The information below covers the steps taken n Germany, Italy, and
Japan for the protection of civilians in the event of gas warfare.
(1) The "Luftabwehrdienst" (Air Protection League) has been responsible
for the most thoroughly trained civilian population on the continent. Civil
defense services, including antigas measures, are organized on a compulsory basis
under control of the police and in nearly all cases are very efficient. The Nazi
philosophy of subjugation acts to insure immediate obedience in civil, as well as
(2) When an alarm is sounded, civilians are trained to go to gas-proof shelters
required in all buildings. Serious consideration has been given the
matter of gas-proofing shelters in Germany, and detailed instructions have been
prepared and distributed. These shelters include all types, from the
massive "Luftschutzturme" (air protection towers) holding up
to 500 people, and the bell-shaped cement shelters with deep foundations and
thick walls, accommodating 250 persons, to individual homes with gas-proofed
rooms. Double-door construction with seals, special ventilating plants, and
other methods of combatting gas have been adopted, despite the fact that high
explosives landing in the immediate vicinity would damage and render ineffective
the seals, warp the metal doors, etc. According to reports which filter through
from Germany, the past year has seen an accelerated program in gas-proofing
private shelters in the larger centers, such as Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt,
and Bremen, where public shelters have already been made gas-proof.
(3) An adequate organization appears to have been built up to handle civilian
defense. Air-raid wardens, fire watchers (or spotters), bomb-removal
and decontamination squads are all trained to combat raids on the larger
cities. In some of the important industrial centers, the individual citizens
have been instructed in dealing with incendiary bombs (and resultant fires) and
have performed these tasks during past raids by Allied planes.
(4) As a result of regular bombing raids by Allied aircraft, blackouts are
carried out in orderly and organized efficiency.
(5) Regarding gas masks, the picture is slightly obscure. The following information
appears, however, to portray the general situation. Early in 1942, the
authorities were reported as diligently pushing forward a program whereby
every civilian would possess a gas mask, even to the extent of making house-to-house
canvasses. Later information disclosed that gas masks were being collected and
shipped to the armed forces at the front, together with Czech and French
masks, leaving only the civilian defense personnel with masks. This action
may have been predicated on the assumption that gas-proofed shelters (noted
in (2) above) would obviate the necessity for civilians owning gas masks. However, it
is extremely probable that in such vital spots as towns where chemicals and war
gases are manufactured and stored, gas masks are possessed by local residents as a
precaution against the effects of bombing.
(6) No information is available at this time regarding the use of antigas
clothing by civilians, although it is known that a transparent or opaque material
called "Cellaplan" has been developed in various colors and is proclaimed to be
suitable for raincoats, overalls, etc. If this is a form of cellophane, it may
possess good mustard-resisting properties and might conceivably be intended
solely for civilian use.
(7) A German training circular for civilian defense suggests the use of
"losantin" as a first aid treatment for incendiary burns. As is well
known, this preparation in tablet form is a standard issue in the German Army
for antigas protection. Certain factories have been reported as
issuing "Rhodasopa" (an antigas soap) for use by their employees in
protecting against certain vesicants.
The "L'Unione Nazionale per la Protezione Anti-Aeria" (UNPA), corresponding
to the Air Protection League of Germany, undertook the task of assisting air
defense organizations, disseminating information, and cooperating in the
execution of air defense measures. In some cases, especially in the larger
cities, good results were obtained, but from prisoners of war it has been
learned that smaller towns had practically no air defense organization. Children
in particular were trained in raid conduct. Air raid warning sectors were
established, wardens appointed, blackouts were held - but apparently interest
lagged. However, it may be assumed that certain training has been given the
With respect to gas masks, it is difficult to assess the situation accurately
because of a scarcity of information. The latest reports available reveal that
only about one million masks have been sold to the public, and the Pirelli
company (which has a government franchise to manufacture masks) has about 2 1/2
million unsold. It may be that the latest raids on Naples, Milan, and other
centers have stimulated the public's desire to own and carry gas masks. The army
and air raid personnel are presumably well equipped.
The Antiaircraft Defense Association, "Kokukiokia," instructs civilians
in air raid measures. It is a local, voluntary organization working under
government control, educating and training the public. Smaller units known
as "Neighbor-Group Air Defense" groups, of about 11 families each, are also
organized to combat fires, etc., but until actual raid conditions prevail, no
knowledge of their efficiency in training may be expected.
Such information as is available tends to show that the government is
thoroughly aware of the vulnerability of the islands. As far back as 1936, air
raid shelters were constructed in Tokyo, and others have been built throughout
the empire since. While the necessity of gas-proofing these shelters is
perfectly obvious, and no doubt regulations were issued to this effect, there
is no documentary evidence along these lines.
According to a German broadcast on March 23, 1942, the Japanese government, recognizing
the failure of the people to purchase gas masks for their protection, began the
distribution of masks throughout the islands, limiting the number to one to a
household for training purposes and assessing the costs to the individual. The
State bears the cost to the poor.