Theodor Morell

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Theodor Gilbert Morell
Morell.JPG
Herr Doktor Theodor Gilbert Morell, M.D., personal physician
of Adolf Hitler.
Born (1886-07-22)22 July 1886
Trais-Münzenberg, Germany
Died 26 May 1948(1948-05-26) (aged 61)
Tegernsee, Bavaria, Germany
Occupation Medical Doctor
Employer Adolf Hitler
Known for Service as Adolf Hitler's personal physician
Spouse(s) Hannelore Moller (1920-his death or her death)[which?]

Theodor Gilbert Morell (22 July 1886 – 26 May 1948) a German doctor, was Adolf Hitler's personal physician. Morell was well known in Germany for his unconventional treatments.

Early life[edit]

Morell was the second son of a primary school teacher, born and brought up in a small village called Trais-Münzenberg in Upper Hesse.[1] Morell's paternal ancestry was of Frisian origin prior to the 12th century. He studied medicine in Grenoble and Paris then trained in obstetrics and gynaecology in Munich in 1910. On 23 May 1913, he obtained a doctoral degree and was fully licenced as a medical doctor.[1] He served as a doctor on a ship until 1914. He volunteered for serve at the Front during the First World War. Morell went on to serve as an army battalion medical officer until 1917.[1] By 1918, he was back in Berlin with his own medical practice and in 1920 married Hannelore "Hanni" Moller, a wealthy actress. He targeted unconventional treatments at an upscale market and eventually turned down invitations to be personal physician to both the Shah of Persia and the King of Romania.

Morell claimed to have studied under Nobel Prize-winning bacteriologist Ilya Mechnikov, along with having taught medicine at prestigious universities, and he sometimes called himself "professor." He also owned significant interests in several medium-sized European pharmaceutical companies.

Hitler's physician[edit]

Morell joined the Nazi Party in 1933.[1] In 1935 Hitler's personal photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann was successfully treated by Morell after being gravely ill. Hoffmann told Hitler how Morell saved his life.[2] In 1936, Hitler first met Morell, who successfully treated him for severe stomach cramps.[1][2] Through Morell's prescriptions, a leg rash which Hitler had developed also disappeared.[2] Morell's wife was unhappy when he accepted the job as Hitler's personal physician. Morell began treating Hitler with various commercial preparations, including a combination of vitamins and hydrolyzed E. coli bacteria called Mutaflor. Hitler became convinced of Morell's medical greatness. Eventually Morell became part of Hitler's social inner circle.[3] Some historians have attempted to explain this association by citing Morell's reputation in Germany for success in treating syphilis, along with Hitler's own (speculated) fears of the disease, which he associated closely with Jews. Other observers have commented on the possibility Hitler had visible symptoms of both Parkinson's disease and syphilis, especially towards the end of the war.[citation needed]

As Hitler's physician, Morell was recommended to other members of the Nazi leadership, but most of them, including Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler, immediately dismissed him as a quack. As Albert Speer related in his autobiography:

"In 1936, when my circulation and stomach rebelled...I called at Morell's private office. After a superficial examination...Morell prescribed for me his intestinal bacteria, dextrose, vitamins and hormone tablets."
"For safety's sake I afterward had a thorough examination by Professor von Bergmann, the specialist in internal medicine at Berlin University. I was not suffering from any organic trouble, he concluded, but only from nervous symptoms caused by overwork."
"I slowed down my pace as best I could and the symptoms abated. To avoid offending Hitler I pretended that I was carefully following Morell's instructions, and since my health improved, I became for a time Morell's showpiece." (Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich, 1970).

When Hitler had trouble with grogginess in the morning, Morell would inject him with a solution of water mixed with a substance from several small, gold-foiled packets, which he called "Vitamultin." Thereupon, Hitler would arise, refreshed and invigorated. Ernst-Günther Schenck, a physician of Himmler's SS, acquired one of these and had it tested in a laboratory, where it was found to contain methamphetamine.

Speer characterised Morell as an opportunist who, once he achieved status as Hitler's physician, became extremely careless and lazy in his work; one who was more concerned with money and status rather than providing medical assistance.

Göring called Morell Der Reichsspritzenmeister, an unflattering nickname that stuck. This term does not have a precise English translation. Among the translations of this nickname are "Injection Master of the German Reich," or Reichmaster of Injections "The Reich's Injections Impresario" (Junge, Until the Final Hour), and "The Master of the Imperial Needle" (O'Donnell, The Bunker). When this term is translated, its underlying meaning is the same - it implied that Morell always resorted to using injections and drugs whenever faced with a medical problem, and that he overused these drug injections.

Morell developed a hostile rivalry with Dr. Karl Brandt, who had been attending Hitler since 1933. The two often argued, though Hitler usually sided with Morell. Eva Braun later changed her opinion of Morell, calling his office a "pig sty" and refusing to see him any more.

In 1939, Morell inadvertently became involved with the forced annexation of Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovak president, Emil Hacha, became so scared at Hitler's outburst that he fainted. Morell injected stimulants into Hacha to wake him, and although he claimed these were only vitamins, they may have included methamphetamine. Hacha soon gave in to Hitler's demands.

After the 20 July 1944 assassination attempt against Hitler, Morell treated him with topical penicillin, which had only recently been introduced into testing by the U.S. Army. Where he acquired it is unknown, and Morell claimed complete ignorance of penicillin when he was interrogated by American intelligence officers after the war. When members of Hitler's inner circle were interviewed for the book The Bunker, some claimed Morell owned a significant share in a company fraudulently marketing a product as penicillin.

By April 1945, Hitler was taking 28 different pills a day, along with numerous injections (including many of glucose) every few hours and intravenous injections of methamphetamine almost every day.[citation needed]

On 20 April 1945, during the Battle of Berlin, Morell, Martin Bormann, Admiral Karl-Jesco von Puttkamer, Dr. Hugo Blaschke, secretaries Johanna Wolf, Christa Schroeder, and several others were ordered by Hitler to leave Berlin by aircraft for the Obersalzberg.[4] Hitler dismissed Morell from the Führerbunker, saying that he did not need any more medical help. The group flew out of Berlin on different flights by aircraft of the Die Fliegerstaffel des Führers over the following three days. Morell was on the flight which left Berlin on 23 April.[4] He left behind a large amount of prepared medicine; during the last week of Hitler's life, they were administered by Dr. Werner Haase and by Heinz Linge, Hitler's valet.

Death[edit]

Morell was soon captured by the Americans and interrogated on 18 May 1945.[1] One of his interrogators was reportedly "disgusted" by his obesity and complete lack of hygiene. Although he was held in an American internment camp, on the site of the former Buchenwald concentration camp, and questioned because of his proximity to Hitler, Morell was never charged with any crimes. His health declined rapidly. Grossly obese and suffering from poor health, he died in Tegernsee hospital on 26 May 1948.[1]

Substances given to Hitler[edit]

Morell kept a medical diary of the drugs, tonics, vitamins and other substances he administered to Hitler, usually by injection or in pill form. Most were commercial preparations, some were his own. Since some of these compounds are considered toxic, many historians have speculated Morell may have contributed to Hitler's poor health. This fragmentary list of representative ingredients would have seemed somewhat less shocking during the 1940s:

Morell apparently never told Hitler (or anyone else) what he was administering, other than to say that the preparations contained various vitamins and "natural" ingredients, though this account is discredited, as Hitler knew what was being administered.[citation needed] Some ingredients were later confirmed by doctors who had been shown pills by Hitler while temporarily treating him.[citation needed] A few of the preparations (such as "Glyconorm," a tonic popular in Switzerland for fighting infections) contained rendered forms of animal tissues such as placenta, cardiac muscle, liver, and bull testicles. During his interrogation after the war, Morell claimed another doctor had prescribed cocaine to Hitler, and at least one other doctor[who?] is known to have administered it through eyedrops after he requested it in the hours following an almost successful assassination attempt on 20 July 1944.[citation needed] Cocaine was routinely used for medical purposes in Germany during that time, but Morell is said to have increased the dosage tenfold; nonetheless, the concentration was still weak, as the eyedrops were only 1% cocaine.[citation needed] Overuse of cocaine eyedrops has been associated with psychotic behavior, hypertension and other symptoms; given the weak dosage, it is more likely they were caused by methamphetamine, of which these are also common symptoms.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Joachimsthaler 1999, p. 291.
  2. ^ a b c Snyder 1994, p. 232.
  3. ^ Snyder 1994, pp. 232, 233.
  4. ^ a b Joachimsthaler 1999, p. 98.

References[edit]

  • Joachimsthaler, Anton (1999) [1995]. The Last Days of Hitler: The Legends, the Evidence, the Truth. Trans. Helmut Bögler. London: Brockhampton Press. ISBN 978-1-86019-902-8. 
  • Snyder, Louis (1994) [1976]. Encyclopedia of the Third Reich. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-1-56924-917-8. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Doyle, D. (2005). Hitler's Medical Care. [1] Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.
  • Irving, David (1983). Adolf Hitler: The Secret Diaries of Hitler's Doctor. [2] Focal Point Publications. ISBN 0-283-98981-5
  • O'Donnell, J. (1978). The Bunker. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80958-3
  • Snyder, L. Hitler's Elite. New York: Hippocrene Books. ISBN 0-87052-738-X