History books are strewn with the names of megalomaniacs who believed that they knew what was best in literally every situation. This was especially true in the case of the Chancellor of Germany–and overall terrible human being–Adolf Hitler. Hitler was a charismatic and masterful politician, and used his political prowess to gain absolute power in the chaotic environment of Germany in the 1930s. He used his magnetic personality to gain followers who helped him consolidate power and eventually spark the outbreak of World War II when the German Army (the “Wehrmacht”) invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. From this point forward, Hitler could have sat back and let his generals run the war. Hitler had been a soldier but had no experience commanding men, let alone entire armies or preparing strategic-level war plans. Instead of building relationships based on trust, Hitler dabbled and controlled every aspect of the German war effort and overruled many of his generals at the most inopportune times.
In hindsight, many of Hitler’s avoidable errors appear almost shockingly stupid. But separate from stupidity, ignorance, or arrogance, historians have recently explored another possible factor explaining Hitler’s behavior, particularly from 1942 forward.
He may have been a junkie.
According to recent research, the supposedly tee-totaling Nazi leader may actually have relied on a number of strange concoctions prepared by his personal physician, Dr. Theodor Morell, just to get through his daily routine during the last years of his life. Although historians differ greatly in their evaluation of Hitler’s degree of dependency and amounts consumed, his intake may have included such items as cocaine eyedrops, meth, testosterone, and barbiturates.
Hitler’s possible drug addiction was explored in detail in the book “Blitzed” by Norman Ohler, discussed in detail in The Guardian here.
For a critical review of Ohler’s account, see The Guardian’s review by Richard J. Evans here.
Matthew A. Perry is a middle school history teacher, author, and basketball coach from West Virginia. When he is not teaching and coaching, he writes and has published three books about military history. You can find Matthew’s work at https://www.amazon.com/Matthew-Perry/e/B01GLVOZQ6 and his blog at www.matthewaperrybooks.com.