Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
db_zero

Drug Wars?

Recommended Posts

We’ve all read the history books and know the story. Blitzkrieg strategy and tactics, radios, small unit tactics the list goes on and on. Was there another element involved that has not been widely discussed?

What I’ve heard hear and there, but have yet to find a definitive source on is what role if any did the use of methamphetamines played in the success of the German Army in WW2.

I have seen a few segments-one was from the History Channel where they briefly discussed the used of meth-or some form of it as a stimulant and how it allowed rates of advance that bewildered the Allied command in the early days of the war.

I saw a segment on the show “The American Experience” where a survivor from the 99th or 106th division (I know it was one of those divisions) who mentioned in an interview the German soldiers were clearly “doped up-you could tell by the way their eyes looked”. A friend once mentioned the Germans would inject troops with meth right before a battle.

I also recall seeing a book on equipment carried by soldiers in WW2 that had pictures of am injection kit carried by German soldiers. Interesting enough other books on the subject omit the kit.

On the other side of the globe I came across another interesting tidbit of related information. I read a book about a Yakusa member who in his waning years wrote a memoir. In it he mentions that when the war ended US Naval intelligence found a huge drug stash in Yokohama. Much was amyl nitrate and given to kamikaze pilots. It appears there was more to it than the cup of sake…

Apparently after the war much of the drug stash “disappeared” and was sold on the black market.

I’ve also heard much of the impetuous for the Colt 45 was “drugged up” Moro fighters. Kat was a factor in Somalia and other places and in Iraq it was not uncommon to see insurgents fighting drugged out.

Remember the game Syndicate when it first came out? You could click the syringe icon and your operatives would go berserk…

Anyway back on track-if anyone has links to this subject matter I’d like to see it. I’ve looked around and it’s not something that appears to be widely discussed or available.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Um... a few things.

- If it takes a a long time to find multiple definitive sources it's probably not true.

- In all my readings on World War 2 over the years I've never seen it extensively discussed.

- The History Channel is no longer what it used to be...

The Germans did do drug testing during the war years, but widespread use on front line troops to improve performance. Yeah don't think so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To be on multi-day operations without sleep the german soldiers took Pervitin. It was very popular, so the army doctors had to restrict the output.

There is a good german documentation about this theme: "Schlaflos im Krieg (Sleepless in War)".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember reading allegations that Hitler (and other high staff) used meth daily from around 1943 to the end. That would explain some of the decision making.

I don't know if use in the field was widespread enough to be considered meaningful, in the grand scale of things. I'd say the positive effects were more than balanced by the negative effects.

In Finland, pervitin (meth) was issued widely enough to cause an addict epidemic post-war. Real class act from the government, during wartime they pumped amphetamines into some troops but after the war ended they did nothing to help the addiction that followed. I guess this was partly due to the need to appease to the Soviets.

Here's a really good article in Finnish by the country's leading newspaper (use Google translate!)

http://translate.google.fi/translate?act=url&hl=fi&ie=UTF8&prev=_t&sl=fi&tl=en&u=http://www2.hs.fi/uutiset/juttu.asp%3Fid%3D20020526ER2&sandbox=0&usg=ALkJrhiPYmzzH28E5MTPXRN5DDvKNQE-Lw

It's not really a secret, but neither is it talked about much. Also, Finland didn't have meth in the Winter War, so it doesn't explain all the crazy stuff with pinecones and logs. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I recall reading that German troops were often issued with Speed. I don't recall the source, but it was in the context of a discussion of war crimes.

I always thought that using amphetamines during WWII was common for every side. Specially pilots where "upgraded" but it was common for regular troops too. I can't point sources, I'm not historian and I don't remember everything. However, considering that MG module is on top right now i suggest to read(or read once more) A bridge too far book. As I remember C.Ryan describe it several times(for allied and German soldiers) especially there is episode at Arnhem bridge where British soldiers where given some amphetamine pills. This had some disastrous effect on exhausted and sleepy soldiers. Some get euphoric, other get psychosis and where hallucinating. Maybe BF could give such staff to MG module :)

I think that experimenting and using stimulants that should give boost and eliminate hunger for soldiers is as old as armies and wars(coca leafs and coffeine where used in history as I know). I quite sure that some forms of stimulants are used today. Probably not amphetamines because of it's side effects but something new(maybe valkyr lol :)). There is only one ting worse than find yourself in amphetamine's hangover. To find yourself with amphetamine hangover in a middle of war ;P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As far as I know, the survival kit of several modern Air Forces still includes dextroamphetamine pills. Granted, it's nowhere near as bad as methamphetamine but it's understandably being replaced by less notorious stuff like modafinil.

The Tarnak Farm incident gave dextroamphetamine use really bad publicity.

EDIT: Here's what Wikipedia says about modafinil & the military:

"Militaries of several countries are known to have expressed interest in Modafinil as an alternative to amphetamines—the drug traditionally employed in combat situations where troops face sleep deprivation, such as during lengthy missions. The French government indicated that the Foreign Legion used modafinil during certain covert operations. The United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence commissioned research into modafinil from QinetiQ and spent £300,000 on one investigation. In 2011, the Indian Air Force announced that modafinil was included in contingency plans. The Indian Armed Forces Medical Services is researching its use.

In the United States military, Modafinil has been approved for use on certain Air Force missions, and it is being investigated for other uses. One study of helicopter pilots suggested that 600 mg of modafinil given in three doses can be used to keep pilots alert and maintain their accuracy at pre-deprivation levels for 40 hours without sleep. However, significant levels of nausea and vertigo were observed. A second helicopter study found modafinil was comparable to dextroamphetamine and was well-tolerated. Another study of fighter pilots showed that modafinil given in three divided 100 mg doses sustained the flight control accuracy of sleep-deprived F-117 pilots to within about 27 percent of baseline levels for 37 hours, without any considerable side effects. In an 88-hour sleep loss study of simulated military grounds operations, 400 mg/day doses were mildly helpful at maintaining alertness and performance of subjects compared to placebo, but the researchers concluded that this dose was not high enough to compensate for most of the effects of complete sleep loss. In law enforcement, tactical paramedics in Maryland (US) may administer 200 mg of modafinil once daily in order to "enhance alertness / concentration" and "facilitate functioning with limited rest periods."

The Canadian Medical Association Journal also reports that Modafinil is used by astronauts on long-term missions aboard the International Space Station. Modafinil is "available to crew to optimize performance while fatigued" and helps with the disruptions in circadian rhythms and with the reduced quality of sleep astronauts experience."

Also, no discussion about drugs and the military is complete without this video of LSD being tested on British troops:

:D

"The efficiency of the rocket launcher team was also very impaired." Such a British thing to say when you see two men on acid trying to aim a recoilless rifle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
To be on multi-day operations without sleep the german soldiers took Pervitin. It was very popular, so the army doctors had to restrict the output.

There is a good german documentation about this theme: "Schlaflos im Krieg (Sleepless in War)".

Very interesting documentation, definately gonna watch it. Thanks for posting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, no discussion about drugs and the military is complete without this video of LSD being tested on British troops:

:D

"The efficiency of the rocket launcher team was also very impaired." Such a British thing to say when you see two men on acid trying to aim a recoilless rifle.

HAaha lol It's probably best way to finish the war :)

w2iz.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Drop acid, not bombs!"

That's exactly what the US military had in mind:

:D

http://www.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/national/13inmate_ProjectMKULTRA.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mk_ultra

Yeah, I know, this CIA mind control thing is wee Kettlerian, but MK Ultra is pretty much legit. Atleast no reptiloids are involved.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Almost all sides used stimulants to help pilots and other soldiers stay awake.

I very much doubt that stimulant use helped the startling German advance early in the war - more like massed armor with radios, and awful Allied performance.

Supposedly the Germans also developed methadone around this same period in WW2 - and there are myths on the streets the Germans did it to make 'super soldiers'. It's all nonsense, they may have invented the drug but not for any specific military application.

Finally on the US soldier's quote - 'they were clearly doped up' Anything could explain that - sleeplessness - being banged around from shelling. I also have read US/Western accounts from WW2, Korea, Vietnam, all the way to Iraq and Afghanistan claiming the same such things. I really dont believe most of the allegations that the Nazis/VC/NKPA/whatever were doped up, I think it's more US soldiers trying to figure out behavior that seems insane or alien to them - fighting to the death in a hopeless situation, human wave attacks, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Finally on the US soldier's quote - 'they were clearly doped up' Anything could explain that - sleeplessness - being banged around from shelling. I also have read US/Western accounts from WW2, Korea, Vietnam, all the way to Iraq and Afghanistan claiming the same such things. I really dont believe most of the allegations that the Nazis/VC/NKPA/whatever were doped up, I think it's more US soldiers trying to figure out behavior that seems insane or alien to them - fighting to the death in a hopeless situation, human wave attacks, etc.

Plus lets face it by the the time you are captured you have had a really long and a really bad day. I suspect I would look pretty spaced out and tired after an experience like that too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe heavy use of stimulants was a factor in the rapid advances in the West at the begining of the war and Eastern Front. I don't think the outcome would have been different as the other factors played huge roles, but speed did facilitate more rapid and prolonged advances-up to a point and then diminishing returns set in. Who know maybe troops were strung out and spent around Dunkirk.

The American soldier I was referring to was at the Battle of the Buldge and he was the one who was shelled and the German troops coming over the wire were fresh and caught his unit by surprise. If you've ever encountered someone on meth there are usually tell tale signs. I'm inclined to believe what he saw.

Just my opinion though, but it would be interesting to see more research on this as it would change the context of many events.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about the opposite effect - weren't paratroopers on D-Day given airsickness pills that knocked them out or made them sleepy? Certain cold medications will absolutely floor me and make me useless for half a day - its unimaginable to be living through that while jumping out of a plane into occupied France.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I believe heavy use of stimulants was a factor in the rapid advances in the West at the begining of the war and Eastern Front.

I really doubt that germans use more stimulants then any other nations. Second I doubt that it could have such huge effect. Amphetamine don't change soldiers into Ubersoldatz and it has it's own drawbacks and side effects like possible psychosis specially in case of men under great fatigue and stress. Also "hangovers" that would make those Ubersoldats useless for most of a day ;) Dehydration could be big problem too in war circumstances

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What about the opposite effect - weren't paratroopers on D-Day given airsickness pills that knocked them out or made them sleepy? Certain cold medications will absolutely floor me and make me useless for half a day - its unimaginable to be living through that while jumping out of a plane into occupied France.

Yeah, I've always wondered if there might have been the ulterior motive for that, as in to calm them down in the face of that tremendously horrifying jump.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What about the opposite effect - weren't paratroopers on D-Day given airsickness pills that knocked them out or made them sleepy?

I don't know. I haven't heard of this in relation to the paratroops. But I have certainly heard of it in descriptions of the guys arriving in boats. They were given dramamine, I believe, and it made them woozy and in some cases almost unable to function at all.

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I really doubt that germans use more stimulants then any other nations. Second I doubt that it could have such huge effect. Amphetamine don't change soldiers into Ubersoldatz and it has it's own drawbacks and side effects like possible psychosis specially in case of men under great fatigue and stress. Also "hangovers" that would make those Ubersoldats useless for most of a day ;) Dehydration could be big problem too in war circumstances

I agree 100% meth didn't turn the German soldier into an uber fighting machine, and there are downsides, but its obvious that for all the dowsides its use was widespread. However early in the war the French and British high command was probably in the dark, ignored, misunderstood, and underestimated or all of the above when it came to the use of meth and the temporary advantage it provided the German forces. It could be argued that along with blitzkrieg warfare, radios and other often mentioned factors, meth provided a huge advantage to German forces in 39-41 and beyond.

As the war progressed its certain Allied intelligence knew and analyzed the German widespread use of stimulants and its conceivable that by Normandy a decision was made to emulate what the Germans did and issue Allied troops with stimulants of their own. Perhaps it was deemed necessary as it was known by then the German use and development of stimulants and we had to match them in this regard.

As a previous poster mentioned it's no big secret, but it’s also not widely discussed, yet the evidence is clear the use was widespread and officially sanctioned at the highest levels-on both sides.

What would be interesting to know from a historical standpoint is how these decisions were made and who made them. For all I know the answers could be in some box tucked away in some basement or perhaps it’s considered so sensitive it still classified or redacted out of documents.

What I find even more interesting to know is was the British and American public aware of all of this at the time. Were letters sent home mentioning this censored or had references removed. The American and British public was spoon fed only what the government wanted the public to know back in those days.

The air raid on Bari that released mustard gas and killed allied troops during the Italian Campaign was kept secret for years.

I have a stash of old WW2 documentaries, films, newsreels and other stuff and the I get the impression the drug aspect was not publicized-at least on the Allied home front.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I read or saw somewhere that the Axis used some form of speed and it has also been attributed to a lot of atrocities committed on the Eastern front

The atrocities committed on the Eastern Front were due entirely to German ideology—primarily Hitler's, but nobody saw fit to argue with it. Stalin and his henchmen were not exactly nice guys either. In short, it really isn't necessary to drag drugs into the discussion in order to explain the degree of brutality seen in that war.

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The atrocities committed on the Eastern Front were due entirely to German ideology—primarily Hitler's, but nobody saw fit to argue with it. Stalin and his henchmen were not exactly nice guys either. In short, it really isn't necessary to drag drugs into the discussion in order to explain the degree of brutality seen in that war.

Michael

If anything, the drugs would only dull the senses of those committing the atrocities, but they would have been committed anyway.

so yeah, drugs or no drugs, the atrocities would still have happened.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Indeed, I don't believe amphetamine use during combat will accomplish much else than get you killed faster. Atleast in modern combat. Back in the day when differences were sorted out with swords and spears, it might have been different.

I can see that it could help on long marches and staying awake during a repetitious task like standing watch, staring at a screen for radar returns or listening to a sonar.

But even that would be dextroamphetamine, not meth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...