By Dick Martin
Did you ever wonder how the German Wehrmacht kept its blitzkrieg pace going across Poland and Northern Europe? Drugs! More specifically Crystal Methadone (Pervitin.)
In addition, at the start of the war, Hitler suffered from gas, for which he was soon taking a cocktail of morphine, crystal meth, and laxatives. Cocaine and morphine were a favorite of the Germans and could be easily and cheaply obtained at dreary German night clubs.
When the Nazis rose to power, illegal drug consumption fell. Suddenly, drugs were regarded as toxic to the German body and addicts were looked at as undesirable social elements.
However, Pervitin, was distributed by the millions to Wehrmacht troop before the successful invasion of France in 1940. Before that, Pervitin was initially marketed in the 1930’s as a recreational pick-me-up. It was initially experimented with to see how long student users could stay awake and still perform well on exams.
As the Wehrmacht rolled across Europe, something was needed to keep the blitzkrieg’s “war on exhaustion” going. With the use of Pervitin, soldiers could keep going for days. Nazi medical officials who were increasingly aware of Pervitin’s risks, i.e. critical thinking skills, declined the longer use as two thirds of those taking the drug suffered from psychosis after a few years. The risks were thought to be worth it since twenty minutes after ingesting Pervitin, the nerve cells in the soldiers’ brains started releasing neurotransmitters, putting the soldiers in an alert state allowing them to continue functioning. When it came to Nazi leaders, research suggests they all favored their own particular drugs of choice.
The allies inadvertently found Pervitin in a downed German plane. As the war dragged on, the allies discovered the risks of taking Chrystal Meth and took Benzedrine as a substitute, another topic.