Nazi Germany, the CIA, and the Dawn of the Psychedelic Age
by Norman Ohler
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Pub Date 09 Apr 2024 | Archive Date 04 Jun 2024
The author of the New York Times bestseller Blitzed returns with a provocative new history of drugs and postwar America, examining the untold story of how Nazi experiments into psychedelics covertly influenced CIA research and secretly shaped the War on Drugs.
Berlin 1945. Following the fall of the Third Reich, drug use—long kept under control by the Nazis’ strict anti-drug laws—is rampant throughout the city. Split into four sectors, Berlin's drug policies are being enforced under the individual jurisdictions of each allied power—the Soviet Union, Britain, France, and the US. In the American zone, Arthur J. Giuliani of the nascent Federal Bureau of Narcotics is tasked with learning about the Nazis’ anti-drug laws and bringing home anything that might prove “useful” to the United States.
Five years later, Harvard professor Dr. Henry Beecher began work with the US government to uncover the research behind the Nazis psychedelics program. Begun as an attempt to find a “truth serum” and experiment with mind control, the Nazi study initially involved mescaline, but quickly expanded to include LSD. Originally created for medical purposes by Swiss pharmaceutical Sandoz, the Nazis coopted the drug for their mind control military research—research that, following the war, the US was desperate to acquire. This research birthed MKUltra, the CIA's notorious brainwashing and psychological torture program during the 1950s and 1960s, and ultimately shaped US drug policy regarding psychedelics for over half a century.
Based on extensive archival research on both sides of the Atlantic, Tripped is a wild, unconventional postwar history, a spiritual sequel to Norman Ohler’s New York Times bestseller Blitzed. Revealing the close relationship and hidden connections between the Nazis and the early days of drugs in America, Ohler shares how this secret history held back therapeutic research of psychedelic drugs for decades and eventually became part of the foundation of America’s War on Drugs.