|Theodor Gilbert Morell|
July 22, 1886|
|Died||May 26, 1948
Tegernsee, Bavaria, Germany
|Known for||Being Adolf Hitler's personal physician|
Morell was the second son of a primary school teacher, born and raised in a small village called Trais-Münzenberg in Upper Hesse. 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 beginning in 1910. By 1913, he had a doctoral degree and was fully licensed as a medical doctor. After a year serving as an assistant doctor on cruise ships, he bought a practice in Dietzenbach. He served at the front during World War I, then as a medical officer. By 1919, he was in Berlin with a 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 sometimes called himself "professor". He also owned significant interests in several medium-sized European pharmaceutical companies. Morell had joined the Nazi party in 1933.
During a party at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden in 1936, Hitler first met Morell, who said he could cure him within a year. 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 seemed to recover, and Morell eventually became part of Hitler's social inner circle, remaining there until shortly before the war ended. 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.
As Hitler's physician, Morell was constantly 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" whereupon Hitler would get up refreshed and invigorated. Ernst-Günther Schenck, a member of Himmler's SS acquired one of these and had it tested in a laboratory, where it was found to contain methamphetamine.
Speer characterized 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.
Goering called Morell Der Reichsspritzenmeister, a 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 when faced with a medical problem, and that he overused these drug injections.
Morell developed a 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 Czechoslovakian 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.
On 22 April 1945, about a week before committing suicide, Hitler dismissed Morell from the Führerbunker in Berlin, saying that he did not need any more medical help. Morell 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.
Morell escaped Berlin on one of the last German flights out of the city but was soon captured by the Americans. 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 speech impairment, he died in Tegernsee on May 26, 1948 after a stroke.
Substances given to Hitler
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2013)|
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: amphetamines, Atropa belladonna, Atropine, caffeine, chamolile, cocaine via eyedrops, E. Coli, enzymes, Eukodol (a trade name for Oxycodone), Glyconorm, Mutaflor, methamphetamine, morphine, strychnine, Oxedrine Tartrate, potassium bromide, Prophenazone, proteins, and lipids derived from animal tissues and fats, sodium barbitone, sulfonamide, testosterone, and vitamins.
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. Some ingredients were later confirmed by doctors who had been shown pills by Hitler while temporarily treating him. 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. 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. 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.
Portrayal in the media
Morell has been portrayed by the following actors in film and television productions.
- Derek Francis in the 1973 British television production The Death of Adolf Hitler.
- John Sharp in the 1981 U.S. television production The Bunker.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Theodor Morell|
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2008)|
- "The Death of Adolf Hitler (1973) (TV)". IMDb.com. Retrieved May 8, 2008.
- "The Bunker (1981) (TV)". IMDb.com. Retrieved May 8, 2008.
- David Batty (27 June 2009). "In the public eye - feelgood physicians". The Guardian.
- Mick Farren. Speed-Speed-Speedfreak: A Fast History of Amphetamine (Large Print 16pt ed.). p. 55.
- Doyle, D. (2005). Hitler's Medical Care. PDF File Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.
- Irving, David (1983). Adolf Hitler: The Secret Diaries of Hitler's Doctor. PDF File 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