This week’s big movie, Captain America: The First Avenger, features a fictional super-soldier serum developed during World War II. This serum is capable of turning a sickly, small man named Steve Rogers into the physical peak of human perfection known as Captain America. With the world aflame during the 1940’s, the very thought of wielding a force of super-soldiers must’ve gained strong interest from all sides. But did any of the warring nations actually attempt to create a real-life super-soldier serum?
The Nazi’s were deeply interested in developing a permanent master race. In 1935, they set up the Lebensborn, or Spring of Life, as a sort of breeding/child-rearing program. Some of its practices included kidnapping and “Germanizing” Aryan children from occupied countries as well as providing special breeding clinics where SS soldiers could mate with suitable, handpicked women. The goal of the Lebensborn was to create a large and lasting Aryan race who would serve as the super-soldiers of the future.
However, that wasn’t the Nazi’s only effort at creating super-soldiers. The average Nazi soldier received a regular intake of pills designed to “help them fight longer and without rest.” Surviving records show that the most pervasive pill was Pervitin, which was made of methamphetamine or as it is now called, crystal meth. Between 1939 and 1945, over two hundred million Pervitin pills were provided to Nazi soldiers.
But this was hardly a unique situation. Troops from all sides took various types of drugs during World War II, a practice that continues to this day. But Nazi scientists weren’t satisfied. In 1944, they started a top-secret program to develop a drug named D-IX. They hoped to use this drug to create temporary super-soldiers who would eventually turn the tide of the war.
D-IX was a cocaine-based cocktail, consisting of five milligrams of cocaine, five milligrams of oxycodone (a morphine-related painkiller), and three milligrams of Pervitin. It was first tested on inmates at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. After taking the drug, the prisoners were forced to march in circles while carrying forty-five pound packs. With the aid of D-IX, these individuals were able to march between fifty-five and seventy miles before collapsing. Highly encouraged by the results, Nazi scientists planned to supply D-IX to all German troops. Fortunately, the war ended before it could be produced in mass quantities.
Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis
Despite their best efforts, the Nazi’s never succeeded in creating super-soldiers. Nowadays, researchers are hard at work, hoping to achieve the same goal with different means. In 2008, DARPA announced a $3 billion dollar program to create a “metabolically dominant soldier.” If scientists have their way, someday soon super-soldiers may not be all that super…they may, in fact, be commonplace.
(This is the second article in a three part series. Go here for Part I: Captain America and Suspended Animation & here for Part III: The Nazi Plot to Bomb America.)