Nazis dosed soldiers with performance-boosting “superdrug”

“Drugged, fearless and berserk”

The remarkable endurance of German and Allied soldiers during World War II had a secret ingredient: performance-enhancing drugs.

During the 1940s, Nazi troops were liberally supplied with a methamphetamine called Pervitin, while American and British soldiers stayed alert with the help of the amphetamine Benzedrine.

Medical officers on both sides distributed these stimulants — and others, such as cocaine — to keep weary soldiers awake for days at a time; to enable troops to perform longer under punishing conditions; and to deaden the horrific and debilitating effects of shell shock and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to “Secrets of the Dead: World War Speed,” a new documentary airing today (June 25) on PBS.

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