The Surprising Truth About Hitler's Drug Use

Did you know about Adolf Hitler's drug problem? Learn the bizarre story of Hitler’s physician, Theodor Morell, and the vast array of drugs he prescribed the infamous dictator, as excerpted from When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain by Giles Milton, which is the basis for the new Unknown History podcast.

Giles Milton
2-minute read
Episode #1

The injections began shortly after breakfast. As soon as Adolf Hitler had finished his bowl of oatmeal and linseed oil he would summon his personal physician, Theodor Morell. Every day for more than nine years, Dr Morell administered amphetamines, barbiturates, and opiates in such quantities that he became known as the Reichsmaster of Injections.

The Drug That Changed History

The most surprising drug that Dr Morell prescribed to the Führer was cocaine. This was occasionally used for medical ailments in 1930s Germany, but always in extremely low dosages and at a concentration of less than one per cent. Morell began administering cocaine to the Führer by means of eye-drops. Aware that Hitler expected to feel better after taking his drugs, he put ten times the amount of cocaine into the drops. Such a concentrated dose may well have triggered the psychotic behavior that Hitler was to experience in his later years.

The Führer found cocaine extremely efficacious. According to a cache of medical documents that came to light in America in 2012 (including a forty-seven-page report written by Morell and other doctors who attended the Führer), Hitler soon began to ‘crave’ the drug. It was a clear sign that he was developing a serious addiction. As well as the eye-drops, he now began to snort powdered cocaine ‘to clear his sinuses and soothe his throat.’

Hitler's Mania and Deteriorating Health 

The long-term effect of taking such drugs, particularly amphetamines, led to increasingly erratic behavior. The most visible manifestation of this came at a meeting between Hitler and Mussolini in northern Italy. As Hitler tried to persuade his Italian counterpart not to change sides in the war, he became wildly hysterical. According to Third Reich historian Richard Evans: ‘We can be pretty sure Morell gave some tablets to Hitler when he went to see Mussolini … [he was] completely hyper in every way, talking, gabbling, clearly on speed.'

As the war drew to a close, Hitler was in very poor health. Dependent on drugs, his arms were so punctured with hypodermic marks that Eva Braun accused Morell of being an ‘injection quack’. He had turned Hitler into an addict. 

But what happened to Dr. Morell after the war ended?

To find out the answer, listen to the full episode of our new podcast, Unknown Historyin the top right hand player of this page or on iTunesStitcher, and Spotify.  Plus, connect with Giles on Twitter and Facebook.

This post is roughly excerpted from When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain. You can purchase the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, Books-a-Million, and Apple


About the Author

Giles Milton

Giles Milton is a writer and historian who graduated from the University of Bristol. He is an internationally bestselling author of nine works of narrative non-fiction and three novels. His books have been translated into more than 20 languages and serialized by the BBC.