In the struggle against Nazi Germany, the Allies pursued any idea that seemed like it would give them an edge over their enemy, no matter how ludicrous it might have seemed. Of particular interest was any plan that would eliminate Adolf Hitler. Allied planners believed—rightly so—that killing or incapacitating Hitler would be a blow that Nazi Germany could not recover from.
However, killing the dictator of a highly militarized and paranoid society would not be an easy task. So some plans focused more on embarrassing and discrediting the Nazi leader. Most of this took the form of propaganda, but the most bizarre was the plot concocted by the British OSS (the Office of Strategic Services) to feminize Hitler by slipping estrogen into his food.
Research on sex hormones was in its infancy, but estrogen was already in use in London as a part of sex therapy. The thought was that estrogen would curb Hitler’s aggressive tendencies, and make him more like his sister, Paula, who was a mild-mannered secretary. There was also some among the Allies who questioned the dictator’s sexuality, and thought that changing his hormonal profile would swing him more toward homosexuality. This was partially due to the rumor, since debunked, that one of his testicles was blown off during his service in World War I. At the very least, planners hoped that the hormones might cause his voice to increase in pitch, perhaps making him a laughing stock in his own country.
The reason why the estrogen would be introduced into Hitler’s food was because there were spies in British employ who could have access to the dictator’s meals. Hitler employed food testers, so a lethal poison could be easily discovered, but estrogen is tasteless and its effect would be gradual enough to slip under the radar.
Even in its day, this plan was considered a long shot. There is no real evidence that steps were taken to implement it. This was far from the only strange plot considered during Word War II, but it is perhaps the oddest.