard Schrader worked with Eberhard Gross, who did toxicology testing. Gross forwarded results to Heinrich Hoerlein, director of I. G. Elberfeld, who forwarded them to Berlin. Combined Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee, "A New Group of War Gases, No. 23-7," pp. 3-7; Harris and Paxman, Higher Form ofKilliing, 58-59, esp. 58.

j6 In 1884, Theodor Fritsch saw "a clear distinction between the human being and the Jew." Eugen Duhring had urged that "the better peoples" use "the right of war. . . . against the anti-Aryan, nay anti-human attacks by alien parasites." See C. C. Aronsfeld, The Text ofthe Holocaust: A Study 0.f the Nazis' Extermination Propaganda: 1919-1941, (Marblehead, 1985), 2, 12.

enough to kill 1,000 people per day. When Himmler ordered Commander Rudolf

Hess to begin gassing Jews at Auschwitz in June 1941, Hess set up similar gas

chambers, but he found carbon monoxide too slow.3'

Greater efficiency came about when the ss began using technology more closely suited to its rhetoric. Hess later said that fumigation of insects in the concentration camp inspired him to try gas on prisoners in the fall of 1941, and that he used crystals of an insecticide, Zyklon B, left by an extermination company, for the first experiments on human beings. Zyklon B was hydrocyanic acid, one of the substances called an "insecticide" in civilian settings and a "chemical weapon" in military settings. During World War I, the compound had been used for both purposes; Germany had developed hydrocyanic acid to kill lice that transmitted typhus and used it to fumigate submarines, barracks, and prison camps. Hess first tested Zyklon B on Soviet prisoners of war.38

The "fit" between insecticide technology and Nazi "extermination" rhetoric did not escape notice. When the manager of the insecticide manufacturer asked the ss procurement officer the purpose of Zyklon B shipments, he learned that the insecticide would be used to "exterminate criminals, incurable patients, and inferior human beings." Much of the company's 1943 sales of Zyklon B went to Auschwitz, where members of the ss crowded human victims into "shower rooms," then climbed onto the roof and released Zyklon B into the chambers below. According to a Nuremberg prosecutor, a chemical firm called Degesch (which stood for German vermin-combating corporation) shipped enough Zyklon B to Auschwitz to kill millions of human being^.^"

Indirectly, I.G. Farben supported and profited from the ss campaign against Jews. I.G. Farben manufactured Degesch's Zyklon B at its Leverkusen plant. I.G. Farben owned 42.5 percent of Degesch, as well as one-third of Degussa, which owned another 42.5 percent of Degesch. Several members of Degesch's supervisory board came from I.G. Farben. Partly as a result of increased sales of Zyklon B, dividends to the owners of Degesch in 1942, 1943, and 1944 were twice those in

j-They used the same method at Treblinka, near Warsaw, built in early 1941. Joseph Borkin, The Crime and Punishment 0fI.G. Farben (New York, 1978), 121-22. On debates over the origins and dates of Nazi extermination policies, see Gerald Fleming, Hider and the Final So/.ation (Berkeley, 1984); and Michael R. Marrus, ed., The Nazi Holocaust: Historical Articles on the Destruction of European Jews, vol. 111: The "Final Solution": The Implementation ofMass Murder (Westport, 1989). On the Holocaust, see, among other works, Orner Bartov, Hitler? Army; Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the ThirdReich (New York, 1991); Gerald Reitlinger, The FinalSolution: The Attempt to Exterminate theJews ofEurope, 1939-194s (Northvale, 1987); and Yehuda Bauer, A History ofthe Holocaust (New York, 1982).

j8 Experiments in the use of hydrocyanic acid on people may have begun as early as July 1941. Reitlinger, FinalSolution, 146. Zyklon B was tested on 500 Russian prisoners of war in August 1941, according to Borkin, Crime and Punishment 0fI.G. Farben, 121-22. Zyklon B was first tested on "about 850 Soviet prisoners of war and sick inmates in September 1941,'' according to Hayes, Industry and Ideology, 362.

'The Degesch manager, Gerhard Peters, is quoted as making the comment about extermination. According to Josiah E. DuBois Jr., a Nuremberg prosecutor of I.G. Farben defendants, in 1943, Zyklon B accounted for 70% of Degesch's business; 90% of that 70% went to Auschwitz; and enough gas was shipped to Auschwitz to kill 20 million people. See Josiah E. DuBois Jr., The Devih Chemists: 24 Conspirators of the International Farben Cartel Who Manufacture Wars (Boston, 1952), 213- 16, esp. 2 14; Borkin, Crime and Punishment of

I.G. Farben. 123. Another account estimates 3.3% of Zyklon B production going to Auschwitz in 1943; 52% of Degesch's earnings coming from Zyklon B in 1943; and enough gas shipped to Auschwitz to gas 5.6 million people (after subtracting the amount used on insects). See Hayes, Industry and Ideology, 361-62.

1940 and 1941. I.G. Farben was linked to the horrors of the death camps in another way. Tabun and sarin, the nerve gases developed along with insecticides by Schrader, offered Germany new weapons of great but unmeasured power. Guinea pigs and white rats seemed inadequate for testing the effects of nerve gases on human beings, so, after ill-fated attempts with apes, experiments began, using concentration camp Jews. 40

Some observers believed that metaphorical redefinition of human enemies as animals, including insects, also facilitated bloodletting in the Pacific theater. When describing Japanese soldiers and civilians, American propagandists and soldiers employed vermin metaphors more often than when describing Germans. Ernie Pyle noted this difference in 1945, when he visited the Pacific after seeing some of the worst fighting in Europe: "In Europe we felt our enemies, horrible and deadly as they were, were still people. But out here I gathered that the Japanese were looked upon as something subhuman and repulsive; the way some people feel about cockroaches or mice." Claire Chennault, a retired United States Army officer and adviser to the air force of Chiang Kai-shek, later said that in 1940 he had wanted to "burn out the industrial heart of the Empire with fire-bomb attacks on the teeming bamboo ant heaps of Honshu and Kyushu." In GodIsMy Co-Pilot, Col. Robert Scott Jr, of the United States Army Air Force wrote that every time he killed a "Jap" he felt he "had stepped on another black-widow spider or scorpion."41

Why did Americans describe the Japanese as insects and other vermin? Historians have noted that Americans had previously feared a "yellow peril" and discriminated against Asians, and that in World War I1 they found the Japanese approach to war brutal and irrational. Japanese treatment of prisoners of war (symbolized by the Bataan death march) contributed to the view that the Japanese behaved in subhuman ways. 42

Whatever the cause, seeing enemies as vermin must have made it seem "natural" to talk of extermination. Adm. William F. Halsey congratulated troops who captured Peleliu in 1944: "The sincere admiration of the entire Third Fleet is yours for the hill[-]blasting, cave[-]smashing extermination of 11,000 slant-eyed gophers." The novelist Herman Wouk, who experienced World War I1 aboard a destroyer in the South Pacific, later wrote:

This cold-bloodedness, worthy of a horseman of Genghis Khan, was quite

strange in a pleasant little fellow like Ensign Keith. Militarily, of course, it was

an asset beyond price. Like most of the naval executioners at Kwajalein, he

40 DuBois, Devil's Chemists, 213. I.G. Farben had five of eleven seats, according to Borkin, Ctime and Punishment of I.G. Farben, 121, 132. I.G. Farben had three seats on the administrative committee (perhaps the supervisory board described by Borkin), according to Hayes, Industry and Ideology, 361-62. Production of Zyklon B rose from 242 short tons in 1940 to 321 in 1942 and 411 in 1943; it declined to 231 in 1944. See ibid, 362.

41 John W. Dower, War without Mercy: Race and Power in the PacifiG War (New York, 1986). For Ernie Pyle's remark, see Cameron, American Samurai, 1; for Claire Chennault's and Robert Scott's, see Sherry, Rise of American Air Power, 101-2, 134.

42 Dower, War without Mercy, 77-180; Cameron, American Samurai, 98-129. How much weight to attach to various factors in causing American contempt for Japanese continues to be debated, for example, in a conflict over a scuttled Smithsonian Institution exhibit. Washington Post, Sept. 26, 1994, p. Al.

seemed to regard the enemy as a species of animal pest. From the grim and desperate taciturnity with which the Japanese died, they seemed on their side to believe they were contending with an invasion of large armed ants. This obliviousness on both sides to the fact that the opponents were human beings may perhaps be cited as the key to the many massacres of the Pacific war.43

American forces did not rely on poison gas against the Japanese; other weapons (such as artillery and mortar fire) made "methodical extermination" of Japanese soldiers feasible. Some tacticians held out the hope, however, that use of poison gas would raise fears of "extermination" among Japanese civilians. An Army Operations Division report noted, "Mass employment of gas throughout Japan will bring home with great force to the Japanese people the hopelessness of continuing the war and emphasize to them that their only choice is between capitulation and extermination. "44

Metaphorical comparisons of insects to human enemies and of insecticides to military weapons laced the speech of civilians as well as soldiers. The Rohm & Haas Company, for example, published an advertisement in 1945 that implicitly compared "Japs" to flies, bullets to insecticides, and rifles to spray guns. In other cases, chemical companies urged consumers to see insecticides, not as bullets, but as chemical weapons. Monsanto, for example, advertised that "chemical warfare defeats moths and larvae." In a more lighthearted vein, a chemical perfuming company, van Ameringen-Haebler, published an advertisement showing a woman spraying insecticides on a mask-wearing man in the "war on the home front."*'

Combatants (except, probably, Japan) did not use gas against human enemies on battlefields in World War 11. On the insect front, however, technology made it feasible to annihilate enemies. In 1939, a chemist at the Swiss chemical company Geigy had found that DDT killed insects at low doses for long periods and had low acute toxicity to humans. In 1941, Geigy offered DDT to its subsidiary in the United States, but the subsidiary did not find it of much interest. DDT'S only known use was to kill the Colorado potato beetle, which the subsidiary considered well controlled with lead arsenate. Then World War I1 prompted the (renamed) United States Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine to search for chemicals to protect soldiers from louse-borne typhus. Geigy gave a sample of DDT to the bureau in 1942, and entomologists found DDT powder ideal for killing lice. With help from the War Production Board, Geigy and other companies began making DDT in the United States for the armed forces. After it helped quell a typhus

43 Cameron, AmetiGan Samurai, 1; Herman Wouk, The Caine Mutiny (Garden City, 1951), 240. On the importance of Herman Wouk's World War I1 experience for The Catne Mutiny, see Washington Post, May lG, 1995, p. C1.

44 The phrase "methodical extermination" is from an official history of the Guadalcanal campaign quoted in Cameron, Amencun Samurai, 122. Operations Division, "U.S. Chemical Warfare Policy," n.d., quoted in John Ellis van Courtland Moon, "Project SPHINX:The Question of the Use of Gas in the Planned Invasion of Japan," Journal of Strategic Studies, 12 (Sept. 1989), 303-23, esp. 305.

4' Rohm & Haas, "Japs or Flies," advertisement, SoapandSanitary Chemicals (May 1945), 110; ibid. Monsanto Chemicals, "Chemical Warfare Defeats Moths and Larvae," advertisement, ibid.,(Sept. 1944), 4; van Ameringen- Haebler, "War on the Home Front," advertisement, ibid (Aug. 1944), 79.

outbreak in war-torn Naples in the winter of 1943-1944, DDT became known as the miracle chemical of World War II.46

The campaign against another insect-borne disease, malaria, revitalized links between insect control and chemical warfare. Entomologists at the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine found that DDT killed mosquitoes well, but the standard way to disperse insecticides from the air -as dusts -worked poorly with DDT. The entomologists then tried spraying DDT from the air as a liquid. This method was new to entomology, but not to chemical warfare. The Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine began working with the United States Army Air Forces in 1943 to adapt chemical warfare tanks and nozzles to DDT. By 1945 the armed services could blanket "thousands of acres" with DDT using airplanes, from small combat planes to large transports. Chemical Warfare Service pilots and planes sprayed DDT to control mosquitoes in the malaria-ridden Pacific. As in other campaigns, propagandists unified images of insect and human enemies. One anti-malaria cartoon portrayed Japanese soldiers and mosquitoes as two aspects of a common enemy, with mosquitoes causing eight times as many casualties as did Japanese soldier^.^'

Military success against insect enemies during World War I1 inspired entomolo- gists to call for similar wars on insects at home. E. 0. Essig used his December 1944 presidential address to the American Association of Economic Entomologists to call for "An All Out Entomological Program." Noting that the world had never been so conscious of insect control as during World War 11, Essig urged that entomologists seize "the great opportunities" and create "a new day" for entomol- ogy. He thought one of the "most promising prospects" was "the strong emphasis being placed on the complete extermination of not only newly introduced pests but also those of long standing in the country."48

4"cholar~ trace restraint in the use of gas to deterrence (both sides feared retaliation in kind) and dislike of gas by military officers (who found it hard to control and use decisively). Reports charged that Japan used poison gas in China in the 1930s and 1940s. Brown, Chemical Warfare, 288-89; Harris and Paxman, Higher Form of Killzng, 148-49; Jeffrey W. Legro, "Cooperation within Conflict: Submarines, Strategic Bombing, Chemical Warfare, and Restraint in World War 11" (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 1992); Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Problem of Chemicaland Biological Warfire, I, 147-57. On DDT, see Victor Froelicher, "The Story of DDT," Soap andsanitary Chemicals (July 1944), 115; E. F. Knipling, "Insect Control Investigations of the Orlando, Fla., Laboratory during World War 11," in AnnuaL Report ofthe Board ofRegents ofthe Smithsonian Institution, 1948 (Washington, 1948), 331-48, esp. 335-37; R. C. Roark to P. N. Annand, Jan. 6, 1945, History of Developments-Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine- World War 2, 1945, History of Defense and War Activities, 1941-50, Correspondence and Reports, Records of the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine; "Publications," Soap andSanitary ChemzcaLs (May 1944), 107; and Dunlap, DDT, 62.

''Knipling, "Insect Control Investigations," 338; Brooks E. Kleber and Dale Birdsell, The Chemical Warfire Service: ChemicaLs in Combat (Washington, 1966), 319; P. A. Harper, E. T. Lisansky, and B. E. Sasse, "Malaria and Other Insect-Borne Diseases in the South Pacific Campaign,'' American Journal of Tropical Medicine, Supplement, 27 (no. 3, 1947), 1-67, esp. 36. Civilian and military researchers were linked by the Office of Scientific Research and Development Committee on Insect and Rodent Control and the National Academy of Science-National Research Council Coordinating Committee on Insect Control. See Leo Finkelstein and C. G. Schmitt, Hirtory of Research and DeveLopment of the Chemical Warfare Service in WorLd War II (I July 1940-31 December 1941), vol. XIX, pt. 1: Inrecticides, Miticides, and Rodenticider (Army Chemical Center [Edgewood?], Md., 1949), 26-27.

48 E. 0. Essig, "An All Out Entomological Program," Journal of Economic EntomoLogy, 38 (Feb. 1945), 1-8, esp. 6, 8.

Science News Letter summarized Essig's talk as calling for "Total war against man's insect enemies, with the avowed object of total extermination instead of mere 'control,"' Although Essig had not mentioned DDT, Science News Letter emphasized that DDT was a "powerful agent in these postwar wars to make crops less costly and personal life safer, more comfortable." Popzllar Mechanics also thought that the home front would become more like a battlefront. In an article titled "Our Next World War-Against Insects," it reported that "Uncle Sam, fighting one World War, is preparing for the next -and this one will be a long and bitter battle to crush the creeping, wriggling, flying, burrowing billions whose numbers and depredations baffle human comprehension. "49

Publicists for chemical companies showed no doubt that DDT would bring enormous benefits to civilians, but entomologists tempered their hopes with con- cern. They believed DDT was appropriate on battlefronts, where risks of insect-borne diseases ran high, and they hoped that DDT could be used in agriculture. But they found that DDT could create as well as solve problems, by killing off predators and parasites that normally kept pests under control. Results of military tests lent credence to concerns about DDT'S effects on other "non-target" species. A naval medical officer reported that the first use of DDT in the Pacific had led to "complete dectruction of plant and animal life."50

Worries found expression in metaphors that echoed criticisms of chemical war- fare. Col. J. W. Scharff, a British malariologist who praised the role of DDT in protecting troops from malaria, complained, "DDT is such a crude and powerful weapon that I cannot help regarding the routine use of this material from the air with . . . horror and aversion." The nature writer Edwin Way Teale shared Scharff's distress: "Given sufficient insecticide, airplanes and lackwit officials after the war, and we will be off with yelps of joy on a crusade against all the insects." Teale was sure of the result of this "bug-blitz binge": a "conservation headache of historic magnitude." The Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine's H. H. Stage and C. F. W. Muesebeck fretted, "Biological deserts may be produced by heavy treatments of DDT and these would be, of course, highly undesirable .'I"

""'Total Insect War Urged," Science News Letter, Jan. 6, 1945, p. 5 (emphasis added); "Our Next World War-Against Insects," Popular Mechanics, 81 (April 1944), 66-70, esp. 67.


Subcommittee on Dispersal, Minutes of the Fourth Meeting, Feb. 18-19, 1946, p. 18, Miscellaneous Minutes and Conferences, Insect Control, Committee on Insect Control (OSRD), Minutes (Bulletins) and Reports (Drawer 7), Committees on Military Medicine, Division of Medical Sciences, 1940-1945, Records of the National Research Council (National Academy of Sciences Archives, Washington, D.C.); Frederick S. Philips, "Medical Division Report No. 13, A Review of the Biological Properties and Insecticidal Applications of DDT," Nov. 22, 1944, p. 2, USA Typhus Commission-DDT-General, USA Typhus Commission, Records of the Army Surgeon General, RG 112 (Washington National Records Center).

"Special Joint Meeting of the Army Committee for Insect and Rodent Control and the Office of Scientific Research and Development, Insect Control Committee, Minutes, Jan. 12, 1945, p. 7, Report 39, OSRD Insect Control Committee Reports, vol. 1, Minutes (Bulletins) and Reports (Drawer 7), Committees on Military Medicine, Division of Medical Sciences, 1940-1945, Records of the National Research Council; Edwin Way Teale, "DDT," Nature Magazine, 38 (March 1945), 120; H. H. Stage and C. F. W. Muesebeck, "Insects Killed by DDT Aerial Spraying in Panama," July 1, 1945, p. 1, National Research Council Insect Control Committee Report 108, OSRD Insect Control Committee Reports-Numbered-vol. 2, Minutes (Bulletins) and Reports (Drawer 7), Committees on Military Medicine, Division of hledical Sciences, 1940-1945, Records of the National Re- search Council.

Although federal entomologists thought it premature to recommend DDT for unrestricted civilian use, no peacetime government agency had the authority to keep DDT off the market. On August 1, 1945, the War Production Board allowed manufacturers to sell DDT, once military needs were met, without restriction. The United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima five days later, then another on Nagasaki, and Japan surrendered. (A woman from Milwaukee used an animal metaphor to express her wish that destruction had been more thorough: ''When one sets out to destroy vermin, does one try to leave a few alive in the nest? Certainly not!") The War Production Board soon lifted all restrictions on DDT sales. Declaring that "the war against winged pests was under way," Timemagazine announced DDT'S release for civilian use on the same page where it published photographs of the first atomic expl~sion.~~

A postwar "insecticide revolution" began, with DDT and its relatives leading the way. Meanwhile, intelligence teams combing through records of the German chemical industry uncovered Schrader's work on organophosphates. They publi- cized information about insecticides while keeping secret news of the closely related nerve gases. Even as organophosphates opened a new chapter in the history of chemical weaponry, such organophosphates as parathion joined DDT in revolution- izing pest control in agriculture. Sales of insecticides soared, replacing earlier methods of pest control that relied on preventing insect attacks.53

The rhetoric of war pervaded this revolution. On the first anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Rohm & Haas, which earlier had compared "Japs" to flies, used a full-page photograph of a mushroom cloud to publicize DDT. Industrial Management Corporation sold a war-developed technology for dispersing DDT called "bug bombs" (forerunners of aerosol cans). The name of the DDT bomb, "Insect-0-Blitz," alluded to the German term for fast, mechanized warfare and to bombing of English cities. As Modern Packaging noted, "The Bug Bomb derives its name both from its devastating effect on insect life and its appearance." Coupled with DDT, this new weapon promised to play a central role in the "postwar wars" on insects: "One malaria authority has stated that, given sufficient aerosol bombs and unlimited funds, he can wipe malaria off the earth within 20 years after the

12 In July 1945, federal entomologists said they wanted to wait for results of that summer's experiments before making a recommendation about civilian uses of DDT, but the War Production Board, which controlled distribution, left it up to manufacturers to decide DDT'S fate. They decided to lift restrictions. "WPB Lifts Restrictions on DDT," Soap and Sanitary Chemicals (Aug. 1945). 125; "DDT Insecticides Rushed on Market,', ibid (Sept. 1945), 124A-C; DDT Producers Industry Advisory Committee Meeting Summary. July 25, 1945, pp. 3-4, file 535.61105, Policy Documentation File, Records of the War Production Board, RG 179 (National Archives, Washington, D.C.); Leonie M. Cole to editor. Milwaukee Journal, Aug. 16, 1945, quoted in Boyer, By the Bomb? Early Light, 185; "War on Insects," Time, Aug. 27, 1945, p. 65.

53 Biology-based methods of preventing insect attacks included biological control (importing insect predators and parasites) and cultural control (changing crop patterns to disrupt the life cycles of pests). Whether chemical insecticides "triumphed" over alternative methods of pest control before 1920 or after World War I1 is debated. See Thomas R. Dunlap, "The Triumph of Chemical Pesticides in Insect Control, 1890-1920," Environmental Review, 1 (no. 5, 1978), 38-47; and Perkins, Insects, Experts, andthe Insecticide Cnsis, 11-13. On organophos- phates, see Metcalf, "Impact of Organophosphorous Insecticides." There are two versions of the official British report on Gerhard Schrader's research, with the nerve gas information censored from the "revised" version. British Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee, "Development of New Insecticides." On intelligence teams, see John Gimbel, Science, Technology, andReparations: Exploitation andplunder in Postwar Germany (Stanford. 1990).

war." In its advertisement for DDT, S. B. Penick & Company called for women to join a domestic version of World War 11, "the continued battle of the home front."54

Publicists for S. B. Penick and other advertisers surely saw their cries for a "battle of the home front" as metaphorical. Human beings waged "real" war against each other, after all, not against bugs. But the frequent use of military metaphors in insecticide advertisements, like the use of insect metaphors in warfare, highlighted similarities in ways that human beings dealt with two-legged and six-legged enemies in the first half of the twentieth century.

Wars on human and insect enemies both focused on enemies, and especially enemies that did not respect bozlndaries. Once erected, international borders, fencerows, and the walls of homes created the rights of citizens, farmers, and homeowners to protect their land and homes against "invading" enemies- includ- ing, ironically, some longtime residents. In Europe, Nazis blamed Jews for almost all of the nation's ills, deported them, and killed them. The United States confined American citizens of Japanese ancestry to concentration camps. American farmers referred to insects in fields as "trespassers," even though most insects had arrived long before the farmers.55 The emphasis on protection against outsiders helps explain the popularity of extermination, or driving beyond boundaries, as a term for dealing with both human and insect enemies.

Like physical structures, mental divisions between human beings and nature created useful boundaries, especially because one could move human beings and animals from one side of the boundary to the other. Describing insects as national enemies elevated them from the category of nuisance to that of national threat. This was not always an exaggeration. In the Pacific, for example, malaria-carrying mosquitoes caused more casualties than did enemy soldiers, making them important dangers for armies. Movement of people into the category of animaL had conse- quences of far more horrifying significance. Wouk emphasized that the ability to redefine a human being as an insect was an "asset beyond price" in a military setting, but an asset that resulted in "massacres." And Nazis surely knew exactly what they were doing when they used "extermination" to describe their campaign against Jews.

Not coincidentally, human beings developed similar technologies to kill human and insect enemies. In many cases, farmers and armies used identical chemicals (chloropicrin and hydrogen cyanide) to kill their enemies. In others, closely related chemicals (arsenicals and organophosphates) served both purposes. For chemical warriors, at least, these similarities came as no surprise. William Porter, chief of the

'4 Rohm & Haas, "Fastest Action." advertisement, Soap and Sanitary Chemicals (Aug. 1946), 134; Industrial Management Corporation. "Insect-0-Blitz,'' advertisement, ibid. (Dec. 1946). 146; "Bug Bomb." Modern Packag- ing, 18 (Oct. 1944), 98-102, esp. 98.

"U.S.Entomological Commission, FirJt Annual Report of the United States Entomological Commission for the Year 1877 Relating to the Rocky Mountain Locust (Washington. 1878), 11 5.

Chemical Warfare Service, noted in 1944, "The fundamental biological principles of poisoning Japanese, insects, rats, bacteria and cancer are essentially the same.">6

The development of common technologies relied on alliances, usually organized by nation-states, between civilian and military institutions. In the United States, the Bureau of Entomology collaborated intermittently with the Chemical Warfare Service from World War I through World War 11. In Germany, I.G. Farben conducted research for the German army. The world wars forged especially close links between military and scientific institutions, and the effort to maintain such links became a hallmark of the post-World War I1 era.

Although linked metaphorically, technologically, and institutionally, wars on insects and human beings differed in several respects. First, control of poisons rested in different hands. Almost anyone could use insecticides, but chemical weapons remained a monopoly of military institutions. Moreover, in the 1920s many nations signed international agreements designed to limit the use of poison gas in warfare. No international agencies tried to limit the use of insecticides during this period.>'

Second, insecticides and chemical weapons followed different trajectories in World War 11. Insecticides became "miracle chemicals" used widely to halt insect- borne diseases. With the probable exception of Japan, however, combatants did not use poison gas on battlefields. The primary use of chemicals for extermination of human beings came in the death camps of the Holocaust. After World War 11, nuclear weapons eclipsed chemical weapons as the primary target of international arms control efforts.

Third, morality never entered into discussions of killing insects, while morality often figured in debates about human warfare. In fact, moral concerns help to explain the popularity of insect metaphors for human enemies. Western thought has long regarded conquest of nature as a moral duty, rather than a moral dilemma,

~ ~

and conquest of insects offered an especially useful metaphor for human warfare. The implicit appropriateness of eliminating natural enemies entirely, exemplified in the moral neutrality of the term extermination, suggests that ideas about complete conquest of nature contributed to the ideology of war on human beings.

The rhetoric of exterminating or annihilating enemies-whether insect or hu- man-antedated the twentieth century. The first half of this century, however, saw the development of technology and institutions that enabled nations to kill enemies with chemical compounds more quickly, and over a wider area, than ever before. In practice, insecticides found far wider use than did chemical weapons, but chemicals played a central role in extermination of human beings in the Holocaust. And, as the United States Army document about potential use of gas in Japan suggested, chemical weapons could elicit fears of "e~termination."~~

'6 William N. Porter to Vannevar Bush, Sept. 30, 1944, file 710, Office of Scientific Research and Development, Miscellaneous Series, 1942-1945, Records of the Chemical Warfare Service, United States Army.

"England briefly threatened to ban import of American apples because of fears about residues of arsenical insecticides. James Whorton, Before Silent Spn'ng: Pesticides and Public Policy in Pre-DDT Arnenka (Princeton, 1974), 133-35.

Chemical weapons continue to be feared as weapons of mass destruction, and efforts to eliminate them continue. See Washington Post, Jan. 14, 1993, p. A24.

Similar in some ways, Germany and the United States were in contrast in others. In the 1930s, they differed in their commitment to mobilization, which contributed to Germany's success in finding new chemical weapons. During World War 11, Nazi Germany employed chemicals on a horrific scale to exterminate human beings but had little success with new insecticides. The United States, on the other hand, did not use chemical weapons to kill human beings in World War I1 (except accidentally) and did not make genocide a national policy. It did develop an effective new insecticide (DDT).~~

By the end of World War 11, then, lines between human and insect enemies, military and civilian institutions, and military and civilian technology had all been blurred. Annihilation of national and natural enemies had become realistic on a large scale, a reality both comforting and disturbing to people who lived in the post-World War I1 era. The twin insecurities raised by military and civilian technology illustrated that war and environmental change were not separate endeav- ors, but rather related aspects of life in the twentieth century.

"In 1943, German airplanes attacked an American ship in the harbor at Bari. Italy. Mustard gas in the ship's hold escaped and killed about 1,000 Americans and Italians. Institute of Medicine. Veterans at Risk: The Health Effects of Mustard Gas and Lewisite (Washington. 1993), 43-44.

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