Wu Zhili, 'The Bacteriological War of 1952 is a False Alarm'
朝鲜战争停战距今（1997 年）已44 年，至于1952 年轰动全世界，美帝国主义有口难辩的细菌战的真相如何？
事件的主要经过如下：1952 年1 月29 日，志愿军卫生部和志愿军司令部收到42 军电报称：美机于1952 年1 月28 日飞过平康郡该军驻地，战壕雪地上发现多种昆虫，内有蚤、蝇和类似蜘蛛的昆虫。42 军送来23 个跳蚤（雪蚤），33 个苍蝇和类似蜘蛛的昆虫标本。我们化验室进行培养，没有发现致病菌。42 军卫生部部长是高良，是我在三师时卫校的教育长，一个很细心和有水平的卫生干部。他一定对细菌战有所警惕，才发这个电报。42 军的电报同时报志司，引起彭德怀司令员的高度重视，转报党中央，又电告各部队警惕和要及时报告类似情况。一时几乎所有部队都有类似发现的电报（两个月中有近千次报告），报告敌投的东西是五花八门，有死鼠，有苍蝇，还有大蚊子，有昆虫容器（是美军撒宣传品用的铁四格弹壳和带降落伞的纸筒），有树叶和蛇，还有一两个单位报告有朝鲜居民突然死亡；报告河中漂来大量死鱼，并送来10 余条小死鱼（鲫鱼）标本，经细菌学培养出是纯沙门氏杆菌。《人民日报》又报导美机多次侵东北投撒细菌、死鼠和其他东西，恰巧此时，美军前线发现不明死亡，美军派日本细菌战犯、原731 部队的头头石井来朝鲜调查此事，并公布此消息。党中央根据以上情况判断美军进行了细菌战。不几天，1952 年2月22 日，《人民日报》头版头条醒目消息，发表以中国人民志愿军和朝鲜政府的名义，谴责美帝在朝鲜和我东北进行大规模细菌战并附有投撒物和细菌涂片的照片，在全世界引起震动和纷纷谴责。事先我们并不知《人民日报》这么快公布。公布后，我对卫生部朱直光副部长（已故世）说，这下我们要被动了。朱说今后只有做文章。
我把他们组成4 个组，最大的组放在卫生部附近，另3 个组放到东、中、西三条线的兵团卫生处。这3 个分组担任从基层送来的标本的初检，并负责到现场指导防疫工作。初检有问题的标本，送到成川大队本部作二检。标本是收到不少，有好几百份，也培养出病菌，但都是沙门氏菌之类，未出现鼠疫杆菌和霍乱弧菌。有1-2 次在树叶标本中，查到炭疽杆菌。所谓大投撒物，形形色色都有，但很难和细菌战挂上钩。
这一年我们忙于接待调查团：李德全和廖承志率领的国内名人的调查团，国际民主法律调查团和国际科学家调查团。后者团长是英国科学院院士李约瑟（Joseph Needham，著《中国科学技术史》）。副团长是苏联科学院院士茹科夫·维勒斯尼科夫院士，他很有这方面经验，曾任伯力审判日本细菌战犯的医学专家。他带一名青年英文翻译可华斯基先生。团员有巴西生物学蝙蝠专家贝索亚教授，法国兽医专家马戴尔教授，瑞典临床化验家安德琳博士（女），意大利生物学家奥利佛教授。我国钱三强博士担任联络员，陈述医师担任俄文翻译，热带病学专家钟惠澜博士和（妇科）严仁英教授（女）担任英文翻译。前两个调查团，一个全是中国人，当然全力合作。国际民主法律调查团员，不是自然科学家，我们讲什么他们都认真记下，都骂美帝国主义。国际科学家调查团就不一样，虽然他们是相信美帝进行了细菌战，但我们不能在证据上出一点问题。苏联茹科夫院士是受托于斯大林。他真行。他们来朝鲜的时候，正是美军对平壤进行大轰炸之后，平壤一片瓦砾。调查团先在东北调查美机在那里投撒细菌的证据（7 月12 日至7 月25 日）。入朝之前，茹科夫院士对他们说，朝鲜是战场，很危险，我们不妨对东北调查结果作个结论，签个字，免得万一有意外，我们劳而无功。其余的团员认为有道理，于是写了美军在中国东北进行细菌战的初步结论。在朝鲜（7 月28 日至8 月1 日），他们被安置在深深的地下旅馆，夜晚还受到美机的骚扰。开听证会那天，朝方先作两个案件报告，一个是霍乱病死亡例，说是美机在平壤大同投下草包，内有带霍乱菌的蚌（文蛤），患者吃了蚌，得霍乱死亡。朝鲜多年没有霍乱了。另一个案例是鼠疫死亡，说是这家人某天在水缸表面发现了跳蚤，很奇怪，过了几天，家中有人病故。尸解是鼠疫。朝鲜从来没有鼠疫。（这是朝方请教陈文贵教授准备的案情，和他40 年代日本在常德投撒带菌的跳蚤，在水缸中发现的情况相似。）志愿军拿出的是20 兵团驻地两名中尉在砍柴时发现密密的跳蚤群，他们收集了不少，送来培养出鼠疫杆菌的案例。由于我们在反细菌战时，要求每人都要束紧裤腿和袖口，及时对投撒现场消毒，故该军无患者和死亡。此事件很顺利地被科学家接受，通过了证词。这个案件的真实情况是，跳蚤是在森林里的小茅屋里发现的，小屋里有柴草和杂物，适合跳蚤的繁殖。这就很难说是美帝投的。他们上报的时候，没有提到小茅屋。这次要他们出场作证时，他们中一人说，毛主席教导他不要说谎。僵住了。怎么办?只有说服他服从当前的对敌斗争，把发现跳蚤的地点说成是露天。蚤标本都是人蚤（Pulexirritans）。至于鼠疫杆菌，那好办，我们使它出现了。
大约在5 月间，陈文贵在我们检验队的细菌室打电话告诉我说，方亮把敌投的鼠疫杆菌菌种丢了（原来是方亮负责细菌室，实际是从来没有过鼠疫杆菌菌种）。陈文贵在印度索克教授那里专门学过鼠疫，一下子就发现了。我意识到是大问题，马上发报给北京的贺诚部长和东北的王斌部长，说即派门新同志来取鼠疫菌种，一定要给，不然一切都不好办。门新（后在辽阳203 军医院当院长，已离休）去沈阳，来回，5 天，取回两管鼠疫菌种（装在密封的铁管里）。我把一管交陈文贵，一管当我们防疫队副队长李哲范的面交朝鲜保健副相鲁振汉。他向我要过菌种，这时他心中有数为何我给他菌种。事后我对李哲范说，万一到时难证明细菌战，你给我注射鼠疫菌让我死，就说卫生部长染上美军投撒的鼠疫，不怕不是铁证。他说，那不行，总有办法可想。可见当时压力之大。李是朝鲜族，解放前和苏联专家在东北一起搞过防鼠疫工作，已是出色的专家了。早几年我问他记不记得此事，他说记不太清了。
我想这件事在历史上总有一天要说清，现在由我这不在职的知情的83 岁的老人说出来比较合适：1952 年的细菌战是一场虚惊。
1997 年9 月
（2005 年2 月2 日追记。去年，2004 年，军事医院科学院李义民教授转来一份比利时医科大学一位教授写的文章，专门讨论此事，说：俄国公布了前苏联的档案。苏共中央1952 年秋，同一天给毛泽东主席和金日成主席发了电报，称美军并未进行细菌战，你们是一场虚惊，已给苏联专家茹科夫撤销院士的处分，因他带头搞了黑皮报告）
([Yanhuang chunqiu] Editor’s Comment: This essay is the posthumous work of Comrade Wu Zhili, former director of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army Health Division. With the exception of a few sentences and obvious typographical errors, this journal did not permit alterations in order to not influence the understanding of its contents.)
It has already been 44 years (in 1997) since the armistice of the Korean War, but as for the worldwide sensation of 1952: how indisputable is the bacteriological war of the American imperialists?
The case is one of false alarm.
That year the Party Central Committee confirmed (at least at the beginning) that it believed that the U.S. Army was conducting bacteriological warfare. We mobilized the whole military and the whole nation, spending large amounts of manpower and materiel to carry out an anti-bacteriological warfare movement. At the same time, American imperialism was also notoriously reaching a low point. When the former commander of U.S. Forces in Korea, [Matthew Bunker] Ridgeway, was transferred to Allied Headquarters Europe at the end of 1952, crowds jeered him at his arrival to the airport, calling him “the god of pestilence” and causing him embarrassment. Not until he swore by the name of God that the U.S. military did not undertake bacteriological warfare was he allowed to go.
The affair originated with the appearance of large numbers of flies and fleas on the snowy winter ground. It was later learned that these were snow fleas (in Korean called ‘oguli’), not human fleas, and that they are a natural phenomenon on the snow in the winter. Snow fleas are of the order Springtail (Collembola), genus Dark springtail (Isotomapalustris). I also had reports of snow fleas in Northeast China. At that time we thought flies and fleas could not be found on the snow, and given that foreign newspapers were reporting that Japanese bacteriological war criminal Ishii [Shiro] had come to the front lines in Korea to investigate suspicious deaths on the U.S. military side, the Central Committee determined that the U.S. military was conducting bacteriological warfare.
The principal course of the affair was as follows: On January 29, 1952, the [Chinese People’s] Volunteer Army Health Division and Volunteer Army Headquarters received a telegram from the 42nd Army claiming that U.S. planes flew over Pyonggang county (where that army was encamped) on January 28, 1952, and on the snow-covered ground in the trenches many types of insects were discovered. Among them were fleas, flies, and spider-like insects. The 42nd Army sent specimens of 23 fleas (snow fleas), 33 flies, and spider-like insects. Our chemical testing lab conducted cultures and did not discover pathogenic bacteria. The head of the 42nd Army Health Division was Gao Liang, a very attentive and qualified health cadre who had been the head of education at the medical school when I was in the 3rd Division. He must have been somewhat on alert about bacteriological warfare in order to send this telegram. The 42nd Army’s telegram was also sent to PVA Command, where it drew the a high degree of attention from Commander Peng Dehuai, was forwarded to the Party Central Committee, and was sent to every unit to alert them and require timely reports of any similar situations. At that time almost all units sent telegrams of similar discoveries (within two months there were close to a thousand reports), reporting that the enemy dropped all kinds of things, including dead rats, flies and large mosquitos, vessels with insects (which were U.S. Army iron 4-compartment ammunition cases and paper parachute tubes used for spreading propaganda material), tree leaves and snakes, and one or two units reported that some North Korean citizens had suddenly died. [There were also] reports that large amounts of dead fish floated up in the river, and ten or more specimens of small dead fish (crucian carp) were sent in, which a bacteriological culture found to have pure salmonella. People’s Daily again reported that U.S. planes were dropping bacteria, dead rats and other things.
Coincidentally, at that time suspicious deaths were discovered on the U.S. military front lines, and the U.S. military sent Japanese bacteriological war criminal and former head of Unit 731 Ishii to North Korea to investigate this matter and publish this information. Based on the above information, the Party Central Committee determined that the U.S. military was conducting bacteriological warfare. After just a few days, on February 22, 1952, the front page of the People’s Daily ran an eye-grabbing top headline, which, in the name of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army and the North Korean government, denounced the U.S. imperialists for carrying out large-scale bacteriological war in Korea and Northeast China. Photographs of the dropped objects and bacterial smears were attached. This drew jarring and successive condemnation from the whole world. Prior to this, we did not know People’s Daily would publish so quickly. After publication, I said to Health Division Deputy Director Zhu Zhiguang (since passed): “From here on, we should be passive.” Zhu said, “After today, we can only write an article.”
The Central Health Division was under the charge of Deputy Director He Cheng. He had worked in Northeast China, and knew that Japan’s Unit 731 had engaged in bacteriological warfare. He knew Ishii’s person and deeds, and that they were his mistaken decision- and the Party Central Committee agreed. He sent entomologist Professor He Qi and bacteriologist Professor Wei Xi (both of them since passed) to Korea to investigate. Before they came, we had already dispatched men (including myself) to the reporting units many times to ascertain the situation, an investigation which concluded that there were insects and other objects dropped on the snow, but which did not discover people who had died suddenly or suspiciously fallen ill. Units that had previously reported deaths said that the reports had been hearsay. As for flies, almost every house has them in front of and behind the stove—they could fly out the door onto the snow at any time.
My personal analysis was: (1) Imperialism is capable of carrying out all manner of evils, and bacteriological war is not an exception. (2) Severe winter, however, is not a good season for conducting bacteriological war. When the weather is cold the mobility of insects is weakened, and is not conducive to bacteria reproduction. (3) Dropping [objects] on the front line trenches, where there are few people and sickness does not spread easily, and where the U.S. military’s trenches are not more than ten meters away, allows for the possibility of ricocheting. (4) Korea already had an epidemic of lice-borne contagious diseases. All the houses in the cities and towns had been burned down, and the common people all lived in air-raid shelters. Their lives are already difficult, but the Korean people are extremely tenacious and bacteriological warfare cannot be the greater disaster that forces them to surrender. (5) Our preliminary investigation still could not prove that the U.S. military carried out bacteriological warfare.
I reported my viewpoint to Deputy Commander Hong, and he agreed that I should send a report of my opinion to Commander Peng and the Central Committee. I suggested that it would be wise to not publicize this as a major matter, in order to avoid being passive and wasting manpower and resources (this was before Professors He and Wei had arrived). Just then, a telegram arrived from the Central Committee, criticizing my lack of vigilance and saying that the enemy had not carried out bacteriological warfare, but that we could still take advantage of this to reinforce health work. Afterward Professors He and Wei carried on with their investigations and observed insect specimens and bacterial smears. He discovered that the so-called fleas were snow fleas, while Wei discovered that although the stained snow flea smears seemed to have bubonic plague bacteria, they showed to be gram-positive (bubonic plague is gram-negative). They could not culture plague. I asked their opinion. He Qi said (verbatim), “I think it’s a false alarm.”
After Commander Peng saw my telegram, he requested that I give an in-person report. Deputy Commander Hong asked me to give Commander Peng a realistic account of my viewpoint. Coincidentally, Chief Kim of the Korean People’s Army Disease Prevention Bureau was ordered to come get to the bottom of things and discuss with me how to manage the situation, because they also could not come up with evidence. I took him with me to see Commander Peng, hoping that Kim could be a witness to the fact that evidence of bacteriological warfare could not be found. That evening, we arrived at the PVA Headquarters in Hoechang County (We were posted at Seongcheon County, about a two-hour drive from the Command). Commander Peng, Deputy Commanders Deng Hua and Song Shilun, and ten or more others were sitting. We reported the results of our investigation and our opinions as stated above. Commander Peng said sternly (this is the general idea): “Our Health Director is an America imperialist operative and speaks on behalf of the enemy. Can the health of the Volunteer Army be guaranteed?” Then he said, “There are others who report that you are neglecting the sick and wounded. If a thousand or ten thousand die on the battlefield that’s fine, but if one dies afterwards I will come to you for a reckoning.” I said, “I will no longer act as Health Director. I have no other request, except please let me stay in Korea and fight.” Commander Peng declared the meeting temporarily in recess for the standing committee to deliberate. When the meeting resumed, Commander Peng said, “The standing committee still wants you as the Health Director. Do a proper job. Set up a general disease prevention office and be the deputy director. Deng Hua will be the director.”
On the road later with Director Kim, he said that he was scared and trembling because he thought I’d be beheaded. He also said, “Your Commander Peng is great, he loves the troops! He both educates you and regards you highly. You have a good Party, and a good Commander. After returning to post, I reported everything to Deputy Commander Hong, including what Commander Peng said to me personally. Hong did not utter a word, except to say “Do a proper job!” After only a few days, the Director of the Northeast Military Region Health Division, Dai Zhenghua (since passed), was tasked by the Central Military Commission to investigate anti-bacteriological warfare work. I gave him a report of Commander Peng’s instructions. Dai said, “Don’t be afraid, just go do what Commander Peng said.” That night at midnight, I received a phone call from the Soviet Chief of Staff at Headquarters who, through a translator, said, “Stalin has asked whether bacteriological warfare is really occurring.” I answered, “Go ask Commander Peng,” and hung up the phone. I thought to myself, this is really hard to figure out! If I don’t do this right I’ll be beheaded. I should prepare myself to be beheaded.
After only a few days, He Cheng and Gong Rengquan organized a disease prevention inspection unit with a 30-person strong line-up that included He Qi and Wei Xi and had it come to Korea to aid in countering bacteriological warfare. Among them were:
Entomologist He Qi
Flea expert Liao Zhiying
Parasite experts Wu Guang and Bao Dingcheng
Bacteriologists Wei Xi, Chen Wengui (a plague expert who proved that Japan used the plague during the War of Resistance), Fang Liang (Korean), Xie Zhimu, Guo Shiqin, and Cheng Zhiyi
Virologist Guo Chengzhou
Epidemiology experts He Guanqing and Yu Huanwen
Expert in Rickettsia corpuscles Liu Weitong (who is also an epidemiology expert)
Approximately 10 young scientists (Ren Minfeng, Wu Zilin, Hu Jietang, Li Yimin, Li Zhenqiong, Gao Yundiao, Liu Yujing, etc.)
10 or more photographers and technicians
I divided them into 4 teams, the largest of which I placed near the Health Division. I placed the other 3 teams in the health departments of the Eastern, Central, and Western fronts respectively. These 3 teams were to take charge of the preliminary examination of specimens sent up from the field, and were responsible for directing disease prevention work on the ground. Specimens that had problems in the preliminary examination would be sent to the group headquarters at Seongcheon for a secondary examination. The number of specimens received was large (several hundred), and some had bacteria cultured from them. All of these were Salmonella-type, and neither plague nor cholera appeared. A few times anthrax was found on tree leaf specimens. There were all kinds of so-called “dropped objects,” but it was difficult to link them to bacteriological warfare.
I quickly formulated anti-bacteriological warfare measures (strengthening individual health measures, giving more types of vaccinations, requiring everyone to pin their trouser leg and sleeve openings tight and wear scarves around the neck, setting sentries to watch the sky, developing methods for collecting and submitting specimens for examination, on-the-spot swatting of insects dropped from the air, sprinkling sanitizer, discovering suspiciously ill personnel first isolate them and then report, etc.) and promulgated them throughout the whole army. I also got Commander Peng’s approval (which the PAV Headquarters and allied governments circulated to the whole army) to perform autopsies on the dead, giving a green light to researching the cause of their injury and death.
For the entire year, no sick patient or deceased person was found to have anything to do with bacteriological warfare. Because of our particular focus on health, the number of sick personnel was greatly reduced. Later, in 1987, a few army leader cadres ran into me and said, “The American imperialists engaged in such massive germ warfare but our side didn’t even have one death!” By then, I thought this was unimaginable.
That year  we were busy with receiving investigatory delegations: Li Dequan [Otto Braun, Comintern advisor to the Chinese Communist Party] and Liao Chengzhi led the Chinese team, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and the International Scientific Commission. The head of the latter delegation was Royal Society fellow Joseph Needham, who wrote Science and Civilisation in China. The deputy head of the delegation was U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences fellow Zhukov-Verezhnikov, who was experienced in this area and was a medical expert at the trial of Japanese bacteriological war criminals in Khabarovsk. He brought a young English translator named Mr. Kowalski. Members of the delegation included Brazilian biologist and bat expert Dr. [Samuel B.] Pessoa, French veterinary expert Professor [Jean] Malterre, Swedish clinical laboratory scientist Dr. Andrea Andreen (female), and Italian biologist Dr. [Oliviero] Olivo. Our own Dr. Qian Sanqiang was the point-of-contact, Doctor Chen Shu was the Russian translator, tropical disease expert Dr. Zhong Huilan and (gynecology) professor Yan Renying (female) were English translators. Of the former two investigation teams, one was entirely Chinese and of course fully cooperated.
The International Association of Democratic Lawyers, not being natural scientists, diligently noted down everything we said, all the while cursing American imperialism. It was not the same with the International Scientific Commission: although they believed that the American imperialists conducted bacteriological warfare, we could not produce proof of the issue. Soviet Academician Zhukov was entrusted [with the task] by Stalin. He was an all-right fellow. When they came to Korea, which was right after the U.S. military conducted a huge bombing raid on Pyongyang, Pyongyang was a field of rubble. The investigation teams first inspected the bacterial evidence dropped by American planes in the Northeast [of China] (July 12 to July 25). Before entering Korea, Zhukov had said to them, “Korea is a battlefield and very dangerous, we might as well make a conclusion about the results of the Northeast investigation and sign it in order to avoid working hard and accomplishing nothing [if we get killed].” The other delegates thought this made sense, and wrote the initial conclusion that the U.S. military had conducted bacteriological warfare in Northeast China. In Korea (July 28 to August 1), they were set up in a hotel deep underground, but were still harassed by American planes at night.
On the day the hearing began, the Korean side reported two cases. One was of cholera deaths: American planes dropped straw baskets on Daedong in Pyongyang, which contained mussels carrying cholera. Patients ate the mussels, got cholera, and died. Korea had not had cholera in many years. The other case was of plague deaths: one day a family discovered fleas on the surface of their water jar, which was very strange. After a few days, members of the family fell ill and died. The autopsy revealed plague. Korea had never before had plague. (This case was prepared under the guidance of Professor Chen Wengui at the request of the Korean side, it was similar to what he observed in water jars in the 1940s when Japan dropped disease-carrying fleas at Changde).
The Volunteer Army brought forward the case of two first lieutenants at the 20th Group encampment who discovered a dense group of fleas while chopping wood. They collected quite a few and sent them in. Plague was cultured from the fleas. Because we required everyone to tighten their trouser leg and sleeve openings and immediately sanitize areas upon which objects had been dropped from the sky while we were countering anti-bacteriological warfare, the army did not have any sick or dead. The scientists easily accepted this, and they adopted the testimony. The truth of this matter is that the fleas were discovered in small thatched cottages in the forest. These cottages have firewood and other assorted items in them that are suitable for flea colonies. It is difficult to say that the American imperialists dropped these in. When they were giving the above report, they did not mention the thatched cottages. This time when they were asked to go out and testify at the scene, one of them said that Chairman Mao taught him not to lie. He was unable to move. What to do? Only to persuade him to submit to the current needs of the struggle against the enemy and say that the place where fleas were discovered was out in the open. All the flea specimens were human fleas (Pulexirritans). As for the plague, that was easy, we [could] cause it to appear.
About the middle of May, Chen Wengui phoned me from our inspection team’s bacteria lab to tell me that Fang Liang had lost the plague cultures dropped by the enemy (the bacteria lab was originally Fang Liang’s responsibility, in reality the lab had never had plague cultures). Chen Wengui had studied plague with an Indian professor, and discovered it at once. I realized that this was a big problem and immediately notified Director He Cheng in Beijing and Director Wang Bin in Northeast China to promptly send Comrade Men Xin to get the plague cultures or else this would all be [too] difficult to manage. Men Xin (who later served as the director of Military Hospital 203 in Liaoyang, since retired) went to Shenyang, and came back in 5 days with two tubes of plague cultures (packed in sealed iron pipes). I gave one tube to Chen Wengui, and gave the other to the North Korean deputy prime minister of health protection Ro Jin-han in the presence of the deputy captain of our disease prevention unit Li Zhefan. He had asked for the bacteria cultures before, and at this moment he knew exactly why I gave him the cultures. After this, I told Li Zhefan, “In case it will be difficult when the time comes to prove bacteriological warfare, inject me with plague and let me die. This way, the director of the Health Division will have caught the plague dropped by the U.S. military even if it is not iron-clad evidence.” He said, “That won’t do. We can always think of another way.” It was apparent how large the pressure was at this time. Li was of Korean ethnicity. Before Liberation he had done plague prevention work with Soviet experts in Northeast China and was already a remarkable expert. A few years ago I asked him if he remembered this affair, and he said he did not remember it too clearly.
Within this one year I went to Beijing three times to report on issues related to anti-bacteriological warfare. I saw Premier Zhou [Enlai] every time. Even though Premier Zhou had many matters to attend to, he asked a lot of very detailed questions about this issue. One time, the Korean Deputy Prime Minister for Health Protection went with me to Beijing and gave the Premier a report of the preparatory work of the International Scientific Investigation Team. The Premier asked the Korean side what difficulties there were, and I interjected, after which the Premier immediately asked Deputy Prime Minister Ro what he thought of my opinion. It moved me that the Premier had the noble character to respect the opinions of others, and at the same time made me feel like I should not so wantonly interrupt. One evening, at a little past 8 o’clock, the Premier was eating while discussing issues with me. He only had a small bowl of rice, two small plates of vegetables and a small bowl of soup. Quite a thrifty life.
Before the investigation teams returned to Northeast China, they went to Pyoktong prisoner of war camp on the northern border of Korea and met with several U.S. airmen. They had earlier published in People’s Daily that they had dropped bacteriological bombs. With the investigation teams, they freely discussed the classes they took on bacteriological weapons and their experience with “bombs that don’t explode.” After the ceasefire, they were exchanged back to their country. I heard that they were all disciplined for this. I really admire the persuasion work of our personnel in the prisoner-of-war camps.
When the investigation teams returned to Beijing, they signed and published a 500-page-thick black book, Report of the International Scientific Commission for the Investigation of the Facts Concerning Bacterial Warfare in Korea and China. They were received by Chairman Mao.
After the international scientists gave their report to Chairman Mao, he said, “I see that the American imperialists are experimentally engaged in bacteriological warfare.” They unanimously approved what he said.
After Academician Zhukov returned to the Soviet Union and reported to Stalin, a telegram came from the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party saying that bacteriological warfare was a false alarm. Premier Zhou immediately sought out Chief of Staff Huang Kecheng and Deputy Commander Hong Xuezhi and asked, “Have you been up to tricks?” Hong answered, “Yes, otherwise we wouldn’t have had anything to report.” At that time, China had sent people to Europe to do anti-bacteriological warfare propaganda. Premier Zhou promptly ordered a retraction. Afterwards China did not raise the matter again, but following [generations] did not know. A few people who write books are always inserting that the American imperialists engaged in bacteriological warfare. I always recommend conveying that we were “threatened” by bacteriological warfare, thus taking a more defensible position. When he was sick, Huang Kecheng asked me to pass his opinion to the comrades at the Academy of Military Sciences who were editing an encyclopedia: “The American imperialists did not engage in bacteriological warfare in Korea. Right now the two countries’ relationship is not bad, and it would be inappropriate to keep talking about this issue.” When they heard this, they sent someone to ask if there had been bacteriological warfare after all. I only said that we do not have enough evidence.
This has been my silent regret for decades. There has been no other. I only feel sorry for the international scientists who signed their names. Perhaps I am too naïve, because it is possible they knew the truth but obeyed the requirements of the political struggle. If it was like this then fine, but if not then they were deceived by me. I had unceasingly expressed my apology for them to Huang Kecheng. Huang said, “You don’t need to feel this way, this was political struggle! Furthermore you had expressed your views on bacteriological warfare from the beginning. It was not an easy situation, and you were given responsibility too late.”
I think that there will be a day in history to speak clearly about this incident. Now that I am an 83-year-old man who knows the facts and is no longer on duty, it is fitting to speak out: the bacteriological war of 1952 was a false alarm.
(Retrospective from February 2, 2005: Last year, in 2004, Professor Li Yimin at the Military Hospital Academy of Science forwarded an essay written by a professor at a Belgian medical college, discussing this affair in particular, which said: “Russia has published documents from the former Soviet Union. In the fall of 1952, the Soviet Central Party Committee sent telegrams to Chairman Mao Zedong and Chairman Kim Il Sung respectively, claiming that the U.S. military had certainly not conducted bacteriological warfare and that it was a false alarm. The Academy membership of Soviet expert Zhukov has been revoked because he took the lead on producing the black book.”)
(The author [Wu Zhili] is the former Director of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army Health Division)
([Yanhuang chunqiu] Editor: Huang Zhong)
The Chinese word used, wenshen [瘟神], is a deity traditionally believed in Korea and China to cause disease and pestilence. The fact that European crowds were using the name of a Chinese deity in this case may be embellishment by the author.
 More specifically, “houseflies.”
 The Chinese term is generally used to refer to the Pulex irritans. The original article uses the common names for organisms, except in a few cases where the scientific name is given parenthetically after the common name in the text. In all other cases, the translator has provided the scientific nomenclature in the footnotes.
 Possibly intended to refer to Isotomurus palustris.
 Although the author used the term for “housefly” above, this instance uses only the more general categorical sense of “fly.”
 Here the author uses the term “housefly” again.
 Zhu uses the word for an academic article [wenzhang, 文章] rather than the word for an official report [baogao,报告].
 It is unclear whether this refers to the PLA Central Health Division or a national government central health division, but in either case it is superior to the PVA Health Division.
 The word in Chinese translated here as ‘engaged in’ often has a negative connotation, and can imply that the speaker/writer feels that the action carried out was nefarious.
 In the original manuscript, the author has He Qi saying the term “false alarm” in English.
 The Chinese word used here is second person plural.
 The Chinese title for this book is The History of Chinese Science and Technology.
 This rendering in English is an approximation of the original Russian name filtered through Chinese pronunciation.
 That is, Pulex irritans.
 The name of the Indian professor is given in Chinese as suoke [索克], but the English spelling could not be determined.
 In simplified Chinese pronounced Lu Zhenhan [鲁振汉], which in Korean hanja is rendered魯振漢 or in Hangul 로진한.
 That is, ethnic Korean Chinese.
 Or, “They unanimously approved this way of putting it.”
Wu Zhili's claims that bacteriological warfare allegedly conducted by the United States in Korea in 1952 was a "false alarm."
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