Ach Du Lieber! The Nazi's Secret Pep Pill Was Methamphetamine

Courtesy of RealClearPolitics comes this link to a Der Spiegel article about the Nazi roots of methamphetamine. From the story:

On May 20, 1940, for example, [the German solider] wrote: "Perhaps you could obtain some more Pervitin for my supplies?" He found just one pill was as effective for staying alert as liters of strong coffee. And -- even better -- when he took the drug, all his worries seemed to disappear. For a couple of hours, he felt happy.

This 22-year-old, who wrote numerous letters home begging for more Pervitin, was not just any soldier -- he was Heinrich Böll, who would go on to become one of Germany's leading postwar writers and win a Nobel Prize for literature in 1972. And the drug he asked for is now illegal, notoriously so. We now know it as crystal meth.

The story continues:

It was in Germany...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." 

Read the whole thing, which is cliche-heavy on the dangers of meth abuse but interesting throughout, including an explanation of how the drug came to the U.S.

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  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    You know who else liked crystal meth

  • SIV||

    JFK?

  • A Serious Man||

    Amy Winehouse?

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Walter White?

  • cavalier973||

    George Lucas?

  • Jason S.||

    Fergie?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Me?

  • Sevo||

    Monty handed the stuff out like candy kisses. There isn't a WWII air-arm, army or navy that didn't provide it as part of policy. US tankers got it on demand.
    Now this is the 'greatest generation', which saved the world from nasty stuff, but then went on to heights of hypocrisy.

  • ||

    Bingo!

    The "Greatest Generation" also believed that there was no problem that there was no problem that government couldn't solve.

    It wasn't their fault. They grew up, with the New Deal and progressivism etc being taught at their mothers' knees that was the case.

    Being drafted and doing their duty winning the war against Hitler and Tojo reinforced the notion.

  • SweatingGin||

    It scares me to think if a political group gets the idea to make a new Greatest Generation, one way or another.

  • Sevo||

    "It wasn't their fault."
    Yes, it was! They voted that asshole FDR into office four (count 'me 4!) times.
    It is their fault; stupidity is no excuse.

  • sarcasmic||

    Liberty is counter-intuitive. It's like the concept of zero. Only instead of an absence of something being counted, or something empty you put on the other side of the equals sign, liberty is an absence of some asshole requiring permission and giving orders. Some people can't comprehend an absence of authoritah. Either someone made you do it or someone said you could do it, but just doing it? That's only a commercial.

  • Sevo||

    "liberty is an absence of some asshole requiring permission and giving orders. Some people can't comprehend an absence of authoritah. Either someone made you do it or someone said you could do it, but just doing it? That's only a commercial."

    I agree, but we're supposedly involved in the world's first experiment in liberty. The founders went through holy-hell attempting to keep to keep the shitheads of the world from stealing it.
    And then we get some tough times and everyone is willing to support an asshole with a comforting voice to take it away?
    Fuck 'em; they are at fault.

  • sarcasmic||

    Liberty goes against human nature. Most people feel that everyone else should be controlled.

    Who said you could do that?

    Who told you to do that?

    Human nature is to gag on Authoritah's cock.

    That's why libertarians will never rule the world. Because we want to let society be allowed to rule itself, while society wants to be controlled.

  • H. ReardEn||

    Most people disagree with you. But keep spinning your persecution complex if it helps you cope. Until you do something they don't agree with.

  • Calidissident||

    The Greatest Generation wasn't really responsible for electing FDR (none of them were old enough to vote in 32, and it's not like they were a dominant electoral block even in 44). I agree with the main point though

  • ||

    FREEEEEEE SHIIIIIIIIT! Yeah baby!

  • ||

    The men and women of the "Greatest Generation" never voted for FDR or the New Deal, they simply grew up believing they were the normal order of things.

  • ||

    If you wish to go on condemning a whole generation of people for the beliefs that they gained as received wisdom without trying to understand the motivations for them go right ahead.

    It's not very constructive though.

  • ||

    They made no effort to fix it and they apparently don't care that their comfy entitlements will decimate the lives of their descendants.

    FUCK THEM ALL!

  • ||

    No, dipshit, THEY are the beneficiaries of the greatest standard of living the world has ever known.

    I'll get to witness the end result of their greed, and the next generation will get to suffer the agony of cleaning up their mess.

  • General Butt Naked||

    If you wish to go on condemning a whole generation of people for the beliefs that they gained as received wisdom without trying to understand the motivations for them go right ahead.

    Then no one is ever to blame for anything. The generations following WWII have been raised under those same illusions.

  • ||

    The generations following WWII have been raised under those same illusions.


    And for the most part there a bunch of whiny self-entitled little bitches. Look at the government they've elected. The good news is that faith in government to fix everything is no longer as widespread as it was among the so-called "Greatest Generation".

    On reflection I admit that "it was not there fault" was poor wording. They were primarily responsible for perpetuating programs that badly needed reform.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I can see how governments would hand out "uppers" (I think that's the term) to get short-term efficiency out of their soldiers, without worrying about long-term effects (heck, many of these soldiers wouldn't live long enough to see long-term effects). That doesn't mean that it's harmless, simply that the harms wouldn't occur within the time horizon which the military is concerned about.

  • Sevo||

    "That doesn't mean that it's harmless, simply that the harms wouldn't occur within the time horizon which the military is concerned about."

    Certainly; not many people here trust the government to do 'well' by the people with whom it deals. And especially in (as you mention) the consumable position of warrior.
    What bothers me is the casual use of it, and then the prohibition after the government hands it out.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    To be fair, the government often orders soldiers to do things which in other circumstances it would prosecute people for doing, like shoot people, for instance.

    Now, I admit I don't actually know a lot about crystal meth and the effects, and to be free, we have to let adults have a certain discretion to endanger themselves. Maybe that extends to taking meth - I really haven't settled the issue of hard drugs in my mind.

  • General Butt Naked||

    I really haven't settled the issue of hard drugs in my mind.

    You either own yourself or you don't. It's pretty simple.

  • sarcasmic||

    You either own yourself or you don't. It's pretty simple.

    Yeah, but what about the people who care about you? Don't they have a right to stop you from hurting yourself? If you do hard drugs then you're going to destroy your body and mind! Just look at Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton! Fucking losers used heroin for years! Ruined their lives! No one can use hard drugs responsibly! No one!

  • General Butt Naked||

    Yeah, but what about the people who care about you? Don't they have a right to stop you from hurting yourself?

    No, they have the right to not abet you in destroying yourself, but as an adult human being they have no say in how you live you life. If you accept that they can, couldn't parents just lock their kids in a padded room for their entire lives to be fed on fat-free organic tofu, never exposed to the dangers of life? Besides it's not the families of people that have the power to (try) stop drug abuse. It's the police, prisons, prosecutors and a mess of others who work under perverse incentives and care not for the welfare of your loved one.

    Furthermore, if it were my family member, I'd rather see them buy their drugs legally. The dose and purity would be well established, the cost would be low, and they wouldn't be exposed to the risk of dealing with gang members (crips or cops).

    No one can use hard drugs responsibly! No one!

    This is false no matter how you define what hard drugs are. The addiction/use ratio of so-called "hard drugs" is very predictable and remains stable regardless of the legal regime. Anectdotally, I've known many people that have taken hard drugs and not ruined their lives and maintain a recreational relationship with those drugs. The physiology and sociology of drug abuse isn't as simple as an 80's after school special. Not to mention that most of the life ruining aspects of drug abuse is a consequence of the drug war.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Oh shit...

    Whoops, thought you were eddie.

  • Ted S.||

    It wasn't until he mentioned the overrated musicians that I realized he was engaging in sarcasm per his screen name.

  • sarcasmic||

    the overrated musicians

    Jimmy Page is not overrated!

  • Sevo||

    Yes, he is!

  • ||

    I liked after school specials.

    You can do it Duffy Moon.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    I hated afterschool specials. It meant no Scooby Doo

  • ||

    When I was a kid, if you wanted Scooby, you had to wait until Saturday morning. I think it was 10 AM.

    Ruby dooby doo!

  • ||

  • Sevo||

    "Yeah, but what about the people who care about you? Don't they have a right to stop you from hurting yourself?"

    Joke, right?

  • sarcasmic||

    sarcasmic

  • Sevo||

    Got it.

  • Sevo||

    Eduard van Haalen| 5.30.13 @ 9:17PM |#
    "To be fair, the government often orders soldiers to do things which in other circumstances it would prosecute people for doing, like shoot people, for instance."

    Yes, but comparing murder to a prohibition on certain chemicals is a bit of a reach, don't you think?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I think it's fair to say I've already settled the issue of murder in my mind. The comparison was for the purpose of meeting the criticism, "how can the govt encourage something for soldiers but ban it for civilians?"

  • Sevo||

    Eduard van Haalen| 5.30.13 @ 9:39PM |#
    "I think it's fair to say I've already settled the issue of murder in my mind. The comparison was for the purpose of meeting the criticism, "how can the govt encourage something for soldiers but ban it for civilians?""

    So do you want to phrase the argument in honest terms, or leave it such that you have no argument at all?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I think the term is "thinking out loud." Sorry, I'll try to think quieter next time.

    Or use the approach of some other people and not think at all.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I like the way you read a sarcastic rant by the poster with the name "sarcasmic" and thought it was me.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    (to GBN - well, I can see how that could happen)

  • General Butt Naked||

    Hey man, it's my bad. I was ready to pounce and that son of a bitch sarcasmic caught me off guard. Oh, how I hate him.

  • Sevo||

    Eduard van Haalen| 5.30.13 @ 10:43PM |#
    "I like the way you read a sarcastic rant by the poster with the name "sarcasmic" and thought it was me."

    I did nothing of the sort. Do you have problems reading?

  • Sevo||

    Eduard van Haalen| 5.30.13 @ 10:40PM |#
    "I think the term is "thinking out loud.""

    I think the phrase is 'I'll give myself and out'.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I think the phrase is, "I f----d your mom until she screamed."

  • Sevo||

    Eduard van Haalen| 5.31.13 @ 7:12AM |#
    "I think"
    Evidence missing, asshole.

  • Robert||

    And right now authorities collectively can't decide whether to encourage or discourage giving amphetamines to kids, so of course they're trying to do both.

  • Boisfeuras||

    I can see how governments would hand out "uppers" (I think that's the term) to get short-term efficiency out of their soldiers, without worrying about long-term effects (heck, many of these soldiers wouldn't live long enough to see long-term effects). That doesn't mean that it's harmless, simply that the harms wouldn't occur within the time horizon which the military is concerned about.

    No, the idea is that it might keep them alert and functional enough to live through combat operations while at the point of exhaustion. The same reason why virtually everyone (even the black guys) in an infantry company dips.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Soldiers are called on to do lots of things which could do them long-term damage, in the name of efficiency in battle.

    Simply as a matter of logic, I don't think that estops the government from banning the stuff for civilians. That was my only point, by the way - I wasn't endorsing the drug war - like I said, I'm not really sure about the hard drugs.

  • Boisfeuras||

    It was this Milton Friedman essay that turned my opinion against the drug war—and first made me realize I'm a libertarian. It seems hard to me to reconcile an otherwise libertarian outlook with arguments against consensual personal interactions.

  • Sevo||

    Eduard van Haalen| 5.30.13 @ 10:48PM |#
    "Soldiers are called on to do lots of things which could do them long-term damage, in the name of efficiency in battle."

    Yes, asshole, and you've consistently offered apologies for a government that later arrests people for doing the same thing.
    Do you make a career of supporting hypocrisy or are you an ignoramus?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Tell your mom the check is in the mail, you know, from when I paid her for sex.

  • Sevo||

    Eduard van Haalen| 5.31.13 @ 6:13AM |#
    "Tell your mom the check is in the mail, you know, from when I paid her for sex."

    I'll bet your 1st-grad classmates thought that was a howl!

  • ||

    I thought this was a known thing. A friend sent me a recipe for "honest to God Nazi meth" when I was in college 10 years ago.

  • Sevo||

    It does have a shelf-life.

  • SweatingGin||

    "Panzerschokolade"

    I love the German language.

  • sarcasmic||

    Me too. Compound nouns are cool.

  • Sevo||

    But waiting for the German verb can be tiresome.

  • Tejicano||

    Shee.. you should try Japanese. Sometimes it never arrives but you have to elicit it out from context.

  • ||

    Sometimes you have to elicit the entire sentence from the context of one word.

  • Randam Hajile||

    I thought I read somewhere that the US military still gives "go pills" to pilots. They are some kind of amphetamine blend. I imagine if there was no stigma associated with it they might just use methamphetamine, similar to how other countries like the UK allow heroin (diamorphine) for medical use but the US doesn't.

  • Sevo||

    Randam Hajile| 5.30.13 @ 9:29PM |#
    "I thought I read somewhere that the US military still gives "go pills" to pilots."

    I hadn't seen this, but the gov't hypocrisy in doing so wouldn't raise my eyebrow.

  • BuSab Agent||

    If you call it Desoxyn, then it's totally not like using meth.

  • John Galt||

    The doctor used to give my working mother Desoxyn when I was a kid. She'd break a couple up into her bottle of Coca-Cola and then she'd be like a whirl-wind getting all the housework done.

  • Jason S.||

    Good point.

    I've heard libertarian-minded folk talk trash about methamphetamine even when they have prescriptions to adderall.

    They're similar. Both have been prescribed for ADHD.

    But we've all probably seen a friend or loved one embrace an unhealthy use of amphetamines.

    I've used both before, but I don't recommend it. But it should be decriminalized and treated as a health issue. It does ruin lives.

  • SIV||

    No. Amphetamines should be legal and abuse treated as a moral issue.

  • Jason S.||

    Addiction and abuse is more of a mental health issue from what I've seen. Having a strong moral compass can lead you to better pastures, though. Maybe it's a moral health problem.

  • Sevo||

    Jason S.| 5.30.13 @ 11:44PM |#
    "Addiction and abuse is more of a mental health issue"
    What does that mean?

  • ||

    It doesn't matter, just as long as it's legal and we don't waste public money trying to combat addiction.

  • SIV||

    Desoxyn is often prescribed to treat the behavioral problems of children separated from their parents by the state because of meth.

  • Jason S.||

    And despite scare stories, according to samhsa, first time users if meth have plummeted from 300,000 in 2004 to 118,000 in 2010:

    http://www.samhsa.gov/data/NSD.....htm#Fig5-6

  • sarcasmic||

    It's different when a doctor who is licensed by the government decides it's OK. You're not qualified to make that decision.

  • paranoid android||

    Well, now that the pilots don't actually fly planes and just blow people up from a comfy chair with a joystick, I hear they're shifting over to a regimen of Mountain Dew and Cheetos.

  • JeremyR||

    Doritos. Google Doritos Pope

  • Randam Hajile||

    For some reason most of the articles I can find are 10 years old, so maybe they stopped doing it (or people just stopped talking about it).

    http://www.nbcnews.com/id/3071.....war-drugs/

  • Mr Whipple||

    Adderall is a mixture of 4 different amphetamines. OK to snort, not so OK to shoot.

    Desoxyn is good to shoot. Any other way is a waste.

  • SIV||

    is good to shoot. Any other way is a waste.

    ^Should be printed on every bottle of pharmaceutical morphine tablets^

  • BakedPenguin||

    Yep.

  • ||

    They do.

  • playa manhattan||

    ^^^FdA should know as a former pilot. Pilots are allowed to self administer dextroamphetamine (dexadrine) in 5mg increments every 4 hrs or so. Dex is not the same as meth, though...

  • playa manhattan||

    Although they are in the process of switching to Provigil

  • ||

    I have some Provigil in my medicine cabinet.

  • Atlas Slugged||

    See Provigil

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

  • Sevo||

    Naah, 'face on mars' (or the moon; not willing to g it tonight)

  • Mr Whipple||

    The US gave soldiers Benzedrine inhalers.

    However, I believe the Nazis used methamphetamine to counter the negative effects of Methadone, the synthetic morphine replacement they developed.

  • SweatingGin||

    "The US gave soldiers Benzedrine inhalers."

    Now, that's something I'd like to find at the surplus store.

  • Sevo||

    "However, I believe the Nazis used methamphetamine to counter the negative effects of Methadone, the synthetic morphine replacement they developed."
    Everything I've read makes no connection between methadone and meth.

  • SweatingGin||

    OT: are there any Austin-area reasonistas? I'll be down there for work early next week.

    Is it worth going to see MCMurtry? Yea, he's more or less commie, but, well, desert eagle made by bad-ass Hebrews!

  • Boba Fudd||

    I've got a few Uncle Slaton's in my tree. I'd hit the McMurtry show if I were you, but I'm up near the panhandle. Besides, the days I'd be interested in a benzedrine inhaler are long gone. It's just cold IPA's and stinky THC these days.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

  • Generic Stranger||

    Is it down by the river?

  • ||

    eh, the start was good, but then it didn't go anywhere funny.

  • ||

    So it's an Onion production?

  • -Umbriel-||

    I think Pervitin was technically a mix of meth with vitamin supplements -- kind of like those Gatorade chews, but now with the goodness of Meth!

    And I'm not sure "Panzerschokolade" was the same thing as Pervitin -- the Germans also liberally distributed tins of caffeinated chocolates called "Scho-Ka-Kola" as a less extreme stimulant.

  • SIV||

    the Germans also liberally distributed tins of caffeinated chocolates called "Scho-Ka-Kola" as a less extreme stimulant.

    Was WWII really about protecting Coca Cola's trademark? Because that sounds like an egregious infringement right there.

  • -Umbriel-||

    Actually, that brings to mind the story of the invention of "Fanta":
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanta

  • Rrabbit||

    Hitler loved the Autobahn. Thus, the US should not have highways.

  • JeremyR||

    No, that's why we should have strict speed laws and have them rigidly enforced by the government.

    Sigh, there's very little the government doesn't control these days, is there....

  • Rrabbit||

    Total number of US government employees: 22 million.
    Total number of German government employees: 4.6 million.
    The US have more government employees per capita than red tape Germany.

  • WomSom||

    Sometimes dude you jsut have to roll with it.

    www.WorldPrivacy.tk

  • godzleaf||

    Good article but I thought everyone already knew about Nazis and meth.

  • godzleaf||

    I think a more poignant and current story would be on the US militaries distribution and use of shittier categories of speed for pilots.

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