Historians have written an extraordinary amount about Hitler, the Third Reich, and World War II–so much, that it’s hard to imagine anyone could find something novel to say about this dark period of history. But German journalist Norman Ohler has done just that. In his new book, Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich, Ohler looks at how Hitler became increasingly dependent on a mixture of cocaine and opiates during the wartime years, all of which could have influenced his decision making. Meanwhile, despite Nazi propaganda against “degenerate” culture, German troops consumed large quantities of crystal meth during major military operations. Some 35 million meth tablets were ingested during the 1940 invasion of France alone.
Ohler gathered much of his evidence while reviewing the papers of Hitler’s private physician, Dr. Theodor Morell. And while some scholars have criticized Ohler’s account, Ian Kershaw, arguably the world’s leading authority on Hitler and Nazi Germany, has called Blitzed “a serious piece of scholarship” and “very well researched.”
Below you can hear Ohler talk about Nazi drug use in a 35-minute interview with Terry Gross.