The chaos and havoc that the Nazis wrought upon Europe during World War 2 was by no means a small matter. It is estimated that over 75 million people lost their lives, with 40 million of those being civilians; their deaths being the result of everything from genocide and massacres to starvation and disease.
With such devastating carnage left in their wake, the Nazi regime burned lasting scars into both the physical, and societal landscape of Europe for decades to come, and yet, in the end, there was nothing about them that was different than the soldiers that they fought. Both sides were human, both sides had homes and families that they yearned to return to; people they loved and cared about; so what made them capable of the atrocities that they committed?
Was it ignorance? Poverty? Fear? Frustration? In all likelihood, there were many driving factors behind that which fueled the Nazi front. But there is one that most have not heard of, one that may explain a great deal of their questionable behavioural choices.
Crank, gak, dunk, pookie, glass, ice, straight up, breaking bad, crystal methamphetamine.
I know, it sounds crazy. Was meth even a thing in the ‘40’s? Apparently, it was.
At the time, it was first synthesized as methyl-amphetamine by Dr. Fritz Hauschild in Berlin, Germany. The year was 1937, and what they hoped to make was something that could take on the profitable Coca-Cola company, which we now know today had their own secret ingredient (cocaine, anyone?). Soon thereafter, the drug became a household, over-the-counter item, known as Pervitin, used to boost confidence and energy levels so that the good people of Germany could get their daily work done in a New York minute.
And so, it wasn’t long before the German military caught wind of Pervitin and decided that it may have a more applicable role in boosting the capacities of their soldiers. After all, Hitler was hoping to create a super-soldier; what better way then to pump them full of meth and send them charging into battle?
And that’s exactly what he did. In a piece written by Philip Perry for Big Think titled “Methamphetamine was the secret to Hitler’s blitzkrieg successes“, Perry studies the work of German author Norman Ohler, who wrote the book “The Total Rush”. According to his book, over 35 million tablets were given to the Nazis to push them to fight harder during their invasions, including those of Poland and France. The infamous blitzkrieg maneuver, according to Ohler, was entirely fueled by meth.
If you know nothing of the drug, many of this may not make sense to you. After all, aren’t most heavy drug-users in a state that would seem less productive and more self-destructive? How could they be better soldiers?
When somebody takes meth, dopamine floods their system and it gives them a boost of energy. It allows them to stay awake longer, to work harder, faster and to focus. At first, it sounds like a miracle drug, in fact, it sounds like the perfect drug for a battle-weary soldier, but the side-effects are awful. Paranoia, hallucinations, fits of rage, panic, anxiety, serious weight-loss; in the end, the negatives outweigh the positives.
But that didn’t stop these Nazi soldiers. With an average life-expectancy of 3.3 years, along with the nightmare of war that they woke to every morning, drug addiction and all its associated problems were the least of their concerns.
Even Hitler was popping Pervitin, along with a cocktail of 73 other drugs that would put Hunter S. Thompson to shame. Barbiturates, tranquilizers, morphine, cocaine, and of course, methamphetamine were among the many substances outlined in a 47-page US military dossier written over the course of the war. He even went as far as to take bull’s semen in attempt to increase his sexual libido so he could keep up with his significantly younger girlfriend.
Now, go ahead and watch a video of the Fuhrer in action, and tell me that man is not on drugs. Look at his track record, the decisions he made in the face of insurmountable odds, and tell me he was in the right state of mind. He fought wars on multiple fronts, picked fights with enemies much larger than himself, and attempted to conquer the world. Sounds like a drug-addict to me, albeit one who’s in charge of an entire country.
Let’s not make that mistake again, shall we?