How Hitler Used Meth To Control Nazi Soldiers

From the moment Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party rose to power in 1933, they had no intentions of giving it up. In order to maintain control of the government, there was a heavy focus on building up the military. Though the Nazi army, also called Wermacht, studied and trained in ways similar to the other armed forces in the world, it turns out they also did something very differently. According to The Guardian, the Nazis used drugs on a regular basis, the Führer included, in order to try and create the world's best soldiers.

Ironically enough, to the public, the Nazis were supposedly "drug free," but meth was the exception to the rule. Per Time Magazine, in 1937, when a chemist synthesized methamphetamine for the first time, a German pharmaceutical company then marketed it to the masses as Pervitin. It became popular fairly quickly for its ability to increase energy, alertness, and vigilance. A man named Dr. Otto Ranke was the biggest proponent of Pervitin for soldiers and believed it could give the military an advantage. Because of this, it was not long before Pervitin became the drug of choice for Nazi soldiers.

Drug-induced blitzkrieg

The Nazi war strategy known as Blitzkrieg also contributed to the continued use of this drug. Blitzkrieg or "lightning war" focused on elements of speed and surprise to overcome the enemy. As such, according to Time Magazine, the soldiers were actually the weak link in this strategy, simply because they were human. People get tired. People have to eat. People have to drink. Pervitin theoretically addressed some of these issues by keeping the soldiers awake longer. Unfortunately, the decision to use it did prove beneficial to the Nazis initially because multiple countries fell to their strategy and did so quickly.

As early as 1939, the Reich Health Führer and others were reporting the risks of taking Pervitin. This did result in it eventually requiring a prescription to get your hands on it, but the restrictions put into place were largely ignored. Because of this, Temmler-Werke, the pharmaceutical company that manufactured the drug, continued to pump out millions of tablets over the next few years. Many of those pills went to the military until around 1940 when the Third Reich became concerned about the side effects and addictive properties of meth. Though usage was cut back among soldiers, the general public still continued to use it in spite of growing evidence of its negative side effects.