Norman Ohler

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Norman Ohler
Born (1970-02-04) 4 February 1970 (age 51)
Zweibrücken, West Germany
OccupationAuthor, screenwriter, journalist
LanguageGerman, English
GenreLiterary fiction, nonfiction, history
Notable worksBlitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany
RelativesWolfgang Ohler (father)

Norman Ohler (born 4 February 1970) is a German New York Times bestselling author, novelist and screenwriter, best known for his book Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany, which has been published in over 30 languages.[1][2][3][4]


Ohler was born in Zweibrücken, West Germany in 1970 and attended journalism school in Hamburg. In 1995 he published Die Quotenmaschine, the world's first hypertext novel in German.[5] His second novel, Mitte, was published in 2001 and praised by Der Spiegel as his 'masterpiece', followed by his third, Ponte City, in 2002.[6] These three novels form Ohler's City Trilogy. In 2004, Ohler was invited by the German Goethe-Institut to act as writer-in-residence in Ramallah. There, Ohler wrote about the life of the Palestinians in the West Bank and published the last interview Yassir Arafat gave, shortly before his death.[7] Ohler has also worked as writer-in-residence in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. In 2008, he co-wrote the movie Palermo Shooting with Wim Wenders, starring Dennis Hopper.[8]

In September 2015, Kiepenheuer & Witsch published Ohler's first non-fiction work, Der totale Rausch: Drogen im Dritten Reich, and the following year the book appeared in English as Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany.[9][10] Upon publication in the US, it became a New York Times bestseller.[11] In the book, Ohler researches what role psychoactive drugs, particularly stimulants such as methamphetamine, played in the military history of World War II, concluding that many of the German military and political leadership—especially Adolf Hitlerabused psychoactive drugs during the war.[12][13][14]

The book was praised by some historians: Antony Beevor calls Blitzed 'a remarkable work of research. Ohler's account makes us look at this densely studied period rather differently'; Ian Kershaw describes it as 'very good and extremely interesting ... a serious piece of scholarship very well-researched'; and Hans Mommsen, one of Germany's leading historians, refers to Blitzed as 'changing the overall picture'.[15][16][17]

However, other historians disagreed with Ohler's approach. German historian, Nikolaus Wachsmann wrote that Ohler "appears to mix fact and fiction. [...] He spices up the evidence, throws in pop culture references (“Teutonic Easy Riders”), and garnishes it with snazzy puns (“High Hitler”). It remains to be seen if this recipe will appeal to anglophone readers. To borrow Ohler’s style: will they experience a big buzz, or a bad trip?".[18] Dagmar Herzog expressed the view that 'Ohler's analysis does not withstand close scrutiny. (…) Anyone seeking a deepened understanding of the Nazi period must be wary of a book that provides more distraction and distortion than clarification.'[19] James Pugh judged that while the book is an 'engaging and entertaining piece of journalistic history', it was 'troubling based on its tone, scholarship and engagement with the literature'.[20] Richard J. Evans, Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge from 2008 to 2014, author of History of the Third Reich, called Blitzed 'a crass and dangerously inaccurate account'[21] He also wrote that the book is 'morally and politically dangerous', because it implies that Hitler was not responsible for his actions. Ohler rejected this claim.[22] Evans replied: "′Blitzed′ belongs not in the world of serious history, but in the new landscape of ‘post-truth’ and ‘alternative facts’".[23] In 2020, Ohler’s second non-fiction book appeared: „The Bohemians - The Lovers who led Germany’s Resistance against the Nazis“. „A detailed and meticulously researched tale about a pair of young German resisters that reads like a thriller“, writes The New York Times.[24]


„The strengths of Ohler’s account lie not only in the rich array of rare documents he mines and the archival images he reproduces to accompany the text, but also in his character studies… Ohler effectively captures Hitler’s pathetic dependence on his doctor and the bizarre intimacy of their bond…Blitzed makes for provocative reading.” —New York Times Book Review[25]

“Delightfully nuts, in a Gravity’s Rainbow kind of way.” —The New Yorker [26]

“A fascinating, engrossing, often dark history of drug use in the Third Reich.”—Washington Post [27]



  • Die Quotenmaschine (1998)
  • Mitte (2001)
  • Ponte City (2003)
  • Die Gleichung des Lebens (2017)


  • Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany[28][29] (2016), ISBN 0241256992
  • The Bohemians - The Lovers who led Germany’s Resistance against the Nazis (2020), ISBN 1328566307



  1. ^ Small Talk (30 September 2016). "Q&A with author Norman Ohler". Financial Times. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  2. ^ "New York Times Bestseller List". New York Times. 26 March 2017. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  3. ^ "Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich". Kiwi Verlag. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Die Quotenmaschine". DLA Marbach. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  6. ^ "Literatur: Traumhafter Trip". Der Spiegel. 21 January 2002. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  7. ^ Norman Ohler (11 November 2004). "Als Arafat mit mir den Brokkoli teilte". Zeit Online. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  8. ^ "IMDB: Palermo Shooting". IMDB. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  9. ^ Stav Ziv (8 March 2017). "The story behind Norman Ohler's drug-centric nazi history". Newsweek. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  10. ^ Rachel Cook (25 September 2016). "High Hitler: how Nazi drug abuse steered the course of history". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  11. ^ "New York Times Bestseller List". New York Times. 26 March 2017. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  12. ^ Sara C. Nelson (4 October 2016). "Adolf Hitler's True Drug Habits Laid Bare By Norman Ohler In Blitzed: Drugs In Nazi Germany". Huffington Post UK. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  13. ^ Eric Shilling (26 September 2016). "Hitler Probably Spent WWII High on Cocaine and Oxycodone". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  14. ^ Tristin Hopper (28 September 2016). "Hitler was on cocaine and his troops were on meth: Author reveals deep influence of drugs in Nazi Germany". National Post. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  15. ^ Sara C Nelson (4 October 2016). "Adolf Hitler's True Drug Habits Laid Bare By Norman Ohler In Blitzed: Drugs In Nazi Germany". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  16. ^ "Blitzed". Norman Ohler. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  17. ^ Hans Mommsen (5 November 2015). "Unbequemer Blick auf die NS-Zeit". Frankfurter Rundschau. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  18. ^ Nicholaus Wachsmann (14 October 2016). "Was Nazi Germany a 'land of drugs'?". Financial Times. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  19. ^ Dagmar Herzog (27 March 2017). "Hitler's Little Helper: A History of Rampant Drug Use Under the Nazis". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  20. ^ Pugh, James (2017). "Norman Ohler, Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany". British Journal for Military History. 3 (3): 162.
  21. ^ Richard J. Evans (16 November 2016). "Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany by Norman Ohler review – a crass and dangerously inaccurate account". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  22. ^ Norman Ohler (2 May 2017). "'I had an intimate knowledge of Hitler's drug habit that no one else possessed'". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  23. ^ Richard J. Evans (30 May 2017). "Hitler and the Nazis Were High on Drugs – a Theory for the Age of 'Alternative Facts'". Conspiracy and Democracy Project. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ High Hitler Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Sept. 13, 2015
  29. ^ Wenn das der Führer wüsste… Die Zeit, Dec. 3, 2015
  30. ^ Festival de Canne: Palermo Shooting Cannes Film Festival, October 6, 2016
  31. ^ Todd McCarthy (25 May 2008). "Review: 'Palermo Shooting'". Variety. Retrieved 6 October 2016.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

  1. ^ Fabienne Hurst (30 May 2013). "The German Granddaddy of Crystal Meth". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  2. ^ Andreas Ulrich (6 May 2005). "Hitler's Drugged Soldiers". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 25 March 2017.