The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

World War II Vets Used and Thrown Away

Dec 6, 2004

In 1991, the government was forced to admit it had used over 70,000 soldiers as guinea pigs in chemical tests during World War II years.

In order to get its guinea pigs, the army promised 10-day furloughs; bullied anyone who tried to get out of it; and lied to them about the health risks, stating that whatever "discomfort they felt would not be permanent."

These chemicals included lung irritants, vomiting gases, choking agents, nerve agents and blistering agents, including mustard gas.

The soldiers were placed in gas chambers and left exposed to the chemicals for hours. Many started to vomit uncontrollably, their gas masks filling with mucous and fluid. They were forcibly kept in the chambers even after they begged for release.

Skin that was exposed to the blistering agents broke out into huge blisters literally because the tissue underneath the skin was dissolving. Eyes would swell shut and spasm.

This testing is linked to a long list of diseases that afflicted the soldiers afterwards respiratory cancers, skin cancer, various other skin abnormalities, leukemia, asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and sexual dysfunction, plus mood and anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

When the story finally broke, 13 years ago, the military acknowledged these tests. Before then, the soldiers were sworn to secrecy, threatened with imprisonment if they said anything. Anyone who tried to get medical treatment from the Veterans Administration (VA) was denied it.

After the truth was forced out in 1991, the VA promised to contact everyone who had been used in these tests and to give them the treatment they needed and the compensation they deserved.

In fact, according to the Detroit Free Press, the VA never contacted a single person. Not only that, but many veterans who contacted the VA on their own continued to be denied treatment or benefits.

Why should anyone be surprised? A government that grinds up young men and women as cannon fodder in its wars to control the world certainly wouldn’t shrink from killing them in military tests.