Photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command / National Archives
While WWII was heavily underway, the Nazi soldiers found fuel from a rather harmful stimulant known as Pervitin. Today, Pervitin is none other than the illegal and dangerous substance methamphetamine, which is still taking its toll on countless Europeans struggling with addiction.
The Nazi’s drug use became known during WWII once they sent letters home that highlighted how out-of-sorts these soldiers were. One letter, in particular, came from Heinrich Boll, a famous German author who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1972 for literature. According to German news outlet Der Spiegel, back when Boll was in his twenties fighting with the Nazis, he wrote a letter to his parents begging for a refill of his “alertness aid” drug, Pervitin, better known today as methamphetamine.
The drug made its debut in the 1930s when Temmler Werke, a Berlin-based company and a Nazi officer, passed the drug and showcased it as a “miracle pill,” which made its way over to the German soldiers in the highest of doses we’ve ever seen. Pervitin is known for rushing a wave of energy through the user for an intense and stimulating high.
Like most other drugs, it’s hard to reach that first-time high over time, leading the soldiers to addiction. When abusing Pervitin, users feel similar effects as meth: paranoia, anxiety, insomnia, confusion, mood disturbances, visual/auditory hallucinations, delusions, and violent behavior.
In 2005, Der Spiegel reported that while German leaders and soldiers were heavily using the drug, many German doctors had second thoughts and were hesitant about prescribing the pill to patients. In an attempt to decrease Pervitin use across the country, The Reich’s minister of health, Leonardo Conti, didn’t see much success due to an instinctual and primal need for the drug in those addicted. According to the BBC, one of the most notable leaders addicted was Adolf Hitler, whose doctor would give him daily injections of methamphetamine from 1942 up until he died in 1945.
Although meth was a popular substance used by Nazis in WWII, alcohol was just as common. According to Der Spiegel, alcohol use was highly encouraged throughout the German military, even though they mixed it with one of the most dangerous drugs around. The Local reported that as we know today, the rate at which Germans are using crystal meth has unfortunately increased since 2012.
Dr. Rolan Härtel-Petri, an expert in addiction, psychiatry, and psychotherapy, said it’s possibly easier for meth addicts to get away with using the drug in Germany than in the United States. This is because of the U.S.’s influential anti-drug campaigns that often use vivid and disturbing images that show the public the horrible damage that addiction cause. So instead of wincing at the sight of these campaigns, think about their positive effect and how they steer you away from using harmful drugs that can ruin your life.
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