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Adolph Hitler: A War On Drugs

After the end of World War II in 1945, the U.S. military commissioned captured German doctor Erwin Giesing and six of Hitler's other physicians to write a detailed 225 page report of Adolph Hitler's medical records.  They showed that while he was Chancellor of the Third Reich, Hitler was addicted to cocaine, took 28 different drugs for intestinal gas, had severe lack of libido, and was given drugs that contained strychnine, a poison that most likely caused his constant pain (Hitler as Seen by his Doctors, Military Intelligence Service Center, Nov. 29, 1945).
 
Drugs for the German People
In a new book, Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany (Houghton Mifflin, 2016), author Norman Ohler shows that Hitler was not alone in his drug addiction.  Dependence on amphetamines was a way of life for the entire German army, athletes, factory workers, housewives and students.   In 1937, Dr Fritz Hauschild, owner of Temler Factories, patented the first German methyl-amphetamine, Pervitin.  It was sold over-the-counter without needing a prescription.  In 1940 alone, the Temmler factory in Berlin produced 35 million Pervitin pills for the German army and Luftwaffe.  German athletes had used amphetamines to boost performance during the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
 
For the first few days that you take amphetamines, you don't need to sleep. The German army used them when they invaded Sudetenland and then Poland.  Amphetamines explain why the German army, the Luftwafe's Blitzkreig and the panzer tanks never stopped advancing for the three days it took to conquer France.   Soldiers were instructed to take "one tablet per day, two at night, and one or two tablets after two or three hours if necessary,"  to be able to stay awake for up to 50 straight hours.
 
In 1944, the German navy used one-man submarines to try to sneak up the Thames River to attack London.  To do this, the one man in the submarine had to stay awake for days on end, so German doctors developed a cocaine chewing gum.  The gum was tested on concentration camp inmates who were forced to keep on walking until they passed out or died from exhaustion.
 
Eventually, the British found out that the Germans were using drugs, so they gave amphetamines to their soldiers too.  Many of the American soldiers stationed in Britain on the way to fighting in Europe also learned to take amphetamines before battle.  The practice continued at least through the Korean War in the 1950s; many American pilots took amphetamines to stay awake during missions. 
 


 

Dr Theodor Morell, Hitler's Personal Physician
Hitler suffered from stomach cramps for his entire life. In the 1930s, he became a vegetarian and avoided meat, milk and butter and ate lots of vegetables and whole grains. It did help to make his gas smell less offensive, but instead of curing him, it increased the amount of gas his intestinal bacteria produced.  He produced so much gas that he frequently had to get up from a meal and rush to his private quarters to relieve himself.  At a Christmas party in 1936, Hitler met Dr. Theodor Morell and told him about his belly pains and gas problems.  Dr. Morell promised to cure Hitler in less than a year.   
 
Morell was on the board of Hageda, a pharmaceutical company that manufactured Mutaflor, which was made from live bacteria extracted from stool of healthy German soldiers.  At that time, Dr. Morell was considered a quack, but Hitler was ready for anything and being given intestinal bacteria from another person did help to relieve Hitler's symptoms.  Today doctors are curing gas and diarrhea from some patients with bacteria taken from healthy people's intestines.  See Gut Bacteria and Autoimmune Diseases   
 
For his lack of libido, Morell gave him injections of semen and testicles of young bulls. Hitler was known to have slept in a separate bed from Eva Braun.  He told Albert Speer, "Nobody has ever before told me so clearly and precisely what was wrong with me.” Dr. Morell became his chief doctor almost to the very end. 
 
Addiction and Poisoning 
Nobody but Dr. Morell knew what was in the more than 150 pills and many injections that Hitler took each week.  Dr. Morell prescribed liver extracts, stimulants, hormones, painkillers, sedatives, tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, morphine derivatives, laxatives and so forth.  Hitler took 20 or more of "Dr. Koester’s Anti-Gas Pills" every day.  These pills contained belladonna, a plant extract that contains toxic alkaloids including atropine, which can cause confusion, hallucinations, coma and death, and nux vomica, which contains the poison strychnine.  Hitler got his friend Mussolini, the Italian dictator, to use Morell as his doctor and take the same medications. 
 
Hitler started to snort cocaine to treat his stuffy nose. Nobody knows when he started his cocaine habit, but by the fall of 1944, when defeat looked imminent, he was taking massive toxic doses of the narcotic Eukodal (oxycodone).  In the U.S. Army Medical Report on Hitler prepared in 1945, Dr. Giesing noted that he found six black pills on Hitler’s breakfast tray and had them analyzed.  They contained strychnine and atropine. He then went to Dr. Morell's personal notes and found out that Hitler was taking Eukodal, a strong narcotic that causes euphoria, which would explain the moment-to-moment changes in Hitler's personality. One minute he was so weak that he couldn't stand up and the next he would be screaming and yelling and jumping up and down.  
 
The Eukodal also probably contributed to his incredibly bad judgment when he ordered that battlefield commanders could never surrender, even when their situations became hopeless.  In 1942, General Friedrich von Paulus, commander of the Sixth Army, requested permission to retreat and withdraw his troops from Stalingrad because they were almost surrounded by Russian troops. Hitler could have saved the lives of almost a million German troops by ordering an immediate retreat.  Instead, under the influence of his daily narcotic injections, he responded that "the German Sixth Army can withdraw from Stalingrad if it could still hold Stalingrad".  In January 1943, the Sixth Army surrendered. Almost 800,000 German troops died in the Battle of Stalingrad, and 90,000 prisoners were sent to Siberia. Only 6,000 of almost a million German troops survived. Hitler's reckless stupidity was the turning point of World War II.  
 


 

The End of Dr. Morell
On April 21, 1945, Hitler fired Morell when he came to administer another syringe full of amphetamines.  Morell must have been delighted because it allowed him to leave the bunker that was being bombed 24 hours a day.  After fleeing from the bunker, he was hospitalized for heart problems. On July 17, 1945, he was arrested and imprisoned by the Americans.  In 1947, after American intelligence tried and failed to get any useful information from Dr. Morell, they let him go free in Munich.  In June 1947, a Red Cross nurse took this fat, ugly, unkempt and shoeless person to a hospital in Tegernsee.  He remained bedridden until May 1948, when he died shortly after suffering a stroke.
 
Hitler's Last Days
In a 1985 interview, former SS physician Ernst-Günther Schenck told how he was summoned to check Adolph Hitler in April 1945. He said that the 56-year-old Hitler ". . . was a living corpse, a dead soul . . . His spine was hunched, his shoulder blades protruded from his bent back, and he collapsed his shoulders like a turtle . . . I was looking into the eyes of death."  Hitler's mind was gone and his health destroyed.  He screamed uncontrollably for hours, drooled heavily, and picked at his skin.  His hands and whole body shook visibly, he walked with a slow shuffle dragging his left leg behind him and he was unable to walk without assistance.  He couldn't sign his name, so he signed documents with a rubber stamp.  He could not shave or feed himself.  These behaviors have caused people to think that he had Parkinson’s disease, tertiary syphilis or giant cell arteritis, but most likely he was really suffering withdrawal from narcotics because the factories that made Eukodal had been bombed out of existence. 
 
The amphetamines probably caused Hitler's twitching, shaking and repeated picking at his own skin.  Chronic use of amphetamines can cause heart attacks and strokes. Electrocardiographs taken of Hitler’s heart in July 1941 and in September of 1943 show increasing heart damage.  Hitler was known to have suffered at least one minor stroke.  He was so close to death that his suicide probably shortened his life by only a very short time.  On April 29, 1945, Hitler married his longtime mistress, Eva Braun. The next day they committed suicide in the führerbunker. On May 7, Germany surrendered unconditionally.
 
April 20, 1889 - April 30, 1945
October 9th, 2016
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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