14 Oct The Ideal WW2 German War Drug
From the beginning of Warfare armies have tried to get the edge on their enemy. Soldiers facing
extreme hardships and sleep deprivation lose the ability to function and make good decisions. The US
used various forms of Amphetamines until 2017 and it was hardly alone using Amphetamines to keep
pilots and troops alert. It also experimented with LSD in the 50’s and 60’s via project MK-Ultra. Cocaine
was widely used in the late 1800’s through WW1 with the British marketing it as “Forced March” Peyote
was used by the Spanish, Mushrooms by Norse Warriors. Opiates were widely used in the US Civil War
and Modafinil was used by the US, French and Indian Militaries amongst others. Let’s not overlook
Caffeine which is still widely used.
In WW2 Germany the “Ideal War Drug” was Pervitin. “Alertness Aid to be taken to maintain
wakefulness” is how it was marketed.
Pervitin is the early version of what we commonly know today as
crystal meth. Soldiers described it as the equivalent of several cups of coffee but with the added
advantage of helping to forget the terrors of war. It would help keep fighter pilots awake and alert,
grounds units very often experienced a sense of euphoria and increased alertness very useful pulling
long guard shifts at night on the Eastern Front or defending against the endless hoards of Russians.
Germany ended up issuing millions of doses to its increasingly exhausted troops of all branches during
the war as they were asked to do more with less under increasingly harsher conditions. Its use
continued after the war. West Germany used it well into the 70’s and the East used it to just before the
Wall fell stopping in 1988.
No surprise many soldiers became addicts. Spawning a new industry and new drugs to treat the
Depriving the body of its much needed rests took a heavy toll on the troops add to this the
symptoms of addiction leading to more issues but this was all secondary compared to the urgent need
to keep the troops alert and ready to fight.