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The Deep Politics of Lyme Disease

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COMMENT: A recent book about Lyme Dis­ease sets forth cred­i­ble infor­ma­tion that the dis­ease is an out­growth of U.S. bio­log­i­cal war­fare research.

Bit­ten, The Secret His­to­ry of Lyme Dis­ease and Bio­log­i­cal Weapons chron­i­cles the career of Willy Burgdor­fer, a Swiss-born expert on tick and flea-borne dis­eases who spent most of his career research­ing those areas as a U.S. bio­log­i­cal war­fare sci­en­tist.

Author Kris New­by presents sub­stan­tive evi­dence that the dis­ease stems from BW research done by Burgdor­fer and asso­ciates. (Burgdor­fer was the sci­en­tist who “dis­cov­ered” the organ­ism that caus­es Lyme Dis­ease.)

In past dis­cus­sion of Lyme Dis­ease, we have explored the incor­po­ra­tion of Nazi sci­en­tists via Oper­a­tion Paper­clip into the Amer­i­can bio­log­i­cal war­fare pro­gram and pos­si­ble links between their work and the spread of the dis­ease in Con­necti­cut, across Long Island Sound from Plum Island.

(FTR #‘s 480 and 585 high­light dis­cus­sion about Lyme Dis­ease and bio­log­i­cal war­fare.)

Burgdor­fer­’s entree into the Amer­i­can bio­log­i­cal war­fare pro­gram result­ed from his pro­fes­sion­al rela­tion­ship with long time men­tor and patron Rudolf Geigy. Geigy belonged to a fam­i­ly whose busi­ness, J.R. Geigy AG, was a Swiss chem­i­cal firm mar­ket­ing dyes and insec­ti­cides.

Sig­nif­i­cant­ly, J.R. Geigy, Ciba and San­doz com­prised a Swiss chem­i­cal car­tel formed in the after­math of World War I to com­pete with the I.G. Far­ben car­tel.

(Today, the three com­pa­nies have coa­lesced as the Swiss phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal giant Novar­tis.)

The cor­po­rate logo of I.G. Far­ben.

Even­tu­al­ly, the Swiss con­sor­tium was absorbed into, and became a key com­po­nent of, the I.G. Far­ben car­tel. They read­i­ly col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Third Reich:

  1. ” . . . . The chap­ters on Switzer­land’s chem­i­cal indus­try are the most embar­rass­ing sec­tion of the com­mis­sion’s report. It is now clear that the direc­tors of Swiss com­pa­nies in Basel were very well aware what was going on at the time in Ger­many and had knowl­edge of the coerced employ­ment of forced labor­ers in their branch plants in Ger­many as well as of the fact that forced labor­ers died as a result of the con­di­tions in which they were held. . . .”
  2. ” . . . . sev­er­al lead­ing Swiss chem­i­cal firms — includ­ing JR Geigy, Ciba, San­doz and Hoff­mann-La Roche — put their own inter­ests ahead of human­i­tar­i­an con­cerns in their deal­ing with the Nazis. . . .”
  3. ” . . . .The ICE [Inde­pen­dent Com­mis­sion of Experts] con­clud­ed that the chem­i­cal firms’ boss­es in Switzer­land ‘pos­sessed a high lev­el of detailed knowl­edge about the polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion in Nazi Ger­many... [and] incor­po­rat­ed their knowl­edge... into their eco­nom­ic plan­ning and used it as a basis for deci­sion-mak­ing’ . . . .”
  4. ” . . . . ‘Geigy main­tained par­tic­u­lar­ly good rela­tions with Claus Unge­wit­ter, the Reich com­mis­sion­er for chem­i­cals.’ . . .”
  5. ” . . . . Dur­ing the war, it [Geigy] pro­duced insec­ti­cides and, most notably, the icon­ic ‘polar red’ dye that col­ored the back­ground of Nazi swasti­ka flags. . . .”

All three Swiss firms [Geigy, San­doz and Ciba] were indict­ed in the Unit­ed States in 1942 because of their col­lab­o­ra­tion with I.G. Far­ben and the Third Reich.

  1. ” . . . . Those indict­ed includ­ed duPont; Allied Chem­i­cal and Dye; and Amer­i­can Cyanamid; also Far­ben affil­i­ates the Amer­i­can Ciba, San­doz and Geigy. . . .”
  2. ” . . . . A long list of oth­er co-con­spir­a­tors includ­ed the Swiss Ciba, San­doz and Geigy com­pa­nies with Cincin­nati Chem­i­cal works, their joint­ly owned Amer­i­can con­cern . . . .”
  3. ” . . . . When Sec­re­tary of War Stim­son and Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bid­dle agreed to post­pone the tri­al until it would not inter­fere with war pro­duc­tion, one Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cial was quot­ed as say­ing sourly, ‘First they hurt the war effort by their restric­tive prac­tices, and then if caught they use the war effort as an excuse to avoid pros­e­cu­tion.’ . . .”

In 1946, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Tom Clark (Ram­sey Clark’s father) all but dis­missed the indict­ments. ” . . . . In April 1946, after Tom Clark had become Attor­ney Gen­er­al, the indict­ments were com­plete­ly dis­missed as to eleven of the defen­dants, includ­ing Gen­er­al Dyestuff’s cel­e­brat­ed Hal­bach, and were par­tial­ly dis­missed as to four of the cor­po­ra­tions and eight of the oth­er indi­vid­u­als named. At the same time pleas of nolo con­tendere (which is equiv­a­lent to guilty) were entered and the Jus­tice Depart­ment noti­fied the court that under these cir­cum­stances it would not be in the pub­lic inter­est to stage a tri­al. No decree was entered by the court, so the con­tracts were not offi­cial­ly abro­gat­ed. . . .”

The pos­si­bil­i­ty that Geigy was an oper­a­tive of the far-flung I.G. Far­ben espi­onage appa­ra­tus is one to be seri­ous­ly con­tem­plat­ed. His role in plac­ing young sci­en­tists in orga­ni­za­tions that were part of the U.S. BW pro­gram also sug­gests a pos­si­ble role as an agent of Paper­clip. ” . . . . ‘The Swiss are above sus­pi­cion,’ said Geigy, who lat­er in his life wrote a thin­ly fic­tion­al­ized novel­la, Siri, Top Secret, that describes the spy activ­i­ties he observed dur­ing his trav­els. It’s not known if Geigy par­tic­i­pat­ed in these activ­i­ties, but he did help place young researchers in insti­tu­tions that sup­port­ed the U.S. bioweapons pro­grams. . . .”

Use­ful back­ground research with which to flesh out under­stand­ing of the tit­il­lat­ing infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed by Ms. New­by con­cern­ing Geigy and his activ­i­ties can be obtained by read­ing some of the many books avail­able for down­load on this web­site.

Numer­ous pro­grams present research on the top­ic, includ­ing FTR #511.

1. Bit­ten: The Secret His­to­ry of Lyme Dis­ease and Bio­log­i­cal Weapons by Kris New­by; Harper­Collins [HC]; Copy­right 2019 by Kris New­by; ISBN 9780062896728; pp. 25–27.

. . . . Willy’s aca­d­e­m­ic advis­er, Rudolf Geigy, was born in 1902 to a wealthy, upper-class fam­i­ly that found­ed what would become J.R. Geigy AG, a chem­i­cal com­pa­ny that start­ed as a fam­i­ly busi­ness in 1758. The company’s Basel head­quar­ters were on the Rhine Riv­er, in the region where the bor­ders of Switzer­land, France, and Ger­many meet. Dur­ing World War II, the com­pa­ny was per­fect­ly sit­u­at­ed to sell goods to both the Allies and Ger­many. The orig­i­nal Geigy com­pa­ny start­ed off as a tex­tile dye man­u­fac­tur­er and then moved into chem­i­cals. Dur­ing the war, it pro­duced insec­ti­cides and, most notably, the icon­ic “polar red” dye that col­ored the back­ground of Nazi swasti­ka flags.

Ear­ly in life, Geigy opt­ed for adven­ture and a jun­gle hel­met over a tra­di­tion­al posi­tion in his family’s firm. With the help of his family’s wealth, he ded­i­cat­ed his life to min­i­miz­ing the human toll f trop­i­cal dis­eases, many of which were trans­mit­ted by arthro­pods. To sup­port this mis­sion, he estab­lished the Swiss Trop­i­cal Insti­tute Field Lab­o­ra­to­ry in Tan­ganyi­ka (part of present-day Tan­za­nia) in 1949 and the Cen­tre Suisse de Recherch­es Sci­en­tifiques in Cote d’Ivoire in 1951. Even dur­ing the war, his cit­i­zen­ship in a neu­tral coun­try enabled him to trav­el freely.

“The Swiss are above sus­pi­cion,” said Geigy, who lat­er in his life wrote a thin­ly fic­tion­al­ized novel­la, Siri, Top Secret, that describes the spy activ­i­ties he observed dur­ing his trav­els. It’s not known if Geigy par­tic­i­pat­ed in these activ­i­ties, but he did help place young researchers in insti­tu­tions that sup­port­ed the U.S. bioweapons pro­grams. . . .

2.  “Hitler’s Indus­tri­ous Silent Helpers” by Eli­ahu Salpeter; Haaretz; 9/11/2001.

. . . . The heads of Swiss indus­try, espe­cial­ly Swiss chem­i­cal firms that oper­at­ed branch plants in Ger­many — across the Swiss-Ger­man bor­der just oppo­site Basel — lost no time, after Hitler’s rise to pow­er, in arrang­ing meet­ings with the lead­ers of the new Nazi regime in order to dis­cuss con­tin­ued coop­er­a­tion between Switzer­land and Ger­many. These heads of indus­tries were also quick to fire Jew­ish work­ers, even before the Nurem­berg Laws went into effect.

The chap­ters on Switzer­land’s chem­i­cal indus­try are the most embar­rass­ing sec­tion of the com­mis­sion’s report. It is now clear that the direc­tors of Swiss com­pa­nies in Basel were very well aware of what was going on at the time in Ger­many and had knowl­edge of the coerced employ­ment of forced labor­ers in their branch plants in Ger­many as well as of the fact that forced labor­ers died as a result of the con­di­tions in which they were held.

Swiss chem­i­cal com­pa­nies also knew that their prod­ucts were being used for med­ical exper­i­ments car­ried out on pris­on­ers of war and on con­cen­tra­tion camp inmates. Roche, for exam­ple, actu­al­ly par­tic­i­pat­ed in research stud­ies con­duct­ed by the Ger­man navy, while San­doz was aware of the research stud­ies car­ried out on epilep­tic patients mur­dered by the Nazis.

Ciba knew that its prod­ucts were being employed in exper­i­ments con­duct­ed on young women, who were con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed with var­i­ous infec­tions and who were exposed to dis­in­fec­tant mate­ri­als in order to test the effec­tive­ness of those mate­ri­als. Some of these vic­tims died in the course of the exper­i­ments, while the oth­ers were exe­cut­ed at a lat­er stage. . . .

3. “Chem­i­cal Firms Exploit­ed Nazi Links, Probe Found;” swissinfor.ch; 8/30/2001.

The ICE [Inde­pen­dent Com­mis­sion of Experts] sin­gled out the Basel chem­i­cal com­pa­nies Ciba and San­doz (now merged into Novar­tis), which imple­ment­ed the Nazis’ Aryani­sa­tion poli­cies in a bid to win lucra­tive sup­ply con­tracts from the Third Reich.

It found that Ciba’s Berlin branch in 1933 fired its Jew­ish board of direc­tors and super­vi­so­ry board mem­bers and replaced them with “Aryan” Ger­mans. At the same time, the report said, San­doz replaced the Jew­ish chair­man of its Ger­man sub­sidiary with an “Aryan” busi­ness­man.

The find­ings are part of eight stud­ies released this week by the ICE, which says sev­er­al lead­ing Swiss chem­i­cal firms — includ­ing JR Geigy, Ciba, San­doz and Hoff­mann-La Roche — put their own inter­ests ahead of human­i­tar­i­an con­cerns in their deal­ing with the Nazis.

The ICE con­clud­ed that the chem­i­cal firms’ boss­es in Switzer­land “pos­sessed a high lev­el of detailed knowl­edge about the polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion in Nazi Ger­many... [and] incor­po­rat­ed their knowl­edge... into their eco­nom­ic plan­ning and used it as a basis for deci­sion-mak­ing”.

All the com­pa­nies con­cerned owned fac­to­ries in Ger­many between 1933 and 1945, as well as in wartime-occu­pied Poland, and were impor­tant sup­pli­ers of chem­i­cals, dyes and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals for the Third Reich.

The ICE found the firms also had exten­sive con­tacts among the Nazis: “Geigy main­tained par­tic­u­lar­ly good rela­tions with Claus Unge­wit­ter, the Reich com­mis­sion­er for chem­i­cals... Roche had good con­tacts with the Wehrma­cht (armed forces)....”

The report also sin­gled out Geigy and Roche for using forced labour at their plants in Ger­many. It said at least 33 Dutch and French labour­ers were forced to work for Geigy between 1943 and 1945, while at least 61 pris­on­ers-of-war and 150 for­eign labour­ers were forced to work at the Roche plant. . . .

4. Treason’s Peace–German Dyes and Amer­i­can Dupes by Howard Wat­son Ambruster; Beechurst Press; [HC] 1947; pp. 337–338.

. . . . Anoth­er indict­ment accus­ing Gen­er­al Ani­line and Gen­er­al Dyestuff of con­spir­a­cy in the dye indus­try was filed in the New Jer­sey Dis­trict Court on May 14, 1942; but in this instance Far­ben (local address still unknown) was named only as a co-con­spir­a­tor. Those indict­ed includ­ed duPont; Allied Chem­i­cal and Dye; and Amer­i­can Cyanamid; also Far­ben affil­i­ates the Amer­i­can Ciba, San­doz and Geigy. Some twen­ty offi­cers of the cor­po­rate defen­dants, includ­ing Ernest K. Hal­bach and two of his Far­ben pals were also indict­ed in this case.

The alleged con­spir­a­cy includ­ed world-wide restric­tions in the man­u­fac­ture, dis­tri­b­u­tion, import and export of dyestuffs stem­ming out of the inter­na­tion­al car­tel set-up in 1928 in which co-con­spir­a­tor Far­ben was the dom­i­nant influ­ence. A long list of oth­er co-con­spir­a­tors includ­ed the Swiss Ciba, San­doz and Geigy com­pa­nies with Cincin­nati Chem­i­cal works, their joint­ly owned Amer­i­can con­cern; Impe­r­i­al Chem­i­cal Indus­tries and its Cana­di­an sub­sidiary; the French Kuhlmann; Japan’s Mit­sui; and duPont‑I.C.I. branch­es in Brazil and the Argen­tine. In this case antitrust spread its largest net and land­ed speck­led fish of many vari­eties and many nations. All had been gath­ered in Farben’s net of the world’s dye indus­try.

When Sec­re­tary of War Stim­son and Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bid­dle agreed to post­pone the tri­al until it would not inter­fere with war pro­duc­tion, one Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cial was quot­ed as say­ing sourly, “First they hurt the war effort by their restric­tive prac­tices, and then if caught they use the war effort as an excuse to avoid pros­e­cu­tion.” A tug of war went on under cov­er over whether to com­pro­mise, dis­miss or for­get this case. Final­ly com­pro­mise won. In April 1946, after Tom Clark had become Attor­ney Gen­er­al, the indict­ments were com­plete­ly dis­missed as to eleven of the defen­dants, includ­ing Gen­er­al Dyestuff’s cel­e­brat­ed Hal­bach, and were par­tial­ly dis­missed as to four of the cor­po­ra­tions and eight of the oth­er indi­vid­u­als named. At the same time pleas of nolo con­tendere (which is equiv­a­lent to guilty) were entered and the Jus­tice Depart­ment noti­fied the court that under these cir­cum­stances it would not be in the pub­lic inter­est to stage a tri­al. No decree was entered by the court, so the con­tracts were not offi­cial­ly abro­gat­ed. . . .

Discussion

One comment for “The Deep Politics of Lyme Disease”

  1. This June 10, Reuters artit­cle by Diane Bartz and Jonathan Stem­pel talks about a law­suit from 46 states, DC, and 46 Ter­ri­to­ries that accused Novar­tis’ San­doz unit, Teva Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals’ Actavis unit, Mylan, Pfiz­er Inc and oth­er drug­mak­ers of con­spir­ing to rig the mar­ket between 2009 and 2016 for more than 80 drugs.

    Ten exec­u­tives, includ­ing many sales and mar­ket­ing direc­tors, are also defen­dants in the 543-page com­plaint filed in a fed­er­al court in Con­necti­cut.

    Brand names of some of the drugs at issue include glau­co­ma drug Xala­tan, acne drug Dif­ferin, anti-seizure med­i­cine Dilan­tin, anti-fun­gal med­i­cine Lotrim­in AF Cream, and Rital­in for atten­tion deficit dis­or­der.

    “Through phone calls, text mes­sages, emails, cor­po­rate con­ven­tions, and cozy din­ner par­ties, gener­ic phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal exec­u­tives were in con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion, col­lud­ing to fix prices and restrain com­pe­ti­tion,” Con­necti­cut Attor­ney Gen­er­al William Tong said. “They took steps to evade account­abil­i­ty.”

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-drugs-antitrust-lawsuit/u‑s-states-accuse-26-drugmakers-of-generic-drug-price-fixing-in-sweeping-lawsuit-idUSKBN23H2TR

    Posted by Mary Benton | June 13, 2020, 12:27 pm

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