On the Scottish island of Gruinard, the British army tested secret biological weapons during World War II that were intended to defeat Nazi Germany.

The BBC is currently reporting on the remote Scottish island of Gruinard, which was the site of frightening experiments during the Second World War. The British government researched the military potential of anthrax here.

The island, called “Island of Death” by residents of nearby Gruinard Bay, was taken over by War Department scientists in 1942. BBC reporter Fyfe Robertson investigated the shocking truth behind the experiments in 1962.

The aim was to infect livestock in Germany and thus decimate the country’s meat supply. To do this, contaminated linseed cakes were to be dropped over Germany. If successful, this would have resulted in a nationwide anthrax epidemic with enormous death rates. The aim of this tactic was to minimize direct combat between troops.

According to the BBC, the fact that the plans were never put into action was due to the Allies landing in Normandy. In view of the good progress of the troops on the continent, the military refrained from using the death spores. A good five million of these linseed cakes had already been produced and were destroyed after the war.

But the danger on the island of Gruinard was far from over and the pathogen reached the mainland. In the months following the experiments, animals died in nearby Gruinard Bay. According to the BBC, the British government discreetly paid compensation to those affected.

Attempts to decontaminate the island in the decades following the end of the war were largely unsuccessful. It was only in 1990, almost half a century after the experiments, that the island was officially declared safe.

But the United Kingdom was not alone in researching biological weapons of mass destruction. Citing a research report from the University of Greifswald, Die Welt reports that Germany also had bioweapons ready for use.

Heinz Rohrer and Gottfried Pyl, who both worked for the University of Greifwald in 1942, researched foot-and-mouth disease pathogens on the island of Reims. The aim is to produce a dry preparation, according to the report. According to “Welt”, this was successfully tested in 1943 on an island in Lake Peipus in northwest Russia.