The Wehrmacht’s Secret Weapon: Methamphetamine.

Pervitin, the Wehrmacht’s Methylamphetamine.

The Nazis went into Poland and France high as a kite, quite literally. Without tracking the reaction to drugs, German officers administered alcohol, and the German equivalent of methamphetamine called Pervitin to soldiers, all to ensure that the Germans would win the war. This was a bit odd simply because the Nazis viewed drunkenness and addiction with some opprobrium. Officers could be punished or even killed if they were inebriated at the wrong time. After the fall of France, Hitler apparently heard that Wehrmacht soldiers and officers were enjoying the fruits of French vintners and cognac as well. Teetotaler Adolph Hitler was ecstatic over the winds but in high dudgeon over the news that Nazi officers were not comporting themselves properly and issued the following missive: “I expect that members of the Wehrmacht who allow themselves to be tempted to engage in criminal acts as a result of alcohol abuse will be severely punished.”



Otto Ranke was a doctor and he served as the Director of the Institute for General and Defense Physiology at Berlin’s Academy of Military Medicine. He experimented with Pervitin and found it was a great way for soldiers to avoid fatigue during the blitzkrieg. After months he issued the following observation and recommendation: “Two tablets taken once eliminate the need to sleep for three to eight hours, and two doses of two tablets each are normally effective for 24 hours.”



One Wehrmacht infantryman, the famous writer Heinrich Boell, wrote to hos family in Cologne: “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.”



Not only was Hitler a junkie, many of his soldiers were too. Thirty million vials were prepared and distributed during the early portion of Germany’s invasions.



Sources: Wiki, Speigel




4 thoughts on “The Wehrmacht’s Secret Weapon: Methamphetamine.”

  1. My late uncle Floyd Ulrich was a scientist with the 3rd Army in WWII who interviewed German officers about how/why German soldiers seemed to have an unusual ability to seemingly avoid fatigue when America soldiers were unable to do so. He discovered the Germans were utilizing potassium and phosphates in a manner unknown to the American scientists. I don’t believe this was Pervitin.

    After WWII, the idea of using potassium and phosphates for energy and muscle fatigue was further developed in America and used by professional athletes, and then by the public in the form of a substance now called Gatorade and other “energy” drinks.

  2. That is not exactly correct. Gatorade was developed for the University of Florida Gator football team. The idea was to put electrolytes in the drink so they could replace all the electrolytes lost when sweating. That is why it tastes like sweetened sweat. It is a sort of synthetic sweat. Pervitin was in fact meth. It has some phosphates in it but it was not Gatorade.

  3. Apparantly after the campaign in France, the Wehrmacht did an after action report, and noted both the benefits and the dangers of using meth on the scale that it was used in May 1940. They then instituted a policy to still make use of it, but in a more regulated fashion, which was done for the rest of the war.
    After the war the Allies went through the same cycle: experiments, heavy use, lots of dangers revealed, restricted use.

  4. Pingback: Personal History Column: Satan, Death Sentences, and Flamethrowers: Some Stories About Coffee - The Hotchkiss Record

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