Review: Written by Meghan Smith.
All 4’s documentary had viewers thinking the world’s most corrupt dictator was hooked on class A’s, and instead revealed his very unstable mental health and addiction to medication.
As someone who has a strong interest in Nazi Germany, I was intrigued as to what revelations this documentary would disclose.
Or would we discover that Hitler was a closet heroin addict shooting up in one of his bunkers?
The somewhat disappointing truth is that Hitler was a total hypochondriac and became completely dependent on his medication, prescribed by a very radical Dr Theodor Morell – widely known for his very unconventional methods of treatment.
The documentary was directed by Chris Durlacher, also known for Directing the TV documentary George Orwell: A Life in Pictures (2003) and the TV Movie The Haunted Airman (2006) – among an array of other documentaries.
Durlacher has been producing, writing and directing for over 20 years, and although crossing a few genres he explains, “all my work has something in common. It’s not the form, but the content. I’m drawn to stories that make us think about subjects in a new way.”
Unfortunately, this cannot necessarily be said for Hitler’s Hidden Drug Problem.
The documentary begins with the discovery of a document containing information about Hitler’s health; the most interesting section being page 11, which consists of a list of various medications that Hitler was prescribed during the war; a staggering 74 different medications.
We are then introduced to the private journals of Dr. Morell – of which have never before been seen on British television. Morell’s journal documents every medication he prescribed along with his observations on Hitler’s state of mind and health.
The plot thickens and Hitler is convinced that Morell cured him, therefore appoints him as his personal physician. This led to Morell taking a strong position in the Nazi party, and took it upon himself to design and create his own Nazi uniform, of which is very strange and disturbing.
We are first exposed to Morell’s unusual treatments when he applies leeches to Hitler’s temples in an order to help him relax. Unfortunately, the treatment fails and in turn Hitler turns to harder drugs. He was now being sedated with anxiety medication every night and was becoming more and more dependent.
Hitler starts injecting glucose in the mornings, using Eukodal (a morphine based drug) 26 times, a strange treatment of bull semen, in addition to Pervitin – similar to crystal meth – resulting in him ranting at Mussolini for 2 hours.
It becomes obvious that Hitler is tapped in the head as his addictions become more and more excessive – even to Morell. To worsen the situation, an assassination attempt against Hitler occurs and he is now even more paranoid.
Meanwhile, Morell is mixing up his own concoctions which contain crystal meth, of which Hitler obviously also becomes addicted to. It seems that Hitler became addicted to anything that was put in front of him, without any of the medicine really working at all.
Later on we are then faced with footage of Hitler’s trembling hand, a key piece of evidence that led people to believe that he had Parkinsons disease.
Moreover, the most mind-boggling part of the documentary is at the end when Morell suggests to Hitler about writing a case history- Hitler turns to him and says ‘Ive never been ill so there wouldn’t be anything to write about’ – confirming his insanity.
Worth a watch?
The documentary paints a clear picture of the events that took place during the time of Hitler’s addiction, while using Morells journal as a reference throughout, which is a nice touch considering its information that’s never before been seen on UK TV.
However, it is also filled with an overload of facts, dates and information that is too much for a viewer to take in all at once.
It was soon after meeting Morell that Hitler’s notorious plans for invasion and war began, and this is when the viewer starts to question; Was Hitler in any state of mind to be making these decisions? Was his relationship with Morell a significant influence behind his outlandish decisions?
Although the documentary raises these questions, it doesn’t directly address them. It consists of long explanations, full of facts – yet with no conclusion, which ultimately leaves the viewers trying to piece it all together at their own discretion.
Artistically, it was exactly what you would expect a historical documentary to look like – a lot of slow montages of photos, a few snippets of professionals talking about their area of expertise and the standard voice over narrator.
To conclude, although production was predictable and the form in which information was delivered is arguably tedious a times, the documentary provides a clear understanding that Adolf Hitler wasn’t fit to be in control of a country or lead a dictatorship.
The documentary can be watched here.