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Who Knew the Nazis Took So Many Drugs?

Many soldiers in the Nazi regime abused illicit drugs, including Adolf Hitler himself. At least, that's according to German writer Norman Ohler, who detailed these accounts in a book he published last year entitled Der Totale Rausch ("The Total Rush.") (His book was recently republished in English under the title "Blitzed.")

In his book, Ohler talks about how German soldiers and civilians both would regularly abuse methamphetamine (a.k.a. crystal meth), and how Hitler was a fan of cocaine, heroin, and morphine. In fact, millions of pills of a form of methamphetamine known as Pervitin were handed out to German troops before they were victorious in their invasion of France in 1940.

Pervitin was only created two years before this invasion, and it was marketed for several uses, including as an "upper" for alertness, as well as an antidepressive. It even enjoyed a brief period of being an over-the-counter drug. Otto Ranke, a military doctor, experimented with Pervitin by observing its effects on college students and ultimately determined that the drug would help Germany win the war. The effects of the drug that particularly impressed him were its abilities to help users stay awake for days and march for miles on end without stopping for a rest.

Pervitin and Isophan (a modified version of Pervitin) would be shipped to the front lines in order to help the Nazis be successful in their "Blitzkrieg" on France - 35 million of these pills, to be specific. Ohler pointed out that the Germans were not the only ones to use drugs to boost their performance; the allied soldiers also took uppers (Benzedrine, in this case) in order to stave off combat fatigue.

Insofar as Hitler was concerned, Ohler recovered the personal notes of Dr. Theodor Morell, Hitler’s personal doctor, and in them Morell suggested he gave Hitler 800 injections over the years that he knew them, including frequent doses of Eukodal, which was essentially the German version of oxycodone.

Morell and Hitler worked together closely for about nine years, and during this time the doctor would inject Hitler on an almost daily basis with any one of a number of drugs, including opiates, amphetamines, and barbiturates. Hitler apparently never used the popular Pervitin, but this was only one of a few drugs he supposedly did not take on the regular.

Ohler concluded that by the time spring of 1945 rolled around, which was just before Hitler committed suicide along with his wife, Eva Braun (another patient of Morell's), Hitler was probably suffering from withdrawals due Morell's difficulty in being able to find more Eukodal in what had become by that point the war-torn city.

One thing Ohler wants to make perfectly clear, however, is that he is not using his research as a means of excusing the Nazis' behavior by blaming it on illicit drug use. In fact, Ohler notes that a good deal of Hitler's policies, including his plans for the Final Solution, were detailed in Mein Kampf long before his addictions set in. Additionally, his tyrannical policies were implemented in the 1930s, which was about a decade before he became a heavier drug user.