Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany

 This sounded like a most curious book. And it was to be presented, by its author, at the Lighthouse Club in London on the night in the beginning of 26/092017. Norman Ohler, tall and thin, spent the presentation standing, with his feet apart and hands on hips. A charismatic figure, he provided intriguing facts on drug use in the ‘30s, ‘40s and later years - in Germany and around the world. Thus, we heard that, in the early ‘30s, the average German housewife was receiving boxes of chocolates containing 35ml of Pervitin/methamphetamine each (each chocolate, not box…). And that Pervitin later became an important aspect of the Wehrmacht (the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany) offensive cross the Ardennes, during which time 35 million pills of Pervitin were consumed by the German soldiers. We also heard that the Wehrmacht was so hooked on methamphetamine that, when all other production was stopped, the production of Pervitin was continued, and Pervitin was the last product made in the Third Reich. When the British found out that the Germans were using Pervitin, they too considered its introduction, but finally judged it ‘too strong for the British soldier’… substituting it instead with plain old with speed. These same Pervitin pills stand at the bottom of the anecdote of the writing of the book itself. Ohler’s friend, owner of Club der Visionaere in Berlin, who runs a parallel antique books business (people call him to get rid of old libraries) was called by someone wanting to dispose of an old pharmaceutical cabinet… Finding Pervitin pills dated 1936, Ohler’s friend called upon other friends to try them, wondering whether they still might work after all these years. Well, it turned out, that they do and mightily so. So mightily, in fact, that they even bore fruit – this book. There is also a second line of narrative in Blitzed, as presented by its author - that of the Fuhrer's own drug intake. Or, as Ohler put it, ‘Hitler was Fuhrer when it was up to the drugs intake, too’. According to the author, Hitler was introduced to his Dr. Feel Good - Theo Morell - in 1936, and who started administering him opioids about 1943. In 1944, Hitler was having Oxycodal IV injections every morning. Oxycodal being a sort of a speedball, two-in-one drug, giving its user ‘the cocoon-safe feeling of heroin, combined with the uplifted self-confidence of cocaine’. It looks like Ohler fell into a gold mine as, by his own words, ‘tons of documents on Hitler remain under-researched’. For example, Dr. Morell’s own diaries. According to the archive records, Ohler was only the fourth person to request them - the third request having been made in the ‘80s. These medical diaries contain the description of one thousand days of Hitler, as seen by his doctor - his schedule for the day, his mood, and the drugs he was administered. And, yes, this included diaries containing one thousand days of the Hitler between 1936 and 1945. What a mind-blowing source of raw material for science. And for fiction. Other chapters of the book describe the search for ‘the ideal drug’ by the SS, and the mescaline experiments in the Dachau concentration camp. When asked by the audience about modern drugs, Ohler named Modafinil (the so-called ‘smart drug’) as the latest trend in ‘writers’ drug’. I would happily have bought the book, had the organiser Funzing (or the publisher) not forgotten to supply copies for sale at the presentation. Actually, I couldn’t have bought the book, even if the organisers had provided copies, as the Lighthouse Club charged me £16 for a double Jameson and Coke (well, generic taste with bubbles…). Which meant that, just as the author agreed to sell me his own copy, I found myself short of cash…