Dr. Brandt at the Doctors Trial

Theodor (Theo) Gilbert Morell (July 22, 1886 – May 26, 1948) was German dictator Adolf Hitler's personal physician. Morell was well-known in Germany for his unconventional, holistic and alternative treatments.

Although Morell had medical training and was licensed as a general practitioner in Germany long before he met Hitler, following World War II there were investigations into his practice along with interrogation by the Allies and he came to be widely regarded as a quack. Historians have speculated his treatment contributed to Hitler's ill health.

Morell was the second son of a primary school teacher, born and raised in a small village called Trais-Münzenberg in Upper Hesse. He studied medicine in Grenoble and Paris then trained in obstetrics and gynaecology in Munich beginning in 1910. By 1913 he had a PhD and was licensed as a medical doctor. After a year serving as an assistant doctor on cruise ships he bought a practice in Dietzenbach. He served at the front during World War I, then as a medical officer. By 1919 he was in Berlin with a medical practice and in 1920 married Johanna "Honi" Moller, a wealthy actress. He targeted unconventional treatments at an upscale market and eventually turned down invitations to be personal physician to both the Shah of Persia and the King of Romania.

Morell claimed to have studied under Nobel Prize-winning bacteriologist Ilya Mechnikov along with having taught medicine at prestigious universities and sometimes called himself professor. He also owned significant interests in several medium-sized European pharmaceutical companies.

However, by 1933 his practice was threatened because many of his patients were Jewish and his personal appearance also led to his sometimes being erroneously mistaken to be Jewish. In April, he joined the Nazi party, moved his practice to a prestigious address and began describing himself as a venereologist. In 1936 he treated Heinrich Hoffmann for gonorrhea and claimed to have cured him. Hoffman and his assistant Eva Braun introduced Morell to Adolf Hitler.

Hitler was suffering from a skin rash and intestinal gas when, during a party at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden, he 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 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

In his memoirs, Speer made clear that he didn't consider Morell to be a "quack. " Rather, he characterized him as an opportunist who, once he achieved status as Hitler's physician, became extremely careless and lazy in his work, and who was more concerned with money and status rather than actually providing medical assistance.

Göring called Morell Der Reichsspritzenmeister (The Reich Injectionmaster), a nickname that stuck. This term does not have a precise English translation. Among the translations of this nickname are "Herr Reich Injection Master" (Speer, Inside the Third Reich), "The Reich's Injections Impresario" (Junge, Until the Final Hour), and "The Master of the Imperial Needle" (O'Donnell, The Bunker). However this term is translated, its underlying meaning is the same - it implied that Morell always resorted to using injections and drugs when faced with any 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 anymore.

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 meanwhile soon caved in to Hitler's demands.

Following the July 20, 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. Moreover, 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. Morell was also giving him at least one injection almost every day.

On April 22, 1945 Hitler dismissed Morell from the Führerbunker in Berlin, saying that he didn't need any more medical help. Nonetheless, Morell left behind a large amount of pre-prepared medicine; during the last week of Hitler's life, they were administered by Dr. Werner Haase and by Heinz Linge, Hitler's valet.

Morell escaped Berlin on one of the last German flights out of the city but was soon captured by the Americans. One of his interrogators was reportedly "disgusted" by his obesity and complete lack of hygiene. Although he was held in an American internment camp, on the site of the former Buchenwald concentration camp, and questioned because of his proximity to Hitler, Morell was never charged with any crimes. His health declined rapidly. Grossly obese and suffering from speech impairment, he died in Tegernsee on the 26th of May 1948 after a stroke.

Morell kept a medical diary of the drugs, tonics, vitamins and other substances he administered to Hitler, usually by either injection or in pill form. Most were commercial preparations, some were his own. Since some of these compounds are considered toxic, many historians have speculated Morell may have accidentally contributed to Hitler's poor health. This fragmentary list of representative ingredients would have seemed somewhat less shocking during the 1940s:

■ Potassium bromide
■ Nux Vomica (a form of strychnine)
■ Atropine
■ Sodium barbitone
■ Oxedrine Tartrate
■ Chamomile
■ Testosterone
■ Prophenazone
■ Caffeine
■ Belladonna
■ E. coli
■ Morphine
■ Sulphonamide
■ Cocaine (via eye drops)
■ Enzymes
■ Vitamins
■ Amphetamines
■ Methamphetamine
■ Proteins and lipids derived from animal tissues and fats

Morell apparently never told Hitler (or anyone else) what he was administering, other than to say the preparations contained various vitamins and "natural" ingredients. Some ingredients were later confirmed by doctors who had been shown pills by Hitler while temporarily treating him. A few of the preparations (such as Glyconorm, a tonic popular in Switzerland for fighting infections) contained rendered forms of animal tissues such as placenta, cardiac muscle, liver and bull testicles. During his interrogation after the war, Morell claimed another doctor had prescribed cocaine to Hitler and at least one other doctor is known to have administered it through eyedrops after he requested it in the hours following an almost successful assassination attempt on July 20, 1944. Cocaine was routinely used for medical purposes in Germany during that time but Morell is said to have increased the dosage tenfold. Overuse of cocaine eyedrops has been associated with psychotic behavior, hypertension and other symptoms but historians have generally tended to discount any effects of Morell's treatments on Hitler's decision-making.

Morell was subject to many accusations by members of Hitler's inner circle. Several people claimed he regularly injected Hitler with morphine without telling him and that Morell himself was a morphine addict. Some went so far as to claim Morell used Hitler as a "guinea pig" for several of the drugs he tried to develop and sell but these latter claims were made by people without medical backgrounds and may not be reliable.

Hitler had split personality
His doctor's opinion
Tuesday May 22, 1945

Hitler's half-Jewish personal physician, Dr. Theodor Morell, said to-day that during the last days before the fall of Berlin Hitler feared that he would be drugged and carried away forcibly from the capital. He does not believe that Hitler committed suicide because Hitler was not that type.

Dr. Morell, who is 59, examined Hitler daily for nine years. Now bedridden and gravely ill himself, Dr. Morell has a dread of all uniforms. He collapsed in a coma at Hitler's feet in the Chancellery shelter when Hitler yelled at him:

"You think I am crazy. You will try to give me morphine. Get out of here; you are sacked. Get that medical uniform off. Go home and act as if you had never had anything to do with me." Dr. Morell flew from Berlin on April 22.

"Hitler swore by his doctor, Theodor Morell, a charlatan who gave him glucose injections and stimulants. Morell made a lot of money during the war, not least with a louse powder we were given on the eastern front which smelt awful and was useless.'" The baron also holds Morell in particular contempt: "I shall never forget how he begged, on 22 and 23 April, when the women were allowed to leave.He sat there like a fat sack of potatoes and begged to fly out. And he did."

~Bernd Freytag von Löringhoven

He said that Hitler flew into rages; particularly as the war went on. Still more terrifying were Hitler's angry silences. "Hitler would go as white as a sheet and tightly clench his jaws, while his eyes would dilate," said the doctor. "Everyone in his entourage would get panicky because these fits were always followed by an order to dismiss or to execute somebody." But Hitler once complained: "My orders are never fulfilled."

"Nothing can happen to me"

Dr. Morell attended him after the attempt on his life. he found Hitler sitting with singed hair, torn uniform, and blood on his face, banging his knees with both hands. "Just think of it, doctor," he exclaimed, "nothing can happen to me." His eardrums were ruptured and gave trouble later.

During the Second World War, the Germans and their Axis partners could only produce relatively small amounts of penicillin, certainly never enough to meet their military needs; as a result, they had to rely upon the far less effective sulfonamides. Morell treated the Führer with penicillin on a number of occasions, most notably following the failed assassination attempt in July 1944. Some of this penicillin appears to have been captured from, or inadvertently supplied by, the Allies, raising the intriguing possibility that Allied penicillin saved Hitler's life.

Hitler seemed to have a split personality, one half iron will, determination, forcefulness and cruelty, the other uncertainty, fits of depression, and shyness, particularly with women.

Eva Braun was generally accepted by Hitler's entourage as his wife. Dr. Morell was convinced that Hitler led a normal married life with here. But Braun kept very much in the background and few people saw her. Hitler warned the Doctor never to discuss his ailments with anyone else. "If you do I will regard it as high treason, which is punishable by death," Hitler said.

In the last days everyone tried to persuade Hitler to leave Berlin, but he grew more and more excited and stubborn. Dr. Morell reluctantly agreed to suggest to Hitler an injection of glucose in the veins to calm him. This caused Hitler to fly into a rage, suspecting he was to be drugged.

Dr. Morell's relations with Hitler had become strained after Morell attended the funeral of his brother, who was not a Nazi party member. After that, when he reminded Hitler of a promise to have an X-ray examination, Hitler shouted: "Do you think I am a silly young fool?" Hitler was obsessed with the fear of cancer and had severe digestive troubles, said Morell.

Karl Brandt (January 8, 1904 – June 2, 1948) was selected the personal physician of Adolf Hitler in August 1944 and headed the administration of the Nazi euthanasia program from 1939. As Major General Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation he was involved in human experimentation, along with his deputy Werner Heyde and others.

Brandt was born in Mülhausen in the then German Alsace-Lorraine territory (now Mulhouse, France), but his parents were not Alsatians. He became a medical doctor in 1928. He joined the Nazi Party in January 1932, and became a member of the SA in 1933. He became a member of the SS in July 1934 and was appointed Untersturmführer. From the Summer of 1934 he was Hitler's "Escort Physician".

In the context of the 1935 Nazi law Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses (Law for the Prevention of hereditary offspring and for the protection of the mothers), he was one of the medical scientists who performed abortions in great numbers at women deemed genetically disordered, mentally or physically handicapped or racially deficient, or whose unborn fetuses were expected to develop such genetical defects. These abortions had been legalized by the law, as long as no healthy Aryan fetuses were aborted. 

On September 1, 1939, Brandt was appointed by Hitler co-head of the T-4 Euthanasia Program, with Philipp Bouhler.  He received regular promotions in the SS; by January 1943 he was a major general. On April 16, 1945 he was arrested by the Gestapo for moving his family out of Berlin so they could surrender to American forces. He was condemned to death by a court at Berlin. He was released from arrest by order of Karl Dönitz on May 2, 1945. He was placed under arrest by the British on May 23, 1945.


Four months after the end of the war, Hitler’s personal physician Theo Morell stated to his fellow prisoner Karl Brandt: “In fact, Hitler was never sick.” Brandt, who had been responsible for the “euthanasia” killings and was thus deeply implicated in the crimes of the Nazi regime, disagreed. He claimed that Morell had “pumped the Führer full of drugs” and was now merely attempting to justify his actions. In his opinion, Morell had turned Hitler into a physical wreck. 

Brandt was tried along with twenty-two others at the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg, Germany. The trial was officially titled United States of America v. Karl Brandt et al. , but is more commonly referred to as the "Doctors' Trial"; it began on December 9, 1946. He was charged with "special responsibility for, and participation in, Freezing, Malaria, LOST Gas, Sulfanilamide, Bone, Muscle and Nerve Regeneration and Bone Transplantation, Sea-Water, Epidemic Jaundice, Sterilization, and Typhus Experiments. . . [also] in connection with the planning and carrying out of the Nazi's T-4 Euthanasia Program of the German Reich. . . [and] with membership in the SS".

Judgment was pronounced on August 19, 1947. Brandt and six others were sentenced to death by hanging (all carried out at Landsberg Prison on June 2, 1948), nine were given prison terms of fifteen years to life, and seven were found not guilty.

Karl Brandt and his wife Anni Brandt were members of Hitler's inner circle at Berchtesgaden where Hitler maintained his private residence known as the Berghof. This most exclusive of groups in Nazi Germany functioned as Hitler's de facto family circle, and also included Eva Braun, Albert Speer and his wife Margret Speer, Dr. Theodor Morell, Martin Bormann, Hitler's photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, and Hitler's adjutants (and their wives) and secretaries. As members of this inner circle, the Brandts had a residence near the Berghof and spent extensive time there whenever Hitler was present. In his memoirs, Speer described the familial but numbing lifestyle of Hitler's intimate companions who were forced to stay up most of the night--night after night--listening to the Nazi leader's repetitive monologues or to an unvarying selection of music. Despite Brandt's personal closeness to Hitler, the dictator was furious when he learned shortly before the end of the war that the doctor had sent Anni and their children toward the American lines in hopes of evading capture by the Russians. Only the intervention of Heinrich Himmler and others in the inner circle saved Brandt from execution in the war's closing days. However, his involvement in euthanasia and human medical experimentation led to his conviction and execution by the Allies in 1948.