Scourge of Crystal Meth? Blame Hitler

Der Spiegel recounts drug's origins in Nazi Germany
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2013 6:03 AM CDT
A box of crystal meth seized by police in Mexico.   (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias)

(Newser) – Crystal meth may seem to be an unfortunate American invention, but der Spiegel recounts the drug's history and pins it squarely on Hitler's Nazi Germany. The first iteration of meth went on the market there in 1938 as Pervitin courtesy of Berlin drugmaker Temmler Werke. The military quickly seized on the possibilities of this "miracle drug" and began providing it in large quantities to its weary pilots, tank gunners, and soldiers. It worked—too well. "As enticing as the drug was, its long-term effects on the human body were just as devastating," writes Fabienne Hurst. "Short rest periods weren't enough to make up for long stretches of wakefulness, and the soldiers quickly became addicted to the stimulant."

The Third Reich's top health official tried to limit its use, to no avail. In fact, German soldiers from both the East and West were still using the drug into the 1970s and '80s, until it got banned. The American embrace of meth didn't begin until the late 1970s, when West Coast bikers discovered its profit potential with makeshift labs. A decade later, a Wisconsin chemist known as Uncle Fester published a cookbook on how to create the crystal variety, and a modern scourge was born. Click for the full story.

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