Germany, the original drug lab

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Off to war

The Nazis sent doped-up soldiers to the front in Poland in 1939 and to France the following year. During the invasion of France, a whopping 35 million tablets of the methamphetamine Pervitin were distributed to soldiers, who named the miracle pill "Panzerschokolade" ("tank chocolate"). It wasn't just the Germans, however: the Allies gave their troops drugs, too.

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Alert and fearless

A Japanese chemist created a liquid version of what was to become the German Wehrmacht's miracle pill. The Berlin-based drug firm Temmler refined the drug and took out a patent in 1937. A year later, Pervitin was sold over the counter. It left people alert, fearless, and without need of food or drink. Pervitin is still on the market - illegally - and under a different name: Crystal Meth.

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His own best customer?

Historians disagree over whether the Führer himself was addicted to Pervitin. Files kept by Hitler's personal doctor, Theo Morell, show a scribbled "x" in reference to a cocktail of medication he was given on any given day - but it isn't exactly clear what it refers to. We do know, though, that Hitler was on a mix of powerful drugs.

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"Miracle drug" Heroin

German chemists' inventive talents go back even further than the Nazi era, however. "No cough thanks to heroin," was the ad slogan for a cough medicine produced by the German drug company Bayer in the late 19th century. Heroin was prescribed to patients - adults and children - suffering from epilepsy, asthma, schizophrenia and heart disease. Any side effects? Bayer listed constipation.

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Creative Chemists

Felix Hoffmann is perhaps best known for inventing Aspirin. But that's not all. He also developed heroin while experimenting with acetic acid. Hoffmann combined the acid with morphine, an extract from the poppy pod. Heroin was legal in Germany until 1971 when it was finally outlawed.

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Cocaine for opthamologists

In 1862, the Darmstadt-based firm Merck started producing large amounts of cocaine as a local anesthetic for ophthalmologists. German chemist, Albert Niemann, had previously isolated an alkaloid he named cocaine from South American coca leaves. Niemann died shortly after discovering cocaine - of lung problems.

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Euphoria and vitality

Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist and the "father of psychoanalysis," consumed cocaine for scientific purposes. In his Cocaine Papers study, Freud described the drug as harmless. He observed "euphoria, more vitality and [a] capacity for work." His enthusiasm waned, however, after a friend died of an overdose. At that time doctors prescribed cocaine for headaches and stomach problems.

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MDMA patent

American chemist, Alexander Shulgin, is widely believed to have invented the party drug ecstasy. But in reality, he rediscovered the compound. The German firm Merck had originally developed and filed for a patent for a colorless oil under the name 3,4-Methylendioxymethamphetamine - MDMA - in 1912. Back then, chemists thought the substance had no commercial value.

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The past casts a long shadow

These German chemists' inventions are still having an impact today. According to estimates by the United Nations about 190,000 people died worldwide in 2013 because of illegal drug consumption. However, alcohol, a legal drug, is responsible for far more deaths. The WHO says 5.9 percent of all deaths in 2012 were due to alcohol consumption - that's 3.3 million people.

Many recreational drugs cooked in hidden labs around the world today were origianlly desigend by German chemists, the military and German firms.