Nazi soldiers seemed like unstoppable forces in the 1940s, but it is not widely known that their ruthless strength came partially from a specialized drug.
Hitler first banned drugs in Germany and treated drug addiction as “criminally insane” behavior, going so far as to execute those who abused them. Soon after Hitler’s laws went into effect, however, a man by the name of Dr. Fritz invented a drug called Pervitin.
Based on a performance-enhancing drug Americans used in the 1936 Olympics, Pervitin was an early form of crystal meth. It was legalized and used in chocolate, for weight loss, and as an energy booster.
When Pervitin was first used by soldiers, they found they could fight sleep and that their inhibitions were lifted.
Known by rival armies as “the great enemy,” the Nazi army worked more by sleeping less. Soldiers also became more fearsome as their levels of restraint lessened. Eventually, all soldiers were required to take one to two tablets per day.
Pervitin played a huge part in the invasion of France.
French generals could have prepared for the Nazi attack better once they realized the army had entered the Ardennes Mountain range, but the drug allowed Nazis to make their way through the pass without sleeping. It became a surprise attack.
Other even stronger drugs were developed shortly thereafter, including cocaine chewing gum.
Tested first on Jewish prisoners in concentration camps, the gum was given to submarine captains so they could stay submerged and awake for longer periods of time.
Hitler himself even became addicted to drugs toward the end of his life.
Under the care of Dr. Morell, Hitler took opioids and amphetamines until many of the drug-making factories were destroyed in bombings. Pervitin supplies ran out in 1945.
While Hitler and his Nazi soldiers suffered side effects and withdrawals from their drug use, without it, much of their reign of terror would not have been possible.
(via All Day)