May
30th 2013
Nazi pilots on crystal meth!

Posted under: technoskepticism, the body, unhappy endings, weirdness

Actual Nazi pilot Erich Alfred Hartmann (1922-93), courtesy of Fuck Yeah History Crushes

No, this is not a gay porn DVD title–amazingly enough, that’s a true headline!  Check out this article from Der Spiegel–they called it panzerschokolade!

It was in Germany, though, that the drug first became popular. When the then-Berlin-based drug maker Temmler Werke launched its methamphetamine compound onto the market in 1938, high-ranking army physiologist Otto Ranke saw in it a true miracle drug that could keep tired pilots alert and an entire army euphoric. It was the ideal war drug. In September 1939, Ranke tested the drug on university students, who were suddenly capable of impressive productivity despite being short on sleep.

From that point on, the Wehrmacht, Germany’s World War II army, distributed millions of the tablets to soldiers on the front, who soon dubbed the stimulant “Panzerschokolade” (“tank chocolate”). British newspapers reported that German soldiers were using a “miracle pill.” But for many soldiers, the miracle became a nightmare.

As enticing as the drug was, its long-term effects on the human body were just as devastating. Short rest periods weren’t enough to make up for long stretches of wakefulness, and the soldiers quickly became addicted to the stimulant. And with addiction came sweating, dizziness, depression and hallucinations. There were soldiers who died of heart failure and others who shot themselves during psychotic phases. Some doctors took a skeptical view of the drug in light of these side effects. Even Leonardo Conti, the Third Reich’s top health official, wanted to limit use of the drug, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

And the guys kept driving the panzers around all night long, making a mess of the macadam, and then they’d stay up another night to dissassemble the tanks and leave the parts strewn all over the yard.  What a mess!  Just imagine the crazy if the Continental Army had their hands on this stuff–although I suppose the smallpox vaccine would have given them an even better military advantage, considering.  (That, and maybe some properly dug out and maintained latrines?  Just sayin’.)

Don’t do meth, kids:  it’s a Nazi drug.  Meanwhile, imagine your favorite period in history plus crystal meth in the comments below.  Or, just browse Fuck Yeah History Crushes!  Funny.

 

14 Comments »

14 Responses to “Nazi pilots on crystal meth!”

  1. Indyanna on 30 May 2013 at 10:31 pm #

    I could get you on a conference program tomorrow if you could work up this Continental Army reverie to about eight minutes; plus, of course, fly in by ten a.m! I’m thinking the recreational drug of choice at Morristown would have been more in the other direction, though. What we used to call “soapers.” l.t.m.d.i: (Let the militia do it!)

  2. koshembos on 31 May 2013 at 1:11 am #

    Being a Nazi drug will mean nothing to today’s young drug users. Nazi Germany was the scietifically advanced Germany of before 1933. They built the first jets, rockets and played Mozart in Auswitz.

  3. Bob on 31 May 2013 at 6:43 am #

    US Troops used it also during WWII.

  4. Matt_L on 31 May 2013 at 11:32 am #

    I grew up in SoCal in the 1980s during the backyard/homemade meth craze. The really awful stuff that kept people awake for a week on end and gave you bad hallucinations after three days was referred to as “Nazi Meth.”

  5. Matt_L on 31 May 2013 at 11:42 am #

    Oh, and the German army used the stuff by the bucket load on the Eastern Front. They were running out of experienced and physically able replacement soldiers, so they kept the remaining NCOs and soldiers on their feet for as long as they could.

    And this is one of the things that puzzles me about Neo-Nazis in Germany. Racism and chauvinism aside, why would you want to emulate or even reference a regime that ended after twelve years by fighting to the last cranked up thirteen year-old and using their grandfathers as cannon fodder? Isn’t a loss that spectacular a solid indicator that things did not go well? A defeat that complete suggests the ideology had reached a dead end so to speak.

  6. cgeye on 31 May 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    of course, should follow the adventures of Jack Reacher (the tall guy, not his short cinematic impostor), this is old news….

  7. undine on 31 May 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    I speed-read the German as “Panzer Koolaid,” which might not be too far off the mark. Judging from the effects, in the 1960s that’s what fueled the noncreative bender of epic proportions that Draper & Co. underwent a couple of weeks ago on Mad Men.

    P. S. I think the sister (brother?) site for the history crushes one is My Daguerreotype Boyfriend, http://mydaguerreotypeboyfriend.tumblr.com.

  8. truffula on 31 May 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    Thanks to history crushes, I discovered Founding father pinups. Washington and Hamilton are totally rockin’ it.

    As to the meth, I would have thought that crazying (and numbing) up the troops as you send them off to a pointless and nearly certain death would be the obvious thing to do. At the start, when you think you can win, it seems less obvious.

    More seriously, more than 10% of U.S. active duty soldiers are medicated; the rates mirror civilian rates. This has been in the news for a while. I’ve seen that from the vet side, when students show up to university with complicated meds regimes involving not only psychiatric care but pain management as well. Some possess detailed knowledge of how their ability to tune in and focus will change over the course of the day in accord with their regime. I admire those students for their ability to cope but it sucks and I wonder if military life allowed them to manage such cycles.

  9. Historiann on 01 Jun 2013 at 7:27 am #

    Feminist Avatar sent a link to that FF pinup calendar a few days ago in the previous thread. It’s the “shot heard ’round the world!”

    As for soldiers on drugs: it *does* seem obvious in some ways, but the Nazi meth connection was totally new to me.

  10. The Alchemist on 04 Jun 2013 at 6:35 am #

    Wow. Imagine if the Vikings had been on meth.

  11. Matthew T. Grant on 08 Jun 2013 at 8:09 am #

    Other fun Nazi drug facts: Nazis invented methadone because they were running out of access to opium (grown mainly in British-controlled areas like Afghanistan, which still produces most of the world’s supply).

    Originally it was called “dolophine,” which led some to wrongly assume it was named after Adolph Hitler – a misconception that at least one methadone clinic I know of felt it had to dispel through the informational literature it handed out to patients.

  12. Historiann on 08 Jun 2013 at 8:48 am #

    Awesome!!!

    Like the kid says in Annie Hall: “I used to be a herion addict. Now I’m a methadone addict.”

  13. Nazi Meth and How German Army Fought WWII on Speed | Top Secret Writers on 20 Jun 2013 at 8:53 am #

    [...] Historiann (2) Huffington Post (3) Daily Mail (4) Huffington Post: Hitler Nazi Crystal Meth (5) The Fix (6) I [...]

  14. jeansandjacket on 05 Nov 2013 at 9:33 pm #

    yeah – but methadone is a good drug for extreme chronic pain

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