Theodor Morell : biography
Portrayal in the media
Morell has been portrayed by the following actors in film and television productions.
- Derek Francis in the 1973 British television production The Death of Adolf Hitler.
- John Sharp in the 1981 U.S. television production The Bunker.
He has also come to be referred to in the mass media as a "Doctor Feelgood".
During a party at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden, Hitler first met Morell, who said he could cure him within a year. Morell’s wife was unhappy when he accepted the job as Hitler’s personal physician. Morell began treating Hitler with various commercial preparations, including a combination of vitamins and hydrolyzed E. coli bacteria called Multiflor. Hitler seemed to recover, and Morell eventually became a part of Hitler’s social inner circle, remaining there until shortly before the war ended. Some historians have attempted to explain this association by citing Morell’s reputation in Germany for success in treating syphilis, along with Hitler’s own (speculated) fears of the disease, which he associated closely with Jews. Other observers have commented on the possibility Hitler had visible symptoms of both Parkinson’s disease and syphilis, especially towards the end of the war.
As Hitler’s physician, Morell was constantly recommended to other members of the Nazi leadership, but most of them, including Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler, immediately dismissed him as a quack. As Albert Speer related in his autobiography:
- "In 1936, when my circulation and stomach rebelled…I called at Morell’s private office. After a superficial examination…Morell prescribed for me his intestinal bacteria, dextrose, vitamins, and hormone tablets."
- "For safety’s sake I afterward had a thorough examination by Professor von Bergmann, the specialist in internal medicine at Berlin University. I was not suffering from any organic trouble, he concluded, but only from nervous symptoms caused by overwork."
- "I slowed down my pace as best I could and the symptoms abated. To avoid offending Hitler I pretended that I was carefully following Morell’s instructions, and since my health improved, I became for a time Morell’s showpiece." (Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich, 1970).
When Hitler had trouble with grogginess in the morning, Morell would inject him with a solution of water mixed with a substance from several small, gold-foiled packets, which he called "Vitamultin" whereupon Hitler would get up refreshed and invigorated. Ernst-Günther Schenck, a member of Himmler’s SS acquired one of these and had it tested in a laboratory, where it was found to contain methamphetamine.
Speer characterized Morell as an opportunist who, once he achieved status as Hitler’s physician, became extremely careless and lazy in his work; one who was more concerned with money and status rather than providing medical assistance.
Goering called Morell Der Reichsspritzenmeister, a nickname that stuck. This term does not have a precise English translation. Among the translations of this nickname are "Injection Master of the German Reich", or Reichmaster of Injections "The Reich’s Injections Impresario" (Junge, Until the Final Hour), and "The Master of the Imperial Needle" (O’Donnell, The Bunker). When this term is translated, its underlying meaning is the same – it implied that Morell always resorted to using injections and drugs when faced with a medical problem, and that he overused these drug injections.
Morell developed a rivalry with Dr. Karl Brandt, who had been attending Hitler since 1933. The two often argued, though Hitler usually sided with Morell. Eva Braun later changed her opinion of Morell, calling his office a "pig sty" and refusing to see him any more.
In 1939, Morell inadvertently became involved with the forced annexation of Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovakian president, Emil Hacha, became so scared at Hitler’s outburst that he fainted. Morell injected stimulants into Hacha to wake him, and although he claimed these were only vitamins, they may have included methamphetamine. Hacha soon gave in to Hitler’s demands.
After the 20 July 1944 assassination attempt against Hitler, Morell treated him with topical penicillin, which had only recently been introduced into testing by the U.S. Army. Where he acquired it is unknown, and Morell claimed complete ignorance of penicillin when he was interrogated by American intelligence officers after the war. When members of Hitler’s inner circle were interviewed for the book The Bunker, some claimed Morell owned a significant share in a company fraudulently marketing a product as penicillin.
By April 1945, Hitler was taking 28 different pills a day, along with numerous injections (including many of glucose) every few hours and intravenous injections of methamphetamine almost every day.
On 22 April 1945, about a week before committing suicide, Hitler dismissed Morell from the Führerbunker in Berlin, saying that he did not need any more medical help. Morell left behind a large amount of prepared medicine; during the last week of Hitler’s life, they were administered by Dr. Werner Haase and by Heinz Linge, Hitler’s valet.