When Hitler came to power Germany was not a paradise, nor was it a place of progress, wealth or happiness that Hitler envisioned it being or that the people of Germany wanted. They were still struggling under the burden of World War I and German people were looking for a way out and a way forward. They wanted freedom from stress and anxieties.
Drugs like opium, morphine, and cocaine were easy to get in Germany and they provided the energy and stress relief that the people of Germany and their leaders wanted. The problem was that Hitler wanted a “clean” Germany, one that did not succumb to drugs that polluted the body. These drugs were touted as “Jewish” and completely rejected by the Nazis. Drug use was so despised that a drug user could be sentenced to death or sent to a concentration camp. Instead, the Nazis wanted their chemists to come up with something else, something better.
In 1937, Dr. Fritz Hauschild patented Pervitin. He had been working on a drug that would work as well as Benzedrine had worked for the Americans during the 1936 Olympics. Pervitin was methamphetamine that promised to give people confidence, remove their anxieties, and give them the energy to keep working. It was a drug that made it much easier for everyday Germans to accept their situation and keep working long hours to support the war effort.
Pervitin was used by everyone from truck drivers to secretaries to housewives. The drug was even put into chocolate. Hildebrand chocolates advertised that their products were always a delight. Women were recommended to eat two or three of them every day in order to get through their housework in no time at all. The idea was to have something that would rival Coca-Cola and keep women who were alone on the home front happy and able to maintain their homes while their husbands were off at war.
Pervitin became a massive success and the drug company Temmler Werke began manufacturing the pills by the millions. They were sold in chewable form and were available without a prescription. Needless to say, the success of Pervitin on the general public was nothing compared to the impact Pervitin would have on the German military.