Blitzed

Drugs in the Third Reich
Narrated by: Stefan Rudnicki
Length: 7 hrs and 20 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,451 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 listenable, Blitzed throws surprising light on a history that, until now, has remained in the shadows.

©2017 Norman Ohler (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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    5 out of 5 stars

The best "Gotterdammerung" book I have ever read.

I am a 70 year-old physician, specializing in addiction medicine, and still practicing. SUPERB BOOK.

28 people found this helpful

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Heavy on Hitler, would have liked broader focus

Ohler takes what feels like a too brief (or at least not broad enough) look at drugs in Germany during the interwar and World War II period. The general public (at least those who are history buffs) have known for decades that amphetamines (e.g., the drug colloquially known as speed). But historians have known for decades that it wasn’t just amphetamines, but also methamphetamines. Both drugs were copiously consumed during World War II. In this book, Ohler covers the history of these drugs, how they came to be mass produced and mass ingested, and how this fueled and then derailed the Nazi war effort.

The book is most interesting, and most deserving of its title, in the chapters offering the foundation of the drug industry in Germany. Ohler also explains how use of such drugs made the Blitzkrieg possible – allowing soldiers to go on with minimal rest, manically energized and moving forward at blinding speed in that lightning war. Sections of the book examining use of drugs by the military and civilians are quite interesting and eye-opening.

But such sections end and the bulk of the book ends up being about Hitler’s private doctor and the regimen of injections (including addictive drugs) that Hitler was on for the duration of the war. This is worthy subject matter to cover, but overwhelms the rest of the book. What started out as a broader look at wartime Germany becomes a study of Hitler and his doctor, both of their motivations and psyches, and a description of Hitler’s degrading health and increasing dependence on drugs. This does not make the book a failure, but does end up narrowing the focus in a way that might be unexpected given the book’s title. Personally, I would have preferred a book with a broader lens on the entire German state and not such a tight and extended focus on Hitler.

10 people found this helpful

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Another side of WWII history

Would you consider the audio edition of Blitzed to be better than the print version?

This narrator is great, and he did a really good job with pronunciation of names and terms from several languages (German, French, Russian, etc.). I did not read the print version, but my sister read the print version while I was listening and I think we got a different experience from the book. While I find it difficult to keep "characters" straight with audiobooks versus print, I think the listening brings the story a different quality.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I wouldn't call him my favorite character, but Hitler was very entertaining. He was such a horrible hypocrite and this book paints that hypocrisy in a new light. It's also very relatable to today's issues surrounding opiod use.

What about Stefan Rudnicki’s performance did you like?

He has a very deep voice that matches the menacing and down right despicable actions of the Nazis.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

The alternate view of Hitler's psychosis and the Nazi actions in WWII

Any additional comments?

This is a fascinating story of not only big pharma mass producing extremely harmful products, but it gives another perspective of the level of manipulation by Nazi leaders in Germany during WWII.

8 people found this helpful

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A bus driver in Knoxville, TN recommended this

If you read "The Butchering Art" you know about the "cadaver hill" at the University of Tennessee. I asked the bus driver where it was and a discussion ensued. He read "The Butchering Art" (he does Kindle), so told me about "Blitzed" thinking I'd like it. Puts the European Theater of WWII in a new perspective.

6 people found this helpful

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Eyeopening book

Anyone who is interested in war history or even medicine would find this book enlightening and captivating. Dr. Morell as a civilian physician served a significant role in affecting world history!! It was interesting to learn of the significant part the pharmaceutical giants Bayer and Merck,etc. played in the world war.
Having read this book, we experienced a little known part of history that most people are not aware of.

2 people found this helpful

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I’m surprised how interesting this book was

This book was way more interesting than I expected. The author does have a bit of a tendency to make it seem as if drugs were the only factor involved in major turning points in the war but it’s otherwise very informative. Weird side-note I read this book on the recomendation of Conan O’brian. A guest on his show askes him what he was reading and he said this book.

4 people found this helpful

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This changes everything

If the content of this book is true, it changes almost everything about how I view WW II. It is no casual thing for an entire military force from the lowest grunts to the highest commanders to be on, and potentially addicted to, some of the most powerful and dangerous drugs that man had yet devised. Not only had I never heard anything about this phenomenon, the same can be said for every person who I described this book to.

Of importance is the fact that the author does have to speculate a bit when deciphering some things, like a doctor's personal journal, but the author is clear that he is doing this. Amid this speculation, it isn't clear that this book is 100% fact. However, the percentage that does appear to be factual is startling on its own and the rest also has a good chance of being true.

1 person found this helpful

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Incredible!

Great piece of world history. A very intimate delve into Hitlers life and parts of WW2 that you never hear about.

1 person found this helpful

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Amazing story you’ve never heard before

This is, finally, the explanation of how the Germans were so successful in WW2 with their old tanks and rag-tag army. Drugs.

1 person found this helpful

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If you ever find yourself in need of yet another reason to think that world war 2 was bonkers, look no further.

Stefan Rudnicki is excellent here as usual and the translation is very good.
The story itself is crazy and interesting.

1 person found this helpful