Drugs in the Third Reich

eBook - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:
New York Times Bestseller

"[A] fascinating, engrossing, often dark history of drug use in the Third Reich." -- Washington Post

The Nazi regime preached an ideology of physical, mental, and moral purity. Yet as Norman Ohler reveals in this gripping new history, the Third Reich was saturated with drugs: cocaine, opiates, and, most of all, methamphetamines, which were consumed by everyone from factory workers to housewives to German soldiers. In fact, troops were encouraged, and in some cases ordered, to take rations of a form of crystal meth--the elevated energy and feelings of invincibility associated with the high even help to account for the breakneck invasion that sealed the fall of France in 1940, as well as other German military victories. Hitler himself became increasingly dependent on injections of a cocktail of drugs--ultimately including Eukodal, a cousin of heroin--administered by his personal doctor.

Thoroughly researched and rivetingly readable, Blitzed throws light on a history that, until now, has remained in the shadows.

"Delightfully nuts." -- The New Yorker

NORMAN OHLER is an award-winning German novelist, screenwriter, and journalist. He is the author of the novels Die Quotenmaschine (the world's first hypertext novel), Mitte, and Stadt des Goldes (translated into English as Ponte City ). He was cowriter of the script for Wim Wenders's film Palermo Shooting. He lives in Berlin.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, [2017]
Copyright Date: ℗♭2016
ISBN: 9781328664099
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file
Alternative Title: Drugs in the Third Reich

Related Resources


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Dec 18, 2018

important book; authoritatively-researched; written in an easy, though literate way, kind of like a novel. extremely recommended if one has any interest in the subject, and well-worth your time to counter-act any myths of hitler as an ubermensch.

Oct 03, 2018

Dr. Theodor Morell was a quack, and Adolf Hitler was a drug addict whose dependence on various substances (a few of them pretty grotesque!) increasingly insulated him from the reality that he was on the path to perdition and dragging Germany down with him. The parallels between the decline in Germany’s fortunes and Hitler’s physical and mental state can only be described as eerie, and the last days of April 1945 in the Führerbunker only as surreal. Notable is the author’s contention that Hitler was not crazy; and that in moments of clarity (fewer and fewer as time went on) as he went through the agonies of withdrawal, in his own private hell, due to the increasing scarcity of the drugs on which he had come to depend in order to function at all, he fully realized what was happening to himself and his country and the weight of responsibility that he bore for all of it – although, in "Mein Politizsches Testament", he of course continued to blame the Jews.

The widespread use of Pervitin and, later, cocaine and Eukodal both helped fuel the early advances of the Blitzkrieg and Operation Barbarossa and the determination to continue the fight long after it had ceased to make any sense, as with the reliance of the Wehrmacht on the Hitler Youth to replenish its ranks for the Battle of the Bulge, and of the Navy to crew the mini-submarines (“Negroes” and “Beavers” and “Seals”) which were supposedly, along with the V-1, V-2 and Me-262 jet fighter, going to turn the tide. These drugs also probably played a role (along with the philosophy of “befehl ist befehl”, an order is an order) in the Germans’ suppression of their own humanity which led them to dehumanize the Jews and so many others and to continue to commit atrocities right up to the very end (see “Soldiers and Slaves” by Roger Cohen); because, above all, orders from the Führer and the Reichsführer-SS (Himmler) had to be obeyed. Would history have been any different had Merck, Bayer and other companies not been located in Germany but rather in the West?

Jul 11, 2018

At first it seems like a sick joke or the premise of a terrible movie: the Nazis were on drugs! But German journalist Norman Ohler's short, but substantial book offers a fresh perspective on an exhaustively studied subject. Ohler's research finds that German pharmaceutical companies provided the Third Reich with drugs, notably the pill Pervetin, which was a methamphetamine that German troops popped by the million. Ohler's premise is that the pills, which meant troops could go without sleep for days, fueled the Blitzkreig and German's initial shocking, swift victories. In addition, the Furher was basically a junkie with his own physician. So much for Aryan purity. A valuable addition to a crowded field.

May 27, 2018

When I read the premise of this book, I put it in the 'sensational (meaning dubious) history' category. I would have skipped this book had it not been for the young'uns in our history book club wanting to read something 'exciting'. By page 10, I was hooked. Like others who are perpetual students of history, I couldn't believe I could've gone this long without knowing about the wide use of drugs in the military. The book is a quick read, with the proper use of extensive footnoting (i.e., he didn't try to put everything he knew in the body of the book). And that's saying something - with the amount of digging through obscure archives the author must have done, I'm surprised he didn't trip over the Lost Ark of the Covenant.

I just need to say that nothing in this book tries to excuse what the 3rd Reich did (or tried to do). It did provide another way of looking at some of the events of WW2 that have puzzled military historians. It also provided some interesting insight to how a large swath of a population could allow themselves to be seduced by evil.

Theoretical_Onesie Apr 27, 2018

Very interesting and fact filled book. Tells you a lot about what really went on with the Nazis. At first I thought it was making drugs sound fun but reading it all the way through has changed my mind!

Apr 27, 2018

Popular history taught me that Hitler was a meth addict and that it explained his erratic behavior near the end of the war. This book explores those anecdotal stories and expands it to the entire third reich.

Through looking at and combining records from disparate archives, the author astutely recreates Germany's love affair with methamphetamine, and the fuhrer's love of opiates and cocaine.

What is most impressive about this book is that it gives a totalized explanation for WWII from the perspective of Nazi drug use. At the end you may or may not agree with the general thesis, but it gave me an entirely new way to think about Germany and it's actions during WWII.

A fascinating book on many levels.

JCLKatyW Jul 17, 2017

This book has transformed how I think about World War II. Being a history major, I found it bizarre that I had never heard of the widespread usage of hard drugs in the third reich, but after listening to this book it makes a lot of sense out of situations that previously seemed odd. For instance, the ease at which the Nazis originally conquered countries like Poland and France has always been described as Blitzkrieg or all out war, but it was just always assumed that the Nazis must have just been better than other armies that had come before them. However the secret was that the Nazi advance was taking a little drug called pervitin which at the time was an anti-fatigue medication, although we know it today as a form of crystal meth. They stayed up for several days, while feeling mostly fatigue free, and were able to make huge territorial gains that were previously unthinkable thanks to taking the drug.

This book also illuminated the drug use of Hitler himself. Hitler regularly received "vitamin injections" from Doctor Morell. Hitler did not really want full medical physicals done on himself, so he found a doctor who would just inject him substances that would keep Hitler fresh and feeling well. The jokes on Hitler because his doctor unbeknownst him needed stronger drugs to keep Hitler feeling comfortable and happy, so he started introducing all kinds of animal hormones, eukodal (oxicodone), and cocaine. It makes some of the disastrous military situations understandable in the light that the one making all the decisions was most likely high. An important distinction that books makes is that Hitler was still an awful person without the drugs; the drugs just let him act out his master plan with no remorse and with no thought of the impact upon the German people. This was a fascinating book that I would recommend to anyone who wants to understand the war from a new perspective. Great audio book!

Jun 08, 2017

I am addicted to learning more about 'World War II', it is fascinating to myself. This book is terrific, although it is written in a different manner. Terrific read if your interested in Nazi-Germany, Hitler, and the German war machine.

May 23, 2017

VERY fascinating book! Gained greater insight and understanding from reading it. Highly recommend it.

Apr 27, 2017

BLITZED is not only an eye-opener but a page-turner. The author extensively researched and documented his work and the English translation by Shaun Whiteside is very readable. Every student of World War II should read this book.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at PIDL

To Top