INTOXICATED MOMENTS IN HISTORYNAZIS ON DRUGS
Germany was in a terrible state following the First World War.
These conditions gave rise to the Nazi Party,
but also laid the foundation for the proliferation of drug use.
Upon the outbreak of the Second World War,
both the Third Reich and drugs
would find their histories entwined.
This influence would stretch from the Homefront to the frontlines
and go all the way up the German chain of command,
even to the Führer himself.
Today we will be asking the question:
Just how high were the Nazis?
CIVILIAN DRUG USE
1920s Germany was in desperate need of pain relief,
created by hyperinflation, humiliation,
loss of faith in government
and hundreds of thousands of returning veterans.
Drug use in the Weimar period exploded, with Berlin becoming
one of Europe’s premier destinations for dope and sex.
Cocaine was the drug of the streets.
Records indicate Peru sold almost all
of its raw cocaine production to Germany during this time period.
Morphine also proved particularly pervasive among veterans
and reportedly 40% of Berlin doctors were hooked on the substance.
When the Nazi Party seized power in 1933,
their propaganda called for the “master race” to rise up
and take its rightful place in the world stage.
This, theoretically, meant returning the nation
to the ideals of a pure, clean living society
in opposition to the perceived excesses
and moral decline of the post-war period.
Laws were passed to attempt to curtail drug use,
but would ultimately have a muted impact on the general population,
being used instead to target minority groups.
After all, the Führer’s call for an “Awakened Germany”
might benefit from a wired population.
In the 1930s, Temmler, a Berlin pharmaceutical company,
developed a methamphetamine-based drug called Pervitin.
By 1938, it entered the civilian market
and quickly became a top seller.
This new, over-the-counter sensation
could boost confidence, extend wakefulness and suppress hunger.
It was even added to chocolates for everyday consumption.
As the stresses on the Homefront increased with the outbreak of war,
the uses of a performance-enhancing stimulant
proved increasingly advantageous.
MILITARY DRUG USE
Either through personal use or indirect research,
members of the German military command grew increasingly interested
in the potential war-winning benefits of drugs.
In 1939, Pervitin was investigated
by the Academy of Military Medicine
and tested on drivers during the invasion of Poland.
Glowing reports showed that in most subjects,
the stimulant increased self-confidence,
concentration and the willingness to take risks,
while also reducing hunger, thirst,
pain and the need for sleep.
Such effects were perfectly suited
for Germany’s plan “Blitzkrieg warfare” and was quickly adopted.
During the invasions of 1940,
drugs were distributed in bulk to the frontlines.
Between April and July,
more than 35 million tablets of Pervitin and Isophan
were shipped to the German Army and Air Force.
A stimulant decree was sent out to army doctors,
recommending that soldiers take one tablet per day
and two at night in short sequence.
Official guidelines stated that
two tablets eliminated the need to sleep for three to eight hours,
and four tablets could be effective for 24 hours.
In this context, it is easier to understand
understand how German divisions were able
to make such rapid advances into France in such little time.
Pervitin continued to be supplied to the Armed Forces
as the war dragged on.
Letters recovered from the front shows soldiers writing home,
begging for more Pervitin and touting its beneficial effects.
On the Eastern Front, military doctor recorded that
his unit was struggling to move in freezing weather
until drugs were issued.
Within 30 minutes quote,
The men began spontaneously reporting that they felt better.
They began marching in an orderly fashion again.
Their spirits improved and they became more alert.”
Such drug use spread from the troops to their higher-ups
in the all-out effort to keep the war machine running
in the face of a protracted conflict.
Shortly, however, it became clear
that a meth-addicted force cannot operate
at superhuman levels indefinitely.
The drug’s potency was waning,
and health problems flared up with frequent use.
The downsides of widespread stimulant use were increasingly noticeable.
Desperate times called for desperate measures.
New research was undertaken, and in 1944,
miracle pill was developed, codenamed D9.
It contained five milligrams of cocaine,
three milligrams of Pervitin and five milligrams of eukodal.
Test subjects could march
for up to 90km per day without rest
while carrying a 20 kilogram backpack.
While these new drugs may not have won Germany the war,
they certainly played a part in prolonging it.
LEADERSHIP DRUG USE
The influence of drugs in the Third Reich
seems to have extended all the way up the leadership structure.
While records are somewhat spotty, it appears that
some members of the Nazi High Command were indeed high.
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Herman Goering, commander-in-chief to the Luftwaffe, for instance,
have become addicted to morphine after being injured during the Beer Hall Putsch.
His consumption reached three to four grams a day,
more than twice maximum safe dosage levels.
Side-effects of morphine use include drowsiness, headaches and anxiety,
features which he is said to have exhibited
while dozing off during Luftwaffe staff meetings.
Goering would continue his habit
right up until the Nuremberg trials after the war.
As for the rest of Hitler’s inner circle,
there is very little we can say definitively about their drug use.
However it does appear that by the end of the war,
many may have been attended to by Dr. Theodor Morell,
whom Goering jokingly dubbed “the Reichmaster of injections”.
In fact, Morell was Hitler’s own personal physician,
who kept extensive medical records on the Führer.
These tell quite the tale.
Morell had first gained Hitler’s trust in 1936,
when the doctor was able to treat his stomach
and intestinal issues through unconventional means.
Their relationship grew over time, and so did the drug use.
What began as the occasional pain relief treatment
accelerated into routine morning injections to combat drowsiness.
These were secretly tested by a suspicious Heinrich Himmler
whom found the included methamphetamines.
Hitler’s reliance on drugs again increased in 1941
when he fell seriously ill,
and Morell decided to double down on his treatment strategy.
The Führer would now receive a laundry list of stronger medications.
According to Allied investigations after the war,
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These included “vitamins, bromides, barbiturates,
cardiac stimulants, laxatives such as castor oil,
desoxycorticosterone for muscular weakness,
hormones from both female placenta
and from testes and prostate of young bulls,
sulphana-mides, penicillin powder for skin disorder and belladonna”.
Added to this list would be the wonder drug eukodal,
a designer opiate and close cousin of heroin,
today known as oxycodone.
In July 1944 following his assassination attempt at the Wolf’s Lair,
a recovering Hitler would begin receiving daily doses of diluted cocaine
to treat his chronic sinusitis.
By 1945 Hitler was taking dozens of pills a day
and taking intravenous injections every few hours.
In April, on his 56th birthday,
the Führer found the world closing in around him
during the Battle of Berlin,
and dismissed members of his staff including Morell
before descending for the last time into the Führer bunker.
It is here in his final hours
that Adolf Hitler faced the collapse of the thousand-year Reich
and possibly the crippling effects of severe drug withdrawal.
IMPACT ON THE WAR
鉴于德国国民 军队 领导层
Upon learning that drug saw widespread use
by civilian, military and leadership elements of the Third Reich,
one is tempted to jump to conclusions about their effects.
Some have gone so far as to claim
that the blitzkrieg was only possible because of meth
while others blame Nazi war crimes on drug abuse
and paint Hitler’s as a gibbering super junkie.
We must, however, realize that to do so
would be to seek clear-cut, monocausal links in history
that rarely ever exist.
In the same way that the blitzkrieg arose
from evolving military doctrine, logistics and engineering,
the crimes of the Nazi regime were made possible
by a wide variety of political, economic and societal undercurrents.
As for Hitler, many of his worst tendencies
were magnified rather than initiated by routine drug use.
At the same time though,
we cannot go so far as to claim that drugs had no impact.
Once again, context is important.
The Nazis were not the only ones intoxicated.
Allied soldiers were given their own go pills,
and other leaders such as Churchill and Stalin
were notorious for their alcohol use.
In fact, some historians have even pointed out
that drug use on both sides of the war was drowned out
by even more massive amounts of alcohol.
In wartime Germany, beer consumption increased by 23%,
wine by 200% and champagne by 500%.
It would appear that the participants of the Second World War
were more wasted than blitzed.
In the end, this should be a reminder
the past is never as simple or sober
as some make it out to be.
If you found this topic interesting,
check out these related videos about our fascinating past.
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