Hitler`s troops used drugs to stay alert

Last Updated: Monday, June 3, 2013 - 20:37

London: Letters from a Nazi soldier, who went on to become a Nobel Prize winning novelist, indicate that crystal meth may be have been the drug of choice for Adolf Hitler`s troops during World War II as an "alertness aid".

Heinrich Boll, one of Germany`s most significant post-war writers, wrote to his family in the hope of topping up on a drug called Pervitin, which according to its packaging helped "maintain wakefulness" and was to be used as an alertness aid".

Details of the letters, published in German newspaper Der Spiegel and covered by the `Independent` newspaper in Britain, have validated theories that the Nazis were using the drug to keep soldiers alert.

During the war, military doctors from Hamberg to Munchen were handing out Pervitin pills which contained the highly-addictive Class A drug crystal meth, the report claims.

"Dear parents and siblings," Boll, wrote in a letter dated November 9, 1939, to his family in Cologne, while still a soldier in occupied Poland.

"It`s tough out here, and I hope you`ll understand if I`m only able to write to you once every two to four days soon. Today I`m writing you mainly to ask for some Pervitin... Love, Hein."

On May 20, 1940, the 22-year-old soldier wrote home again: "Perhaps you could get me some more Pervitin so that I can have a backup supply?"

And again on July 19, 1940, he said: "If at all possible, please send me some more Pervitin."

Between April and July of 1940, more than 35 million tablets of Pervitin and Isophan (a second brand name for the pills) were distributed to German troops.

The pills came with severe side effects including dizziness, depression, sweating and hallucination.

There were also soldiers that died of heart failure and others who shot themselves while having a psychotic phase.

For the most part, Nazi soldiers were finding that the pills were making them as alert as if they`d drank litres of coffee.


First Published: Monday, June 3, 2013 - 20:37

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