SOCIAL SCIENCES

Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich

Houghton Harcourt. Mar. 2017. 304p. tr. from German by Shaun Whiteside. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781328663795. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781328664099. HIST
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There is no shortage of books explaining the rise and reign of the Third Reich in mid-20th-century Germany. Economic devastation, revitalized xenophobia, and cult-like nationalism are most often cited as the primary contributing factors. Do these tell the whole story? Journalist Ohler suggests an additional element that aided German troops, government officials, and even Adolf Hitler himself—drugs. The author tells the story of Nazi-era drug use from both the perspective of members of the military and Hitler himself. Government sanctioned and distributed medication, primarily a German-developed drug called Pervitin (a form of methamphetamine), sustained the German war machine. Hitler's personal physician during the war years, Theodor Morell, is given extensive coverage. Although Morell is not unknown to Nazi history, descriptions of his medicating the Führer here are new and fascinating. Stories of drug use among German soldiers are culled from old letters, anecdotes, and interviews with veterans. This book is well translated from the original German.
VERDICT Ohler paints a picture of the Nazi era that will enthrall World War II history buffs and all nonfiction readers alike.

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