Amphetamines At War
Nicolas Rasmussen (Professor of History and Philosophy) gives expert video advice on: How did amphetamine become methamphetamine?; How was the German Blitzkrieg influenced by amphetamines during World War II?; Why did the German army cut back on amphetamine use? and more...
How did amphetamine become methamphetamine?
So it is becoming recognized as an anti depressant, had a high scientific reputation, it was popular in England too as being marketed by Smith & Kline and French there. The trade name was Benzedrine sulphate, methamphetamine sulphate and in Germany a couple of smaller drug firms had introduced methamphetamine for essentially the same indications. Probably, they introduced methamphetamine rather than amphetamine, because amphetamine was protected by US patents and Smith & Kline French had are aggressively patented it in Europe too, while methamphetamine could not be patented because some Japanese can assess and synthesize it and describe it in print some years before. So in the period where amphetamines are medically relevant. Amphetamine is covered by Smith Kline and French exclusively patent, methamphetamine could not be patented. So anybody could sell it.
How was the German Blitzkrieg influenced by amphetamines during World War II?
World War II breaks out in late 1939. The Germans, you know, their famous Blitzkrieg all about sort of shock and speed and that sort of thing. They were heavy users of meth amphetamine in the first part of the war during the Blitzkrieg period - late 1939 and the first half of 1940. They crushed France in May and June 1940 and they're using really large amounts of amphetamine the vermouth meth amphetamine at this time and it's known. It's known that the Germans, their Blitzkrieg owes something to its' remarkable speed and sort of the power of the German offensive owes something to meth amphetamine.
Durring WWII, who was using the most amphetamine?
By the beginning of 1942, the British military had adopted amphetamine, by late 1942 the U.S. military had adopted amphetamine among aviation, bombing missions, and so on. The Marines had it at the invasion of Tarawa, one of the bloodiest battles of the war, the first opposed amphibious assault in the war against the Japanese. The Japanese, of course, had methamphetamine just like the Germans, so everybody's using amphetamine by this point in the war. Ironically, the Germans were using it the least by this stage, when the Allies were adopting it.
What was the official reason for the US military to issue amphetamines to pilots during WWII?
Now, through the war the British used less and less as they became aware that most of the supposed performance advantages of amphetamine were just mood altering effects. They were effects in the mind of the user only, but their performance was either normal or actually impaired by amphetamine, because it has effects on judgment. In fact, the RAF came to the conclusion that enough amphetamine to improve your performance on things like hand tremor and coordination was enough to impair judgment. So they cut way back on it. The U.S. military never acknowledged a problem with it and kept using it. In fact, for a long period, beginning with World War Two, and quite a while after, the mood altering effect of amphetamine was the official explanation of why it was a good idea to give it to pilots.