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<nettime> Walter Benjamin Research Syndicate
rebecpet {AT} sfsu.edu (Scott Thompson) (by way of Pit Schultz ) on Sat, 7 Jun 1997 20:06:47 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Walter Benjamin Research Syndicate

Nettime Critics,

The Walter Benjamin Research Syndicate is currently operating at


This URL will be changing to a commercial server in 3 wks. or less.  In
addition to providing links to many other Benjamin sites in English, German
and Dutch, we are featuring ongoing research on WB's lesser known writings.
The focus of our current research is Benjamin's unfinished book on hashish
and the remaining writings and fragments on hashish, opium, mescaline and
the subject of rausch in general.

Approximately one month ago, an introductory essay entitled "Rausch and
Rebellion" was posted on nettime, which immediately received a very
thoughtful and stimulating response from a Mr. Mark Stahlman in NY. Thank
you for your kind response, Mr. Stahlman.  You will find much to rant and
rave about with The Walter Benjamin Research Syndicate and we welcome your
future paroxysm's of misinformation and tangled conjecture with open arms.

1. Stahlman (5/5/97): "American,British and Canadian (and then Russian and
Czech) intelligence services jointly 'invented' psychedelics (specifically
LSD and psilocybin)"

Albert Hofmann 'invented' LSD-25 in 1938. In an interview, Martin Lee,
co-author of ACID DREAMS (1985), mentions Captain Al Hubbard's version of
this discovery, according to which Hofmann invented acid some years earlier
as "part of a small group of people who were nominally connected with
Steiner's anthroposophy group in the early 30's and they systematically
decided and set out to make a peace pill to help mankind," which Hubbard
claims was hidden from the Nazis. Lee disputes Hubbard's story, but finds
parts of it plausible.

The OSS did not know about Hofmann's discovery in 1938. According to the
written history, Hofmann discovered LSD's psychoactive properties in 1943
and it was not patented until 1946. In 1947, Werner Stoll published
"Lysergsaeure-diaethylamid, ein Phantastikum aus der Mutterkorngruppe"
[Lysergic acid diethylamide, a phantasticum from the ergot group] in the
Schweizer Archiv fuer Neurologie und Psychiatrie.  This article became
world famous and attracted the attention of intelligence forces from easter
Europe and then the OSS and the newly formed CIA.

2. MK-ULTRA, which was authorized by Allen Dulles on April 13, 1953
followed Hofmann's bioassay of LSD-25 by a decade.

3. As John Marks has persuasively documented, MK-ULTRA was partly inspired
by the captured documents of Nazi doctors, whose 'aviation experiments'
utilizing mescaline on the prisoners at Dachau were condemned at the
Nuremburg trials. Seven of these doctors were executed. Their reports,
however, were handed over to American intelligence. According to Marks,

"...even before the verdicts were in, special U.S. investigating teams were
sifting through the experimental records at Dachau for information of
military value. The report of one such team found that while part of the
data was 'inaccurate,' some of the conclusions, if confirmed, would be 'an
important complement to existing knowledge.' Military authorities sent the
records, including a description of the mescaline and hypnosis experiments,
back to the United States. None of the German mind-control research was
ever made public."

But please, don't take my word for it. John Marks's book, THE SEARCH FOR
THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE is on line at: <www.druglibrary.org/contents.htm>.
You have to scroll down to the 39th page of the Table of Contents of the
so-called World's Largest on-line Drug library, but you can print out the
entirety of the book, should you so desire.  Moreover, <www.heffter.org>
and <www.maps.org> provide a great deal of sober information on the history
of psychedelic or "entheogenic" substances and the ongoing research with

3. Regarding the work done by various members of the Frankfurt School's
Institute for Social Research for the OSS, I would like to mention the
following: first of all, Mr. Stahlman, "the lying-through-its-teeth but
crucial 1948 book 'The Authoritarian Personality' by Horkheimer and Adorno"
was not written in 1948, but 1950. It was not written by Horkheimer and
Adorno, but by Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswick, Daniel J. Levinson and R.
Nevitt Sanford. Next time you might want to at least get some of the info
straight before advising someone to "head on back to the library".

 As for the Frankfurters in the OSS, I suggest you yourself trot back and
refresh your memory as to the facts of the case. Those who helped in the
OSS fighting fascism were Herbert Marcuse, Franz Neumann, Otto Kirchheimer,
Arkady Gurland, Leo Lowenthal and Friedrich Pollack. Horkheimer and Adorno
were not involved in OSS, and none of these gentlemen went on to CIA.

Franz Neumann---Deputy Chief of the Central European Section of OSS;
consultant at Board of Economic Warfare (Wiggershaus,1994:301).

Otto Kirchheimer/Arkady Gurland---Staff Member at OSS in 1943 (Ibid.)

Lowenthal---Consultant at Office of War Information in 1943 (Ibid.)

Friedrich Pollack---Consultant at Dept. of Justice in the Anti-trust
Division in 1943.

Marcuse had a more colorful career. See Barry Katz's HERBERT MARCUSE AND
THE ART OF LIBERATION (1982). In autumn of 1942, Marcuse's article for the
Institute of Social Research, "Elimination of German Chauvinism" put
Marcuse in touch with OSS. During Nov. and Dec. of 1942, Marcuse takes a
position at Bureau of Intelligence of the Office of War Information. In
1943 he joined the Research and Analysis Branch of OSS.

"During this two-year period Marcuse's group worked on the analysis of
political tendencies in Germany, and he was specifically assigned to the
identification of Nazi and anti-Nazi groups and individuals; the former
were to be held accountable in the war crimes adjudication then being
negotiated between the four Great Powers, and the latter were to be called
upon for cooperation in post-war reconstruction. For his source materials
he drew upon official and military intelligence reports, extensive OSS
interviews with refugees, and special OSS agents and contacts in occupied
Europe; it was his duty to evaluate the reliability of each of the items of
intelligence that reached him, and assemble them all into a coherent
analysis op points os strength and weakness in the Reich."(Katz,1980:116).

At the end of 1944, Marcuse, Neumann and Kirchheimer were involved in
preparing a Denazification Guide. In 1945 Marcuse was coordinating the
investigations of Nazis. In Oct. 1945, Marcuse transferred to the State
Dept. and continued work on the Denazification program. When the
anti-fascist struggle became an anti-communist struggle and purge,
Marcuse's group in the State Dept. was dismantled. By the middle of 1947,
only native-born Americans were allowed to head research divisions. A
dissenting voice in the State dept. from 1948 to 1949, Marcuse finally left
the government.  Absolutely nothing in any of the information I have seen
can support your statement, Mr. Stahlman, that "This is very much the point
of the collaboration of the Frankfurt School with the OSS and CIA on these
same projects to promote irrationality."

5. There is indeed a connection between the Nazi program of
Rauschgiftbekaempfung (Fight against Drugs) and the War on Drugs in the
U.S. I draw my methodology from Hermann Fahrenkrug's instructive essay,
"Alcohol and the State in Nazi Germany 1933-1945" [in DRINKING: Behavior
and Belief in Modern History, ed. S.Barrows & R.Room, Berkeley: U.C.Press,

"On the level of individual action, part of the modernization process and
one of the input requirements of modern social systems, according to Weber,
was to induce members of a society to adjust to the systemic imperative of
conducting as self-controllable and rational a life-style as possible. This
adjustment would be realized through disciplined professional work and
through the process of social reproduction (in other words, through the
family and child rearing). It seems evident that under crisis conditions
modern system requirements can only be guaranteed through authoritarian or
fascist means.
  The nucleus of the so-called alcohol question at that time consisted in
the collision of traditional drinking habits with the above-mentioned
system imperatives of modern society. This collision began already with the
onset of modernization in German society in the last quarter of the
nineteenth century. The twelve-year interlude of the Third Reich offers the
chance to study the conflict (and the radical attempts at its solution)
between alcohol abuse and the requirements of modern times under socially
extreme conditions (economic crises, accelerated modernizatin, totalitarian
state, and war)."

Fahrenkrug has based his study of the Nazi anti-alcohol (and anti-drug)
 campaigns on Habermas and critical theory, in particular the theory of
modernization. This theory can also be seen at work in Wolfgang
Schivelbush's TASTES OF PARADISE: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants
and Intoxicants(NY: Vintage, 1992). He opens his essay with a choice quote:

"Germany needs the strength of every single man for the development of its
national and economic freedom. Therefore, no German has the right to impair
his strength through alcohol abuse. Such action is detrimental not only to
himself, but to his family, and above all, to his people.
---Heinrich Himmler, 1938.

  Compare that quote with another from an American congressperson:

"I suppose I'm looking at this as a parent but I cannot imagine a parent in
America who wants their child to experiment with heroin, LSD--Charles
Manson's favorite snack food---crack, or any such thing. To say that it is
a victimless crime is really incorrect. It tears at the fabric of families,
it tears at the whole society fabric, and I really think that we have to be
very very serious about this, and to have the Federal Government come in
and say 'rather than allow these poisons to be outlawed, we're going to
allow these poisons to be in 7-11's' that's putting a stamp on them, and we
don't want to put a stamp on it, ...but we all have to work together as a
society to tackle this or I think we're going to be in great, great trouble
when we come to the 21st Century and try to compete...."

--Rep. Pat Schroeder (March 26,1990)

Ms. Schroeder's remarks were part of a Firing-line Debate which featured a
motley crew of unlikely confederates. She was joined by Newt Gingrich,
Charles Rangel and ex-Customs Commissioner William von Raab in opposing the
legalization of drugs. William F. Buckley, ACLU's Ira Glasser, Fed. Judge
Robert Sweet, and business tycoon Richard Dennis were arguing for the
resolution. Throughout this debate, which was aired at the same time as an
academy awards ceremony and thus effectively neutralized, Ms. Schroeder
harped at America's need to compete financially, and how much "drugs"
hindered our ability to do so.

It is not my contention that the program of Nazi Health Ministry is THE
source of America's War on Drugs. I have called it a precursor. Both
programs deserve to be scrutinized in detail. They do exhibit glaring
similarities. But America's earliest wars on drugs began two decades before
the Nazi program. Until the Versailles Treaty foisted it upon them, the
German government resisted the efforts at international narcotics control.

Both the United States and Germany have been prey to racist stereotypes in
their anti-narcotics propaganda. A great deal of prohibitionist sentiment
in the U.S. after the First World War was directed at immigrants,
particularly German immigrants. Anti-opium legislation targeted the
Chinese. Anti-cocaine and anti-marijuana legislation has targeted
Afican-Americans and Mexican-Americans.  To the Nazis, "Volksgift"
(people's poison) came into the good Aryan community from inferior peoples
in Asia and South America.  Stringaris's book HASCHISCHSUCHT (Hashish
Addiction) [1938] abounds with such doctored racist "data".

The Walter Benjamin Research Syndicate had posted a large bibliography on
German Psychopharmacological Research before 1945. It is divided into
research conducted during the Wilhelmine Era and the Weimar Republic, and
research conducted during the Third Reich.  The titles of the monographs
reveal a great deal about the nature of the research and the tendencies of
such research during particular historical periods.

In translating and studying Benjamin's work on "rausch," I stumbled upon
this subject of "Rauschgiftbekaempfung," a subject which Fahrenkrug has
called "an extensive terra incognita" of research. We have found others in
Germany who have joined us in our research, who have confirmed that we
aren't dreaming all this up, that there really is something to look at

We invite others to take a look for themselves.

More later,

Scott Thompson

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