Communist Use of American POWs as Human Guinea Pigs (Part II): Vietnam, the Soviets, and other Special Projects by Russell L. Blaylock, MD

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When the American POWs returned from captivity in Vietnam, military authorities noticed there were no amputees. At the time, this puzzled the experts. With over 2000 men in captivity, one would expect at least a few amputees. But in light of what is known about the Soviet human experimental program, it now makes a lot more sense. Most likely, these men were used either for military experiments or for training young surgeons. As in North Korea, once the procedures were completed the “experimental subjects” were killed and their bodies incinerated.

As I stated in Part I, the KGB, renamed the Ministry of Security, not only continues to exist and control much of the old Soviet society, but it has actually grown in size and scope. At the fall of the Soviet state there were approximately 400,000 agents. By 1992, there were an estimated 750,000 agents, many assigned to American espionage.(1) In his book, New Lies for Old, former Soviet intelligence agent Anatoliy Golitsyn claims the heads of the KGB planned a perestroika-like plot as early as 1959 to deceive the West into letting down its guard.(2) In his follow-up book, The Perestroika Deception, Golitsyn provides us with even more convincing evidence.(3) It should be remembered that the architect of perestroika was Alexander Yakovlev, at the time, deputy head of the Central Committee’s Department of Agitation and Propaganda.(4)

One of the more interesting sections of the KGB apparatus is the Operations and Technology Directorate which encompasses all laboratories and scientific research centers. Within this section is the notorious Laboratory 12, which was responsible for developing poisons and various psychotropic substances to be used in clandestine murders and control of “state enemies.”(5) As we shall see, American servicemen played a vital role in the Soviet’s development and testing program.

In a conversation with Dr. Joseph Douglas, I learned that the majority of the world’s drug trade is still run by the Soviet KGB apparatus (now operating as the “Russian Mafia” or as part of the Russian apparatus of state security). In fact, the profits from this narcotic trade is sufficient in itself to fund most of the new KGB’s activities. When combined with all of the other international crime operations controlled by the KGB, one can readily see that an enormous amount of operating funds are being raised.

Having gained much experience in operating a top secret program utilizing American POWs as human test subjects, the Soviets moved into their next stage of their experimental test program as the Vietnam War expanded.

Vietnam POWs/MIAs Used As Medical Guinea Pigs

According to General Sejna, the Vietnam program began in 1960 when the North Vietnamese Chief of the General Staff and ten senior officers visited Prague and Moscow in search of military assistance.(6) It was during one of these particularly sensitive meetings that General Aleksandr Kuschev, a Soviet advisor, explained to the group that American POWs had been used in medical experiments during the Korean war and that they expected more American POWs in exchange for their military support of Vietnam’s war efforts.

Why were Americans so prized as experimental subjects when the Soviets had easy access to millions of their own citizens and thousands of South Korean POWs? Not only because the Americans were seen as the “main enemy,” but also because the Americans were from a completely different culture and would react to stress in wholly different ways. They needed to understand the Western mind if they were going to develop methods to alter their enemy’s ability to think, plan, and function in a war situation. In the early part of this century, Italian communist Antonio Gramsci argued that “mastering of the human consciousness should be a paramount political objective.” He never dreamed of the success Soviet science would achieve in fulfilling this goal.

Early in these Soviet-Vietnamese meetings, it was suggested that the POWs be divided into two groups immediately upon their capture: the regular POW population and a second special group to be used in medical experimentation. These two groups were to be kept separate at all times. Specific plans were then drawn up by each of the Soviet, Czech, and Vietnamese military counter-intelligence officers for the securement of American POWs to be shipped to the Soviet Union. It was General Rytir who was personally given responsibility for this project in Czechoslovakia. Within six months, the plan was completed. Soviet Military Intelligence (GRU) was in charge of the overall operation. The plan further specified that the selection of POWs to be used for medical experimentation would be made as soon as they were captured and that the Soviets would identify the number of “specimens” (their term) that they desired. Such decisions were based on race, age, and rank.

While younger soldiers were desired for most experiments, there were special experiments that called for older POWs. For example, they used the older officers to test mind-control drugs because they were known to be more “reactionary.” That is, they were more likely to try to resist the interrogator’s attempts to extract information. They also appreciated the fact that officers were better able to deal with stress and did so differently from the enlisted man.

Before the operation was put into effect, all personnel having anything to do with any phase of the operation had to go through extensive clearance examination by the counter-intelligence services of both Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. The pilot plan was put into operation in 1961. The first Soviet request for American “specimens” included men of all ages and races. The first shipment of Americans arrived in Prague in August and included approximately 6 or 7 Americans.(7) They were housed in the Military Intelligence villa. Following a two day examination, they were shipped by airplane to the Soviet Union. According to Sejna, this shipment contained a larger number of older Americans. The shipment arrived with the Vietnamese deputy chief of General staff for military intelligence, General Major Quong.

The second shipment, according to Sejna, came in the spring of 1962 and the third in November or December of 1962. The first large shipments arrived in 1963 carrying some 20 to 25 Americans. One of the prized types of “specimens” was U.S. pilots, since they not only possessed vital information concerning war plans, but also classified information on U.S. technology in general.

The Czechs were instructed by Moscow to expand their interrogation drug testing program and to be prepared to utilize the new supplies of American POWs from the war in Southeast Asia. It is interesting to note that the Soviets were so paranoid about secrecy that they would not tell the Czech officials where the secret Soviet experimental institutes were located. The Czechs also complained that they were slow to get information concerning the results of many of the experiments. This, according to Dr. Douglas, was by design, since the Soviets never knew when they might need to use some of these discoveries against their allies.(8)

The Soviet Program Swings Into Full Operation

Toward the end of 1963, after the signing of the Soviet-North Vietnamese agreement, the POW program reached its full potential. It is known that Khrushchev himself approved the program based on a letter and discussion in which he explicitly stated that American soldiers had been most useful in the past and that there were many chemical and biological warfare agents that still needed to be tested on human subjects.

The agreement with the Vietnamese stressed that the selection of the POWS would be a joint Soviet-Vietnamese effort. The Czechs and Soviets agreed to provide all of the medical equipment, experimental drugs, biological organisms and viruses, medical support personnel and doctors that would be needed for the project. Some disagreements did occur. For instance, the Vietnamese wanted final approval on the doctors that would be used in their facilities. But, the Soviets did not want the Vietnamese to have background information on the doctors since some were from military intelligence. Also, they were afraid that information would be leaked to the Chinese, known to be operating freely in the area. Finally, the Soviets were displeased with the fact that the Vietnamese were more interested in revenge against the American captives than true “scientific” research.

The North Vietnamese wanted to turn the American POWs manipulated by mind-altering drugs, into a spy network that could be returned to the United States to work in their behalf. The Soviets rejected this plan since they felt they were perfectly able to recruit spies from the American military personnel on R&R in South Vietnam and Australia. To resolve these differences of opinion, a second agreement was negotiated in 1965 involving several high level Czech officials. In the new agreement, North Vietnamese doctors would run the experiments conducted in North Vietnam but the Czech and Soviet doctors would act as supervisors and monitor all testing of the “subjects.”

Sejna states that comments made to him by East German Minister of Defense, General Heinz Hoffman, indicated that the new experiments were highly successful. He stated that the drugs being tested on the Americans were “one thousand percent more effective than physical means of persuasion.” Testimony from the American POWs being held in the general population can attest to the efficiency of the East German inquisitors using conventional techniques of torture. There is also evidence that at least some of these “interrogation drugs” were used on POWs in the general population.

One of the possible reasons for the Soviet’s acquiescence on the question of control of the experiments in the North Vietnamese hospitals may be that the Soviets were performing the most sophisticated experiments and using the more effective drugs on the American POWs transferred to the Soviet Union. After all, the Vietnamese hospitals were practicing medicine on a very primitive level.

Sejna affirms that 15 Czech doctors and 8 scientist from the Czech Academy of Sciences were involved in research using American POWs within the Soviet Union.(9) It was known that many East German doctors and scientist were also formed into project teams. There were roughly twenty different highly secret, research institutes scattered throughout the Soviet Union utilizing American POWs for these gruesome experiments. A special institute was built in Moscow solely to test chemical warfare (CW) and biological warfare (BW) agents on human test subjects, many of which were Americans.

The Experiments

In the original plan outlined by Moscow, seven separate projects were to be initiated. These included various experiments on mind-control drugs, CW and BW agents, ionizing radiation experiments, experiments on stress, development and testing of narcotics, and surgical training of young surgeons. The biological warfare experiments included test of agents known to have no cure. Various experimental treatments were carried out on the American captives in hopes of developing a way to inactivate bacterial and viral agents in Soviet soldiers. This would be invaluable on the battlefield as well as in certain instances of sabotage.

American soldiers were injected with live cultures of bacteria and viruses to test the speed of, and degree of, incapacitation, death rates, and pathological effects on various organs. Another line of research was the development and testing of assassination agents. The first documented assassination by using these techniques was the killing of Soviet defector, Captain Nikolai Khokhlov who was poisoned by the KGB using a highly radioactive isotope placed in his food.(10) Two years later, Stephan Bandera was killed when prussic acid was sprayed in his face. And in 1978 two Bulgarian exiles were subjects of assassination attempts by the KGB. One survived and one died.

The method used to kill Bulgarian defector Georgi Markov in London was quite cleaver and demonstrates the high degree of sophistication of Soviet assassination methods.(10) A microscopic pellet was fired into his thigh using a gas powered tip on an umbrella. The pellet, made of a platinum-iridium alloy, had two small holes drilled in it filled with the toxin ricin and sealed with wax. Once injected, the wax melted and the microscopic quantity of ricin was released into his tissues. Death followed very quickly. Ricin, a powerful phytotoxin (Ricinus communis) extracted from the beans of the castor-oil plant, is 1000 times more potent than most of the advanced nerve gases used in warfare. Toxic agents like ricin were the type of experimental substances tested on American POWs.

During the 1960s, Bulgaria and East Germany were the main sites for production of poisons. But by 1965, the torch passed to Czechoslovakia. A factory in Hostivar, a suburb of Prague, was the site for production of weapons used by military intelligence and involved many of the Soviet bloc’s top scientist. Another institute in Czechoslovakia was dedicated solely to the research and development of weapons of assassination and neutralization.

Two types of CW/BW agents were developed in the Soviet bloc: those for “wet operations” for use in active measures such as assassinations, and those used in sabotage or Spetsnaz operations for political or military reasons. Both types of agents were tested on American POWs. One particular area of interest to the Soviets included creating a chemical warfare agent that would penetrate a protective suit and mask. The Presidential Chemical Warfare Review Commission in June of 1985 was convinced the Soviets had been successful.(11) Few appreciated the fact that it was the fate of American POWs to prove the success of this Soviet program.

Unfortunately, many, even in the military, are of the opinion that most chemical warfare agents are designed to kill large numbers of soldiers outright. Drs. Douglas and Livingstone, in their book, America the Vulnerable, state that many of the agents tested by the Soviets are instead “control incapacitants.”(11) That is, they render a soldier unable to carry out his military function without leading to a need for his replacement. Some of these agents cause confusion, disorientation, difficulty with recent memory, or other cognitive dysfunctions. Special agents designed to induce a state of intense fear have been tested as well.

It is entirely possible that the Soviets used such experimental agents in the Gulf war. They could have been introduced in the food or water supply, or used as an aerosol that, as we have seen, could penetrate the protective gear used by the soldiers. It is known that many of these agents can be used effectively in concentrations that would not set off conventional chemical alarms. You may recall that during the Congressional hearings on the Gulf War Syndrome, the administration’s chief defense hinged on the fact that battlefield chemical warfare alarms had not gone off.

It is well documented that the Soviets used chemical agents in Afghanistan and in Southeast Asia (yellow rain). There were several reports of Soviet technicians in protective gear entering battle zones and dragging off Afghan bodies for examination. In some instances, they actually removed organs on the battlefield. In other areas, Afghan soldiers reported a complete loss of memory following an attack by Soviet chemical bombs. In still other zones, the Afghan rebels were killed so rapidly they were virtually frozen in fixed positions. In the area of biological warfare, there is one particularly frightening project conducted by the Soviets which included the use of the Ebola virus. There is some indirect evidence indicating the Ebola virus was used against the Afghan people by the Soviets.(12) It was obvious that the Soviets were testing a multitude of chemical and biological agents in their war with Afghanistan. It would be reasonable to conclude that they also did so in the Gulf war. We know that Soviet generals and high ranking KGB and GRU officers worked closely with Saddam Hussein during the war.

Special Projects

In many cases, the Soviets conducted special projects. One such project involved the use of electromagnetism. Late in the spring of 1967, the Soviets stressed the importance of such research to the chief of the Science Administration of the Czech Ministry of Defense, with special emphasis on the psychological and physiological effects. Ten years later, the Soviets were actually caught using this against American embassy personnel in Moscow. It was revealed that they deliberately bombarded the American personnel with low-level microwave radiation for at least ten years. Many of the officials became ill and reported difficulty with recent memory and fatigue, and several developed bone marrow changes.(13) This incident spurred American interest in such research using animals. The American researchers discovered that such exposure could cause a loss of short term memory, totally erase task-oriented training, and induce a wide variety of physiological and pathological effects.

One of the special areas of research of most interest to the Soviets was the use of mind-control and behavior-modification drugs. In 1953, KGB Chief Lavrenti Beria told a U.S. research physician that he had eight neuropharmacologists on his staff. By 1967, the new KGB chief, Yuri Andropov, expanded the use of psychiatric hospitals and prisons to be used against “enemies of the State.” At an East Berlin conference on disarmament in 1971, it was stated that, “Psychotoxins are weapons directed against the further existence of an independently thinking and acting society.”(14)

It is known the Soviet arm of the experimental program using American POWs, utilized such agents. In these tests, the Soviets were especially interested in the effects of these drugs in stressful situations and how the effects differed according to age, race, and intellectual background. Sejna recalls that the drugs known to “alter beliefs” were much more effective when used on the more intelligent officers. As the Soviets put it, it was easier to mold the minds of intellectuals than “primitives.”(15) This is one of the reasons why U.S. pilots were considered top prizes among the POWs selected. Another reason American soldiers were more valuable than South Vietnamese POWs was that it gave the Soviets the opportunity to test these drugs on persons raised in a highly industrialized Western society.

It is known the Soviets were interested in using mind-control drugs against diplomats, attaches, foreign technicians, émigrés and defectors, politicians in foreign countries, and to incapacitate large populations prior to an invasion. It is well known that Soviet psychiatrist used mind-control drugs to impede judgment, alter thinking and recent memory, and eventually to produce permanent mental derangement among normal political inmates.

Experiments in Laos and China

We know that several groups of American POWs were taken from Korean camps to China for experimentation during the Korean war. A similar program began soon after the war with Vietnam. Interestingly, the Soviets considered the Chinese experiments too brutal for their taste. The Chinese were more interested in the direct effects of nuclear explosions on the POWs. There is also significant evidence the Chinese and the Soviets exchanged data on these experiments and continued to do so even during the Vietnam war. We should keep this in mind when we hear the usual chorus of one-world enthusiast calling for a most favored nation (MFN) status for communist China or an improvement in relations with China or when you have an urge to purchase a product made or assembled there.

As far as Laos, it is known that several Czech and Soviet doctors worked in their experimental hospitals. The doctors’ usual tour of duty was six months. American captives were mainly used to test “interrogation drugs.” Interrogations were under the control of General Joseph Stavinoha who made sure that all use of experimental drugs during such interrogations was supervised by Soviet officers. The East Germans were also involved in these experiments.

In 1966, General Sejna recalls seeing a report describing “the effects and improvements in special destructive weapons for use in preparation for war and during war,” covering the period from 1959 to 1966. The report, which contained mainly autopsy reports, including American “subjects,” focused on the physical destruction of particular organs. It included over 250 examples of tissue examination taken from an unknown number of subjects. The report contained descriptions of the effects of chemical and biological warfare agents and made specific recommendations for further research.(16)

Singled out for special emphasis were agents that would affect the nervous system so as to gently degrade the individual’s ability to function. The experimental subjects were separated into individuals (officers) and groups (enlisted men). The drugs chosen for the officers would be different than those used for enlisted men. Of special interest among the officers were drugs that would affect their ability to reason, concentrate, and plan strategy. One curious aspect of this report was the notation that experiments had been used against U.S. military forces stationed in Germany and Okinawa.

One final area of newly concentrated effort in their war with the West was their interest in narcotics. It was during the era of Khrushchev that the Soviets realized the immense value of narcotics in destroying the youth of American and ultimately, destroying the entire fabric of American society.(17) Its success was beyond their wildest dreams as anyone today can see with over 20 million cocaine addicts and one million Americans using marijuana regularly. Sejna states that the Soviets used American POWs to test newer, more long lasting, and powerfully addicting narcotics.

What is especially frightening is the newer, more powerful and less predictable “designer drugs” that are being introduced all over the world. These drugs, in many ways, act very similarly to the mind-control and modification drugs that were being tested on American POWs.


The invaluable information given to us by General Sejna should have caused an outrage among the American public. But it didn’t. Despite the fact that the story of American POWs being used as human guinea pigs was widely reported in the media, most never paid these revelations any mind. If the general public was affected at all, the excitement soon passed. It is a demonstration of how callused we have become to the horrors of the world. I find the effect very similar to that witnessed during the evolution of the Space Age. The first manned explorations into space captivated the attention of the world for well over a decade. But today, hardly anyone notices or is even aware that a launch has occurred. It is just part of the everyday world. I am afraid that many have responded to the fate of our soldiers in much the same way. I often hear, “Why don’t we just put that behind us and forget about it. Its over.” Or, “Its time for a healing of wounds.”

In the past, the death of an American soldier at the hands of his captors, especially if he was tortured or mistreated, spurred demands for retribution against the enemy. Take for example, our response to the Japanese death camps and experimental use of captured American pilots by the Japanese. The public demanded and obtained retribution for these crimes in the form of public executions of those who were in charge of these atrocities. Today, when we learn of the degrading treatment of our POWs and that many were subjected to horrifying experiments and death, our response is indifference. We do not even honor the men who have given their lives for us. Not only do we not demand retribution, but we join in a chorus of reconciliation with our unrepentant enemies. There are those who repeatedly call for a MFN nation status for these mass murderers. We buy billions of dollars of products made in communist China, a country which not only enthusiastically participated in these experiments, but which has never released the bodies or made known their fates. We have no idea how many are languishing in the bamboo gulag.

As for the Soviet Union, we have never demanded a full disclosure on this whole sordid affair or linked any of our financial aid to such disclosures. If the National Socialist murderers deserved to be hunted down and brought to justice, then why not those Soviets who were in charge of the world’s most horrifying slaughter? Why is the KGB, under a different name, still allowed to operate throughout the world masterminding a drug trade that has resulted, not only in the deaths of millions, but the destruction of whole governments and the collapse of our nation’s moral structure? Why does the media continue to lionize Fidel Castro when he not only played a leading role in the world terrorist movement, but was the main conduit for drugs into this nation?

I was told by Dr. Douglas that only 50 percent of the information supplied by General Sejna has been analyzed as of yet. We must also appreciate that his information stopped in 1968 after he defected to the West. The Soviet experimental program undoubtedly became much more sophisticated after that period. The possibility of having perfected drugs that could significantly alter human thought patterns and complex belief systems is entirely possible. Delivery methods for these agents has, undoubtedly, become much more sophisticated. Undetectable mind-altering drugs could be placed in a central food supply, dusted on crops, or placed in the water supply.

We have no idea what they had developed before the collapse of the Soviet system, but we know that much of the knowledge they gained in this terrifying endeavor came from experiments on Americans just like you and me, men who have families who loved them and were heartbroken when they did not return from captivity. We owe the memories of these brave men and their families an answer. And finally, we must reject the suicidal notion that communism is dead. And even if it was in the Soviet style, socialism is alive and well throughout the industrialized world and in its purist form is very much alive: in Cuba, China, North Korea, and much of Southeast Asia, and throughout the drug world. The very KGB which conducted so many of these dreadful and horrifying experiments on the American POWs not only still exists but is at the head of organized crime and the drug trade. The nightmare is not over.

Finally, it is important that we all learn that power centralized in the hands of the few can lead to a form of regimentation that justifies even the most horrifying forms of treatment of individuals and groups of individuals. The Red Guards in Mao’s China justified the beatings, mass murder, and terror they perpetrated on the rest of Chinese society by claiming they were building a new, more humane socialist society. During Mao’s “Great Leap Forward,” over 30 to 60 million peasants were purposefully starved to death. One communist cadre, who later defected, admitted that he had no remorse or experienced any moral repugnance at what they were doing.(17) He felt no pity for the walking skeletons that begged him for food and was unmoved by the millions of emaciated bodies of men, women, and children that littered the roadways. He tells us that it was the vision of the coming socialist state that drained him of all sense of humanity.

Here in America, we see the same cold emotion among the army of bureaucrats enthusiastically enforcing volumes of rules and regulations. They are unaffected by the lives ruined by enforcement of such nefarious legislation as the wetland laws, Medicare/Medicaid rules, and IRS penalties. All that matters is the realization of the collectivist vision of the liberal-left. And while this nefarious plan materializes, the forces of our destruction walk among us.

Read Part 1 of this article.


I would like to thank Dr. Joseph D. Douglas for supplying me with the majority of the information I used in writing this paper and for reviewing the paper for accuracy. Without the undying effort of men like Dr. Douglas, we would never have known the fate of so many of our brave fighting men.


1. Albats Y. The State Within a State. The KGB and Its Hold on Russia — Past, Present and Future. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, New York, 1994, p. 23-25.
2. Golitsyn A. New Lies for Old. Dodd, Mead, New York, 1984.
3. Golitsyn A. The Perestroika Deception. The World’s Slide Toward the “Second October Revolution.” Edward Harle, London & New York, 1995.
4. Albats, op. cit., p. 175.
5. Ibid., p. 52.
6. Douglas JD. Preliminary Development of Information on the Use of American POWs by Soviet Intelligence and the Main Medical Administration During and Following the Korean and Vietnam Wars. In press, p. 7.
7. Ibid., p. 9.
8. Ibid., p. 12.
9. Ibid., p. 19.
10. Douglas JD, Livingstone NC. America the Vulnerable. The Threat of Chemical/Biological Warfare. The New Shape of Terrorism and Conflict. Lexington Books, Massachusetts/Toronto, 1987, p. 84.
11. Ibid., p. 75-76.
12. Douglas JD. Personal communication.
13. Douglas, op. cit., p. 18.
14. Douglas and Livingstone, op. cit., p. 108.
15. Douglas, op. cit., p. 17.
16. Douglas JD. Red Cocaine. The Drugging of America. Clarion House, Atlanta, Georgia, 1990, p. 35-46.
17. Becker J. Hungry Ghost. Mao’s Secret Famine. The Free Press, New York, 1996.

Written by Russell L. Blaylock, MD

Dr. Blaylock is a member of the Editorial Board of the Medical Sentinel; Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Mississippi at Jackson; President of Advanced Nutritional Concepts in Jackson, Mississippi; and author of Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills (1994).

This article may be cited as: Blaylock RL. Communist Use of American POWs as Human Guinea Pigs (Part II): Vietnam, the Soviets, and other Special Projects. Medical Sentinel 1997;2(4):126-131. Available from:

Copyright ©1997, 2015 Hacienda Publishing Inc.

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