Uncovered letters detail Nazi soldier’s crystal meth use to deal with life on the front line. Before Heinrich Boll started down the path of Nobel Prize winning, he often sent letter home asking his family to send out more Pervitin. Made from highly addictive crystal meth these medically prescribed pills helped patients remain alert.
Although the pills apparently promoted “wakefulness,” they also had severe side effects such as hallucinations, depression, and dizziness. Furthermore, there are several reported cases of soldiers suffering from heart failure and committing suicide while having an “episode” brought on by the drug. Clearly, the majority result of wide eyed, bushy tailed soldiers outweighed any dangerous medical issues.
Recent statistics detail that, between April and July 1940, over 35 million Pervitin and Isophan (a different brand name for the same pills) tablets were distributed to German soldiers. It seems fairly odd that the fear of death and constant gunshots didn’t keep these meth addicted Nazi Soldiers more awake. However, according to German medical reports, many troops simply wanted to give up and die instead of continue fighting. “I decided to give them Pervitin as they began to lie down in the snow wanting to die,” Reported one officer, who later when on to remark:
“After half an hour the men began spontaneously reporting that they felt better […]They began marching in orderly fashion again, their spirits improved, and they became more alert.”
With such dramatic results it’s no wonder Heinrich Boll penned his family with this touching and heartfelt letter of tiding from the front:
“Dear parents and siblings,” Böll, 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.”
The discovery of meth taking Nazi soldiers only confirms how seriously the German army took the war. They weren’t about the be beaten because of a lack of sleep and energy.
[Image via Radspunk, Wikimedia Commons]