Saturday, December 08, 2012

pervitin



amphetamines | In a letter dated November 9, 1939, to his "dear parents and siblings" back home in Cologne, a young soldier stationed in occupied Poland wrote: "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."

Pervitin, a stimulant commonly known as speed today, was the German army's -- the Wehrmacht's -- wonder drug.

On May 20, 1940, the 22-year-old soldier wrote to his family again: "Perhaps you could get me some more Pervitin so that I can have a backup supply?" And, in a letter sent from Bromberg on July 19, 1940, he wrote: "If at all possible, please send me some more Pervitin." The man who wrote these letters became a famous writer later in life. He was Heinrich Boell, and in 1972 he was the first German to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in the post-war period.

Many of the Wehrmacht's soldiers were high on Pervitin when they went into battle, especially against Poland and France -- in a Blitzkrieg fueled by speed. The German military was supplied with millions of methamphetamine tablets during the first half of 1940. The drugs were part of a plan to help pilots, sailors and infantry troops become capable of superhuman performance. The military leadership liberally dispensed such stimulants, but also alcohol and opiates, as long as it believed drugging and intoxicating troops could help it achieve victory over the Allies. But the Nazis were less than diligent in monitoring side-effects like drug addiction and a decline in moral standards.

After it was first introduced into the market in 1938, Pervitin, a methamphetamine drug newly developed by the Berlin-based Temmler pharmaceutical company, quickly became a top seller among the German civilian population. According to a report in the Klinische Wochenschrift ("Clinical Weekly"), the supposed wonder drug was brought to the attention of Otto Ranke, a military doctor and director of the Institute for General and Defense Physiology at Berlin's Academy of Military Medicine. The effects of amphetamines are similar to those of the adrenaline produced by the body, triggering a heightened state of alert. In most people, the substance increases self-confidence, concentration and the willingness to take risks, while at the same time reducing sensitivity to pain, hunger and thirst, as well as reducing the need for sleep. In September 1939, Ranke tested the drug on 90 university students, and concluded that Pervitin could help the Wehrmacht win the war. At first Pervitin was tested on military drivers who participated in the invasion of Poland. Then, according to criminologist Wolf Kemper, it was "unscrupulously distributed to troops fighting at the front."

1 comments:

Tom said...

Meth heads! Those are the guys who start gunfights with cops. Something fits.

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