The Small in History
The Smart Set describes what effect a celebrity diet had on Hitler.
He showed a particular fondness, culinary historians assure us, for oatmeal with linseed oil, cauliflower, cottage cheese, boiled apples, artichoke hearts and asparagus tips in white sauce. Strangely, Hitler was unfazed by the fact that this high-fiber diet was having the opposite effect on his digestion than what he had intended: His private physician, Dr. Theo Morell, recorded in his diary that after Hitler downed a typical vegetable platter, “constipation and colossal flatulence occurred on a scale I have seldom encountered before.”
The dictator had a personal physical who plied him with drugs, too, and eventually turned him into a shambling wreck. In fact Dr. Morell may have accidentally more than anyone else to defeat Nazi Germany.
After the war, U.S. intelligence officers discovered that Morell was pumping Hitler with 28 different drugs, including eye-drops that contained 10 percent cocaine (up to 10 treatment a day), a concoction made from human placenta and “potency pills” made from ground bull’s testicles. But despite the barrage of medicines, Morell’s diaries (which were recovered from Germany and are kept in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.) make clear that the bouts of “agonizing flatulence” remained a regular occurrence.
WTF points out that medicines containing amphetamines and cocaine were available over the counter up until late in the mid-20th century. Toothache drops, throat lozenges, and even pomade. Burnett's Hair Dressing for example, which listed cocaine as an ingredient, was touted to kill dandruff, promote hair growth, and prevent any irritation of the scalp. Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup, which contained morphine, was designed to calm restless infants. And what busy man could dispense with the benzedrine inhaler?
The effect of drug use on history would probably merit a book in itself. It must certainly be a factor. They are used on a scale that beggars the imagination. For example, Michael Yon recently described how the opium trade has rescued the Taliban from the brink of defeat. And the drug lords of Latin America could tell their version of the history of the world. Conventional history tends to focus on the political and rational causes of events. Even today when discussing Iran, many policy analysts minimize the irrational and mystical aspects of Teheran's behavior. The Smart Set story reminds us that people are ultimately behind events; and that world leaders, like modern celebrities are sometimes vulnerable, distrubed or addicted personalities.