Hitler’s armies carried out their “Blitzkrieg” invasions of Poland and France while high on a version of crystal meth which kept them wide awake, feeling euphoric and invincible, says a new book about the Nazis’ use of drugs during the Second World War.
In Der Totale Rausch – (Total Rush), which was published in Germany last week, Norman Ohler reveals the key strategic role of the methamphetamine-based drug, manufactured from 1937 onwards by the Nazis under the brand name of “Pervitin” and distributed among the armed forces.
The drug was marketed as a pick-up pill which was designed to combat stress and tiredness and created feelings of euphoria. “In the beginning the army didn’t realise Pervitin was a drug: soldiers thought it was just like drinking coffee,” explained Mr Ohler.
But the Nazi leadership was well aware of Pervitin’s value as stimulant during combat. After having tried it in 1939 during the German invasion of Poland, the German army subsequently ordered 35 million tablets of Pervitin for soldiers before advancing on France in the spring of 1940.