3. The Nazis Issued Their Soldiers Crystal Meth Mixed With Cocaine
The new Pervetrin was an even more addictive drug cocktail.Millions in the German military could not get enough of their crystal meth, and especially not enough of their crystal meth after it got laced with cocaine. Many wrote home, to ask their loves to mail them Pervitin. One such was Heinrich Boll, a German postwar author who won the 1972 Nobel Prize for literature. In a 1940 letter to his parents, 22-year-old Boll begged them to send him some Pervitin, which he wrote not only kept him alert, but also chased away his worries.
Millions of Pervitin pills were issued prior to Operation Barbarossa, the German surprise attack against the Soviet Union. The pills became incredibly popular with the troops, who nicknamed them “tank chocolate“. However, the cocaine-laced crystal meth produced terrible long term effects, and short rest periods were inadequate to make up for the extended stretches of wakefulness while tweaking. In the context of widespread pill use and abuse, millions became addicts, with side effects such as sweating, dizziness, depression, hallucinations, and psychotic episodes in which soldiers shot themselves or their comrades.
Even as his troops rampaged across Europe and the Mediterranean basin while tweaking on cocaine-laced crystal meth, the Fuhrerhimself became a daily user of Pervitin. That, perhaps, sheds light on some of his inexplicable wartime decisions. As the war progressed, Hitler found it increasingly difficult to even get out of bed in the morning without shots of a drug concoction that included Pervitin. That was thanks in large part to a quack doctor, Theodor Morell, who eased Hitler’s chronic digestive ailments with cultures of live bacteria.
The relieved dictator rewarded Morell by making him his personal physician, and the doctor’s popularity skyrocketed, especially among high ranking ranking Nazis. That popularity was not due solely to the boost that Morell got from his status as Hitler’s doctor: he routinely treated his patients by injecting them with concoctions of addictive drugs, that had them coming back for more. Herman Goering, himself an all out drug addict and copious pill popper, sarcastically referred to doctor Morell as “the Reichmaster of the injections“.
1. The Context That Explains Hitler’s Cocaine Addiction
Dr. Morrell not only got the Fuhrer hooked on crystal meth via Pervitin, he also turned him into a cocaine addict after the quack prescribed it to soothe the dictator’s sore throat and clear his sinuses. It was in the context of that treatment that Hitler soon developed an irresistible compulsion to soothe his throat and clear his sinuses. By 1945, Hitler was a full blown junkie with rotting teeth, addicted to a bewildering variety of drugs. When his drug supplies ran out in the war’s closing weeks, the Furher suffered all the symptoms of severe withdrawal: delusions, psychosis, paranoia, extreme shaking, and kidney failure.
Pervitin remained popular and readily available in Germany after the war, frequently prescribed by doctors as an antidepressant or as an appetite suppressant, or readily obtainable on the black market. German students – especially medical students – were huge fans of the drug, which they used as a stimulant to help them cram for exams. It was only removed from medical supplies in East Germany in the 1970s, and in West Germany in the 1980s, before it was finally banned and declared illegal after German reunification in the 1990s.
Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading