Operation Vegetarian: The British Plan To Kill Germans During World War II

Samuel Reason | September 10th, 2019

When it came to World War II nearly every horrific operation and act was considered, all parties at some point planned out operations of war that would have caused immense destruction and catastrophic death tolls. And as we know, unfortunately, such as the Nuclear Bomb or the Holocaust, some of those operations were put into action and became a reality. One of the more unknown plans that never did happen, was codenamed Operation Vegetarian by the British.

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In 1942, the British began to form a plan that would wipe out millions of lives by a crippling famine and it would even have contaminated large parts of Europe. In the end, luckily for Europe, the British never felt it was necessary to put the plan into action. Still, even the preparation caused some horrors and damage.

During the spring of 1942, most countries in Europe were either neutral or under Hitler’s control. And the British were very worried that the Nazis would invade the British Isles. Since nuclear weapons of mass destruction had not yet been invented, it was biological warfare that was seen as the most dangerous and a way to force a country to surrender. This prompted the British to start developing their biological weapons, especially as Hitler appeared to be unstoppable, and Operation Vegetarian was formed. It was a plan to disrupt the whole German economy.

Winston Churchill asked the director of the biology department, Dr. Paul Fildes, to make a secret weapon, and thus the idea of dropping large amounts of anthrax contaminated cattle supplements was born. This would cause the German meat supply to die out nearly overnight. The plan was approved and over five million cattle poison cakes were made, to be dropped by specialized RAF bombers all over Germany.

The poison was so strong when the government tested it on a Scottish island the sheep died within days, but the bacteria spread across the ocean and killed hundreds of animals before the area was guaranteed. Even though the operation never happened, the testing place Gruinard Island is still quarantined to this day!

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