Old News: Hitler's Soldiers Given Meth

So many news organizations today are writing about Hitler's soldiers being given meth-like pills. The articles seem to emanate from a Der Spiegel article this Sunday.

But this isn't news. Even Der Speigel wrote about it in 2005 -- recounted here.

Back in 2003, it was reported that the U.S. Air Force gave speed pills (dexedrine) to its pilots in Afghanistan to combat fatigue.

An Air Force physician sang the praises on Thursday of amphetamines used by two U.S. fighter pilots who bombed a Canadian infantry unit in Afghanistan, saying fatigue, not ``speed,'' kills. Col. Pete Demitry of the Air Force Surgeon General's office told reporters that Dexedrine, which the Air Force provides for pilots making long flights, was a life saver, not a dangerous drug that distorts judgment as attorneys for pilots William Umbach and Harry Schmidt have argued.


This week's Der Speigel article tries to pin the blame for meth use today on a cookbook printed in America.

The drug's new career came thanks to an American cookbook.... a mad-scientist type named Steve Preisler, alias "Uncle Fester," a chemist in Wisconsin in the mid-1980s, published a drug "cookbook" entitled "Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture." In this controversial book, now in its eighth edition, Preisler presented six different recipes for preparing the drug.

How come Der Speigel doesn't mention the Germans gave us both heroin and morphine?

Morphine was hailed as a cure for opium addiction:

In 1803, Friedrich Sertuerner of Germany synthesized morphine (principium somniferum) for the first time, and discovered the active ingredient of the opium poppy, which Linnaeus had first classified in 1753 as papaver somniferum. The discovery of morphine was considered a milestone. The medical community declared that opium had been "tamed." Morphine’s reliability, long-lasting effects, and safety were extolled.

Heroin got its name from its reputation as a "hero drug" for curing morphine addiction, particularly among Civil War veterans.

Heroin (diacetylmorphine) was first synthesized in 1874 by English researcher, C.R. Wright. The drug went unstudied and unused until 1895 when Heinrich Dreser working for The Bayer Company of Germany, found that diluting morphine with acetyls produced a drug without the common morphine side effects. Heroin was considered a highly effective medication for coughs, chest pains, and the discomfort of tuberculosis. This effect was important because pneumonia and tuberculosis were the two leading causes of death at that time, prior to the discovery of antibiotics. Heroin was touted to doctors as stronger than morphine and safer than codeine. It was thought to be nonaddictive, and even thought to be a cure for morphine addiction or for relieving morphine withdrawal symptoms. Because of its supposed great potential, Dreser derived his name for the new drug from the German word for `heroic.'

Must be a slow news week in Germany.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Not only is the war on pot misguided (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Slado on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 11:54:57 AM EST
    It's also Racist

    I suppose one could argue that this has something to culture but simply put for there to be such a widespread disparity across all walks of life there is something else going on.

    ..like loading soldiers up (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by jondee on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 12:42:41 PM EST
    with antidepressants and sending them back into situations guaranteed to do nothing but exacerbate their PTSD..

    ..Because there's a serious shortage of cannon fodder, and because the gains of the "job creators" at Big Pharm trickle down to the rest of us.


    well, (none / 0) (#5)
    by bocajeff on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 02:04:26 PM EST
    a. there is probably racism involved
    b. marijuana (all drugs really) should be legalized because we live in a free society where adults should be free to make their own decisions (I do not partake in recreational drugs, but I do love freedom).
    c. there is something going on in African American neighborhoods and culture. This is a dangerous rail to touch so I'll just leave it at that.

    more like "there's something going on" (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by jondee on Thu Jun 06, 2013 at 01:05:20 PM EST
    in poverty stricken neighborhoods. Like a lot of fear, despair, and the self-medicating that go along with that.

    And a great deal of the above is the result of "free" as*holes sending American jobs to China, Mexico, and India.


    Old, old news (none / 0) (#1)
    by scribe on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 05:00:31 AM EST
    I remember reading in the 70s about the Germans giving their own soldiers tubes of pharmaceutical-grade speed tablets.  During the airborne invasion of Crete (1941) - the paratroopers jumped with a submachinegun, ammunition, water, and a tube of dexies.  The rest of their gear was dropped in separate parcels and they had to go get it on landing - a major cause of casualties and something not repeated.

    But, then, I also remember having to do an inventory of my battalion's medical supplies when I was in the army back in the 80s - one of those additional duties lieutenants get.  In the safe there was a gallon jar of methamphetamine sulphate tablets - basically a pickle jar of them.  Right next to the morphine tabs.

    It is sorta a slow news week in Germany - they're dealing with the second or third hundred-year-flood in the Elbe watershed in the last decade and I think no one wants to talk about global warming. They are also continuing the so-called "NSU-Prozess", an extended trial of an organization-in-fact called the National Socialist Underground.  The NSU is accused of killing at least 10 Turks and un-Aryan immigrants over the course of a decade or so;  it came out last year that at least part of the NSU was made up of cops, and they were using specially-made (for the old Stasi) assassination pistols with custom silencers to carry out the kilings.

    And there's Merkel's neoliberal economics and a political battle over buying and operating drones.

    So, it's a good time to cough up old news.

    Hitler took pride in his airborne legions, ... (none / 0) (#7)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 02:27:10 PM EST
    ... and was reportedly so aghast at German casualty rates from the April 1941 invasion of Crete that he raged at Luftwaffe Reichsmarshall Hermann Göring for talking him into authorizing such a venture. He further forbade his generals from ever again risking his airborne divisions on a major solo combat operation -- a decision which undoubtedly hampered the Wehrmacht greatly during the invasion of Russia later that summer.

    The British gave up Crete very grudgingly, and made the Germans pay dearly for their prize. As Hitler discovered, they were proving too tough a nut to crack. Thus, the Battle of Crete proved the catalyst for perhaps his greatest strategic blunder of the Second World War, turning his back on the British to direct his attention toward the German invasion of Russia in June 1941, rather than redirect his country's focus to first compel Britain to come to terms, before gazing eastward.



    I'm pretty sure this was an open secret... (none / 0) (#2)
    by unitron on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 05:49:23 AM EST
    ...even during WWII.

    Such "revelations," as they are, ... (none / 0) (#6)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 02:04:44 PM EST
    ... have never surprised me. It's a matter of public record that Nazi Germany died very hard in the Second World War.

    For every German soldier who lost his life in combat on the Eastern Front, he took on average five Russian troops with him. The United States Army Air Forces in Europe (USAAFE) lost over 52,000 men in direct aerial combat against the Hitler's Luftwaffe.

    (To put the latter casualty figures in some startling perspective, USAAFE alone suffered more KIA in Europe than our nation's entire military lost in combat during either the Korean or Vietnam Wars.)

    No doubt about it, the Germans fought like enraged banshees. That their military could have been hopped up on methamphetamine is entirely probable.

    If that Der Spiegel article proves nothing else, it's that we're not the only nation in denial when it comes to our actual military history.