These know-your-chemical-weapon posters were produced by the Medical Training Replacement Center at Camp Barkeley near Abilene, Texas as training materials for soldiers being sent to fight in WWII. They're a weird mix of cheerfulness and atrocity:
Four WWII Posters That Taught Soldiers to Identify Chemical Weapons by Smell
Of the four chemicals mentioned here—phosgene, lewisite, mustard gas, and chlorpicrin—three were used in World War I. (Lewisite was produced beginning in 1918, but the war ended before it could be used.) Phosgene, which irritates the lungs and mucus membranes and causes a person to choke to death, caused the largest number of deaths among people killed by chemical weapons in the First World War. (Elsewhere on Slate: A firsthand account of what it felt like to be hit by mustard gas.)
The smells that these posters warn soldiers-in-training to be wary of are the everyday scents of home: flypaper, musty hay, green corn, geraniums, garlic. The choice of analogies seems particularly appropriate for soldiers raised on farms—a population that would become increasingly small in every war to follow.
(Images: National Museum of Health and Medicine)
Alan Turing and the codebreakers of Bletchley Park invented modern crypto and computers in the course of breaking Enigma ciphers, the codes that Axis powers created with repurposed Enigma Machines — sophisticated (for the day) encryption tools invented for the banking industry — to keep the Allies from listening in on their communications.
Doris Prechel reads Ammi-ditāna’s incredibly hot hymn to Ištar in Babylonian (MP3) as transcribed by D. O. Edzard.
From 1920 to 1933, the only way to drink whiskey in America was to get a doctor’s prescription, which would be pasted on the bottle (max one bottle/person/week) — much like the “medical marijuana” of today.
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