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This Drug May Have Been The Secret Fuel That Gave The Nazis Their Terrifying Power

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It’s easy to think everything that can be said about the World War II has been said. After all, it’s been covered in the pages of thousands of books and by any number of documentaries and television shows for decades.

Yet, every now and then, facts emerge that take many of us — even the history buffs — by surprise. Take Pervitin for instance. This chemical is better known by a different name and was the secret fuel behind the Nazi’s reign of terror.

In the beginning of World War II, the Nazis seemed like an unstoppable force. One little-known reason for that impression is that Nazi soldiers were actually getting an energy and strength boost from a drug called Pervitin that had recently been invented.

nazi-1Wikimedia Commons / Jerome R. Lilianthal

Pervitin was used by the Nazi soldiers to fight sleep, gain energy, and improve their moods. The drug caused these effects because it was actually an early form of methamphetamine!

nazi-2Wikimedia Commons / Jan Wellen


Eventually, all German soldiers were required to take one to two tablets per day, and German scientists and drug companies worked to develop other energy boosters, including, famously, a type of cocaine-laced chewing gum.

nazi-6Wikimedia Commons

Drugs, especially Pervitin, played a huge role in the invasion of France. It allowed the soldiers to go for days without sleeping and pass through the Ardennes Mountains without being detected, surprising the unprepared French forces.

nazi-3Wikimedia Commons / Dieck


Hitler himself even became addicted to drugs toward the end of his life. He used a complex balance of opioids and amphetamines, which continued until Pervitin supplies ran out in 1945. Drug withdrawal was one factor, in addition to numerous defeats by the Allied forces, that hastened the end of the Nazi regime.

Reichskanzler Adolf Hitler und der Deutsche Kronprinz Wilhelm von Preußen im Gespräch während der Feier vor der Garnisonkirche in Potsdam.Wikimedia Commons / Georg Pahl

Wow…I had no idea that drugs were so heavily involved in Nazi operations. This goes a long way toward explaining some things…

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