Susanne Krejsa MacManus' five finger excercise
3/2021: Grimm's Fairy Tale
It’s high time today to tell you something about my research project that has been occupying me for a good year: it’s about Austria’s supply of penicilin directly after World War II, when we were not yet able to manufacture this important medicine ourselves. I am captivated by the mixture of contemporary historical drama, suspense and, occasionally, even comical facets, as, for example, in the following stories about the black market.
In April 1946, a drunken man dropped a bottle of penicillin in a Berlin alehouse. This led to the investigation of a gang of crooks, consisting of seven men and three women, who bought empty penicillin bottles and sold them filled with a simple glucose solution. They also offered powdered “penicillin”, which was actually a mixture of make-up powder and ground Atabrine tablets, which are normally used to treat malaria. One of their customers, a Russian officer, had to be transferred to the intensive care unit after being injected with the fake penicillin.
Stupidity and greed also exposed a smuggling operation in June 1946, because a sailor had boasted that he would soon be rich without having to do any work. After an unsuccessful search of the man’s apartment, the security official was already making his way to leave, but then quickly opened the refrigerator and was astonished to find shoe boxes in it. They contained more than 300 vials of penicillin – worth $25,000 on the black market.
My previous ‘five finger exercises’ and newsletters can be read here. I’d be delighted if they were shared!
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