Author: Norman Ohler
If you have ever wondered what happens when a nation becomes addicted to pharmaceutical speed, then Blitzed is the book for you. Essentially the story of drug-use in Germany (possibly with some dramatisation according to Ohler’s critics) and within the German army throughout the Second World War, it not only sheds new light on the internal operations of the German military complex, but also offers alternate explanation as to why Germany seemed so unstoppable as well as.
According to Ohler, a lot of the German Army’s initial success was owed to an over-the-counter pick-me-up, called Pervitin. Marketed to housewives as a “mothers-little-helper”, Pervitin (essentially methamphetamine) was said to have become so widely used that doctor’s throughout Germany were apparently concerned that the whole country might become victims of its addictive nature. While initially it produced feelings of euphoria, and increased energy levels, prolonged use also led to aggression, violent behaviour and paranoia. Not to mention the damage it caused to serotonin neurons.
However, Pervitin was soon identified by the military as something that could be of use to them because of these same properties. Eventually handed out as part of regular army kit, Pervitin would go on to be used to keep soldiers awake for days on end. It also made the men appear hyper-vigilant, even though medical tests proved this was actually not the case, and finally, it was assumed that because it removed inhibitions, it would make the soldiers better fighters. The army was soon being plied with hundreds of Pervitin tablets. Each soldier receiving tubes containing 30-40 tablets, and being advised to take 2-3 at a time, several times a day!
Ohler doesn’t stop with the army however, and also looks into the drug habits of Hitler himself. According to the meticulous notes kept by his physician, Dr Morell, Hitler was chugging down all sorts of narcotics and “vitamin” supplements on a daily basis. This then obviously led to Hitler having a dependence not only on the drugs, but on Morell himself, who tried to use his position to build his own empire. However, it was still a tenuous relationship, and the Doctor knew – no drugs, no Morell.
Not content with drugging up their soldiers either, the Nazis also tested their drug concotions and theories out on Jewish prisoners in the concentration camps, forcing them to take special drug mixtures and then submitting them to cruel experiments.
Blitzed offers a disturbing look inside events that seem seldom considered, but often acknowledged, in World War II history. Definitely a page-turner.
Read this if you like: History, World War II history, drug research, unbelievable true stories, non-fiction.
Rated: 3 scoops out of a possible 5 flavours.