Drugs, maniacs and WWII
He picked at his skin with tweezers. His hands shook so badly that he couldn’t put his glasses on. He slept on an old mattress in a room with only a lamp, a telephone and some dust. His arm was full of red track marks. If you had to guess, who would you think I’m talking about? Did you guess Hitler? You’re GOOD!
I’m not sure when this photo was taken, but Hitler’s not looking as feisty as usual. Compared to typical photos of a crazy man with his arm thrust into the air, he’s looking a little disheveled, sweaty and, hmmmmm, blank? I would like to say that it was probably just a little warm in the Wolf’s Lair, but I’m not so sure. According to the book Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich by Norman Ohler, Hitler was having some issues with drugs. Many drugs. Lots of drugs.
Hitler wasn’t the only one, according to Ohler, and drugs were an intregal part of the Third Reich’s operation. To give you an idea of the happenings, here are some fun (not fun) facts I pulled from the book:
- In the 1920’s, Germany loved making drugs and selling them to other countries. Between 1925-1930, 40% of the world’s morphine was produced in Germany (approximately 91 tons!). After WWI, Germany lost access to natural stimulants like coffee and tea and, you guessed it, they started making their own stimulants. In 1937, a German company manufactured a new type of methamphetamine called Pervitin, and, oh boy, people LOVED it!
- Ever heard the story of the German Blitzkrieg attack on France? Well, it’s a doozy and it starts on page 55. Let’s just say there was A LOT of Pervitin involved.
- Hitler’s special doctor, Theodor Morell, was sort of a leech of a guy who started his own pharmaceutical company with Hitler’s cash. Starting in 1941 when Hitler started visibly going downhill, guess who was by his side whipping out needles left and right? Said needles were for injecting Eukodal, which has twice the pain-relieving qualities of morphine and takes only a short time to become for a person to become addicted. Just for good measure, there was also pure cocaine involved!
- Towards the end of the war, Hitler was known to have conversations with HIMSELF that lasted for hours, going on and on about the horrors of smoking and drugs, while gazing at, well, no one.
- Ever hear of the time that Hermann Goring was arrested by the allies at the end of the war with 24,000 opioid tablets in his suitcase? Yeah, me neither.
“Eukodol [sic] is like a combination of junk and C [cocaine]. Trust the Germans to concoct some truly awful s—.”
—William S. Burroughs
It all ends with a lost war and Hitler committing suicide (obviously). Unfortunately, the doctor/enabler never received the accolades he was looking for and ended up a broken, sad man. And while the author doesn’t claim that Hitler’s drug use was an excuse for his behavior, he does provide insight into an aspect of WWII that most historians have ignored. I can also say that it’s not one of those DRY, boring history books (you know the ones). I loved every second of it and if you’re into WWII stuff, or just regular craziness, I think you’ll like it, too.
If you like this book, you might want to check out Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil by Ron Rosenbaum, which is a compilation of theories on why Hitler was the way he was. The guy doesn’t need any excuses, but interesting just the same.