Professor Dr. Otto F. Ranke was thirty-eight years old when he was appointed director of the Research Institute of Defense Physiology—a key position even though no one would have thought so at the time. Back then, physiology was a marginal discipline in medicine. Defense physiology, in turn, dealt with the specific burdens of soldiers with the aim of boosting the performance of the army in the face of excessive demands and a stressful environment.
He was to oil the cogs of the machine, and functioned as a kind of performance coach for the German Army, as well as a gadget inventor. Over the years Ranke developed a sighting device for spotting artificial green camouflage uniforms within a forest, for example , new anti-dust goggles for motorcyclists, tropical helmets that were both bulletproof and sweat-permeable for the Afrika Korps, and directional microphones to help the counterintelligence service listen in on its targets.
A large building in eighteenth-century neo-Baroque style, it is now home to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The Prussian elite institution, known as the MA for short, had the biggest medical and scientific library in Europe and a two-story laboratory building fully equipped with the latest technology; several big auditoria; reading rooms; and a hall of honor with busts of Virchow, von Helmholtz, von Behring, and other doctors and researchers who had, it was said, each performed an immortal service for science.
The complex also included the most modern gymnasiums and swimming pools, as well as a five-story residential block with comfortable double rooms for the eight hundred trainee medical officers. In their wake, the MA students confidently wore the Reich eagle and the swastika on their smart uniforms. There was also a riding stable with ninety horses, several racing tracks, and nursing stables for sick horses, veterinary officers, and a smithy.
The scientific departments were housed in the big block to the rear of the inner courtyard: the Institute for Pharmacology and Army Toxicology, the Laboratory for Serum Conservation, and the Aeronautical Medical Research Institute directed by Professor Hubertus Strughold who would pioneer American space travel after the war along with Wernher von Braun , as well as the Research Institute of Defense Physiology, run by Otto Ranke, which in consisted of only an additional auxiliary doctor, three medical interns, and a few civilian clerical staff.
But the ambitious Ranke wanted to build up his department very quickly. He planned to do this through something he promoted for the Wehrmacht—a small molecule about to have a grand career. The adversary he was determined to defeat was fatigue—a strange antagonist, hard to grasp, one that regularly knocked out fighters, put them on the ground, and forced them to rest. A sleeping soldier is a useless soldier, incapable of action. Often in combat perseverance in that last quarter of an hour is essential. A claim preyed on his mind: supposedly this substance helped subjects achieve a 20 percent increase in lung capacity and absorb greater amounts of oxygen—standard measurement parameters at the time for increased performance.
He decided to explore the subject in depth, testing a rising number of medical officers—90 at first, then ; he organized voluntary blind tests, giving them Pervitin P , caffeine C , Benzedrine B , or placebos S, for Scheintablette. Test subjects had to solve math and logic problems through the night until 4 p. Procedures that demanded greater abstract achievements from the cerebellum were not performed well by consumers of Pervitin.
Calculations might have been carried out more quickly, but they contained more mistakes. Neither was there any increase in capacity for concentration and attention during more complex questions, and there was only a very small increase during less high-level tasks. We may grasp what far-reaching military significance it would have if we managed to remove natural tiredness using medical methods. A militarily valuable substance. In the Bendlerblock office complex, the seat of the General Army Office and today the Federal Ministry of Defense , the possibilities, and dangers, of the drug were ignored.
They were still wondering whether it was better to give the troops brown bread or white bread—while Ranke had long since moved on to brain food. Under severe pressure in their difficult medical studies, they soon expected genuine miracles from the supposedly performance-enhancing substance and began to take more and more.
This made them forerunners of the students of today at universities all over the world, among whom the use of performance pills like Ritalin and amphetamine derivatives is widespread. He was forced to acknowledge that the consumption of high doses was already common in the run-up to exams at his Military Medical Academy. The last few days of peace passed. Ranke could only look on. An uncontrolled large-scale test began: without instructions as to the correct dosage of the upper, and supplied with huge quantities of it, the Wehrmacht fell upon its unsuspecting Eastern neighbor.
Your pills have proved their worth with both me and my staff. A jumble of garbled depictions, the records hold no claims to being complete or representative. But they were all that Ranke, who had been appointed advisory defense physiologist of the Army Medical Inspection Service at the beginning of the war, had to work on. There was no planned investigation—because the substance had not been deployed in a planned way, but randomly, according to the whim of the relevant commander, medical officer, or individual soldier.
Worked through the day, lifting of depression, returned to normal mood. Slight euphoria and increased thirst for action. Mental encouragement, very stimulated. No accidents. Long-lasting effect. After taking four tablets, double vision and seeing colors. One particularly beneficial aspect is the appearance of a vigorous urge to work.
The effect is so clear that it cannot be based on imagination. This doctor has therefore made sure that there is a supply of Pervitin in the Unit Medical Equipment. Effect on depressed mood excellent. The tablets were distributed without indication of their purpose, but their striking effects soon made it clear to the crews what purpose they were supposed to serve. If Pervitin was unavailable, it was assumed that the soldiers in question faced a greater threat. There were critical voices too.
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It does not seem at all appropriate for it to be handed out at random to the troops. Still, curiosity had been awakened. Initially no shots were fired in the West. Instead the adversaries watched each other, motionless, for months. No one wanted to fight. The shock of the First World War, with millions of soldiers slaughtered, was still lodged in the memory.
Hitler wanted to attack France as quickly as possible, ideally in the autumn of But there was one problem: the Western Allies clearly had superior equipment and greater armed forces. Contrary to what Nazi propaganda told the outside world, the Germans did not have superior armies. Quite the opposite—after the Polish campaign their equipment urgently had to be renewed.
Most divisions had poor equipment, barely half of it suitable for use. The figures spoke volumes: on the German side there were just 3 million soldiers, while the Allies had a good million more. In many categories the Allies outclassed the Wehrmacht. No wonder then that the Wehrmacht High Command struggled to devise a successful plan.
The French and British declaration of war had caught him off guard; until the last moment he had hoped the West would react to the invasion of Poland in the same way as it had reacted to the absorption of Czechoslovakia. But that was not the case, and suddenly, unprepared, Germany had to fight a war against the whole of Western Europe. Hitler had maneuvered the Reich into an impossible situation, and his back was against the wall. Economic means on the other side are stronger.
Apart from rashly facing his opponents down, Hitler had no ideas. The Wehrmacht High Command, given to sober, mathematical planning, was horrified. The Bohemian lance corporal with his erratic ideas and volatile intuitions was not well thought of among the Prussian chiefs of the General Staff, and was often dismissed as a military dilettante. An inadequately prepared attack could only lead to another defeat, as in the First World War. Then, in the autumn of , a crucial meeting was held between two senior officers. They came up with a daring concept. Erich von Manstein, a fifty-two-year-old general from Berlin with an irascible temperament and permanently flushed cheeks, had a discussion with an East Prussian tank general, Heinz Guderian.
Among the German General Staff the foolhardy suggestion prompted only a shaking of heads. Tanks were still seen as ungainly monsters, which might come to the aid of other branches of the armed forces but could not lead a moving attack in autonomously acting units, particularly through difficult, mountainous terrain. The sketched invasion plan was seen as simply insane, and in order to thwart the risk-taking von Manstein, the General Staff moved him to the Baltic port of Stettin, far from the potential battle zone. The bad weather alone was mentioned dozens of times as a reason for not attacking.
So at first the Western Front fell into an enchanted slumber. In their trouser pockets they always had their pep pills at the ready. The favorable effect was confirmed by all those asked, both motorized troops and members of other parts of the troops. When that happened they had to be on top form and wide awake. No wonder they already practiced extensively with meth. Pervitin is being exploited on a mass scale, without medical checks. How casually Pervitin was thought of, and how widespread its use was, is also apparent in the fact that Ranke himself took it regularly and freely reported the fact in his wartime medical diary as well as in letters.
He eased an average working day with two Temmler tablets, using them to overcome his work-related stress and improve his mood. Even though he knew about the dangers of dependency, he, the self-appointed expert on Pervitin, drew no conclusions about his own use of the substance. For him it remained a medication that he took in whatever quantities he saw fit. It is not just a stimulant, but clearly also a mood-enhancer. Even at high doses lasting damage is not apparent. With Pervitin you can go on working for thirty-six to fifty hours without feeling any noticeable fatigue.
He constantly worked at high speed during the first few months of the war. Between the front, where he delivered lectures on Pervitin, and the capital, where he was enlarging his institute, he found no time to rest. His workload was getting too much for him, and he took the drug more and more regularly so as not to fall behind in his performance.
He tried to use chemicals to keep pushing against his own limits, even when he was completely exhausted. General inability to work under the pressure of imminent discussion and inspection. His correspondence from those days shows that more and more officers were using the drug to keep up with their duties. Outside of the military the addiction was also growing.
To help with childbirth, to fight seasickness, vertigo, hay fever, schizophrenia, anxiety neuroses, depressions, low drive, disturbances of the brain—wherever the Germans hurt, the blue, white, and red tube was at the ready. Whether it is rhythm, drugs or modern autogenic training—it is the ancient human desire to overcome tensions that have become unbearable. Anyone who seeks to eliminate fatigue with Pervitin can be quite sure that it will lead to a creeping depletion of physical and psychological performance reserves, and finally to a complete breakdown.
The personal example of the rejection of drugs is more necessary and appropriate today than it has been in the past. I ask you to help, through your work, to protect and strengthen German family life where it is threatened by the use of drugs. By doing so you will increase the inner resilience of our people. Many pharmacists stuck only loosely to the new prescription regulation and even gave their customers hospital packs of the drug without prescription.
It was still easy for a citizen to get hold of several Pervitin ampoules or hundreds of pills from pharmacies every day. The regulation concerning prescriptions applied only to civilian society and not to the military. But Conti also had the military in his sights. Performance enhancement beyond waking performance cannot be attained. In overdoses, there is also a feeling of vertigo and headache, as well as increased blood pressure.
Manstein, hands plunged deep in his pockets as always, was able to set out in great detail his risky plan of attack, which no one at senior command was willing to hear. But Hitler, who was known for constantly interrupting his generals, listened spellbound as Manstein delivered his lecture about how he wanted to push through an impossible region of forested crags to wrong-foot the French and the British. The success of the operation would depend on time, speed, and a daring idea, not just equipment. There was a strong possibility of getting stuck in the rough terrain and being halted by enemy forces, however weakly positioned they were.
The Allies should have had enough time to rush in with reinforcements from both north and south and catch the Germans in a pincer action. No stopping, and, above all, no sleeping. Hitler swept all doubts aside. Of course a German soldier could be constantly ready by force of will if the situation called for it. This is what Pervitin was for, after all. In Army High Command they were working feverishly on the new deployment instruction. Decree concerning careful, but necessary use in a special situation.
He had to quickly write a lecture for the General Staff, and also a tailor-made Wehrmacht instruction leaflet for Pervitin. Some of the observations. Two days later, on April 17, , a document was making the rounds of the Wehrmacht, one with no parallel in military history. The so-called stimulant decree was sent out to a thousand troop doctors, several hundred corps doctors, leading medical officers, and equivalent positions in the SS. The overcoming of sleep can in certain situations be more important than concern for any related harm, if military success is endangered by sleep.
The stimulants are available for the interruption of sleep. Pervitin has been methodically included in medical equipment. The recommended dosage was one tablet per day, at night two tablets taken in short sequence, and if necessary another one or two tablets after three to four hours. And Ranke, the Pervitin-addicted army physiologist, was responsible for its regulated use. A new kind of war was on the way. Modern Times At the Temmler factory dozens of women workers sat at circular machines that looked like mechanical cakes. A large order at Temmler. Eight hundred thirty-three thousand tablets could be pressed in a single day.
An adequate amount; the Wehrmacht had ordered an enormous quantity for the army and the Luftwaffe: 35 million in all. Time Is War Success lies in speed. The important thing is to keep surprising the defender. A relief map of Flanders hung on the wall, all the more vivid when you looked out of the window to the hilly landscape of the Eifel and the Ardennes beyond. During the night German paratroopers, launched from Cologne, had taken the strategically important Belgian fort of Eben-Emael.
In fact most of the Wehrmacht were massing in a completely different area, near the border with Luxembourg, much farther south. There the tanks were rattling into position in uninterrupted succession. The mood among the troops was still anything but belligerent. Rather than setting off in good time and taking advantage of the crucial moment of surprise, there was unholy confusion and a complete collapse of traffic while still on German soil.
The reason for this was that the horse-drawn vehicles of the infantry kept flowing into the broader roads that were actually needed for the tanks, and soon everything ground to a standstill. Wheel to wheel and bumper to bumper stood the vehicles of Panzer Group von Kleist, the biggest motorized unit ever assembled in military history, with a total of 41, vehicles, including 1, tanks. The avalanche of iron and steel was stuck in a mile traffic jam, backed up all the way to the Rhine. It was the longest snarl-up in European history, and the Allies could easily have destroyed the whole lot with a handful of bombers, nipping the German deployment in the bud.
Over his radio, he desperately tried to persuade the infantry to free up the lanes, but the infantry saw the tanks as rivals and wanted to lead the advance themselves, as they always had done. Their flatbed trucks, horse-drawn carts, and marching soldiers, many of them carrying the same rifles as their fathers had shouldered in the First World War, continued to block the roads. But when the tanks were finally able to maneuver themselves out of the muddle and immediately rumble off through the narrow valleys and along the bending, climbing roads through the range of hills ahead of them, making up for lost time, they showed what they were capable of.
Nothing would halt them, all the way to the English Channel. Well, almost nothing. We have to resort to unusual means and bear the associated risk. Only if the French border city of Sedan was reached during that time and the border river Maas or Meuse was crossed would the Germans be in northern France sooner than most of the French Army itself, which was either still in northern Belgium or inside the Maginot Line farther south.
The Wehrmacht were well prepared. The quartermasters had ordered the pills in time. Twenty minutes later the nerve cells in their brains started releasing the neurotransmitters. All of a sudden dopamine and noradrenaline intensified perception and put the soldiers in a state of absolute alertness.
The listlessness and frustration of the first few hours made way for new and rather strange feelings. Something started happening, something that later no one could readily explain. An intense chill crept across scalps, a hot feeling of cold filled everyone from within. There were as yet no storms of steel, as there had been in the First World War, but instead a storm of chemicals broke out, punctuated by euphoric flashes of mental lightning, and the level of activity reached its peak.
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The average blood pressure increased by up to 25 percent, and hearts thundered in the cylinder chamber of the chest. The first battle began in the morning. The Belgian defenders had entrenched themselves near Martelange, a small border community, in bunkers on a hillside. In front of them lay a slope, several hundred yards of open terrain: impossible to take except by a frontal attack, which was apparent suicide.
The Belgians, shocked by this fearless behavior, retreated. Rather than securing their position, as military practice would normally have decreed, the completely uninhibited attackers immediately chased after them and set their enemies unambiguously to flight. This first clash was symptomatic. After three days the division commander reported that they had reached the French border. Sedan lay in front of the Germans; many of them had not shut their eyes since the start of the campaign.
Whenever the pilots of the Luftwaffe began their breakneck plunge and hurtled vertically down, they turned on their wailing sirens, the so-called horns of Jericho, which were followed by mighty explosions. Windowpanes rattled with the blasts and the houses of the border city shook. Meth unleashed charge after charge in German brains, neurotransmitters were released, exploded in the synaptic gaps, burst, and dispersed their explosive cargo: neuronal paths twitched, gap junctions flared, everything whirred and roared.
Down below the defenders cowered, their bunkers shaking. The siren wail of the plunging planes drilled into their ears and left their nerves bare. French military reinforcements arrived a few crucial hours too late. The Germans had already crossed the Meuse. The dam was broken. They kept acting too slowly, were surprised and overrun, and continually failed to grab the initiative. We were built on immobility and on the familiar.
Which means that certain, hardly deniable, weaknesses are chiefly due to the excessively slow rhythm that our brains have been taught. It was more the psychological effects provoked by the attack of the unfettered Germans that were so devastating. This was a campaign that was decided in the psyche.
If not to say that Blitzkrieg was founded on methamphetamine. Peter Steinkamp, medical historian72 Where an invasion is concerned, the advantages of stimulants are obvious: war is played out in space and time. Speed is crucial. One exception to this was the First World War, where minimal territorial gains were won over four whole years of fighting.
But if, for example, Napoleon had been able to lead his troops out into the field two hours earlier at the Battle of Waterloo, things might have turned out very differently. Thousands of people died in this invasion of France, which served as a blueprint for later campaigns, waged as it was in an innovative, unparalleled fashion. In less than a hundred hours the Germans gained more territory than they had in over four years in the First World War. In planning the operation, Panzer Group von Kleist, of which Guderian was also part, had been given operational freedom as long as they could move fast enough and drive the front ahead of them.
As soon as the tanks faltered, the group would be integrated into the structure as a whole. This instruction was now revealed to be a clever piece of planning: the squad developed the ambition never to falter and therefore be absorbed into the rest. Quite the contrary, they refused to be stopped and kept advancing, like the tip of a lance. From Sedan onward Guderian was practically autonomous, out in front in his armored radio car, flanked by his ordnance officers in motorcycle combinations. His intention was no longer to secure the position and then to set up the bridgehead in an orderly fashion, following the rules.
After taking the border city he charged on even though he was given a strict order to stop. In the rush of the campaign he became wholly insubordinate. He no longer needed flank protection; it was a matter of being faster than anyone who could have come at him from the side. The journey there would be achieved through a kind of ad hoc planning in which methamphetamine played a crucial part. The general has his men run the operation as smoothly as possible. We covered huge distances today.
They had no idea where and when we were coming from. On we progress to Montcornet. All the vehicles on this stretch are going at full speed. The general has to assign new roads for us to travel along. No one has had time to take care of the town. The general stops at the church and regulates the traffic with his adjutant. One division off to the right, the other to the left. Everyone is chasing along as if in a race. From now on, uppers were indispensable. But it was his ignorance of the steel giants and their possible movements that helped him advance in a completely unconventional way.
He led his 7th Panzer Division intuitively, like a shock troop.
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Instead of waiting until the assault engineers had built pontoons, he put his massively heavy vehicles onto ferries across the rivers of France—and it worked. After five or six days, they have to halt for supplies, and the opportunity for counterattack is presented. Too nimble to offer a target, he drove and drove and drove, taking advantage as Guderian had done of the excellent German logistics and becoming a kind of deadly joker, always playing high and wild, becoming unpredictable, uncontrollable, unstoppable.
He had no apparent sense of danger—a typical symptom of excessive methamphetamine consumption. Even in the middle of the night he stormed on and attacked solid positions while still in motion, firing all barrels like a sort of berserker, constantly catching his adversaries on the back foot.
The French despaired at the sight of the unleashed monsters coming at full speed toward their artillery. What on earth were they supposed to do?
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As chance would have it, the 5th Infantry Division, parts of the 18th Infantry Division, and the 1st Infantry Division of the French Army had struck their bivouac on that very spot. He dashed through them, crushing everyone and everything, fired broadsides, and over the next six miles he pushed hundreds of vehicles and tanks, along with the dead and wounded, into the ditches on either side and rattled on with blood-smeared tracks, standing between two officers from his staff in the armored command post vehicle, his cap pushed to the back of his head, leading the attack.
The seed was sown for future orgies of violence. There was an impression that these soldiers could be stopped by nothing and no one, and they gradually appeared to believe their own propaganda, which claimed they were truly superior. Methamphetamine, which encourages arrogance, supported this false assessment of the situation. You must be mistaken! Everything had gone so fast. Well, almost. The military departments worked day and night, collected telephone messages about the various sections, and constantly corrected the position of the front.
At midday and in the evening Major General Jodl delivered the situation report in the Felsennest headquarters. The dictator sat down in the wicker chair until dawn, and only the constant motion of his jaws revealed his inner agitation and paradoxically bad mood. Instead he was panting along behind his headstrong, independent tank generals. Even though they were successful, the dictator could not cope with the fact that he had effectively handed over control.
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Had the senior officers, who had been opposed to the attack for so long, now seized the initiative, and were they charging along faster than the planning in the map house allowed? He sensed problems where none existed and accused the generals of being drunk on victory, of not covering their flanks, making themselves vulnerable to attack: what if the Allies coming from Belgium and the south carried out a pincer attack on the extended front?
In fact, because of the unholy confusion on the opposing side this had never been a possibility. He was guided instead by his own anxieties, fueled by a latently smoldering inferiority complex. So in the spring of , in the forest in the Eifel, the hopelessly overtaxed supreme commander made a crucial mistake when he decided to halt the full-throttle, whipped-up brain of the Wehrmacht.
He had made his secret decision: he would disempower the army leadership as the locus of the war, whatever the cost. Everyone was going to see who was in control. He was firmly convinced that the physical resilience of a genius like himself was enough on its own to give him victory over his adversaries. When all the others lost their nerve he, and he alone, would be the one still standing.
Physically he felt as strong as an ox and thought he could take on the whole world. So why not his own army command? He was constantly at the ready, but his services were barely used. He said no.
He is really fit as a fiddle. He is fresh and cheerful.
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His ridiculous outfit only earned him mockery from the generals. He then, rather helplessly, chose a gold buckle that looked like something out of an operetta. While the tanks were trundling over the enemy, in his isolation in the Felsennest Morell became plagued by fears for his livelihood. The Miracle of Dunkirk—A Pharmacological Interpretation We shall have lost almost all our trained soldiers within the next few days—unless a miracle appears to help us. Hitler walked down the hill to Hack, the village pub. There he sat down in the side room, watched the reel three times in a row, and dictated the changes he wanted.
Then he showered in the bathhouse opposite and was driven back to his headquarters. Again Guderian worked faster than his enemies. It would take him no more than a few days to block the last escape route and thus encircle a million Allied soldiers. These squaddies were in fact a good sixty miles away, fighting the 6th and 18th Armies, exposed without protection to the deadly danger behind them.
After only ten fighting days the British Empire was close to its downfall. Following the stomach injury that he had received during the storming of the Munich Feldherrenhalle in , the second most important man in the state had developed a severe morphine addiction. It took only a few seconds for the morphine to enter his blood. A huge ruby brooch glittered spectacularly on his chest. The world lay at his feet, and in his blissfully opium-soaked brain he decided that the glorious victory over the Allies should under no circumstances be left to the arrogant leaders of the army.
It also seemed to be a praiseworthy task for the Luftwaffe: defeating enemy troops from above. As an indescribable feeling of well-being from the morphine rushed through him, he replaced his red pointed slippers with black high-sided boots and stamped out into the forest. The two former fellow comrades trusted each other blindly.
At an order was issued that still puzzles historians even today. When the British noticed that German tanks were stopping, they could hardly believe their luck. An unparalleled evacuation situation began straightaway, and everyone hurried toward Dunkirk. Within a very short time hundreds of rescue ships arrived: Royal Navy destroyers and other warships, launches, even packet steamers and confiscated private yachts, Thames barges—a colorfully assorted armada ceaselessly coming and going.
The Allied troops crossed makeshift bridges made of lorries with planks laid on the top and made their getaway through the miraculous loophole of Dunkirk. Guderian could only stand and watch. Through his binoculars he observed what was going on in the port town, into which the unstoppable stream of British and French soldiers was flowing. The Reich Marshal had overestimated himself in his morphine dream.
Now his Stukas were sinking over a thousand of the British rescue boats, but at the end of May clouds had gathered and obstructed their view. The Royal Air Force, whose bases were much closer, also played their trump card now: suddenly Spitfires appeared from above and conquered the sky. The commander in chief of the army, Brauchitsch, stood in the map house of the Felsennest, about to have a nervous breakdown.
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He devoutly implored Hitler to be allowed to strike again and bring the campaign to an end. But the dictator refused to budge. He would show the army. He and no one else would wage this war. Over , British, French, and Belgian soldiers escaped in this way. At the very last second the Allies averted a total defeat.
What was also left was a bombed-out, smoking silhouette, a charred black carcass of a town that seemed to be laughing at him. The British had got their heads out of the noose. The battle for Flanders was over, the first phase of the Western campaign at an end, finished. Regardless, the dictator claimed the victory as his own personal triumph. In future, in spite of his Halt Order, with its far-reaching consequences, he would see himself as infallible, and his entourage acted out this farce with varying degrees of enthusiasm.
You kept going for seventeen days. The forced euphoria of a news announcer rattled from the loudspeaker of the brand-new car radio, a Telefunken T, announcing that the German troops were on the edge of Paris. At p. His war diary for the next few weeks, preserved in the Freiburg Military Archive, gives an unadorned insight into the second phase of the campaign, concerned with the French heartland, the operation called Fall Rot Case Red. Knows precisely, takes 2 tabs c. For military reasons it is also currently impossible to communicate these experiences.
It is telling that he accompanied the most senior army officers, the Blitzkrieg inventors of Panzer Group von Kleist: Guderian and Rommel. Packing 40, Pervitin. Set off 11 a. I ate only a box of biscuits all day. His most frequent subject is initially surprising. He took pictures of sleeping people: soldiers stretched out on the grass beside a utility vehicle, slumbering drivers in their cars, officers who have fallen asleep in armchairs, a staff sergeant in a deck chair under a tree. The external enemy caused fewer problems: when Paris fell into German hands in mid-June, the French Army put up no resistance.
Burned-out tanks and houses. On the retreat routes of the British and the French there lay a motley jumble of equipment, including abandoned gun mounts, defective tanks, etc. This seems to be true across diverse cultures. Studies of 37 different languages reveal basic emotions that have very similar meanings: joy, surprise, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, sadness - that's 6 negatives and 1 positive. If words can affect our feelings, we should be very careful about our exposure to them. Can it be that the negativity of press, radio and TV reports is contributing to the increase of depression in society?
Before you go, consider ways of innoculating yourself against negativity. How about a dose of synonyms for that wonderful word wonderful? You too? Paul Smith. Have you ever considered a fundamental difference between a British and a German luggage trolley? Let me explain. German trolleys can be pushed only if the brake-bar is depressed. A German trolley will only move when and where it is told to.
Now compare this to a British trolley. To stop a British trolley you have to proactively push the brake-bar and hold it down. Now you may think that this curious difference is due to a random historical accident, like driving on the left versus driving on the right, or a preference for inches rather than centimeters, or pints rather than litres. The difference between pressing to stop, and pressing to go reflects a basic psychological difference between the British and the Germans.
Only intervene if you absolutely have to. Use the minimum amount of energy to get the job done. Good enough is good enough. German information-plus culture is well illustrated by traffic reports which reassure drivers that there are no accidents, hold-ups, or other hazards Zur Zeit liegen keine Meldungen vor! In Britain however, no news is good news; and a little information is much better than a lot. The British deliver content more economically, hence the famous understatement, the innuendo, the subtle hint, the message between the lines Observe British pub behaviour, only a foreign tourist would be crass enough to actually ask a barman or waiter for service.
Germans are sometimes irritated by a lack of information from their British business partners, an unwillingness to say directly what they think, and a general aversion to anything which threatens to change the status quo. Whatever the shortcomings of the British, and whatever your frustrations regarding errant luggage trolleys, one has to admire their sense of humour,… the British, not the trolleys!
Tuesday, March 06, Memory Transformers List. Friday, March 02, Remember to Forget. Have you ever forgotten what you were going to do next? Or where you put your keys? Or the name of the person you've just been introduced to? Everyone experiences memory lapses Now, where was I? Ah yes, Or Akira Haraguchi, who on 4 October managed to recite the number pi from memory to , decimal places, it took him 16 hours. There are quite a few exam-stressed students who would give quite a lot to have an encyclopaedic memory like that.
People with perfect recall are often dysfunctional, like the autistic Raymond Babbitt played by Dustin Hofman in the film "Rainman", or like the Russian mnemonist Solomon-Veniaminovich Shereshevsky who was once read the first four lines of Dante's "The Divine Comedy" in Italian, a language he did not understand.
He was not only able to immediately recite the entire passage, but more impressively, he could still do so 15 years later. How did he do it? He associated each phonetic syllable with a mental image that made some sense in Russian. Alter Freund Old friend Amerikaner American, Americans Arbeit macht frei Work sets free an absolutely cynical and cruel statement, considering that the prisoners in Death Camps had to work until they died or were murdered Auf Wiedersehen not: Auf Weidersehen Good bye Bitte Please Blitz Flash of lightning Blitzkrieg A lightning-fast war Buchenwald Beech wood, the name of a German town where the Nazis established a death camp.
Damn it! Ich bin traurig. I am sad. This word is very old fashioned, "Liebling" is more current. Make haste! Isn't it? In the German language the phrase does not depend on the sentence before it. Reichs Kristallnacht "The realm's night of the crystals" - The night when Nazis smashed, looted and burnt Jewish temples, stores and whatever else they saw as "un-German" throughout Germany and Austria. Many people were killed during that night, even more were arrested and later brought to Death Camps.