Modern research has found that the Nazis had plans to try to transform their own soldiers into ‘robots’ using special chemicals. That chemical was a classified secret, until quite recently. Their Experiment D-IX began in 1944, in November and took place at the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen. They had eighteen prisoners that marched on the square used for call-over’s each day. They each carried a 20-kilogram backpack. They circled non-stop around this semi-circular space whilst being watched from a barracks window by Odd Nansen. Many years later, following the War, Odd stated that the name given to those soldiers were the ‘pill patrol’. They could manage to march up to 90 kilometers daily, without requiring a break. It was common knowledge that they were being used as guinea-pigs, to test a method that was thought to preserve the energy in the body of a human.
The chemists employed by Hitler wanted to know how long these soldiers could last for. When this experiment began, these unfortunate people sang and whistled tunes as they marched. Just 24 hours later most of them fell to the ground, dead. This is how Nazi pharmacists tested their new chemical wonder pills. These pills were given the name D-IX, and this was used as a code-name for the experiment in its entirety. Cocaine was used in these pills, combined with other drugs. The leaders of the Third Reich believed that these pills would turn German soldiers into fearless warriors that never tired.
Pervitine was an amphetamine commonly used in the beginning of the war at the Western front. The Nazis believed that using this stimulant would then inspire their troops to go on to do heroic and noble deeds to get a victory. Temmel (a Berlin company that produced pervitine) kept supplying the Luftwaffe and the Nazi army with pervitine (29 million pills) from April through to December of 1939. The company was ordered to keep this fact as top-secret. Any official documents having anything to do with it, showed the drug listed as ‘OBM’, a code name. The Nazis did not take into account the side effects of pervitine, namely addiction. German doctors, in 1939, found that the soldiers using pervitine could not control their use of it. They were also taking longer and longer to recover from the drug after using, and they were losing the ability to concentrate. These findings ended up being conveyed to several Nazi divisions, throughout Poland and France. These warnings from the doctors were ignored, however, and pervitine pills were prescribed to anyone with any medical issues.
Otto Ranke, who worked as a military doctor and was also director of the Institute for General and Defense Physiology at Berlins Academy of Military Medicine, was the brains behind the plan that involved Pervitine. Otto had discovered that using pervitine gave its users better self-awareness and boosted self-confidence. Soldiers used this in huge quantities, on the Eastern front especially, where the fighting was the most brutal of the War.
One group of some 500 troops, in January 1942, were attempting to flee from the enemy in -30 degrees Celsius temperatures, all whilst being slowly surrounded by the Red Army. Notes from the medical officer stated ‘I decided to give them Pervitine as they began to lie down in the snow wanting to die. After half an hour the men began spontaneously reporting that they felt better. They began marching in orderly fashion again, their spirits were improved, and they became more alert’.
Prisoners held in concentration camps were used in awful experiments, conducted by German doctors that wanted to lessen the risks of their troops in the War. Hundreds of prisoners died at Dachau whilst being placed in vats filled with ice water, all so that the doctors could find ideas to better insulate suits of Luftwaffe Pilots downed over water. Prisoners at Mauthausen, Austria, were made to suffer horrific chemical burns so that doctors could find ways to cure phosphorous shell injuries.
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More and more tests were conducted by the Nazi’s, using their wonder drug – even though the War was nearing the end. Leaders of the Third Reich, on March 16th, 1944, decided to launch production of a new D-IX substance. Helmut Heye (Vice Admiral) announced that there should be an invention of a new medicine, which would help soldiers of Germany last in situations better and make them feel uplifted, no matter the situation.
Admiral Heye’s announcement was supported by Otto Skortseni who had been searching for a drug he could use within his division. There was a meeting in Berlin, at Hitler’s headquarters, between leadership figures and it was decided to set up a research group in Kiel. Gerhard Orchehovsky was put in charge of this research group. They were tasked with developing and launching this much-needed drug. Criminologist Kemper fully believes this plan came from Adolf Hitler himself, as all big projects had to have his approval.
After several months of working with the research group Orchehovsky announced he’d finally managed to create the new drug. A single pill contained 5mg cocaine, 3mg pervitine, 5mg eucodal (painkiller that is morphine-based) and synthetic cocaine (produced by Merk). This new invention was to be tested on crewmen of mini-submarines first. The results would have been checked whilst they navigated in the Kiel Bay.
Skortseni gave the order to send himself 1,000 pills as he wanted to test them himself on some of the Forelle diversionary unit of submariners, who were a part of the German death squad.
Kemper concluded that the test results were inspiring, and that prompted the Nazis to further test this drug on those poor soldiers that walked in circles, carrying backpacks that weighed 20kg, 24 hours every day. Those were the concentration camp prisoners of Sachsenhausen. The aim of the experiment was to find out the new stamina limit for those exposed to D-IX. Medical records found from those days show that some participants felt okay with just 2-3 breaks per day. ‘The considerable reduction of the need in sleep is very impressive. This drug disables man’s action, ability, and will’. This meant that humans were indeed transforming into ‘robots’. Because of the success of this testing, D-IX was going to be supplied to the entire Nazi army, but they failed to mass-produce it in time. And then the War ended.
Armies around the world still use psychotropic drugs to try and ‘better’ their soldiers, US servicemen took pills whilst in Iraq to try and conquer their fears. The side-effects though include sadism and anger.
Errors also happen whilst under the influence of drugs like these: in April 2002 two F-16 pilots accidentally bombed Canadian military men in Kandahar. It was later found that these pilots had taken amphetamine stimulants whilst on duty.
Germany was the very first country to use drugs whilst at War – in the Franco-Prussian War, 1870-1871, they had many soldiers addicted to morphine.
Psychotropic drugs were also used by the French army, utilizing cola nut extraction to produce crackers that were invigorating. Eating these allowed soldiers to march 55 kilometers easily, even under the glaring sun of Africa.
The Russian army uses vodka and other spirits to relieve their stresses and to stimulate. Spirits were used widely in World War 2 to raise morale and get over the shock of pain.
Servicemen were also known to mix cocaine with spirits; this was named the ‘trench cocktail’ (and also used as an anesthetic in Great Britain in surgeries). Provigil, which is a psychostimulant, was purchased by Great Britain (24,000 pills) as they believe this drug keeps pilots in a conscious state for operations that are long in length (48 hours+).