The U.S. Civil War was the first time that morphine had been used in mass amounts. It had only been discovered a short 56 years earlier by Friedrich Wilhelm Serturner a pharmacist assistant from Paderborn, Westphalia, Germany. Prior to his discovery, apothecaries would grown their own herbs and plants from which they would create homemade pain relivers, a process that dates back to Christian monasteries during the Middle Ages.
Morphine is derived from the sap of the opium poppy. The strength of the sap depends on the growing conditions of the poppy, a weak sap doesn’t have much effect however a strong sap is powerful enough to overdose a person. In 1827 Emanuel Merck started selling alkaloids (classes of drugs derived from plants) such as morphine and quinine for pain and poisons such as atropine and strychnine.
Birth of German Drug Culture
After its use in the Civil War, morphine was used again in the Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871, but after that it began to seep its way into everyday life in Germany. By the 1920’s Berlin nightlife was out of control with the use of morphine and other opiates. Today we know it as crystal meth, back then it was over the counter and called Pervitin. Pervitin was known as Volsdroge- the People’s Drug.
Pervitin, chloroform, ether and morphine were all over the party clubs of Berlin. Pervitin could be purchased at any apothecary in the city, it was even marketed as a “wonder” drug, good for impotence, depression, anxiety and much more. As it made its way into the nightlife, sex clubs began to pop up and dance clubs could stay open longer as Pervitin kept people awake longer.
A popular actress and dancer of the time, Anita Berber, was known to dip white rose petals into a liquid combination of chloroform and ether and suck the mixture off the petals for breakfast. Almost half of the doctors in Berlin were addicted to morphine, on the Friedrichstrasse Chinese traders opened opium dens. By 1928 over one hundred and twenty pounds of morphine and heroine had been sold illegally in Berlin alone.
Nazi’s and Drugs: Controlling the Usage
When the National Socialist (Nazi) came to power in 1933, they decided to make any drug that they considered a “seductive poison” illegal. They wanted Hitler to be the only “seducer” of the people. Thus, in November 1933 the Reichstag began passing laws making any drug use illegal, it began with a two-year prison sentence, however that could be extended indefinitely or they user could find themselves in a concentration camp.
A person’s medical records were no longer confidential, if your doctor prescribed you any narcotics for longer than three weeks he was expected to give a list of his patients to the Reichstag for approval or denial of the narcotic. And every German was expected to report anyone, including friends and family, that they suspected of drug use. Drugs were even added into the 1935 Marital Health Law under “psychopathic personalities”.
By 1941 the Nazi’s had set up the Reich Central Office for Combating Drug Transgressions, it was under the direction of SS Hauptstrumfuhrer Criminal Commissar Erwin Kesmehl, his view was that “Jews play a supreme part” in the drug business and that “eliminating international criminals who often have roots in Jewry”, would eliminate the market for illegal drugs. Also, among his already twisted ideas of Judaism, he believed that Jews were prone to drug use because of their “character” and that intellectual Jews used morphine to calm their “excited nerves”.
Nazi’s and Drugs: The Beginning
Dr. Theodor Morell was an egotistical man that was known for his vitamin injections. He had done so many injections and was so famous for them that it was said “you couldn’t feel the prick of the needle” when he gave them to you. He was also known for his treatments of sexually transmitted diseases, and that is how he met Adolf Hitler.
In the Spring of 1936 Dr. Morell was called to the Nazi Headquarters in Munich by Hitler’s adjutant, Schaub. He was called to treat the “delicate illness” of Heinrich Hoffman, close friend of Hitlers and official party photographer. When Dr. Morell arrived in Munich he met Hoffman at the luxurious Regent-Plast-Hotel. His stay was paid for by the Reich. The “delicate illness” of Hoffman was pyelonephritis that he developed from gonorrhea.
As a “thank you” Hoffman sent Dr. Morell and his wife to Venice for a holiday. Hoffman was very close to Hitler and had been since the 1920’s. It was Hoffman that introduced Hitler to Eva Braun, Hoffman’s onetime assistant at his photography studio.
That same evening Dr. Morell was invited to have dinner with the Fuhrer and his friends. After dinner Hitler complained of severe stomach and intestinal pain, something that he had dealt with for years. Dr. Morell mentioned that he has an unusual treatment for Hitlers ailments and would he like to try it. Dr. Morell gave Hitler the injection and within moments he is pain free. Hitler requested that Dr. Morell come to the Berghof for further consultations.
Dr. Morell arrived at the Berghof, Hitlers mountain retreat at Berchtesgaden. Hitler refused to answer health questions or undergo a physical exam, Dr. Morell treated him based upon his complaints and diagnosed him with bacterial flora causing poor digestion. He began to the give the Fuhrer Mutaflora (a probiotic) injections. Hitler becomes “patient A” in Dr. Morell’s journals. From that time on Dr. Morell rarely leaves Hitlers side.
Nazi’s and Drugs: A Hypocritical Relationship
On October 31, 1937 Pervitin is patented by Temmler Pharmaceuticals and by 1938 Pervitin is perfected and marketed to the masses of Germany. It is available without a prescription, its use is state sanctioned, and it is methamphetamine. Pervitin is used by Nazi party members and the SS. Boxes of chocolates are spiked with Pervitin and being sold all over Germany. At the time there was little known about the long-term effects of the drug, but the short-term effects are that the user is wide awake, has increased energy, heightened senses, higher self-confidence, sense of euphoria, long lasting effect (longer than 12 hours) and the users mind goes into a state of emergency when faced with sudden danger. Advertising for Pervitin is in full swing and sales were booming.
Pervitin was used all over university campuses in Germany by medical students who needed to stay awake longer for the demanding curriculum. Dr. Otto F. Ranke was studying the fatigue of soldiers, looking for ways to keep them awake for longer periods of time. He was aware of the use of Pervitin by medical students, but it wasn’t until those students took Pervitin with them when they went off to war in the Wehrmacht that Dr. Ranke understood its full effects. The soldier’s inhibitions switched off when they took Pervitin, the drivers would take it at midnight so that they could drive all night without being tired.
By November 1939 Dr. Ranke himself was addicted to Pervitin, he no longer slept at night and stayed awake for days at a time. In February 1940 when the German Wehrmacht was trying to cut off the allied forces in Belgium, they wanted to use a sickle cut maneuver, but for it to work, no one could stop and rest. They had to push through the Ardennes forest and trap the Allies in Dunkirk. Pervitin is recommended.
Pervitin isn’t just taken by foot soldiers, officers were taking it as well. The Wehrmacht becomes the first army in history to become drug dependent. By the end of the war the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe will order and consume over 35 million Pervitin tablets. Pervitin was the driving force behind the invasion of France and cutting off the Allies in Dunkirk. Under the influence of Pervitin, the German soldiers have a heightened sense of invincibility. They charged over vast expanses of ground like crazy men, they had no fear, all inhibitions gone. They can now kill without remorse of any kind. And they did it for three days straight.
General Erwin Rommel was a Pervitin user. With it, he charged ahead with his Panzer division in France. He was out of touch with his commanders and he had no sense of danger, as Pervitin gave him a heightened sense of arrogance. On May 17, 1940 Rommel charged down the road in his Panzer from Solre-le-Chateau to Avesnes. He ran into the French infantry that had camped in the fields outside the city, he ran over soldiers with his panzer, fired broadside at the soldiers and pushed vehicles and the dead into ditches before leaving with his tracks of his panzer dripping with blood.
When Hitler heard of what had happened in France and at Dunkirk, he was stunned. He could not believe that the Wehrmacht had covered so much ground in so short a time and with so little resistance, he felt that it must be a mistake. Goering, a morphine addict himself, was itching for the Luftwaffe to have its own glory and it is thought, that it is he that talks Hitler into halting the forces at Dunkirk, allowing the Allies to escape across the channel.
With his Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe flying high on Pervitin Hitler was getting his own “medication”. Dr. Morell had started Hitler with Vitamulin injections, a concoction of rosehip powder, dried lemon, yeast extract, skimmed milk and refined sugar. He also created a bar of this to be eaten by the Fuhrer and it was soon consumed by those at the Reich Chancellery as well. Between August 1941 and April 1945 Dr. Morell records 1,100 medications and close to 800 injections for “patient A”. That’s almost daily injections.
Hitler began to stay longer and longer at the Wolf’s Lair in the Masurian Forest. A miserable place filled with swamps, mosquitos, thick ground fog and damp. Many of the journals kept by those there note that everything is damp, they cannot get their clothes to dry and that the smell of gasoline is overpowering. The gasoline was sprayed on the ground to keep the mosquitos down. It is here that Hitler switches from Vitamulin to opiates.
When Dr. Morell gave Hitler his injection one morning in August of 1941, he bent the needle causing Hitler tremendous pain. To ease the pain Dr. Morell gave him twenty drops of dolatine, an opiate very similar to morphine. Dr. Morell was also giving Hitler Tonophosphan (a metabolic stimulate), Homoseran (placenta extract for the immune system), Testoviron (a naturally occurring sexual hormone) and Orchikrin and Prostakrinum (both combinations of male testosterone from humans and animals).
The End is Near
As the war progresses Hitlers health deteriorates, Joseph Goebbels (minister of Propaganda) noted in his journal that Hitler was looking pale, weak and frail. The German troops were beginning to look the same way, the years on Pervitin were taking their toll. In December of 1942 Hitler ask Dr. Morell for Cardiazol, a drug used by Goering when he feels weak and tired. Dr. Morell refuses it to Hitler as Hitler has developed a heart problem and Cardiazol is difficult to give precise dosage, but Dr. Morell gets the message, the Fuhrer wants stronger drugs.
At the same time, Dr. Morell buys into a Swift Slaughtering house, as according to him “valuable proteins were still being washed away”. He started an “organtherapuetc factory”, with the idea that hormones from animals’ organs can be used to treat humans. July 18, 1943 Hitler was awakened in the middle of the night with horrible pain, his dinner was not sitting well. Dr. Morell gave him Eukodal, a form of oxycodone for the first time. Eukodal is twice as strong a morphine and Dr. Morell was aware that Hitler had an addictive personality.
Within a year, Dr. Morell was treating all of the Nazi hierarchy with Eukodal injections, including Eva Braun who wanted to be on track with her lover. Goering calls him the “Reich injection master”. The Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe were fighting a losing battle to the Allied forces. Hitler was set on not losing ground in Eastern Europe, as that was where the death camps were and he didn’t want the Allies to find them before they had the chance to complete the Final Solution. Hitler was maniacal about the Final Solution, it was now his sole focus. He no longer listened to Generals who contradict him or gave him the reality of their situation- they were losing.
Hitler was now stooping and his knees quaked when he stood. He spent more and more time in his bunkers far under ground and was no longer getting any sunshine or fresh air, he was addicted to Eukodal. Thirteen days before he committed suicide Hitler fired Dr. Morell. Dr. Morell could no longer supply him with the drugs he needed to stay awake and to go to sleep, he could no longer function and was deep in withdrawals.
On April 30, 1945 Adolf Hitler takes hydrogen cyanide and shot himself in the head, Eva Braun, Joseph and Magda Goebbels, along with their six children took hydrogen cyanide and died in the bunker with their beloved Fuhrer.
In the end the Nazi regime was utterly defeated. The young soldiers, once vital and strong, were now addicted to Pervitin. They had been on the substance for years and were now suffering the consequences. The Nazi elite, also on drugs, either ran away, got captured or killed themselves. Before surrendering, the Hitler Youth were given methamphetamines and sent into no win battle situations by the Wehrmacht and the Navy. The regime that claimed a complete healthy, drug free, clean lifestyle was in fact a mess. Hitler, the vegetarian, had so much animal hormones coursing through his blood, it is questionable that he could still be called a vegetarian. The drug that brought them the Blitzkrieg destroyed them in the end.
Pervitin did what all drugs do, they give you a great high in the beginning and then they bring you crashing to the ground in the end.
I hope that you enjoyed this weeks blog, if you would like to read more on this subject I highly recommend Blitzed by Norman Ohler.
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