A fast-paced narrative that discovers a surprising perspective on World War II: Nazi Germany’s all-consuming reliance on drugs
The Nazi regime preached an ideology of physical, mental, and moral purity. But as Norman Ohler reveals in this gripping new history, the Third Reich was saturated with drugs. On the eve of World War II, Germany was a pharmaceutical powerhouse, and companies such as Merck and Bayer cooked up cocaine, opiates, and, most of all, methamphetamines, to be consumed by everyone from factory workers to housewives to millions of German soldiers. In fact, troops regularly took rations of a form of crystal meth—the elevated energy and feelings of invincibility associated with the high even help to explain certain German military victories.
Drugs seeped all the way up to the Nazi high command and, especially, to Hitler himself. Over the course of the war, Hitler became increasingly dependent on injections of a cocktail of drugs—including a form of heroin—administered by his personal doctor. While drugs alone cannot explain the Nazis’ toxic racial theories or the events of World War II, Ohler’s investigation makes an overwhelming case that, if drugs are not taken into account, our understanding of the Third Reich is fundamentally incomplete.
Carefully researched and rivetingly readable, Blitzed throws surprising light on a history that, until now, has remained in the shadows.
About the Author
NORMAN OHLER is an award-winning novelist, screenwriter, and journalist. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Blitzed, as well as the novels Die Quotenmaschine (the world’s first hypertext novel), Mitte, and Stadt des Goldes (translated into English as Ponte City). He was cowriter of the script for Wim Wenders’s film Palermo Shooting. He lives in Berlin.
Shaun Whiteside has translated widely in both French and German, including Sybille Steinbacher's Auschwitz: A History.
New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice
“The strengths of Ohler’s account lie not only in the rich array of rare documents he mines and the archival images he reproduces to accompany the text, but also in his character studies… Ohler effectively captures Hitler’s pathetic dependence on his doctor and the bizarre intimacy of their bond…Blitzed makes for provocative reading.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A revelatory work that considers Hitler’s career in a new light. ‘Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich’ is that rare sort of book whose remarkable insight focuses on a subject that’s been overlooked, even disregarded by historians.” —The San Francisco Chronicle
“Blitzed is a fascinating read that provides a new facet to our understanding of the Third Reich.”—Buzzfeed
“It's as breezy and darkly humorous as its title. But don't be fooled by the gallows humor of chapter names like ‘Sieg High’ and ‘High Hitler’: This is a serious and original work of scholarship that dropped jaws around Europe when it was published there last year.” —Mashable
"A juicier story would be hard to find.” —The Week
“Delightfully nuts, in a Gravity’s Rainbow kind of way.”—The New Yorker
“Transforming meticulous research into compelling prose, Ohler delves into the little-known history of drug use in Nazi Germany.”—Entertainment Weekly
“[A] fascinating, engrossing, often dark history of drug use in the Third Reich.”—The Washington Post
“This heavily researched nonfiction book by a German journalist reports that the drug was widely taken by soldiers, all the way up the ranks to Hitler himself, who received injections of a drug cocktail that also included an opioid.”—Newsday
“The book achieves something nearly impossible: It makes readers look at this well-trodden period in a new way and does it in a readable, inviting format. It also doesn’t preclude future scholarship by professional historians to elaborate on the role of drugs in Nazi Germany.” —Newsweek
“This is Ohler’s first nonfiction book (he’s written three novels) and the first popular book of its kind, filling a gap between specialist academic literature and sensationalist TV documentaries… The book is an impressive work of scholarship, with more than two dozen pages of footnotes and the blessing of esteemed World War Two historians… Ohler offers a compelling explanation for Hitler’s erratic behavior in the final years of the war, and how the biomedical landscape of the time affected the way history unfolded… Ohler’s book makes a powerful case for the centrality of drugs to the Nazi war effort.” —The New Republic
"Explosive ... Ohler describes the chemical ignition of the first assault on the Western front with a novelist's flair." — Rolling Stone
"I had thought nothing could make [Nazis] more horrifying, but that was before I encountered Blitzed. Now I know the only thing more terrifying than the Nazis are the Nazis on meth ... Blitzed is not your typical history book ... It's amazing that biographers haven't focused on the drug angle this rigorously." — Esquire
“This bestseller has promulgated a perspective on Nazi Germany that has not really been widely explored previously and goes a long way toward explaining much on the topic, which we may heretofore have failed to realize.” —New York Journal of Books
“Ohler’s reputation precedes him… [Ohler] brings storytelling vigor to an unexplored corner of Hitlerology… Mordant and casual even in translation, it’s easy to mainline (with a pinch of salt mixed in).” —New York Magazine, VULTURE
“The author who exposed the hidden history of Nazis on meth.” —Playboy
“In Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich, Norman Ohler accomplished a feat that many historians desire, but never quite achieve… the author manages to cover new ground and shed a bright light on a previously dark corner of 20th century history." —The Fix
“A compelling piece of serious scholarship that offers a comprehensive view of drugs in Nazi Germany that professional historians seem to have missed." —Under the Radar (Military.com)
“A fast, compelling read." —Nylon
"Ohler's astonishing account of methamphetamine addiction in the Third Reich changes what we know about the Second World War ... Blitzed looks set to reframe the way certain aspects of the Third Reich will be viewed in the future." — Guardian
"Blitzed tells the remarkable story of how Nazi Germany slid towards junkie-state status. It is an energetic ... account of an accelerating, modernizing society, an ambitious pharmaceuticals industry, a military machine that was looking for ways to create an unbeatable soldier, and a dictator who couldn't function without fixes from his quack ... It has an uncanny ability to disturb." — Times (UK)
"A huge contribution ... Remarkable." —Antony Beevor, BBC 4 Today
"The picture [Ohler] paints is both a powerful and an extreme one ... Gripping reading." — Times Literary Supplement
"A fascinating, most extraordinary revelation." — BBC World News
“Blitzed tells a deliriously druggy tale of the Third Reich.” — Paris Review
"Absorbing ... Makes the convincing argument that the Nazis' use of chemical stimulants ... played a crucial role in the successes, and failures, of the Third Reich." —Esquire
"Very good and extremely interesting — a serious piece of scholarship very well-researched ... There have, of course, been other books that already argued that Hitler was effectively a drug addict at the hands of Dr Morell's pills and injections of amphetamines and other drugs. But Ohler takes the argument, to my mind, further and more convincingly." — Ian Kershaw, author of To Hell and Back and The End
“An intense chronicle of ‘systematic drug abuse’ in Nazi Germany... Written with dramatic flair, this book adds significantly to our understanding of the Third Reich.” —Kirkus Starred Review
“[Ohler’s account] makes us look at this densely studied period rather differently." —New York Review of Books
[Ohler] brings storytelling vigor to an unexplored corner of Hitlerology… Mordant and casual even in translation, it’s easy to mainline (with a pinch of salt mixed in).” —New York Magazine (Vulture)
"Ohler offers a compelling explanation for Hitler’s erratic behavior in the final years of the war, and how the biomedical landscape of the time affected the way history unfolded." —The Jewish Book Council
“Ohler paints a picture of the Nazi era that will enthrall World War II history buffs and all non-fiction readers alike.” —Library Journal
"The author who exposed the hidden history of Nazis on Meth." —Playboy