The Third Reich's Love Affair With Meth | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

The Third Reich's Love Affair With Meth

It was seen as the "ideal war drug" by the Nazis. Incredibly, German troops were still offered it as late as 1988.

Image: 

High Hitler? Photo via

By Victoria Kim

05/31/13

| Share

Germany's World War II army distributed millions of "miracle" pills to its soldiers to keep them alert, as a fascinating article on The Atlantic details. Pervitin, an early version of methamphetamine, became popular in the Third Reich after it was introduced to the market in 1938 by Berlin drugmaker Temmler Werke, according to Der Spiegel. A German army physiologist, Otto Ranke, first recognized Pervitin's military potential: The "ideal war drug" was able to keep soldiers alert—and feeling euphoric—on very little sleep. So the Wehrmacht started distributing millions of Pervitin pills to soldiers, who dubbed it "Panzerschokolade" ("tank chocolate"), and to air force pilots, who knew it as "pilot's chocolate" or "pilot's salt". Hitler himself also used methamphetamine via intravenous injection. And Nobel Prize-winning writer Heinrich Böll wrote numerous letters to his family begging for the drug during his time in the German military. Just one tablet of Pervitin could achieve the same alertness as several cups of coffee, Böll explained. It allowed him to forget, temporarily, the horrors of war.

Although Pervitin's so-called positive effects made it popular in the military, its long-term side effects—such as heart failure and suicide—took a severe toll. Leonardo Conti, the Third Reich's top health official, sought to limit its use, but failed. Incredibly, it wasn't until 1988 that the drug was finally removed from both East and West Germany's post-war armies' medical arsenals. In today's Germany, meth use is on the rise. The latest official reports say that the country saw more first-time users over the last year than ever before, joining the 24 million total meth users around the world, according to the UN.

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu
 
 
 
 
 

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery
 
 
 
 

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center
 
 
 
 

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 

Reflections
 
 
 
 

This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea
 
 
 
 

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu
 
 
 
 

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab
 
 
 
 
 

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv