Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich — A Summary

Sud Alogu
7 min readMar 27


“Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich” is a meticulously researched and thought-provoking book by German author Norman Ohler, which explores the pervasive use of drugs in Nazi Germany and their potential influence on the decisions and actions of the Nazi leadership during World War II. Ohler’s work draws on extensive primary sources, including previously unreleased documents from the German Federal Archives, and offers a unique and controversial perspective on this dark period of history.

The book begins by providing a historical context for the prevalence of drug use in the Third Reich, emphasizing the role of the pharmaceutical industry in German society. Germany was a global leader in the development and production of drugs, and many of its citizens regularly consumed various substances, including powerful stimulants like methamphetamine. Ohler details how this culture of drug use extended to the highest levels of the Nazi regime, with Adolf Hitler himself relying on a cocktail of drugs to maintain his energy and focus.

One of the central narratives in “Blitzed” is the relationship between Hitler and his personal physician, Dr. Theodor Morell. Morell, a highly controversial figure, was known for administering an array of drugs to the Führer, including amphetamines, opiates, and various other substances. Ohler argues that Hitler’s drug dependence was not only a personal failing but also had a significant impact on his decision-making during the war, leading to erratic behavior and poor strategic choices.

The book also examines the role of drugs in the German military, with a particular focus on the widespread use of the methamphetamine-based stimulant Pervitin. Ohler reveals that Pervitin was routinely distributed to German soldiers to enhance their endurance and alertness during the early stages of the war. He suggests that the widespread use of this drug played a crucial role in enabling the rapid and aggressive military tactics employed by the German forces, particularly during the Blitzkrieg.

Ohler demonstrates that drug use was not limited to the upper echelons of the Nazi regime, but was pervasive throughout German society. He discusses how drugs like Pervitin (a methamphetamine) were used by soldiers to enhance their performance and endurance, while civilians used them to cope with the pressures of life in a totalitarian state. Ohler contends that this widespread drug use played a significant role in shaping the trajectory of the Third Reich.

“Its extremely potent active ingredient is an opioid called oxycodone, synthesized from the raw material of opium. The substance was a hot topic among doctors in the Weimar Republic because many physicians quietly took the narcotic themselves. In specialist circles Eukodal was the queen of remedies: a wonder drug. Almost twice as pain-relieving as morphine, which it replaced in popularity, this archetypal designer opioid was characterized by its potential to create very swiftly a euphoric state significantly higher than that of heroin, its pharmacological cousin. Used properly, Eukodal did not make the patient tired or knock him out — quite the contrary.” ― Norman Ohler

In addition to exploring the effects of drug use on the Nazi leadership and military strategy, “Blitzed” delves into the consequences of this pervasive substance abuse on the German populace. Ohler argues that the widespread availability and use of drugs contributed to a culture of escapism and detachment, allowing citizens to disengage from the horrific realities of the Holocaust and the war more broadly.

“Heroin is a fine business,” the directors of Bayer announced proudly and advertised the substance as a remedy for headaches, for general indisposition, and also as a cough syrup for children. It was even recommended to babies for colic or sleeping problems.” — Norman Ohler

One of the most controversial aspects of the book is Ohler’s examination of Adolf Hitler’s drug use. The author draws on primary sources, such as the diaries of Hitler’s personal physician, Dr. Theodor Morell, to argue that Hitler was dependent on a cocktail of drugs, including methamphetamine, opioids, and various other substances. Ohler posits that Hitler’s drug use influenced his decision-making and contributed to his increasingly erratic and irrational behavior as the war progressed.

“The fact was that between the autumn of 1941, when he started being given hormone and steroid injections, and the second half of 1944, when first the cocaine and then above all the Eukodal kicked in, Hitler hardly enjoyed a sober day.” — Norman Ohler

Ohler explores the apparent contradiction between the Nazis’ promotion of a “clean” Aryan race and their reliance on drugs. He discusses how the use of drugs like Pervitin was initially justified as a means of enhancing the performance of the “superior” Aryan race, while other substances like opioids were used to dull the pain and suffering caused by the regime’s brutal policies. Ohler suggests that the Nazis’ drug use ultimately undermined their own ideological goals.

While Ohler’s investigation of Morell’s records is certainly intriguing, it is prudent to exercise caution when attributing so much historical weight to the testimony of a man who was, in essence, Hitler’s glorified drug dealer.

“Blitzed” serves as an intoxicating foray into the lesser-known aspects of the Third Reich, offering readers a glimpse into the dark underbelly of a regime fueled by fanaticism, megalomania, and, as Ohler argues, copious amounts of narcotics. While the book’s assertions may at times be as potent as the drugs it chronicles, readers would do well to remember that history, much like a drug-induced high, can be exhilarating, disorienting, and, ultimately, subject to the cold light of sober reflection.

Ah, the intoxicating allure of drugs and warfare, an unholy union that persists despite the march of time. While the Third Reich might have set the bar for inebriated soldiers, their modern counterparts haven’t been entirely immune to the siren song of stimulants.

Take, for instance, the United States military, which has been known to prescribe “go-pills” — dextroamphetamine and modafinil — to keep their pilots and soldiers as alert as insomniac owls on extended missions. It seems Uncle Sam isn’t above a little chemical assistance when it comes to pushing the limits of human endurance.

Meanwhile, our erstwhile Cold War adversaries, the Soviets, were hardly averse to boosting their troops’ performance with stimulants. It’s whispered in some circles that their Russian successors may still dabble in this particular pharmacological dark art.

And then there’s the enigmatic hermit kingdom of North Korea. Defectors from this secretive realm have spun tales of methamphetamine being doled out to soldiers to sharpen their senses and stave off fatigue. Alas, given the opaque nature of the regime, we’re left to ponder the veracity of these claims.

Of course, it’s worth mentioning that most modern militaries, the U.S. included, have stringent rules and regulations governing the use of drugs within their ranks. Soldiers caught indulging can expect a firm rap on the knuckles or even an unceremonious exit from service. Yet, in the shadows of critical operations, some militaries still flirt with the notion of chemically enhanced warriors, albeit discreetly.

Take for example the Syrian civil war, a brutal and devastating conflict where even the least likely of substances have found their way to the battlefield. Enter Captagon, a drug of dubious reputation that has been hoisted to prominence by warring factions in desperate need of an extra edge.

Captagon is a cocktail of amphetamine and theophylline, once prescribed to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. Its medical career was cut short when governments worldwide recognized the potential for abuse and swiftly banished it from the realm of legitimate pharmaceuticals.

Undeterred by its fall from grace, Captagon has found new life as the stimulant du jour for fighters embroiled in the Syrian quagmire. It bestows upon its users increased alertness, fearlessness, and the ability to soldier on despite fatigue or pain, transforming them into veritable Energizer bunnies of war.

Fueled by this nefarious elixir, combatants on both sides of the conflict have been known to partake in the gritty business of war with renewed gusto, a macabre dance of death where the line between friend and foe blurs under the influence.

Yet, as with any drug, there’s a price to pay. The toll of Captagon extends beyond the battlefield, as addiction and abuse seep into the very fabric of Syrian society, leaving in its wake a generation haunted by the specter of a conflict that has stolen far more than it has given.

And so, amidst the rubble and ruin, Captagon takes its place in the annals of history as yet another sinister accomplice in the theater of human suffering, a chemical consigliere to those who wage war in the shadows of reason and sanity.

The insidious tendrils of war continue with its penchant for unintended consequences. Ukraine, now in the throes of conflict, finds itself on the precipice of becoming a hotbed for illegal drug production, warns the United Nations. Meanwhile, the opium market’s fate teeters precariously on the edge, held hostage by the crisis-ridden land of Afghanistan.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) cautions that conflict zones, much like a moth to a flame, can act as a “magnet” for synthetic drug production as we saw with the Syrian civil war. And Ukraine, with its rising number of dismantled amphetamine laboratories, appears to be no exception. As the war rages on, the nation’s capacity for producing these chemical concoctions only threatens to grow.

Alas, the long arm of the law finds itself handcuffed in these turbulent times. “You don’t have police going around and stopping laboratories,” bemoans UNODC expert Angela Me, leaving the door wide open for illicit drug production to thrive.

Simultaneously, the world’s opium market casts a wary eye on Afghanistan, a nation responsible for a staggering 86% of global opium production in 2021. The humanitarian crisis and the Taliban’s ban on opium poppy cultivation create a volatile cocktail, the effects of which are sure to reverberate throughout the world.

The UNODC report, a veritable treasure trove of disheartening data, also found that an estimated 284 million people used drugs in 2021. A record 1,982 tons of cocaine production in 2020 only adds fuel to the fire.

The fairer sex, though underrepresented in treatment, has not been spared the ravages of addiction. Women, says Me, are particularly drawn to amphetamine-type stimulants, facing a “double stigma” when seeking help.

Thus, in a cruel twist of fate, war continues to lay the groundwork for an ever-expanding underworld of drugs and addiction, leaving behind a trail of human suffering in its relentless march.



Sud Alogu

In search of truth and deception.