Pervitin, etc.

The Very Drugged Nazis. In the nineteenth century, Germany led the world in chemical and pharmaceutical research. By the autumn of 1937 Dr. Fritz Hauschild had created a synthesized version of methamphetamine. This was patented as Pervitin. It produced intense sensations of energy and self-confidence. nyt

The military advantages of Pervitin soon became apparent. During the invasion of Poland in September 1939, medical officers reported back enthusiastically on the effects of the Pervitin distributed in their units:

Everyone fresh and cheerful, excellent discipline. Slight euphoria and increased thirst for action. Mental encouragement, very stimulated. No accidents. Long-lasting effect. After taking four tablets, double vision and seeing colors.

The speed of the German advance through the Ardennes to the Meuse River took the French army completely by surprise. General Ewald von Kleist’s panzer group was across the river before French divisions reached their positions. The arrogance of victory was of course heightened by the effects of Pervitin.

Colonel Charles de Gaulle was enraged when he heard of the enemy panzer crews refusing to accept surrender from French units. They told surrendering French soldiers to throw away their weapons and march to the rear. The German panzer divisions, having outstripped their own supply columns, simply filled up at roadside gas stations or abandoned military barracks.

These panzer troops appeared to the British and French alike to be armored supermen, even though German ground forces were in fact far less mechanized than their own. It was the Wehrmacht’s speed and ruthlessness that defeated the French and British armies, which still acted as if it were 1918.

They had no idea how the Germans managed to advance day and night without sleep. The official French report on their defeat described it as a “phénomène d’hallucination collective.”