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Thread: Nazi's on crack

  1. #1
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    Nazi's on crack

    Sort of...

    I'm currently researching events around Kampfgruppe Peiper and the 30th Division at Stavelot/La Gleize/Stoumont. There are several instances where GI's state that the SS were "hopped up" on something. I think GI's would know what they were talking about since Benzedrine was available over the counter in the US at that time. Most of them had probably used it themselves or knew people that used it and could recognize the effects.

    The German army was issuing an amphetamine under the trade name of Pervitin at that time, unfortunately most of the info about Pervitin on the web comes from a sensationalistic Daily Mail article (plagiarized from an earlier Der Spiegel article) that paints a picture of drug crazed Nazi's...

    Yet, one of the points made in the Daily Mail (and Der Spiegel) articles is that by late in the war Pervitin was part of the first aid kit that every German soldier carried. Does anyone know if that is true? It's one thing if a doctor or medic is handing out a tablet or two when needed, it's quite another if each soldier had an entire bottle in his pack to use whenever he felt he needed it.

    In the background information I've collected there are some rather strange events that long term use of amphetamines might explain. For instance, not only in Kampfgruppe Peiper, but in the other 1st SS Kampfgruppe's trying to break through to Peiper, Germans repeatedly accuse Belgian civilians of directing artillery fire on them. This is rather ridiculous since they had US troops (with artillery observers) all around them, so why blame the civilians unless you were completely lost in paranoia? This paranoia about the civilians may explain the several massacres of civilians in that battle. Peiper himself had to be talked out of shooting some civilians in La Glieze by an angry Belgian civilian who convinced him that the civilians hiding in basements had no reason to call in artillery strikes on themselves, even if they had the means to do so. Peiper accepted this finally, but some of his subordinates in adjacent areas did shoot civilians for "cooperating" with the Americans.

    It should be noted that this part of Belgium was very much pro-German. The towns and place names are German, many of the people have German surnames and many of the young men were off in the German army.

    Of course, sleeplessness and battle fatigue in itself might explain the behavior, but if so you'd expect to see the same behavior exhibited on both sides in that battle. The GI's in the 30th and 82nd had little to no sleep from 16 December through the 25th, but they didn't run into Belgian homes and massacre the inhabitants on the grounds they were calling in artillery strikes on them.

    Also, there is a well documented episode where Jochen Peiper sits up all night talking with captured American Lieutenant Colonel Hal McCown. This isn't an interrogation, but a bull session about war, politics, life in general - but it's also well documented that Peiper hadn't slept in at least six or seven days. It's the first relatively quiet night he's had, yet he chooses to talk all night with McCown rather than grab a few hours sleep. Instead, both he and his adjutant are all aflutter about McCown, referring to him in the most superlative terms; "A real front soldier from a division of real front soldiers." That sounds very much like the "I love you - I hate you" ups and downs of somebody on amphetamines.

    All of this is very subjective, but interesting nonetheless. If German troops were using Pervitin for days at a time, they certainly would begin to exhibit the symptoms of amphetamine abuse. Wild mood swings and a breakdown in reasoning ability.

    So, does anyone know if Pervitin was actually part of the German first aid kits by this point in the war? I don't really trust Der Spiegel on that claim, yet it does make sense since amphetamines were just viewed as "pep pills" and available both in the US and Europe without prescription.

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    Wow! This is interesting!

    WWII is probably the most documented/written about war in human history, yet every time I thing I have heard it all something new turns up!

    I can hardly wait to hear more about this.
    I don't live in fear, I live in Alabama!!!

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    Thanks for a very good OP.

    Meth is the most dangerous drug going. i often contribute wild pork and venison to folks who are recovering meth addicts. Some of those folks became addicted after using meth just once.

    German pilots used meth. US pilots have also used meth.

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/ne...0801-speed.htm

    http://www.abc.net.au/am/stories/s757167.htm

    Retired rear admiral, Eugene Carroll says properly administered, the so-called "go pills" help overcome fatigue and help ensure safety on long missions.

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    Pervitin is a methamphetamine rather than an amphetamine like Benzedrine. It's faster acting and gives the user a euphoric "rush" as it takes hold, and a bigger crash when it wears off. Using it over several days compounds the mood swings (I love you/I hate you) and can cause eruptions of violence followed by depression.

    I've just hit a couple of points above. I'm finding a lot more in my research, but unfortunately it's all pretty much subjective. The GI's were sure the SS were "hopped up" and the actions taken would seem to indicate they were, but unless I can find some source that proves they were being given Pervitin, I'm hesitant to use the information because nothing will kill a historic work faster than speculation without evidence.

    They certainly did issue it widely at times. Various users talk about Pervitin in the big battles in Russia in 1942 and 1943. Panzer crews would run for days on nothing but Pervitin, water and chocolate. I just wish I could find something firm for this campaign so I can use it in the book.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alsaqr View Post
    Thanks for a very good OP.

    Meth is the most dangerous drug going. i often contribute wild pork and venison to folks who are recovering meth addicts. Some of those folks became addicted after using meth just once.

    German pilots used meth. US pilots have also used meth.

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/ne...0801-speed.htm

    http://www.abc.net.au/am/stories/s757167.htm
    One of the neighbors in White County told us that when he was in the Navy his ship would give them pills to stay awake then others to sleep while they were shelling the coast. (Highpong?) I guess each ship would shell for two hours then stop for two hours. I forget how long it lasted.

    It would appear if the armed services issued such drugs in those times when the negative effects were better known then it is no surprise drugs would be issued in earlier times.

    Considering that Nazi Germany was a socialist regime and such systems hold the individual in little regard, use of dangerous performance enhancing drugs is almost a given.

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    GI's state that the SS were "hopped up" on something.
    On what observations did they base that conclusion?
    why blame the civilians unless you were completely lost in paranoia?
    "Grasping at straws" comes to mind. If you begin to sense you are doomed, and your real enemy is beyond your reach, you may substitute any available "enemy."

    Back when they used to do such experiments, it was found that if you shocked the tail of a monkey that had access to an ("innocent") stuffed bag, he would bite the bag when shocked. "Displaced aggression" or "scapegoating". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Displacement_(psychology)
    but if so you'd expect to see the same behavior exhibited on both sides in that battle.
    Not if there were far heavier prohibitions (both formal and informal) against killing civilians in the US Army than in the SS. To me, that seems like a safe assumption.

    Also, the SS likely viewed themselves as oppressors or conquerors of the Belgians, with a right to use force against that "lesser race." US soldiers viewed themselves as liberators; shooting Belgians would be antithetical to that identity.
    yet he chooses to talk all night with McCown rather than grab a few hours sleep. Instead, both he and his adjutant are all aflutter about McCown
    Alternative explanations include sleep-deprivation psychosis, or the simple rational choice to try to interrogate McCown through a "little chat about war," filled with flattery.

    Also, Peiper had captured McCown. That's a more impressive feat if McCown is a great officer than if he's a shlub, so Peiper's own ego would tend to puff McCown.

    Peiper also may have realized that their roles might soon be reversed, with Peiper being the prisoner. So why not talk war during what might be your last opportunity, and maybe gain a "friend" on the other side? That in fact seems to have happened, and McCown testified as a friendly witness on behalf of Peiper during his war crimes trial.

    (http://www.waffen-ss.no/peiper.htm)

    JMHOs.
    Last edited by Loosedhorse; September 10th, 2012 at 02:39 PM. Reason: sp

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    The US certainly issued Benzedrine right up until the Vietnam era, and probably something similar today to special ops people. But, it's always been given in a controlled manner. They didn't just hand out bottles of it to the troops.

    This link discusses Pervitin use in the German Armed Forces early in the war, but it was also to be distributed in a controlled manner.

    http://shm.oxfordjournals.org/conten...hm.hkq101.full

    The records fall apart late in the war, but it is known that they were experimenting with a tablet known as D-IX, which was a mixture of 5 milligrams of Cocaine, 3 milligrams of Pervitin and 5 milligrams of Eukodal (a morphine derivative)! This was supposed to make soldiers happy, energetic and impervious to pain.

    Check out this remembrance from a German army doctor which might illustrate the general attitude about drugs: Franz Wertheim, a medical officer who was sent to a small village near the Western Wall on May 10, 1940, wrote the following account: "To help pass the time, we doctors experimented on ourselves. We would begin the day by drinking a water glass of cognac and taking two injections of morphine. We found cocaine to be useful at midday, and in the evening we would occasionally take Hyoskin," an alkaloid derived from some varieties of the nightshade plant that is used as a medication. Wertheim adds: "As a result, we were not always fully in command of our senses."

    Anyway, I wish I could find out something specific about the Waffen SS in the Battle of the Bulge. I hesitate to use this in the book without direct evidence because I don't want to taint the book with something so sensational unless I can cite a source.

    I mention the paranoid behavior towards civilians above, but most of the "hopped up" references come from an attack in Stavelot against the 1st Bn., 117th IR. A large group of Waffen SS simply charged into the Ambleve river in broad daylight to assault the Americans on the other shore. The Ambleve is a swift, cold river about 4 or 5 feet deep and 50 yards wide at that point. The 117th were in stone houses on a high bank overlooking the river and had dozens of machine guns and a clear view of the river below them. The Germans knew that - they'd been fighting across the river for a couple of days. The Americans simply mowed them down by the hundreds and felt sick about the slaughter.
    Everyone there said the SS troopers were "hopped up" and screaming slogans of various kinds as they attacked.

    This was the 1st SS "Liebstandarte Adolph Hitler" - an elite and experienced division. Such an attack is inexplicable (to me, at least), unless they really were drugged...

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    On what observations did they base that conclusion?
    See my post above.

    You're certainly right that sleep deprivation and battle fatigue and the propaganda of a master race might all play a factor.

    They didn't view the Belgians (in this area) as a lesser race. These were people of German extraction and in fact, they'd been German up until WWI. Of course, that being the case it might seem treasonous to the Germans when they found American scrip, cigarettes, rations in their homes...

    This whole thread is mere speculation unless I can find some source that discusses drug use in this campaign. The Daily Mail (not a great source) claims soldiers were issued a tube of Pervitin tablets in their first aid packet by this point in the war. That is the only source I can find that makes that claim.

    Unless I can find something else, I can't use this information in the book.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KodiakBeer View Post

    Unless I can find something else, I can't use this information in the book.
    http://www.amphetamines.com/nazi.html

    I found this that credits Spiegel.com. Nothing about how it was issued though. I'm doing a search in medical archives for "Guidelines for Detecting and Combating Fatigue," issued June 18, 1942. Hopefully translated to English as my German leaves much to be desired.

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    Such an attack is inexplicable (to me, at least), unless they really were drugged...
    It is very hard to explain. But then, so are Pickett's Charge and the Charge of the Light Brigade, and I don't believe methamphetamines had any roles there.

    Sorry that I can't help on the info. Obviously, what would be really helpful is a standing order that Pervitin be given routinely during extended battle, or records showing how the medical packs were equipped. The Nazis kept meticulous records, so I suspect that Pervitin procurement and inventory records to support or undermine your theory do exist--but where?

  11. #11
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    I found this that credits Spiegel.com.
    Yes, that is the original Der Spiegel story (largely plagiarized by the Daily Mail) that discusses the issue. The Daily Mail goes further and says it was issued in first aid kits... Unfortunately, they don't cite any source and because of that newspapers reputation (it's basically a tabloid like the New York Post), I don't trust the information. I certainly can't cite it, unless I want the book to be laughed at.

    It is very hard to explain. But then, so are Pickett's Charge and the Charge of the Light Brigade, and I don't believe methamphetamines had any roles there.
    True enough.

    I suppose it's human nature to want to find a link or a common thread to explain things that don't make sense. I'm self aware enough to realize I might be doing that in this case.

    This is the third large clash between the 30th Division and the 1st and 2nd Waffen SS Panzer Divisions (Liebstandarte and Das Reich). In the earlier engagements (that I've researched in the last few months), the SS has been crafty and formidable and more; they've been almost courtly and solicitous to captured Americans and civilians in the battle zone. At Mortain they captured an American convoy of wounded and merely took their own wounded and released the convoy to go on its way.

    Here, the behavior is entirely different, much more like the behavior in Russia. The Malmedy massacre is well known, but they also tortured and murdered a dozen black Americans captured at St. Vith. There's a half dozen cases where they massacred civilians, the most egregious is probably at Parfondruy where the 117th found piles of murdered children. The 117th captured the SS troopers responsible (from Kampgruppe Knittel I think, without checking the references...) and hung them.

    The 30th was rather proud that German propaganda had dubbed them "Roosevelt's SS" but after this, they didn't care for the title at all. They had now seen the other side of the Waffen SS...

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    You know, the trailer for Mel Brook's History of the World: Part II, included a segment titled "Hitler on Ice". (Ice is Hawaiian and Aussie slang for methampetimine.)

    Siriusly folks, I have read previous accounts that the Allies did use benzedrine for long flights or similar missions such as long range reconnaisance (with the advisory that troops who used benzedrine to stay up extra hours should be allowed extra rest time to recover after mission completion) but not meth.
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    I can't speak to this article exactly but I can tell you from personal experience that after 4 days of no sleep at all I was halucinating. Which is not a good thing to be doing when you are driving an M110A2 SP Howitzer.

    I kept slamming on the brakes because there were people only I could see running accross the road, third time it happened I was relieved as driver.

    I can also tell you that I have slept right through out going artillery (155) and made it all the way into the foxhole before waking up when mortars started falling on our position
    It is your dissatisfaction with what IS that is the source of all of your unhappiness. Matthew Scudder

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    I slept through a main gun exercise once. No idea how.
    When I read the title, I thought, what a great title for a really bad "B" movie...
    If total government control equals safety, why are prisons so dangerous?

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    The 1st SS Panzer Division was divided into four "Kampfgruppe's" (battle groups) in this campaign. The lead element was Kampgruppe Peiper and they had jumped off on the 16th of December, though they couldn't have had much sleep in the days leading up to that as they moved up and assembled on the Belgian border.
    From the 16th on, they were either moving or fighting. They knocked out the 99th Division and then the 106th Division and then engaged and brushed aside the 2nd Division before being intercepted by the 30th Division in a big pocket formed by the Ambleve river. The fighting there continued until the 25th of December, when the remaining few men of Kampgruppe Peiper abandoned their equipment and slipped across the river to escape back to their own lines - those that got out reached German lines on the 26th of December.

    That's ten days without sleep. Though, most of the massacres (and the insane assault at Stavelot), happened much earlier - 18th, 19th, 20th of December.

    Not all of this is associated with Peiper's group. When the 30th surrounded Peiper, the other three Kampfgruppe then surrounded the 30th (on three sides at least - the north was still open) and most of the civilian murders are associated with one or another of these other groups, rather than Peiper's group.

    I hope that draws a clear picture. The Ambleve river forms a loop with Peiper in the center. The 30th Division has split up and is holding all the crossings on the river with Peiper on one side and the other Kampfruppe on the other. The Divisional artillery holds some high ground in the north of the pocket that dominates the entire valley, and they are supplemented with batteries of Corps artillery.
    All four Kampfruppe also have artillery and they are pouring it on from outside the pocket.

    And in the middle of this carnage, various battalions of the 30th supplemented with armor are delivering assault after assault from various directions.
    And Peiper and the other Kampfruppe are assaulting both the river crossings and various routes north from within and outside the pocket.

    And when it's all over, scenes like these below come to light. In various places, the SS have shot civilians and it seems like they've concentrated on women and children.




  16. #16
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    Scenes like that defy human understanding. As you said earlier, human nature makes us want to understand and explain them.

    I am satisfied in assigning it to evil, which the Nazis possessed in great abundance. While I understand your curiosity as to whether drugs were part of the instrumentation of that evil, for me drugs can never be the explanation.

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    I know drug use can more easily bring about demonic possession.
    I dont mean to offend by talking about religion..
    But the bible worns us about taking in substances that can alter our mind, making us vulnerable.
    you can be more easily controlled by evil leaders.
    This reminds me of when I returned from Grenada in 83.
    The royal british paratroopers that just returned from the Falklands where sent to FT. Bragg to cross train with the 82nd.
    So we swapped war stories.
    the brits told us about their company of Gurkhas that they sent out the night before the invasion to slip in the trenches and cut the heads off of the Argentinian troops.
    The Gurkhas are under 5 ft in stature and weigh 100 lbs soaking wet, but they carry those big knives and they are wicked fighters, they fear know one, they are pit bulls.
    Gurkhas.jpg
    When the brits came ashore they said they found bails of hash-hish in every foxhole.
    The hash-hish was to help the Argentinians fight on and hold there ground.
    But they ran for their lives when they saw the Gurkhas.
    The British paratroopers said they took care of the hash-hish.

    Sorry for getting off topic.

  18. #18
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    I'm surprised the SS troop's didn't start killing each other after ten straight days on meth.
    Men are not angels, and angels do not govern men.

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    I am satisfied in assigning it to evil, which the Nazis possessed in great abundance. While I understand your curiosity as to whether drugs were part of the instrumentation of that evil, for me drugs can never be the explanation.
    I can only agree.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KodiakBeer View Post
    I can only agree.
    Just a passing thought here, while it would be comforting to point to drugs or sex or corned beef or even guns as the cause of such monstrous evil. The fact remains such evil is present in all of us and only needs someone that knows which buttons to push and in what order. Not from without, gentlemen, but from within.

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    The fact remains such evil is present in all of us and only needs someone that knows which buttons to push and in what order.
    I disagree entirely, unless that "someone" is ourselves.

    To me, this "someone can make us evil" notion that has been propped up (perhaps most famously by the Stanley Milgram experiments, which began in 1961) to try to explain how "ordinary" German citizens could become vicious monsters via external forces, like "authority." In fact, I suspect obedience to authority does play some role, as do groupthink and cognitive dissonance (ideas of 1952 and 1956 origins, respectively). Jung in 1946 even wrote Nazism was the result of a "mass psychosis" and a national "psychopathic inferiority" complex.

    I prefer this:
    Of course, no complex can satisfactorily explain the evil of a war that took the lives of 6 million Jews, 27 million Russians, and millions of others, or that made possible the horrors that were perpetrated in the death camps. Evil of this kind is so awesome that it defies classification. But understanding archetypal complexes can shed some light on such evil, for these complexes come from the same inner dimension as do good and evil. The "problem of evil," as theologians call it, is also an archetypal experience, as old as the human condition. It is no accident that the Bible begins and ends with it.
    http://www.michaelgellert.com/pdf/mi...zi_germany.pdf

    So, while I know for sure that evil is always ready and often well disguised, I do not believe that all--or even most--of us can be pushed to it; though we can certainly all freely choose to go there ourselves.

    (Children, as developing moral beings, are an exception: I think they can be made evil by others, mostly though example.)

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    So, while I know for sure that evil is always ready and often well disguised, I do not believe that all--or even most--of us can be pushed to it; though we can certainly all freely choose to go there ourselves.
    I think you give people too much credit. Most people are little more than sheep.

    I've got the news blathering on in the background this morning. They're talking about the Chicago teachers strike. The teachers are averaging 75K a year working in a failing system where the majority of the kids can barely read, yet they want a 16% raise and guarantees that no teacher can be let go for something as simple as poor performance. Now, that's not "evil" as much as it's simple greed and self-interest.
    However, what's interesting is that the majority of the people in Chicago (where wages average 40K) back the teachers union.

    What does that tell you about the average persons ability to process rational thought?

    Put those same people in a system where they are immersed in Superman propaganda and they'll march right down the same road that Germans did in the 1930's and 40's. They can't help it. They're herd animals immersed in the dynamic of the group.

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    "Superman propaganda"

    Propaganda like
    Most people are little more than sheep.
    and
    What does that tell you about the average persons ability to process rational thought?
    ?

    Maybe you're right, but it seems it's a small step from those words to they idea that some people are meant to lead, and the rest are meant to serve them. Since they're more sheep than human.

    And I'm not sure that road leads anywhere we want to go.

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    Does this remind anyone else of the 1990 horror film Jacob's Ladder?
    Cogito me cogitare; ergo, cogito me esse.

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    Maybe you're right, but it seems it's a small step from those words to they idea that some people are meant to lead, and the rest are meant to serve them. Since they're more sheep than human.
    "Meant" implies some sort of divine or genetic predisposition to such behavior. I would attribute it to simple laziness and a desire to be part of the clique.

    It's the age old battle between the individualist and the collectivist. Look at some of the religious death cults in the last fifty years to see how far some people can be swayed by a group dynamic.

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