Did Adolf Hitler suffer from Amphetamine addiction?



Internal Assessment









RQ: Did Adolf Hitler suffer from Amphetamine addiction?






Exam Session: May 2018



Section 1: Identification and Evaluation of sources



          The focus of this investigation is “Did Adolf Hitler suffer from Amphetamine addiction?”. The primary sources, ‘Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany’ by Norman Ohler and ‘The secret diaries of Hitlers Doctor’ by David Irving are relevant to this investigation due to the insight they offer into the private life of Adolf Hitler. Together, these sources offer both objective and subjective views on his drug consumption. David Irving providing the former in form of facts and concrete evidence, while Normal Ohler offers a “popular history” approach to the latter[1].



Morell, Theodor G, and David J. C. IrvingThe Secret Diaries of Hitler's Doctor. New          York: Macmillan, 1983. Print. (for reference: Source A)



        Of particular importance to this investigation. A study of Adolf Hitler’s physical and psychological constitution consisting of Theodor Morell’s diaries, abridged by explanatory passages by David Irving. Recovered from a classified medical library in Washington DC in 1981[2].

      

        Morell’s diaries provide an intimate glimpse into Hitler’s personal life from the perspective of his trusted friend from their first meeting in 1936 onwards until the last days of the Battle of Berlin in 1945. As the diaries were never intended to be published, one can assume the medical records to be of a more candid and revealing nature. Additionally, the medical information recorded by Dr. Morell is purely factual. Irving uses a variety of other physicians’ records to ensure multiple views being expressed. US Captain Walter H. Gruendl’s interrogation of Morell states that “Dr. Morell’s memory was genuinely shaky”[3]. This limits the source as it is uncertain whether Morell’s records were written daily or from memory. In addition, these records are inevitably molded by the opinions of those surrounding Morell. Similarly, Irving’s explanatory passages are biased by his own cultural prejudices, calling for them to be read critically. It is not definite whether the diaries are complete, as they were lost for 30 years. Morell’s diaries are, to the average reader, written cryptically. Terms such as “Vitamultin” and “Medication X” replace medical terminology. Irving was left to speculate upon the precise contents of said substances, despite his claim that “the medical picture of Adolf Hitler is now complete, there is no longer room for speculation”[4]. It is also essential to say that David Irving was put on trial for historical revisionism in the context of Hitler, lessening his credibility as a source. As the original Morell Diaries were translated from German to English, the possibility exists for information to be mistranslated, accidentally or deliberately.





Ohler, Norman, and Shaun Whiteside. Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich. 2017. Print.

(for reference: Source B)



         A novelistic account of the presence of narcotics in the Nazi German high command, military, economy and population. Comprises unpublished documents from German and American federal archives complemented by interviews with contemporary witnesses and military historians.

       

        Ohler describes substance abuse as a “blind spot”[5] in the literature on Hitler. The source’s information is not unique; its value lies in the manner in which it is laid out. It employs a skewed perspective, providing a focused, personal portrait of the spirit and culture of the time. Blitzed offers subjective views allowing the reader to follow Ohler’s inferences based on circumstantial evidence and recast their previous knowledge on the topic. This source is flawed in the sense that Norman Ohler is a novelist, not a historian. The degree of literary pageantry used limits the source as it is not concerned with providing a factual account. Ohler is accused of exaggerating throughout Blitzed. Richard J Evans calls it aspurious interpretation[…] of the evidence”[6]. The amount of relevant information is limited as Ohler dedicates merely one chapter of the book to Hitler himself. This however allows Ohler to contextualize Hitler’s life through recounting the social and economic situation in Germany, especially in regard to narcotics.



Word count: 638





Section 2: Investigation



          
           Hitler, long before his rise to power, was obsessed with his physical and mental health; a hypochondriac whose body began to fail him as early as August 1941. He admittedly believed himself to be incapable of living without constant medical attention. Countless doctors treated the Führer, senior among them was Theodor Morell, his personal physician. As the condition of his heart, his deteriorating eyesight and the tremor in his left hand worsened, Hitler became gradually more dependent on the treatment of his Doktorchen – his ‘little doctor’,  Morell. In the crucial years of the war, 1941 to 1945, Morell treated Hitler more or less on a daily basis. 885 of 1,349 days are accounted for in his diaries, Medication was recorded 1,100 times as well as approximately 800 injections. These medical findings alone are inconclusive regarding amphetamine use. An eyewitness report from Hitler’s valet, Heinz Linge, approximates a description of the immediate effects of stimulant drugs. When asked what happened to Hitler after his morning “Vitamultin” injection from Morell, Linge described him as “immediately alert […] while the needle was still in the arm”. In the Medical Casebook of Adolf Hitler Leonard Heston states that “At that time in Germany only two substances were that effective – pervitin (methamphetamine) and cocaine”. Despite these statements, there is no mention of Pervitin in source A’s appendix, where all 74 substances administered to Hitler are recorded. From the differing information in sources the questions arise whether Morell’s mysterious substance indeed contained Methamphetamine, and if so, whether it was in a sufficient concentration to render Hitler addicted.


Morell kept the composition of his “Vitamultin” secret, insisting on it being a mixture of vitamins and glucose solution[12]. As Morell was not well-liked in Hitler’s inner circle due to his poor personal hygiene and unorthodox treatment methods, Heinrich Himmler secretly ordered SS-physician Ernst-Günther Schenck to investigate its contents. Schenck, allegedly, found Morell’s golden, foil wrapped “Vitamultin” to contain the insisted upon vitamins, as well as Pervitin and Koffein[13]. Hitler’s close relationship with Morell discredits these findings. An overweight, unhygienic “quack”[14] having Hitler’s unquestioning trust, inevitably spawned jealousy within Hitler’s inner circle, Himmler included. When he remarked on Morell’s body odour, Hitler snapped: “I don’t employ Morell for his fragrance but to look after my health”[15]. This envy went as far as Morell being accused of poisoning Hitler and being an Allied spy. When this concern was presented to Hitler by Dr. Karl Brandt and Dr. Hanskarl von Hasselbach, Hitler fired them and kept Morell[16]. Irving makes the case that Morell’s rivals potentially used falsified information about Pervitin in “Vitamultin” to have Morell investigated by the Gestapo and removed from Hitler’s side. This argument is particularly strong as Morell had no reason to exclude mention of Pervitin in his painstakingly detailed diaries, as Morell even occasionally stuck the needles, used to inject Hitler, to his notes[17]. Aware of the dangers of being a dictator’s personal physician, Morell kept these meticulous records to present to the Gestapo in the case of Hitler’s untimely demise. Excluding important information such as the contents of his injections would have had fatal consequences for Morell. 



         Assuming the validity of this theory, and that Morell did not administer Pervitin, how then did he manage to revitalize Hitler in mentally and physically straining situations between August 1941, Operation Barbarossa, and 1945, Hitler’s suicide? To answer this, it is essential to discern where the ‘Patient A’ spent most of his time during said period; Hitler’s first Eastern front military headquarters, the “Wolfsschanze”[18]. From here he would direct ‘Operation Barbarossa’[19].  Protected by mines in a ring 150m wide, enclosed in 2 metres of concrete and home to 2,000 officers and private soldiers, the Wolfsschanze embodies of Hitler’s hypochondria. Morell supplied Hitler’s bunker with oxygen for “inhalation and release into the bedroom”.  Hitler’s response recorded by Morell; “Führer very content, one might even say enthusiastic” [20]. Ohler makes this ‘The Bunker Mentality’ case to justify the source of Hitler’s energy. Blood doping, or inhaling air with a higher oxygen concentration is a method by which athletes can enhance their physical performance[21]. An artificial oxygen supply, paired with frequent “glucose injections”[22], “Vitamultin” vitamins, Glyconorm[23], and countless other metabolic enhancements, could explain Hitler’s “immediate[…] alertn[ess]”, as described by his valet[24]. Infrequently, these concoctions would have no tangible effect, albeit, Morell’s entry from the October 30th 1944 reveals the sheer dimensions of these injections. Morell is summoned to Hitler’s side; he makes up a combined Eukodal and Eupaverin injection but “administering it was not easy because of the many needle scars”, he “again drew attention to the need to give the veins a rest for a while”[25]. Though Irving states that it is “unlikely” that the Vitamultin shots contained Pervitin, Hitler’s insistence on being injected against Morell’s advice reveals that he was abjectly dependent to Morell’s treatment.



        A testimony by Ernst-Günther Schenck allows for Hitler’s dependency on Morell’s medication to be compared to the habit of smoking. Though Hitler did not smoke[26], studies show that often smokers aren’t as much addicted to nicotine as to the act of holding and smoking a cigarette[27]. “Morell proceeded ultra-cautiously in his usage of drugs, […] he never administered more than one-third and often less than one quarter of the normal dose”[28]. A statement issued by the same man who, again, allegedly, found Vitamultin to contain Pervitin at the behest of Heinrich Himmler. From this it can be concluded that Hitler was more addicted to the relief of feeling Morell’s needle puncturing his skin, than to the effects of the substances, as on more than one occasion Hitler had his private train stopped for Morell to inject accurately. Such a dependency is a result of the placebo effect[29]. Further confirming the relevance of the placebo effect in Hitler’s dependency, Schenck continues to say that “any effect must have been more imaginary than real”[30]. Assuming Schenck indeed found Pervitin in Vitamultin, judging by said testimony, it must have been in minute quantities. It is unlikely that an amphetamine addiction ensued from microdoses of the substance Pervitin, a substance far less potent than ‘crystal meth’ dealt today.



Despite common beliefs pedaled by arguably revisionist films such as High Hitler and even the cover of Blitzed, depicting Hitler with protruding eyes and an overall intoxicated facial expression, Adolf Hitler was not addicted to any form of amphetamine. Albeit, he did have a substance abuse issue. Hitler took “a pill for every ill” replacing his immune system with unpredictable, often counterproductive drug cocktails synthesized by his Doktorchen. Hitler’s temperament, choleric behaviour and megalomaniacal fantasies can be attributed to no substance but that of his own madness.



 Mor




Word count: 1128







Section 3: Reflection



Science in history is always subject to change over time. With rapid technological advancements in society, more accurate scientific methods are discovered daily, discrediting older ones. Diagnoses in the past are therefore less accurate and less viable as source material.

When I visited the institute of contemporary history to see David Irving’s collection of sources for his book The Secret Diaries of Hitler’s Doctor, my primary source, I was denied access without written parental permission. After overcoming this legal barrier, the next day, I encountered another. Morell’s medical records were incomprehensible. I was met with a disarray of loose pages, binders and cards and enigmatic handwriting. I was later informed that this was only a fraction of the complete diaries, and that the rest were in Washington DC. This taught me the necessity of attention to detail when conducting a historical investigation. Medical records alone are inconclusive, minute details such as Hitler’s posture, hand movements and diet seem insignificant, yet largely contribute to the belief that Hitler had Parkinson’s. This has revealed to me how History and Science work together. One is objective, the other subjective, but both give meaning to one another. Simply stating facts is not enough, a historian and a scientist both interpret and evaluate making seemingly minute details significant. These challenges I faced allowed me insight into the tedious processes behind historiography and different perspectives in History.

History is not uniform like mathematics or science. History is different views expressed based on the same facts.



Word count: 249
















Works cited:



Primary



Morell, Theodor G, and David J. C. Irving. The Secret Diaries of Hitler's Doctor. New York: Macmillan, 1983. Print.



Ohler, Norman, and Shaun Whiteside. Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich. 2017. Print.



Secondary



Hans Mommsen (5 November 2015). "Unbequemer Blick auf die NS-Zeit"Frankfurter Rundschau. Retrieved 8 February 2018.



Evans, Richard J. “Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany by Norman Ohler review – a crass and dangerously inaccurate account.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 16 Nov. 2016, www.theguardian.com/books/2016/nov/16/blitzed-drugs-in-nazi-germany-by-norman-ohler-review.



"Effects of Amphetamine Abuse." Narconon International. Narconon International, n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2017.



Heston, Leonard L. The Medical Casebook of Adolf Hitler: His Illnesses, Doctors, and Amphetamine Abuse. New York: Universe, 2007. Print, 4



BArch-Koblenz N1348, Morell entry, 9 August 1943. (Accessed at Institute for Contemporary History, Munich, 12 Feb. 2018)



Joyner, MJ (Jun 2003). "VO2MAX, blood doping, and erythropoietin". British journal of sports medicine. Pdf.  



Hainer, Dr. Ray. “ Smokers: Addicted or just dabbling?”, 10 Sept. 2008, www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20213458,00.html.



Schenck, Ernst-Günther. Patient Hitler, Augsburg 2000.



Neumayr, Prof. Anton. Dictators: In the Mirror of Medicine, 1995,



Hutton, Dr. Thomas, High Hitler. Dir. Andy Webb. History Channel, 2004. DVD.



"Placebo effect." Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 20 Mar.

2015. school.eb.co.uk/levels/advanced/article/placebo-effect/489919. Accessed 18 Feb. 2018.

















[1] Hans Mommsen (5 November 2015). "Unbequemer Blick auf die NS-Zeit"Frankfurter Rundschau. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
[2] Morell, Theodor G, and David J. C. IrvingThe Secret Diaries of Hitler's Doctor. New York: Macmillan, 1983. Print, 13
[3] Ibid, 12
[4] Morell, Theodor G, and David J. C. IrvingThe Secret Diaries of Hitler's Doctor. New York: Macmillan, 1983. Print, 12
[5] Ohler, Norman, and Shaun Whiteside. Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich. 2017. Print, 127

[6] Evans, Richard J. “Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany by Norman Ohler review – a crass and dangerously inaccurate account.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 16 Nov. 2016, www.theguardian.com/books/2016/nov/16/blitzed-drugs-in-nazi-germany-by-norman-ohler-review.

[7] Morell, Theodor G, and David J. C. IrvingThe Secret Diaries of Hitler's Doctor. New York: Macmillan, 1983. Print, 17
[8] Ohler, Norman, and Shaun Whiteside. Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich. 2017. Print, 132
[9] "Effects of Amphetamine Abuse." Narconon International. Narconon International, n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2017.
[10] High Hitler. Dir. Andy Webb. History Channel, 2004. DVD.
[11] Heston, Leonard L. The Medical Casebook of Adolf Hitler: His Illnesses, Doctors, and Amphetamine Abuse. New York: Universe, 2007. Pint, 4
[12] Morell, Theodor G, and David J. C. IrvingThe Secret Diaries of Hitler's Doctor. New York: Macmillan, 1983. Print, 15
[13] Schenck, Ernst-Günther. Patient Hitler, Augsburg 2000, p. 389
[14] Neumayr, Prof. Anton. Dictators: In the Mirror of Medicine, 1995, p. 189
[15] Morell, Theodor G, and David J. C. IrvingThe Secret Diaries of Hitler's Doctor. New York: Macmillan, 1983. Print, 170
[16] Hutton, Dr. Thomas, High Hitler. Dir. Andy Webb. History Channel, 2004. DVD.
[17] Ohler, Norman, and Shaun Whiteside. Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich. 2017. Print, 132
[18] “Wolfsschanze”; German for “Wolf’s lair”
[19] Ohler, Norman, and Shaun Whiteside. Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich. 2017. Print, 141.
[20] BArch-Koblenz N1348, Morell entry, 9 August 1943. (Accessed at Institute for Contemporary History, Munich, 12 Feb. 2018)
[21] Joyner, MJ (Jun 2003). "VO2MAX, blood doping, and erythropoietin". British journal of sports medicine. Pdf.  37
[22] Morell, Theodor G, and David J. C. IrvingThe Secret Diaries of Hitler's Doctor. New York: Macmillan, 1983. Print, 23
[23] Contains metabolic ferments, vitamins, amino acids, histidine and a cocktail of extracts of suprarenal and pancreatic glands.
[24] High Hitler. Dir. Andy Webb. History Channel, 2004. DVD.
[25] Ibid, 63
[26] Ibid, 17
[27] Hainer, Dr. Ray. “Smokers: Addicted or just dabbling?” Health.com, 10 Sept. 2008, www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20213458,00.html.
[28] Morell, Theodor G, and David J. C. IrvingThe Secret Diaries of Hitler's Doctor. New York: Macmillan, 1983. Print, 68
[29] "Placebo effect." Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 20 Mar. 2015. school.eb.co.uk/levels/advanced/article/placebo-effect/489919. Accessed 18 Feb. 2018.

[30] Ibid