Before the First World War, the collaborative research efforts of the German university system and German corporations enabled the German corporate sector as a whole to obtain a virtual worldwide monopoly on drugs whose production required chemical expertise and industrial capacity. This research was fueled by revenues from the sale of morphine, an alkaloid found in opium, first identified by a German chemist in the early 19th century and patented by Merck soon afterward. German pharmaceutical companies’ work with morphine and its derivatives found particular success in using them as pain relievers and cough suppressants, with Bayer eventually recognizing the potency of heroin, which was legal in Germany at the time (and until the 1950s, before which it was banned only in Asia and the United States).
The German populace’s experience during and after the First World War inspired the Weimar and Nazi governments to adopt an attitude of tolerance toward the use of drugs to relieve pain, increase performance, and avoid withdrawal. Most drugs were permitted either universally or for individuals with a medical prescription. Many of the drug addicts in 1920s and 1930s Germany were First World War veterans who required addictive drugs for pain relief and/or medical personnel who had access to such drugs. During the Weimar era, addiction was seen as a curable disease. Following the advent of Nazism, addiction continued to be viewed as curable for all.[clarification needed] Among members of such groups, symptoms of drug addiction were often attributed to other conditions, which themselves were often pseudoscientifically diagnosed; even when addiction was recognized as such, Nazi physicians often viewed it as incurable in light of what they believed to be an inherent predisposition or weakness.
In an effort to make its front-line soldiers and fighter pilots fight longer, harder, and with less concern for individual safety, the German army ordered them to take military-issue pills made from methamphetamine and a primarily cocaine-based stimulant. After Pervitin, a methamphetamine drug newly developed by the Berlin-based Temmler pharmaceutical company, first entered the civilian market in 1938, it quickly became a top seller among the German population. The drug was brought to the attention of Otto Friedrich Ranke, a military doctor and director of the Institute for General and Defense Physiology at Berlin’s Academy of Military Medicine. The effects of amphetamines are similar to those of the adrenaline produced by the body, triggering a heightened state of alertness. In most people, the substance increases self-confidence, concentration, and willingness to take risks while at the same time reducing sensitivity to pain, hunger, and the need for sleep. In September 1939, Ranke tested the drug on 90 university students and concluded that Pervitincould help the Wehrmacht win the war. Cocaine, whose effects substantially overlap with those of amphetamine but feature greater euphoria, was later added to the formulation to increase its potency through the multiplicative effects of drug interaction and to reinforce its use by individuals.
At the start of World War II, alcohol consumption was widespread among members of the Wehrmacht. At first, high-ranking officials encouraged its use as a means of relaxation and a crude method of mitigating the psychological effects of combat, in the latter case through what later scientific developments would describe as blocking the consolidation of traumatic memories. After the Fall of France, however, Wehrmacht commanders observed that their soldiers’ behavior was deteriorating, with “fights, accidents, mistreatment of subordinates, violence against superior officers and ‘crimes involving unnatural sexual acts'” becoming more frequent. The Commander-in-Chief of the German military, General Walther von Brauchitsch, concluded that his troops were committing “most serious infractions” of morality and discipline, and that the culprit was alcohol abuse. In response, Hitler attempted to curb the reckless use of alcohol in the military, promising severe punishment for soldiers who exhibited public drunkenness or otherwise “allow[ed] themselves to be tempted to engage in criminal acts as a result of alcohol abuse.” Serious offenders could expect “a humiliating death.” This revised policy accompanied an increase in Nazi Party disapproval of alcohol use in the civilian sector, reflecting an extension to alcohol of the longstanding Nazi condemnation of tobacco consumption as diminishing the strength and purity of the “Aryan race.
Drug use inside the Nazi Party
Adolf Hitler, the Third Reich’s head of state and government until his suicide shortly before the war’s end, is believed to have been addicted to drugs that were initially prescribed to treat his chronic medical conditions. After Doctor Theodor Morell prescribed cultures of live bacteria, Hitler’s digestive ailments eased, and Hitler made him his primary physician. Dr Morell’s popularity[clarification needed] skyrocketed, and he was sarcastically dubbed by Göring “The Reichsmaster of the Injections.” Dr. Morell went on to prescribe powder cocaine to soothe Hitler’s throat and clear his sinuses.
According to Norman Ohler in his 2016 book Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany, when Hitler’s drug supplies ran out by the end of the war, he suffered severe withdrawal from serotoninand dopamine, paranoia, psychosis, rotting teeth, extreme shaking, kidney failure and delusion.
Hermann Göring, Hitler’s closest aide, had served in the Luftstreitkräfte during World War I and suffered a severe hip injury during combat. He became seriously addicted to the morphine that was prescribed to him in order to relieve the pain which resulted from this injury and the gunshot wound, variously described as a thigh or groin injury, that he sustained while taking part in the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch in Munich. In 1925, after consulting his wife, he entered a Swedish mental hospital for detoxification and treatment.When Göring was captured near the end of the war, he was found to be addicted to dihydrocodeine and was subsequently weaned off it.
** methamphetamine addiction in the Third Reich
In 1944, World War II was dragging on and the Nazi forces seemed to be faltering. Yet, in military briefings, Adolf Hitler‘s optimism did not wane. His generals wondered if he had a secret weapon up his sleeve, something that would change the war around in the last second.
Author Norman Ohler tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross that Hitler did have a secret, but it wasn’t a weapon. Instead, it was a mix of cocaine and opioids that he had become increasingly dependent upon. “Hitler needed those highs to substitute [for] his natural charisma, which … he had lost in the course of the war,” Ohler says.
Ohler’s new book, Blitzed, which is based in part on the papers of Hitler’s private physician, describes the role of drugs within the Third Reich. He cites three different phases of the Fuhrer‘s drug use.
“The first one are the vitamins given in high doses intravenously. The second phase starts in the fall of 1941 with the first opiate, but especially with the first hormone injections,” Ohler says. “Then in ’43 the third phase starts, which is the heavy opiate phase.”
German dictator Adolf Hitler gives a speech in October 1944. Author Norman Ohler says that Hitler’s abuse of drugs increased “significantly” from the fall of 1941 until the winter of 1944
As the war turned difficult for Germany in 1941 against Russia in the fall, Hitler got sick for the first time. He couldn’t go to the military briefing, which was unheard of before, and Morell gave him something different that day. He gave him an opiate that day, and he also gave him a hormone injection.
Hitler, who had suffered from high fever, immediately felt well again and was able to go to the meeting and tell the generals how the war should continue, how the daily operations should continue. And he was really struck by this immediate recovery from this opiate, which was called Dolantin. From that moment on, he asked Morell to give him stronger stuff than just vitamins. We can see from the fall of 1941 to the winter of 1944 Hitler’s drug abuse increases significantly, (So the Nation’s “Leader” became a common drug ~ addict)
Morell writes in his notes that he is lacking the drugs that he had been giving Hitler in late 1944. In 1945, these drugs are not available to him anymore, or they’re hard to come by. … The fact is the Merck Co. in Darmstadt had been destroyed by British air raids in December 1944, so Merck was not able to produce Eukodal anymore, and Morell doesn’t give any of the potent substances that he gave Hitler before. He doesn’t give any of those in 1945.
f you take oxycodone intravenously for some time and then suddenly you’re not able to get the drug anymore, you will certainly suffer from withdrawal symptoms. So I believe that Hitler’s deteriorating health in 1945 when he was in the bunker in Berlin — that wreck of a man that we can witness in certain photos and in that footage that came out of that time — is due to withdrawal symptoms.
In 1940 methamphetamine was administered to German troops for the invasion of France
The surprising strategy of the attack against the West was … to move the whole army with the tank troops … through the Ardennes Mountains in a very rapid fashion. … The Western allies didn’t think the Ardennes mountains would be a threat, because any army would have to rest at night and then could easily be destroyed in that mountainous terrain, but the German strategy was to not stop and to reach the French border city of Sedan after three days and three restless nights.
Thirty-five million tablets of methamphetamine were being distributed just before the advance and were being taken by the tank troops in regular intervals. Two pills had to be taken once the advance [started], and then after 12 hours another pill, and then after 12 hours another pill. This was written down in the so-called stimulant decree.
It actually worked. The Germans reached Sedan after an amazingly short period of time … while the French and British [armies] were still in northern Belgium, where they had actually expected the German attack.
book in question is The Total Rush – or, to use its superior English title, Blitzed – which reveals the astonishing and hitherto largely untold story of the Third Reich’s relationship with drugs, including cocaine, heroin, morphine and, above all, methamphetamines (aka crystal meth), and of their effect not only on Hitler’s final days – the Führer, by Ohler’s account, was an absolute junkie with ruined veins by the time he retreated to the last of his bunkers – but on the Wehrmacht’s successful invasion of France in 1940.
with his first visit to the archives that changed completely. There he found the papers of Dr Theodor Morell, Hitler’s personal physician, previously only a minor character in most studies of the Führer. “I knew then that this was already better than fiction.” In the months that followed, supported by the late, great German historian of the Third Reich Hans Mommsen, Ohler travelled from archive to archive, carefully gathering his material – and how much of it there was! He didn’t use half of what he found. “Look at this,” he says, jumping up. When he returns, in his hand is a copy of a letter from Martin Bormann, Hitler’s private secretary, in which he suggests that the “medication” Morell is giving the Führer needs to be regulated for the sake of his increasingly wobbly health.Advertisement
The story Ohler tells begins in the days of the Weimar Republic, when Germany’s pharmaceutical industry was thriving – the country was a leading exporter both of opiates, such as morphine, and of cocaine – and drugs were available on every street corner. It was during this period that Hitler’s inner circle established an image of him as an unassailable figure who was willing to work tirelessly on behalf of his country, and who would permit no toxins – not even coffee – to enter his body.
“He is all genius and body,” reported one of his allies in 1930. “And he mortifies that body in a way that would shock people like us! He doesn’t drink, he practically only eats vegetables, and he doesn’t touch women.” No wonder that when the Nazis seized power in 1933, “seductive poisons” were immediately outlawed. In the years that followed, drug users would be deemed “criminally insane”; some would be killed by the state using a lethal injection; others would be sent to concentration camps.
In Blitzed, Ohler reproduces a letter sent in 1939 by Heinrich Böll, the future Nobel laureate, from the frontline to his parents back at home, in which he begs them for Pervitin, the only way he knew to fight the great enemy – sleep. In Berlin, it was the job of Dr Otto Ranke, the director of the Institute for General and Defence Physiology, to protect the Wehrmacht’s “animated machines” – ie its soldiers – from wear, and after conducting some tests he concluded that Pervitin was indeed excellent medicine for exhausted soldiers.
Drugs were regarded as an effective weapon by the high command, one that could be deployed against the greatest odds. In 1944-45, for instance, when it was increasingly clear that victory against the allies was all but impossible drug distribution (and drink)increased for morale purposes.
Pervitin: Nazi Germany’s drug of choice.