Reviewed by: Demetrius Svette
There are plenty of books explaining the rise and the fall of the Third Reich in Germany with economic devastation and nationalism being the most cited as a contributing factor to many of them; but are there any books that go in depth on a personal level instead of an overall point of view? Thanks to Norman Ohler, there is now. Ohler is so creative in his writing, I just could not put this book down- every turning of the page fills your mind with more knowledge and more information of the Reich’s influences that destroyed it all.
Ohler presents his findings in such a way that it feels like it could change history; from the rise of the Reich in 1933 to its downfall in 1945, but through the creation and consumption of drugs. From drugs like pervitin, better known as the people’s drug with methamphetamine as its active ingredient, to mainstream companies that are major players in the pharmaceutical world even today- like Merck, Boehringer and Knoll (who was sold to Abbott Laboratories in 2002)- the creations of the many drugs and different raw material came to matter. The Reich was the controller of the global cocaine market at its highest point with a whopping eighty percent of the cocaine and raw materials coming from Germany as the slogan “Made in Germany” became a guarantee of quality more than anything else.
Pervitin became a routine “grocery item” well before the war in the civilian population with Nazis ordering “Germany, awake!” The methamphetamine made sure that the country stayed awake. “The ‘doping mentality’ spread into every corner of the Reich.” Ohler writes, “With pervitin taken since the Invasion of Poland to the blitzkrieg on France, methamphetamine was spreading like wildfire and would pass through every barracks gate. War was seen as a task that needed to be worked though and the drug seemed to help the tank units, soldiers, the navy and kamikazes not to worry too much about what they were doing in these foreign countries.” The soldiers were suggested as being animated engines; could this of been what they were talking about with the “super soldiers” of World War II?
The main characters in this fascinating adventure that turns the tables on the Third Reich on a personal level is Adolf Hitler and his personal physician, Dr. Theodor Morell with Hitler falling very ill; he was better known as Patient A in Dr. Morell’s diary. Ohler writes in detail about Hitler’s drug use throughout the war, which began with the powerful injection of glucose and vitamins before his speeches to help him ramp up the Nazi followers. The drugs Hitler were taking became more potent with cocktails made up of hormones, steroids and vitamins until in his last year, where he peaked at using both cocaine and eukodal. Ohler suggests with his findings that Patient A was not Dr. Morell’s only guinea pig and that throughout World War II, Germany was fighting a whole different war within.
Between the books that I have read on World War II already and Ohler’s telling of events, it almost gives off that warped feeling and really makes you think how different it would have been if Dr. Morell was not involved with Hitler, doping him up every time he requested. Could Hitler and his cult like Nationalism still be around today? Could he have succeeded in world domination like he and the Nazis were after?
Ohler is a longtime journalist who spent 5 years researching Blitzed in numerous archives across Germany and the United States. He adds in his bibliography the most important sources that he used for the book are unpublished documents; archives opened especially for this research. Unpublished material, countless reports and files from German and American state archives have been complemented by interviews with contemporary witnesses and military historians to support his research. In this context he pointed out the aspects of Third Reich still cannot be consulted in London archives; and in Moscow, access to researches in the secret archives of the former Soviet Union are still severely restricted. Any type of World War ll history buff, historians, or those who just love learning should have this on their bookshelf right next to The Rise and Fall of Third Reich by William H. Shirer.