Blitzed by Norman Ohler

blitzed

A bestseller in its native Germany, Blitzed explores how the Nazi regime was permeated with drug use – cocaine, heroin, morphine and, especially, methamphetamines. From Hitler to foot soldiers, it seems like everyone was getting on it in the 1940s.

Can we first talk about how amazingly appropriate the title and cover photo are for this book? I was sold on those two things alone. In his acknowledgments Ohler thanks Michael Stipe for coming up with the English name of his book – I really really hope that he’s referring to REM’s Stipe. Does anyone know?

Now moving on to the content. I, like Ohler, revel in the irony that the German “ubermensch” was drug-dependent. From the soldiers on the ground to Hitler in his bunker, Blitzed traces the broad and individual cases of drug use in Nazi Germany – with a particular focus on Hitler’s private doctor who was injecting God-knows-what into the Fuhrer on a daily basis.

As far as I’m concerned this is a fairly original topic – at least in popular history. I’ve done my fair bit of WWII study but I’ve never come across “Pervitan” – the methamphetamine apparently all the Nazis were hooked on. Ohler seems to go as far as to argue that you could contribute the Germans’ early successes in the war (and later failures) to their use and abuse of meth, cocaine, and other easily available drugs. Perhaps a bit of a stretch so I’m going to take this read with the requisite grain of salt.

Fast, engaging and short read – don’t need to be a historian or even particularly well-versed in WWII to enjoy this. It does drag a bit at the end – I mean, do we need a description of every time Hitler shoots up? All in all – a worthwhile read and a topic I’d love to hear more perspectives on. If you’re into niche and/or offbeat history check it out.

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