Hundreds of residents in picturesque Pont-Saint-Esprit were suddenly struck down with mass insanity and hallucinations on August 16, 1951. At least five people in the southern French village died and dozens were locked up in asylums after witnessing terrifying hallucinations of dragons and fire.
In the horror scenes an 11-year-old tried to strangle his grandmother. Another man shouted: "I am a plane", before jumping out of a second-floor window, breaking his legs.
For decades the bizarre "Cursed Bread" incident was blamed on a local baker whose baguettes had been poisoned with either a psychedelic mould or mercury. But new evidence points the finger at the American Central Intelligence Agency who are accused of spiking bread with LSD in a mind control experiment. The incident — which took place at the height of the Cold War — was investigated by a Swiss pharmaceutical company Sandoz who have been revealed as the same people who secretly supplied the CIA with LSD.
Journalist H P Albarelli Jr came across CIA documents while investigating the suspicious suicide of a biochemist who fell from a 13th floor window two years after the "Cursed Bread" incident. One note transcribes a conversation between a CIA agent and a Sandoz official who mentions the "secret of Pont-Saint-Esprit" and explains that it was not "at all" caused by mould but by diethylamide — the D in LSD.
After the Korean War the Americans launched huge research programs into the mind control of prisoners and enemy troops.
According to US news reports, French intelligence chiefs have demanded the CIA explain itself. French intelligence officially denies this.
Angry locals in Pont-Saint-Esprit continue to be haunted by the apocalyptic scenes and still want answers.
Charles Granjoh, 71, said: "I almost kicked the bucket, I'd like to know why."