Hitler Was a Junkie and the Nazis Were High on Meth, New Book Claims

By May Wilkerson 09/14/15

German troops were allegedly awake for days on end from Pervitin, a pill form of crystal meth.

Nazi soldiers marching
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It has long been rumored that Hitler was high on meth. But it looks like heroin may have been his drug of choice, while meth fueled the Nazis in battle, according to a new book, Der Totale Rausch (The Total Rush) by German writer Norman Ohler.

The book highlights drug use during Hitler’s regime, claiming meth and heroin may have helped fuel the mass killings of 6 million Jews. Throughout his reign of terror, the Nazi leader reportedly shot up anything from steroids to heroin, says Ohler. He also distributed millions of pills of meth to his troops to help them stay alert on the frontlines.

According to Ohler, the Nazis were given a drug called Pervitin, which was essentially crystal meth in pill form, to help them stay awake. The drug was considered to be “like coffee,” because it was so easily obtainable.

In 2005, German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that a military doctor first experimented with Pervitin on 90 college students, which led him to conclude that it would “help win the war.” Millions of the pills were then delivered to the frontlines by plane and doled out to the Nazis before invasions. Ohler says the drug was used specifically for blitzkriegs, or “lightning wars,” including the invasion of Sudetenland, Poland, and France. The pills would reportedly keep the Nazis awake for “days at a time,” allowing them to hike up to 36 miles a day.

Early on in the war, the use of the drug, which some British newspapers glorified as a “miracle pill,” was mostly out in the open. In 1941, the drug was banned, but Ohler reports that its use continued for years.

Various letters collected from that time suggest that many Nazis got addicted. “It's tough out here ... Today I'm writing you mainly to ask for some Pervitin,” said a 1939 letter from a Nazi in Poland to his family. Six months later, he wrote: “Perhaps you could get me some more Pervitin so that I can have a backup supply?" Then two months later he followed up: "If at all possible, please send me some more Pervitin.”

Meth is thought to have contributed to the Nazis’ murderous rampages. The drug floods your brain with serotonin and dopamine, causing a flood of pleasure often followed by irritability, anger, and rage. Chronic, long-term use can lead to mental deficiencies, aggressive behavior, and psychosis.

Ohler believes Hitler didn’t take Pervitin himself, though he used a whole swath of other drugs. According to notes from Hitler’s doctor, Dr. Theodor Morell, the Führer was “ceaselessly” injected with doping agents, hormones, and hard drugs. By the winter of 1944, shortly before the war ended, his doctor reported he had “long known no more sober days.”

Heroin addiction may have contributed to Hitler’s mental deterioration and insanity. The drug may induce a state of delirium, and withdrawal can cause severe agitation and uncontrollable anger. Chronic use has been found to impair decision-making and fuel “irrational responses to stress.” According to Ohler, it was Hitler’s heroin use that led him to "maintain his delusion until the end.”

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.