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Spicer was wrong on all counts: The Nazis used gas in battle

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Re: “White House spokesman apologises for ‘insensitive’ remark comparing Assad favourably to Hitler”, AFP, yesterday.

As regards Sean Spicer’s “apology”, it is not technically correct that the Nazis declined to use chemical weapons on second world war battlefields. In 1941 at Odessa and in 1943 at Kuban, both Stalinist forces and Russian civilians were gassed to encourage mass surrender. As the Russians closed in on Germany in 1945, Russian troops were killed with the nerve agent sarin at Kustrin. These casualties were noted by both Russian and German sources.
Nor were the allies lily-white. An American merchant vessel, sunk at the port of Bari in Italy in 1943, had stockpiles of mustard gas ready for use. Winston Churchill was a keen advocate of the widespread use of poison gas, but was deterred by the obvious danger of retaliation. It is also true that horse-drawn vehicles were still common in the early 1940s and nobody had invented a gas mask suitable for equines.
Barry Kenyon

Published : April 12, 2017