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August 29 2013

The Surprising, Sordid Story of Sarin, Syria's Alleged Chemical Weapon - ABC News

The Surprising, Sordid Story of Sarin, Syria’s Alleged Chemical Weapon - ABC News

German chemists “discovered” the nerve agent, then called “Substance 146,” in 1938 while doing pesticide research. (That’s its molecular composition shown above.) It was named “Sarin” after the four researchers who developed it: Schrader, Ambros, Rüdiger and Van der L*in*de.

One of those inventors, Otto Ambros, became Hitler’s chief chemical weapons engineer and put Sarin into production for the Nazi war effort. Ambros (...) also oversaw the production of a government rubber plant at the Auschwitz concentration camp, using Jewish prisoners as labor. Many of the workers died on the job or were later put to death.

In 1948, he was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity at Nuremburg and sentenced to eight years in prison. One prosecutor, disgusted by the light sentence, wrote a book about Ambros and his colleagues titled “The Devil’s Chemists.” (...)

Ambros only served half of his prison sentence. After his release in 1951, he was whisked to the West to advise the U.S. Army on its own chemical weapons program — including Sarin.


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