The Allies inadvertently helped to guarantee Hitler's survival after the Nazi leader was injured in an assassination attempt in July 1944, according to new scientific research.
An investigation carried out by a leading British microbiologist suggests that Hitler was treated with high-grade penicillin inadvertently supplied by the Allies. Dr Milton Wainwright said that until now historians had assumed that the penicillin used to treat Hitler was of German or Czech manufacture.
Part of an unsuccessful military coup, the attempted assassination by Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg took place during a meeting at Hitler's HQ in East Prussia. .
Dr Wainwright, from the University of Sheffield, has concluded that the German or Czech penicillin was too weak to be effective enough to guarantee successful treatment. He believes that some Allied high-grade penicillin was reaching Germany via Franco's Spain or other neutral countries, or was being confiscated from captured Allied pilots who routinely carried it for their own emergency use.
Penicillin had originally been discovered in 1928, but was not produced in purified form until later development work had been carried out in Oxford in 1940. The secret of how to make the new high-grade penicillin was handed over to the Americans.
Against British wishes, the Americans supplied neutral powers such as Spain and Argentina with the high-grade material as well. Almost certainly, small quantities then found their way from one of these countries to top Nazi medics including, it appears, Hitler's doctor who, it is now thought, treated Hitler with it after a bomb detonated close to where he was sitting.
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