Crystal Meth is not something that you would expect to see being used by infantrymen. It was Adolph Hitler’s belief that it was important to be fit and refrain from drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco. In doing this, he said that the Aryan race would remain “strong and pure”. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
German soldiers were frequently given chemicals that were highly addictive and extremely dangerous, all in the name of a longer and more ferocious fight.
Studies show some medications in which the German soldiers taking were given to them by doctors and commanding officers in order to make them fight longer and without the need for rest. The drug of choice? A pill called Pervitin–or known as today’s Crystal Meth. Records indicate that nearly 200 million Pervitin pills were given out to German troops within a span of six years; 1939 to 1945.
If Crystal Meth wasn’t bad enough, The German Doctors’ Association conducted research in which the Nazis developed a cocaine-based stimulant to be given to those fighting on the front line. These stimulants were given to concentration camp prisoners for testing.
Criminologist Wolf Kemper, wrote a book detailing the Third Reich’s abuse of drugs called Nazis on Speed. Mail Online reports that Kemper has said, ‘It was Hitler’s last secret weapon to win a war he had already lost long ago.’
The cocaine-based drug had the codename of D-IX and was tested on prisoners held at the Sachsenhausen camp, just north of Berlin. The prisoners experienced trials where they were forced to carry 45 pound packs and were made to march for 70 miles without resting.
It was Hitler’s plan to administer this drug to all the soldiers, however the invasion of Normandy in 1944 prevented that from happening.
A pharmacologist reported, ‘The idea was to turn ordinary soldiers, sailors and airmen into automatons capable of superhuman performance.’
An unforeseen side effect of using these drugs were that many of the soldiers became addicted and could not function in any capacity to benefit the fighting.
Otto Ranke was a military doctor who was responsible for the use of the Pervitin. He discovered that with drug use, the user became more self confident and had more self-awareness.
One instance where the doctor believed the use of the drug was beneficial was in January of 1942. A group of 500 soldiers were trying to escape a Red Army attack in temperatures as low as -30ºC. The doctor had given the soldiers who felt like dying some Pervitin and he noted that ‘after half an hour the men began spontaneously reporting that they felt better.
‘They began marching in orderly fashion again, their spirits improved, and they became more alert.’
German doctors practiced many horrific experiments on the prisoners held within various concentration camps. These experiments were meant to help the soldiers be at less of a risk during the war.
One such experiment at Dachau concentration camp was centered around temperature. Large vats were filled with ice and water. Inside these vats, prisoners were held so that doctors could figure out ways to better insulate flying suits for the pilots who had to eject from their planes over the icy waters. In these experiments, hundreds had died.
Another cruel experiment was held at the Mauthausen camp in Austria. These prisoners suffered chemical burns so the doctors could seek out cures for phosphoric shell injuries.
The president for the Physicians Group, Jörg-Dietrich Hoppe issued a statement regarding these atrocities: ‘I will be the last president of this group who lived through this time.
‘It is intolerable to think that so many physicians were silent or complicit in what was done in the name of medicine at this time.’