The Nazi “High” Command – How Hitler’s Third Reich Was Fuelled by Hard Drugs

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German writer Norman Ohler has written an unconventional history book that examines part of World War II from a different angle: the drug addiction of top Nazis and how their use influenced the war.

The book, The Total Rush, but in English known as Blitzed, relates the unknown story of the Third Reich’s association with drugs such as heroin, morphine, cocaine, and top of the list, methamphetamines, also known as crystal meth. By his own account, Hitler was a hooked junkie with ruined veins. Drugs also played a role in the invasion of France and various other battles.

He doesn’t think drugs placed high on the list for historians when it came to writing about the conflict. British historian Ian Kershaw, most likely the world’s authority on Nazi Germany and Hitler, has described it as a momentous work of scholarship.

When Hitler was ill in 1941, his physician, Dr. Theodor Morell, who had been treating Hitler for severe intestinal pain with vitamin injections, started using other drugs such as Eukodal, termed a “wonder drug,” a close relative of heroin and designer opiate that led the user to a euphoric state. Eukodal today is known as oxycodone. Hitler was on the way to addiction.

What was good for the Nazi high command soon filtered its way down to the troops since it removed feelings of fatigue and allowed a person to remain active for up to 50 hours. Called Pervitin, it also removed inhibitions. The Temmler factory in Berlin made 35 million tablets for the Luftwaffe and German army.

Come 1940, as plans progressed to invade France, a decree was sent to army doctors, recommending that soldiers consume one tablet per day with two at night in a short sequence, and an additional one or two tablets after few hours if required.

Ohler maintains that Rommel, leader of one the panzer divisions and all the tank commanders were under the influence of powerful, intoxicating stimulants. After the success of the invasion, drugs were regarded as a useful, The Guardian reported.

When it became evident in 1944-45 that defeat was a certainty, the German Navy developed a number of one-man submarines that would travel up the Thames estuary. But that required the operator to stay awake for days at a time, so the development of a special chewing gum containing cocaine was developed.

For Hitler, a day of reckoning came when the factories making Pervitin and Eukodal were bombed, halting production. By February 1945 he was suffering withdrawal which may explain his unhealthy appearance that began years before.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE