The methamphetamine-based drug Pervitin was manufactured by the Nazis and distributed among the armed forces from around 1937 onwards.
“The Germans routinely encouraged their soldiers to take what we would now call crystal meth before battle. It would whip them up into a fury and may explain some of the excesses they committed,” says British military historian Peter Caddick-Adams
“It's a way of motivating scared young men. And some of the Germans are very young indeed. I found lots of evidence of 16-year-olds being put into uniform and sent into battle.”
In his new book, Der Totale Rausch (which translates to Total Rush), author and historian Norman Ohler says Hitler’s armies carried out the “Blitzkrieg” invasions of France and Poland using Pervitin to make them feel invincible.
“So I think you're reaching for every possible technique to exaggerate your soldiers' combat performance. This wasn't just an SS thing. The German army was not below stooping to use drugs to increase its soldiers' effectiveness on the battlefield.”
Don’t miss Nazi Underworld – tonight at 10.30pm AEST/NZST on National Geographic Channel.