The first thing one should recognize is that what is now known as crystal meth is not a new drug. First developed and used as far back as the 19th century by Asians, the highly toxic cocktail was used to induce a sense of euphoria and drive in their military ranks, allowing soldiers to march all night and fight all day. And love it!
But it was the Nazis and their war mongering industrial enterprises who took things to a whole new level. Pharmaceutical companies, now household names such as Bayer, IG Farben, BASF, Hoechst, and Merck, produced billions of methamphetamine tablets to be distributed to the various German Reich branches of military. Volksdrog (The People’s Drug) was chic, hip, and wildly successful in pushing the limits of human endurance on all fronts leading up to and continuing into the Second World War. Among its most devoted supporters (and users) were Hermann Goring and Adolph Hitler, although Goring’s drug of choice initially was morphine.
The edicts set forth by the puritanical Nazis emphatically stated that substance abuse was far beneath that of a true Aryan. As the world would learn soon enough, this would be but one of the many contradictions to swirl unabated throughout the supposed thousand-year reign of National Socialism.
The Nazi version of crystal meth needed a non-chemical sounding name to make it more palatable and sterile so as to sound like a health food, or vitamin (Hitler always referred to his injections as vitamins). Henceforth all crystal meth developed in Germany became marketed under the brand name Pervitin. It wasn’t long before Pervitin was being handed out to factory workers to boost productivity of the munitions and wares needed to mount a campaign of world domination. The rest of German society eagerly followed (Joseph Goebbels ensured his Ministry of Propaganda touched the lives of all), and in this context, one can appreciate how a demoralized and repressed nation was able to secretly manufacture and amass the advanced armaments and supply chain, in violation of the Versailles Treaty, that would soon stun a continent, and then envelop the world.
In his exceptionally well researched New York Times best selling book, Blitzed, author Norman Ohler focuses principally on the rampant drug abuse of the National Socialists of Germany, but is quick to point out that there are no clean hands among any of the warring nations of the period. The Allied nations were only too willing to fight fire with fire and began feeding their respective militaries methamphetamine to achieve similar results as those being realized by the Third Reich, rarely with the permission and knowledge of its own troops. The Axis nations quickly adopted the Fuhrer’s secret potion.
Nazi Germany would hardly be the first nation to foray into mind altering substances to increase bravado and fearlessness. Zulu warriors in Africa, Inca and Mayan dynasties of Mezo America, the Navaho and Apache of Southwest United States, Amazonian tribes of South America, and a virtual cornucopia of indigenous and ancient peoples worldwide have used artificial means to achieve sometimes unimaginable military conquest, creating cult-like rituals of dance, extreme physical exhaustion, and intoxicating fanaticism from which to feed.
The victorious Allied Forces were quick to rewrite history, as is the prerogative of all victors, and it is therefore tremendously difficult to secure documentation exposing Allied use of methamphetamine by their militaries. This was not the case with Germany, who documented everything in minutia. In fact, were it not for such detailed accounts of Nazi rule in general, the likelihood of evidence existing against top ranking German officers on trial at Nuremberg post World War Two would be paltry to non-existent.
Some Allied Forces fed methamphetamine to unsuspecting front-line troops to fine tune dosage amounts and tweak performance (pun intended). They became human guinea pigs. Pilots often took methamphetamine prior to a sortie. It sharpened their reflexes and heightened their awareness of surroundings, both critical attributes in any aerial combat. As the Top Secret clearances expire on related documents in the West, the Allies are sure to be exposed for conducting the very methamphetamine program on their own soil as used by Nazis. In fact, we already know that the British fed Benzaprine to their military, as it has less adverse side effects than the German Pervitin.
Japanese kamikaze (Divine Wind) pilots were flying high, literally and figuratively. How else does one convince otherwise proud and patriotic pilots to dive their planes into targets of opportunity without question?
German ingenuity being what it is and was, the pharmaceutical manufacturers produced a purity of crystal meth unrivalled at the time, and perhaps since. Maintaining strict quality control over all output gave military leaders in Germany predictable results of behavior of users. A drugged up soldier is pliable in the iron grip of a sinister regime. Together with the right dash of propaganda, is it any wonder Hitler could conquer as many nations as he did in such a relatively short time span?
It would be wrong to credit methamphetamine use/abuse for Germany’s conquests during World War Two, just as it would be equally wrong to credit crystal meth use/abuse for the eventual and rapid decline of the Third Reich. However, in its context of the day, perhaps it could be said that the widespread methamphetamine use/abuse was one of the key contributing factors to both the rise and the fall of the Third Reich.
And while we begin to lay to rest the few remaining fighting men and women from World War Two, one has the sense that methamphetamine use/abuse in the militaries of the world has neither ebbed nor been terminated. Now painfully obvious spilling into the streets of suburbia, methamphetamine abuse world wide has skyrocketed beyond the highest aspirations of Hitler and Goebbels. The difference now is that the neighbor’s twelve year old kid can make crystal meth using chemicals found under the kitchen sink and rudimentary access to the internet. And the tween need not follow any protocols for quality control.
To visit Norman Ohler's web presence CLICK HERE
Common Street Names for Crystal Meth:Batu
Crystal Meth Glass
Poor Man’s Cocaine