Rafeeq O.'s Reviews > Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany

Blitzed by Norman Ohler
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it was amazing

Norman Ohler's 2015 Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich is a fascinating 4.5- to 5-star examination of drug use in Germany from the Weimar period through the Nazi era, not only the illicit but also the commercially encouraged and, most interestingly, the military use as well.

In breezy chapters broken into brief, often ironically and punningly titled subsections, Ohler covers especially the development of amphetamines as over-the-counter medication. Cocaine makes its appearance as well, of course, as it was not yet seen as the Schedule 1 terror is it now. And although Hitler's propaganda moralists preached clean living as the bedrock upon which service and devotion to the State should stand, they of course did not scruple about the seemingly therapeutic use of Pervitin--the trade name for the popular German amphetamine--any more than we today would rail against using aspirin or Tylenol against a headache.

With research into old military archives, contemporary letters and diaries, and later-transcribed recollections, Ohler shows not only how commonly used Pervitin was but, indeed, how its use was encouraged and even ordered for troops in the Blitzkrieg and beyond. And vegetarian, teetotaling Hitler himself... Well, as the strain of the war increased, the Fuhrer ended up, essentially, a track-marked junkie kept whose daily injections from his personal physician probably hastened his demise.

Ohler reminds us, though, that Hitler's "goals and motives, the ideological fantasy world, were not the result of drugs but established much earlier" (2016 paperback, page 185). Mein Kampf, after all, was written in 1925, long before Hitler met the quack-ish Dr. Morrell. He "did not murder because he was living in a haze--quite the contrary.... [H]e acted systematically and with terrible consistency to the end" (pages 185-86). The drugs did not alter Hitler's attitudes but simply kept the mass-murderer functioning as he needed to be...until they no longer could.

Sometimes Ohler is a tad sweeping in his pronouncements, and every now and then the translation to English rings just a little bit oddly, but the eye-opening Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich nevertheless brings a wealth of information to our knowledge of the war in Europe and definitely is worth the read.

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Reading Progress

October 8, 2020 – Started Reading
October 11, 2020 – Finished Reading
October 13, 2020 – Shelved

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