How meth gave Nazis the edge in the first years of WWII

For 80 years, the initial success of the German military during World War II has been put down to the idea of blitzkrieg, or lightning war.

How meth gave Nazis the edge in the first years of WWII

For 80 years, the initial success of the German military during World War II has been put down to the idea of blitzkrieg, or lightning war.

With a combination of well-coordinated tanks, mechanised infantry and planes, the Germans rapidly rushed into France in 1940, inflicting heavy casualties and ensuring rapid victories.

But Germany had another factor that gave them an edge over the French and British armies that had defeated them on the same turf a generation earlier.


It was all thanks to something the soldiers and pilots were issued named Pervitin – a pill that would keep them up for days on end.

For the first three days of the invasion, the Germans advanced without pausing to sleep, giving them an extraordinary strategic advantage.

Nowadays Pervitin is better known by a different name – methamphetamine.

German author Norman Ohler, whose book Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany, told the success of the invasion of France was built around time.

"No sleep, no rest, no pause for the first three days and nights," he said.

"This would have been impossible without methamphetamine."

Not only did Pervitin keep the soldiers and pilots awake, it made them far less hesitant on the battlefield.


German Stuka pilots nicknamed Pervitin 'Stuka pills'.

Pervitin was developed by the Temmler pharmaceutical company and was available over the counter in the 1930s in Germany.

It was so popular that it was briefly available in chocolate form.

As part of Germany's preparations to invade France, 35 million tablets were issued to their troops – about ten pills per soldier.

Mr Ohler said the pills were much more pure than the crystal meth available on the street nowadays.

Soldiers were not ordered to take the drugs, but the "Stimulant Decree" issued by High Command showed there was an expectation they would – given they would have to be awake for days on end.

But there was hardly any reluctance from troops.

"Everyone loved Pervitin, so it was not really an issue," Mr Ohler said.

"Like drinking coffee."

In the three days of the initial invasion of France, the Germans had advanced further than they ever did in the four years of World War I.

Soldiers and pilots in the US and UK during World War II were also taking amphetamines, though it was far less widespread.


The German army's blitzkrieg tactics allowed them to make rapid advances into France in 1940.

Pervitin gave Germany the edge in their blitzkrieg war, but the military soon realised the issues that arose from getting an army hooked on meth.

When high, soldiers became agitated, unpredictable, psychotic and more likely to commit war crimes.

The German military started to scale back access to Pervitin – putting many soldiers into withdrawal.

"People became addicted, and continued to use Pervitin after the war," Mr Ohler said.

One of the Germans hooked on Pervitin was Adolf Hitler himself.

Towards the end of the war, Hitler was being given a cocktail of drugs like morphine, sedatives, body-building supplements, hormones and Pervitin.


The Temmler factory where Pervitin was manufactured.

Though he was publicly known as a vehement non-smoker, non-drinker and vegetarian, by the end of his life, Hitler was a drug addict.

As the war progressed, Hitler became famously erratic and paranoid, raging at his generals and issuing bizarre orders.

By the end of 1944, the British had a plan in place to assassinate Hitler.

They decided against it, because Hitler's decision making was so poor that they concluded the Allies would win the war faster with Hitler in charge of Germany.

The last footage of Hitler before the fall of Berlin shows him shaking uncontrollably, suggesting he was in withdrawal in the days before his death.

Pervitin, despite its reputation, remained available to German soldiers for decades to come.

Troops in East Germany could access the drug up until the 1980s.

Criminalisation would not come until the fall of the Berlin Wall.


Source : 9 News More   

What's Your Reaction?


Next Article

Eleven LGAs across South-East Queensland to enter snap lockdown

Only four reasons to leave home after the state recorded six new local COVID-19 cases.

Eleven LGAs across South-East Queensland to enter snap  lockdown

Queensland authorities have introduced a snap lockdown for 11 local government areas after the state recorded six new local COVID-19 cases.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the new transmissions were linked to an infected student at a Brisbane high school.

The lockdown in south-east Queensland will start at 4pm today and continue until 4pm on Tuesday.


From 4pm the only reason to leave home will be to buy essentials, such as groceries and shopping, work if you can't work from home, exercise within 10 kilometres of your home and healthcare, including vaccinations.

Only children of essential workers can attend school.

Dr Miles said the lockdown would be short and strict but necessary.

"We received the advice of the chief health officer, and the premier has ordered that we move strongly and implement all of the restrictions advised by the chief health officer.

"We must go hard and go early. And so from 4:00pm today, the 11 LGAs that currently have mask-wearing requirements will go into lockdown. This will be the strictest lockdown that we have had.

The 11 LGAs entering lockdown from 4pm:

  • Brisbane City
  • Moreton Bay
  • Gold Coast
  • Ipswich
  • Lockyer Valley
  • Logan City
  • Noosa Shire
  • Redland City
  • Scenic Rim
  • Somerset
  • Sunshine Coast

Dr Miles urged residents in the affected LGAs to stay at home and to avoid panic buying of essentials.

"If you are thinking about going out, please stay home if you can. If you are out and about now, please go home, if you can," he said.

"Grocery stores will stay open throughout the lockdown. So, please don't think that you need to rush to get essential items. You will be permitted to leave your homes for essential items. Please don't rush out to grocery stores.

"That creates a risk of infection that we want to avoid. We have been in contact with the supermarkets - they are all well-supplied."


Dr Miles said the aim was to "go hard and go early".

Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young also stressed the need for people under the snap lockdown to limit their movements.

"So, for the next three days, I just ask everyone: Stay at home. The only real reason you need to leave home is for healthcare or to provide support to a vulnerable person. Hopefully, people have got enough food at home."

Dr Young confirmed there are seven infections in the cluster linked to Indooroopilly State High School, with six new cases, including a five-member family and a medical student.

"We had six new community-acquired cases yesterday, so there are now seven in that cluster. And they are related to two people who returned from overseas and were in hotel quarantine.

"So, there are now nine linked cases. I still don't have the direct link from one of those two cases through to these new seven cases, but I know through whole genome sequencing that that is where the transmission has occurred."

Dr Young said the Delta variant is spreading quickly.


"We now have all five people in one household have been infected. So, all five of those household members. We know that Delta is a particularly infectious strain.

"Then we know that we have another person today who is a medical student at the University of Queensland who is a tutor for that 17-year-old that we announced yesterday."

More exposure sites are expected to be added across those 11 LGAs throughout the day.

Dr Young said health authorities could not rule out further cases outside of Brisbane.

"At the moment, I don't know where this virus is in southeast Queensland. It could be anywhere. It could be in the Sunshine Coast, because we had one of those original cases up there, and they live in Buderim.

"It could be down in the Gold Coast, because we had one of those original cases down there when they were being managed."

Dr Young pleaded with anti-lockdown protesters to scrap planned gatherings tomorrow in Brisbane.

"Please don't protest tomorrow. Protests are very, very important - I agree with protests, they are an important part of our democracy. But just don't do it tomorrow."

Source : 9 News More   

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.