Adolf Hilter almost died of a cocaine overdose despite publicly claiming he was 'teetotal', claims new book
Norman Ohler alleges Nazis used a form of crystal meth to drug the German people into compliance
Hitler almost died from a cocaine overdose during the last days of the Second World War, a controversial new book has claimed.
German author Norman Ohler said that the Nazi leader almost stopped breathing after receiving an injection of the drug through his nose in September 1944.
His book, Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich, will be released in paperback this month.
It claims Hitler suffered a burst eardrum after a failed military plot to assassinate him inside his Wolf’s Lair headquarters in what is now Poland in July 1944.
In order to alleviate the pain he got his personal physician, Dr Theodor Morell, to give him cocaine injections – despite the Nazis publicly denouncing the drug as a symptom of moral decay.
One account, written by his assistant physician Dr Erwin Giesing, said that he administered the drug to Hitler at least 50 times between July and September in the form of nose and throat dabs.
But after becoming concerned that the dictator was becoming dependent and it was affecting his decision making, on 1 October, it said Dr Morell refused to give him anymore until he had a full medical check up.
During the examination Hitler is reported to have said: “Look in my nose again and put that cocaine thing in to get rid of the pressure in my head. I have important things to do today.”
The subsequent dose was then apparently so strong Hitler lost consciousness and was briefly at risk of respiratory paralysis.
In an extract of the book published by Vice News, Mr Ohler wrote that this if this was true, it meant that "the self-described abstainer almost died of an overdose”.
Published in Germany last year, the book has drawn criticism from some historians who said it was “crass” and overstated its central argument that the Nazis drugged the German public into compliance using a type of methamphetamine (crystal meth) called Pervitin.
A review by Cambridge historian, Professor Richard J Evans, said the claims implied the German people were not really responsible for the atrocities committed by the Nazis.
He rejected the notion that Hitler was in a state of “chemically induced confidence” which made him less likely to listen to general’s advocating tactical withdrawals on several fronts when the war went against them.
Professor Evans also dismissed the idea that the “euphoria” brought on by the drug, fuelled his genocidal aggression which led to the mass extermination of Jewish people and vulnerable minorities in the death camps.
Mr Ohler does state the drugs did not exonerate Hitler from his decisions and he concluded that the Nazi leader was “anything but insane”.
But Professor Evans said the book read too much like a revisionist account of Nazi history.
Similarly Birbeck College Professor Nikolaus Wachsmann, in a review for the Financial Times, said that Mr Ohler, a former journalist and novelist, had “sexed” up his research and it was not true that the German public had easy access to drugs.
But one of the world’s leading experts on the Third Reich, Professor Sir Ian Kershaw, said the book was "a serious work of scholarship".
Independent News Service