Mein crankMein crank

Hitler fueled Nazi troops with meth, new book claims

German author reveals pervasive drug use in Nazi army, says 200 million methamphetamine pills given to soldiers in WWII

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Reproduction of Adolf Hitler from the archive of Israeli Nazi hunter Tuviah Friedman (photo credit: Roni Schutzer/Flash90)
Reproduction of Adolf Hitler from the archive of Israeli Nazi hunter Tuviah Friedman (photo credit: Roni Schutzer/Flash90)

While Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler was reportedly increasingly reliant on a heroin-type drug as World War II progressed, a new book by a German author also exposes the Nazi army’s practice of pumping their soldiers with an methamphetamine-based narcotic to keep them awake during long military operations.

In his book “Der Total Rausch” (The Total Rush), German historian Norman Ohler explores the Nazi regime’s obsession with portraying a clean, healthy Aryan race, even as millions of its soldiers relied on a drug called Pervitin to keep them awake for days at a time, the Daily Mail reported.

According to Ohler, by the time the Nazi regime conquered France in May 1940, over 35 million of its soldiers and bureaucrats were popping Pervitin pills every day. Between 1939 and 1945, he writes, 200 million Pervitin pills were distributed to German troops.

Ohler also found that the Pervitin was used specifically for blitzkriegs — intense German military assaults — and claims that much of the success of the invasions of Poland, France and the Sudatenland was down to the stimulants.

Award winning German journalist and author Norman Ohler discusses his latest book "Der totale Rausch" (The Total Rush). (screen grab: YouTube)
Award winning German journalist and author Norman Ohler discusses his latest book “Der totale Rausch” (The Total Rush). (screen grab: YouTube)

Patented by a German chemist in 1937, Pervitin contained methamphetamine, which is essentially a pill form of what is known today as crystal meth. The drug was marketed for alertness and was initially sold over the counter in pharmacies across Europe as an alternative to coffee, before becoming outlawed in 1941.

Ohler, who accessed the records of the Nazi high command, uncovered research by the German Doctors’ Association that showed German officials were also developing a cocaine-based drug for its combat troops. The experimental stimulant, dubbed D-IX, was tested on inmates at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp north of Berlin. Documents showed that inmates on the drug marched 60 kilometers (40 miles) in a single day while carrying heavy army gear.

Even after the drug was outlawed, Ohler found a number of former Nazi officers who said they regularly distributed Pervitin before battle.

Ohler writes that Hitler’s rampant drug use likely contributed to his sense of invulnerability, which ultimately led him to make miscalculated military decisions towards the end of the war.

A 2005 report in German newspaper Der Spiegel first exposed the rampant drug use by German soldiers at the front lines, and documented a number of letters by soldiers who wrote home to their families begging for more Pervitin.

Ohler’s book also describes Hitler’s extensive drug addiction and his relationship with his personal physician, Dr. Theodor Morell.

His conclusions regarding the severity of Hitler’s drug addiction are corroborated by a recently declassified World War II US Military Intelligence dossier, which alleges that Morell gave Hitler a dizzying array of drugs.

Morell provided intravenous glucose and meth when Hitler needed a shot of energy, especially before his speeches. He also prescribed barbiturate tranquilizers for insomnia, and Coramine stimulants if Hitler was over-sedated.

In addition, Morell gave Hitler testosterone injections containing bull’s semen, heart and liver extracts, as well as nasal and eye drops containing cocaine, and adrenocorticosteroids, among other narcotics.

Hitler’s inner circle did not trust Morell, and found both his medical practices and personal hygiene offensive and disgusting. But Hitler trusted him until the Nazi regime collapsed in 1945.

Lazar Berman contributed to this report.

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