Monday, September 14, 2009

Organic gardening guru was a Nazi who took tips from Dachau experiments

Harvest time is here again on Germany’s 1.2 million allotments: potatoes have to be hoisted out of the soil and the last of the peas must be plucked. In the shed, next to the trowel and gloves, there will almost certainly be a well-thumbed copy of the gardeners’ bible written by Alwin Seifert, the country’s organic guru.

Now it emerges that at least some of Seifert’s useful tips in his bestselling book Gärtnern, Ackern-ohne Gift, (Gardening, Working the Soil without Poison) may have been gleaned from his observation of the experimental gardens set up on the grounds around Dachau concentration camp. Tended by half-starved slave labourers, at least 400 of whom were killed, drowned in the carp pond or trampled into the mud of the latrine trenches, the Dachau gardens were established at the behest of Heinrich Himmler, Hitler’s security chief, and stretched to 211 blossoming hectares.

Seifert, who after the war became a founder of the Green movement, was one of the top landscape gardeners of the Nazi era. He even had the title Reichslandschaftsanwalt — advocate of the Reich’s Landscape. It was Seifert who managed to persuade the Nazi autobahn planners to make the motorway curve, following the natural contours of the German countryside. The well-connected gardener was also opposed to artificial fertilisers poisoning German soil and went to Dachau, apparently oblivious to the emaciated prisoners, to see what could be done in the gardens and arable fields of the Fatherland.

“The question has to be how much of the information that flowed into his book derived from the research being done in Dachau,” says the Munich-based cultural historian Daniella Seidl, who has been digging in the Bavarian and federal archives. “He was a regular visitor, maintained a correspondence with the head gardener Franz Lippert, and even arranged for a couple from the camp to work in his own household.” Some of the ideas being tried out in the Dachau gardens were certainly adopted by Seifert for use in his own garden in the Tyrol.

The Dachau complex was supposed to solve some riddles, such as why potatoes had become so vulnerable to pests and early decay, and to build a more or less scientific basis for an alternative “biological-dynamic lifestyle”. That meant growing herbs for use as medicine, extracting vitamins, but also Germanising food. Fermented blackberry and raspberry leaves were used to create German tea, reducing dependency on imports, and work was done on making a German pepper.

Gladioli were grown in great quantities to milk them for their vitamin C. The leaves were dried and pulverised in the camp garden complex and then mixed with a mixture of spices, beef fat and cooking salt to make a food supplement for SS troopers.

The gardeners also planted fields of primroses in a first attempt to extract an oil for use as medication. Evening primrose oil is now frequently used in complementary medicine.

“Seifert was probably most interested in Dachau’s use of compost techniques,” says Ms Seidl, who has just published her findings in a scholarly book, Between Heaven and Hell. The Dachau gardeners set up herds of cows over 750 hectares (1,850 acres), tended by up to 800 inmates, whose task was to gather the dung for testing in the camp gardens. The effect of dung on the soil was measured; a special compost was devised to speed the growth of healing herbs. This ran in parallel with experiments using worms to improve differently fertilised soil.

Seifert’s book goes into great detail about composting, and how it helps in poorly productive orchards. He writes with the authority of someone who has studied a large-scale project.

Unsurprisingly Seifert does not mention Dachau in the book, but he does give an appreciative nod to his old protector in the Nazi machine, Fritz Todt, the armaments minister and lord over millions of forced labourers. Seifert joined the Nazi party in 1937. He became a professor at Munich technical university, head of the nature preservation league (a forerunner organisation to the Greens) and before his death in 1972, influenced a whole generation of organic garden planners throughout Germany and Europe.

The passion for organic gardening gripped Germany and has never let go. Whether it will survive the horrific images that emerge from Ms Seidl’s research, the imprisoned priests who were strapped to ploughs, the inmates killed for taking a bite of raw rhubarb, the overseer who received a cash bonus for shooting his 100th Jew among the gladioli, is another matter.


Flu vaccine researchers find 1 dose works

U.S. and Australian researchers said late Thursday that the flu vaccine they have been testing for months not only works but is effective with adults after just one dose, raising the prospect that even a limited supply of the vaccine could go further than expected.

Scientists have been warning for months that the H1N1 flu, also known as the swine flu, could reach epidemic proportions during this year's flu season and that multiple shots of vaccine might be required to combat its spread. But they now think that a single dose will be enough to protect an adult within 10 days of its application, a fact that will mean that millions more Americans will likely be protected this fall than authorities had expected just weeks ago. "There was a concern that people would require two doses of the vaccine or that we would not even have a vaccine that induces a response," said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health. "Not only does it induce a response, but it does it very potently."

Australian vaccine manufacturer CSL Ltd. on Thursday published results of a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that found between 75 percent and 96 percent of vaccinated people should be protected with a single dose, half the amount of vaccine that scientists recently thought would be effective. On Friday, U.S. data are scheduled to be released that show a similar result. In fact, protection after a single shot could start as soon as eight days after it is applied, Dr. Fauci said of the U.S. findings. He said researchers would know more about dosing for children within two weeks.

The findings from both countries are important because authorities recently announced that only limited supplies of the vaccine would be available early this fall. Only a third of the amount of vaccine that authorities had hoped to have by mid-October was actually planned to be shipped.

The studies offer hope that many more Americans can be vaccinated despite the scarce supply. "This is good news for supply for ourselves and globally," said Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who is spearheading U.S. testing of the vaccine.

The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded nearly $2 billion in contracts this year to five pharmaceutical companies, including CSL, for bulk production of the vaccine and related materials. But the companies have not been able to boost supplies quickly because of the rate at which the vaccine grows in its host chicken eggs. "It's growing slowly. We originally thought we would have 160 million doses by mid-October," he said. "It's just going to take a little longer to get there."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta says swine flu is the world's fastest-moving influenza pandemic, moving through 177 countries since it was identified four months ago. New York City health authorities estimate that more than 1 million residents have already been infected. "In our current global situation, in which demand for influenza vaccine greatly exceeds supply, dose-sparing strategies are needed," said Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Washington in Seattle, in an editorial accompanying the Journal article.


1 comment:

amicus curiae said...

I would like to point out that vaccination maybe more risk than the flu. the amount of CSL product will be a lot less than the Merk one. Merks is using mercury and squalene. Squalene is documented to have some nasty results. The fast tracking is Not enabling time to really see results. and the Manufacturers were recently given a
get out of jail card, in the form of NO claims against the makers, givers, or the govt for damage caused by said vaccines!
I also point out that CSL are Trialling Panvax, at the same time, in adelaide, registered a few years back, BUT unable to trial Until..a pandemic is declared.
Now WRONG Pandemic, BUT??? they got the go ahead..odd that!
CSL has ties to Merk Novartis(who bought out Chiron) and THAT company had a lousy record of 'Issues"
CSL and Aus govt(who listed on ASX in91 and kept all shares, then sold them in 94 to Private investors ) has an odd...Only CSL FLU Vaccines are used in australia, deal for 5 years.
ps not ALL vaccines are egg.
Sf9 army worm moth pupal cells are a big new source, and see Novavax for a really interesting coincidental vaccine/trials last year near mexico, and portable vaccine equipment..
full info, I wrote as Amicus, under bioterrorism, you may find it informative.
another interesting fact that is, as signatories to the UN we also come under Aegis of the WHO. regardless of our choices, they CAN, advocate for Mandatory vaccination if they choose to!
yes us in aus too!
greece and France have made it mandatory as have at least 3 to 4 states in USA.
freedom to choose? nope.

RE the above Autism rise. Hmm and babies get Hep B within 24hrs. mercury thimerosal/aluminium hydroxide.... plus viral cells and assorted other stuff..coincidence?
and yes I am an aussie, I publish via an american site because they gave a damn.