The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Saturday, March 05, 2005

TODOR KUPOV, R.I.P., OR YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT: One of the great, unsung heroes of World War II died this past week. Todor Kupov died in his sleep at the age of 97 at this home in the little village of Krmumol, a few miles outside the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. Surviving him is his wife of 76 years, Elena, and 12 children, 47 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, two great-great grandchildren, and an octogenarian gerbil named Stalin. Mr. Kupov’s great contribution to the Allied war effort came in the years 1942-1945, when Mr. Kupov, a farmer and well-known author, was able to subtly maneuver Adolf Hitler into decisions that ultimately led to the Nazi dictator’s downfall.

Before the war, Mr. Kupov was one of Europe’s most outspoken vegetarian and homeopathic activists, publishing articles on the positive benefits of vegetarianism in the most of the leading Bulgarian newspapers and journals, articles which led to a popular, if temporary, vegetarian movement in the Black Sea and Balkans regions. German vegetarians translated many of Mr. Kupov’s articles and his ideas found a popular audience in the Third Reich, especially among the Nazi elite, who sought to curry favor with Hitler by adopting the Nazi leader’s vegetarianism. Among the more avid of Mr. Kupov’s disciples was Theodor Morell, Hitler’s personal physician, who gave the Fuhrer many of the natural homeopathic cures that Mr. Kupov championed. One of the more unusual of these cures became the focus of an intensive Allied intelligence effort that eventually forced Mr. Kupov, who enjoyed his celebrity status in wartime Germany, to pick and choose which side he was really on.

Mr. Kupov’s writings do not indicate when he discovered that the encapsulated feces of healthy Bulgarian peasants had some medicinal value, but Mr. Kupov advocated such capsules with such vigor that Dr. Morell began prescribing them for Hitler. The German leader suffered from chronic gastrointestinal complaints and Mr. Kupov believed that encapsulated Bulgarian ordure helped alleviate such problems. And for his greatest believer, Mr. Kupov made sure that Dr. Morell had access to the freshest and healthiest ordure available: his own.

Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, the head of German military intelligence and a man who loathed Hitler and everything Hitler stood for, tipped the Allies to the importance of Mr. Kupov. In 1942, a highly trained team of Allied nutritionists slipped across the border from neutral Turkey into Bulgaria disguised as Turkish yogurt salesmen with the name of a secure contact provided them by the former head of the British Press Office in Sofia, Sir Steven Runciman, the great historian of the Crusades and Byzantium, hidden in the aglet of the team leader’s left shoe. The contact, a short, fat, bespectacled man with a wart on one side of his nose and a bad limp in his right leg, was a former student of Sir Steven’s at Cambridge University and led the team to Mr. Kupov, who was at the time visiting relatives in Sofia. The team leader then proposed one of the boldest plans in the history of nutritional warfare and asked Mr. Kupov for his help. Mr. Kupov, a man who always knew his own mind, agreed to this campaign of intestinal sabotage immediately.

The plan, devised months earlier by the senior medical staff of British intelligence, called for Mr. Kupov to subtly alter the content of Adolf Hitler’s fecal capsules by changing the content of Mr. Kupov’s diet, a plan which, if successful, would change Hitler’s mental state at crucial points in the war. While many military luminaries like Sir Arthur Harris called the plan stupid beyond belief and predicted that it would never work, the plan, codenamed DUNGBEETLE, succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. After some small experiments, Mr. Kupov found that he could best effect the Nazi leader’s mental state by changing the red pepper and lentil content of his (Kupov’s) meals. For reasons that are still a subject of scientific inquiry to this day, red pepper caused mistaken decisions on the Western Front, while lentils caused catastrophic decisions on the Eastern. In his greatest triumph, Mr. Kupov had a dinner of dried red peppers and rice in late May of 1944 and two weeks later, Adolf Hitler went to bed with an upset stomach and a sleeping pill and no one dared wake him up while the Western Allies successfully invaded Normandy.

Mr. Kupov did poorly after the war. The Soviet Union arrested him for collaborating with the Nazis and spying for the Allies and shipped him off to Siberia; only his great good luck prevented him from standing in front of the firing squad. After his release in 1956 during the Khrushchev thaw, Mr. Kupov returned to his now collectivized farm and lived there for the rest of his life, still advocating vegetarianism to anyone who would listen. In later life he received some belated recognition for his war work and his works are now available in English; many modern American vegetarians and vegans point to Mr. Kupov’s work as the major reason for their own conversion to the meatless cause. Mr. Kupov was philosophical about world history and his role in creating it. “I did nothing no ordinary Bulgarian does not do,” he said once, “nothing less and nothing more.”

Todor Kupov, dead at age 97.


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