Something that has often amazed me is just how many books have been written about World War II. A quick check on Amazon shows they have 48,879 books on that subject, which doesn’t include the subcategories like “Europe” “American military history” and “military history pictorials”. That seems far too many – it’s a war that ended more than 70 years ago, I would have thought everything that could possibly been written on the subject of the Second World War had been written.
But that was before I started reading Norman Ohler’s Blitzed. Subtitled “Drugs in Nazi Germany”, it details a side to wartime Germany that I wasn’t aware of. And neither were some military scholars, given their blurbs that feature on my copy of the book. I had known tales of Hitler being a bit affected by drugs, but didn’t know it was much worse than that. As the war ended, he was being shot up with an opioid called Oxycondone, which makes you feel tops. And then you need more and more to get the same buzz. Seems in the last months of the war, Hitler had track marks along his arms from where his personal doctor had been sticking him over and over with needle.
Ohler makes the strong suggestion that Hitler’s increasing drug use affected his decision-making, making him believe he was always righter than right and everyone else was always wrong.
It wasn’t just Hitler high on drugs. Many of Germany’s soldiers were cranked on Pervitin – which was basically methamphetamine. In fact, Ohler suggests it was meth that created the much-vaunted Blitzkrieg – the soldiers were taking it so frequently that they didn’t need sleep and would just go, go go for days and weeks on end – totally swamping the opposition.
It’s a great book – but it’s also one I avoided buying for a long time. That’s because the first editions had an ugly cover. While you might not be able to judge a book by its cover, you can judge whether you want to buy it. And when it had that old cover, I had no interest.
Just have a look at it.
Man that’s an awful cover – hurts my eyes just looking at it. And what’s the point of that odd 3D effect in the first half of the title? It’s not as if the book comes with a pair of 3D glasses.
So it wasn’t until this cover turned up that I bought a copy.
See? Much better. Looks more like something a grown-up would read and less like some bizarre kids’ picture book.