Making Madness Before America: Saint Peter’s Snow, Psychotomimetics, and the German Experimental Imaginary
Below is the text of a conference paper recently presented at the ‘Tonics, Elixirs and Poisons: Psychoactive Substances in European History and Culture’ Conference (8-9 September 2012) at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, organised by the Antipodean East European Study Group.
Leo Perutz’s novel Saint Peter’s Snow (1933) offers a fascinating representation of the ideas circulating in the 1930s about the possible chemical synthesisation of such “vegetable substances” as mescaline and psilocybin in Germany and central Europe. Promptly banned by the Nazi government upon its publication, Perutz’s text revolves around a “secret experiment to make a mind-altering drug from a white mildew occurring on wheat—a mildew called Saint Peter’s Snow.” By considering Perutz’s dystopic novel in combination with the radically revisionist claims of Willis Harmann about the German origins of LSD and historical studies of state-run psychological experiments, this essay will examine the literary and historical representations of the “psychotomimetics” in the period immediately before, during and after their first appearance in Central Europe.
Humphry Osmond, the English psychiatrist responsible for the introduction of LSD to the writer and intellectual Aldous Huxley in 1953, in Los Angeles, California, is also responsible for the invention of the term ‘psychedelic’, which he proposed to Huxley as a descriptor for the totality of the experience brought about my mescaline or LSD and in response to Huxley’s earlier suggestion of the almost completely unrepeated ‘phanerothyme’. In the title of his first comprehensive review of hallucinogens, presented to the New York Academy of Science in 1957, however, Osmond describes the hallucinogens mescaline and LSD not as ‘psychedelic’, but as ‘psychotomimetic agents’—that is, as agents which imitate psychosis—offering a sense not only of the psychiatric nomenclature of the time but also the view held by those in the mainstream of the chemical and mind sciences about these drugs: that they generated a ‘model psychosis’ or a model of schizophrenia. Osmond, however, had a different idea about the psychotherapeutic potential of these drugs, and so, as he writes:
If mimicking mental illness were the main characteristic of these agents, “psychotomimetics” would indeed be a suitable generic term. It is true that they do so, but they do much more. Why are we always preoccupied with the pathological, the negative? Is health only the lack of sickness? Is good merely the absence of evil? Is pathology the only yardstick? Must we ape Freud’s gloomier moods that persuaded him that a happy man is a self-deceiver evading the heartache for which there is no anodyne? Is not a child infinitely potential rather than polymorphously perverse?
Osmond’s remarks evoke the sense of wonder about these substances, and the positive purposes to which he and his colleagues believed they could be put. Prior to Osmond’s experiments with mescaline and LSD of the 1950s in Saskatchewan, Canada, however, the former substance had quite clearly been understood by science as a psychosis-imitator; mescaline was looked upon with considerably less optimism than as a means of enlightening psychotherapy, and had been imagined to be useful for far more sinister purposes than Osmond’s humanistic efforts, with Abram Hoffer, to improve the mental life conditions of those with schizophrenia and other psychotic syndromes.
In fact, the potential for mescaline to radically bring about alterations in the user’s mind had been other state interests had occurred to scientists as early as the 1940s in Germany, where, in the Dachau concentration camp, the SS had been investigating the potential of mescaline as an interrogation tool to defeat the mental resistance of those under scrutiny. While individuals had used mescaline for centuries [check] for self- exploration and mystical purposes, the origin of clinical human experimentation with the hallucinogens, as with a range of other scientific interrogation and psychological science, lies in Nazi Germany.
While there is little known about, and few historical records illuminating the attitudes or knowledge held by Germans at the beginning of the Nazi rule about the hallucinogens, Leo Perutz’s novel, Saint Peter’s Snow (Le Petri Schnee), first published in 1933, offers a fascinating representation of the kinds of ideas developing at the time about the possible chemical synthesisation of such “vegetable substances” as mescaline and psilocybin (as it was later to be identified) in Germany and in central Europe. Promptly banned or ‘boycotted’ by the Nazi government after its publication, Perutz’s text revolves around a “secret experiment to make a mind-altering drug from a white mildew occurring on wheat—a mildew called Saint Peter’s Snow.” It is told from the point of view of Dr. George Amberg who, in hospital, apparently recovering from an automobile accident, compares the official account of his mishap, written on the doctor’s report, with a range of disturbing memories about his recent past, which he discloses as the narrator. (This literary device whereby the hero either generates or recollects memories the veracity of which is uncertain while in a coma was of course later adopted in the film adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz.) The unverifiability of Amberg’s story is emblematic of the novelty and power of the mind-altering drug which Amberg begins to remember as having been the subject of a plan to reintroduce religious fervour and to revive the Holy Roman Empire in Germany through the development of a synthetic chemical by Baron von Malchin. As Robert Diantonio suggests, Amberg, as if experiencing a disorienting flashback after having used a hallucinogenic substance, “seems trapped among many different realities.”
Despite his evident talent, the historical significance of his works, and the praise he offered of his writing by the likes of Borges, little to no academic scholarship is written in English on the Perutz’s novels. In Le Figaro, for instance, one reviewer remarked that it was “no wonder Borges loved Perutz; they both liked to encapsulate history within a fable.” Similarly, as Franz Rottensteiner writes, Petutz’s “books skillfully merge authentic historic detail with visionary events, so that the reader is often uncertain where reality fades into fantasy. His heroes are frequently the victims of an implacable destiny, almost in the style of a Greek tragedy.”Perutz’s fascination with history and fables explains the uncanny sense in which the story of Saint Peter’s Snow is resonant with familiar archetypes and yet is an original work of contemporary fiction offering a critique of modern science. To begin with, the so-called Saint Peter’s snow, the white mildew which occurs on wheat which gives the novel its name and which is the organic precursor to the synethetic psychoactive drug being developed by baron von Malchin (much to the puzzlement and curiosity of Georg Amberg, the protagonist doctor of the novel) is a clear reference to ergot (claviceps purpurea (Fr.)), a fungal growth and a parasite on rye as well as barley, wheat and on certain wild grasses.
Before Perutz’s day, the folkloric history of ergot pervaded Germany, and, as Albert Hoffman, the 1943 discoverer of LSD points out, there “seem to be more variants” in names and nicknames for ergot of rye in German “than in other languages: Mutterkorn,Rockenmutter, Afterkorn, Todtenkorn and many others.” As Hoffman writes:
In German folklore there was a belief that, when the corn waived in the wind, the corn mother (a demon) was passing through the field; her children were the rye wolves (ergot). In our context we observe that [the name] Tollkorn (“mad grain”) point[s] to a knowledge of the psychotropic effects of ergot [and] an intimate knowledge of its properties, at least among herbalists, deeply rooted in European traditions.
Calling not only upon the folkloric fabulae which had accreted around the psychotropic effects of rye in Germany, but also upon the name sometimes given to large outbreaks of ergotism in Europe in the Middle Ages (caused by the eating of bread contaminated by rye), namely ignis sacre (“holy fire”) often called “St Anthony’s fire”, Perutz’s illustration of the fictional chemical, Saint Peter’s Snow, evokes the potential power of such mind-changing drugs to affect societies and their relation with ideology. At one stage of the novel, the wealthy baron, who for the ambiguous although seemingly well-meaning reason of reintroducing religious fervour to the masses, has set about developing the psychochemical so as to, reveals his intentions for having determined to invent the drug by quoting Amberg’s (the protagonist’s) late father, a gifted scientist:
The starting point was something your father said. ‘What we call the fervour and ecstasy of faith’, he said to me in this room, sitting at this table, ‘whether as an individual phenomenon or as a group phenomenon, nearly always presents the clinical picture of a state of excitation produced by a hallucinogenic drugs. By what hallucinogenic drugs produces this effect? None is known to science.’ (88-9)
Not believing that his father would have used such “blasphemy”, Amberg dismisses the baron and his the idea that religious experience could be occasioned psychochemically.
Later, the baron explains that having “made no progress” with the “scientific works of Greek and Latin authors”, he then turned to “the religious and philosophical writings of antiquity”, and then to other histories, from which he learned about a “wheat disease” of “early centuries” and which “was known by a different name wherever it appeared.” (93) As the baron then states:
In Spain it was called Mary Magdalene’s Plait, in Alsace it was known as Poor Soul’s Dew. In Adam of Cremona’s Physician’s Book it was called Misericord Seed, and in the Alps it was called St Peter’s Snow. In the St Gallen area it was known as the Mendicant Friar, and in northern Bohemia as St John’s Rot. Here in Westphalia, where it appeared especially often, the peasant’s called it Our Lady’s Fire. (93-4)
The religious connotations of the names given to ergotism, although real in the case of St Anthony’s Fire and while mostly fictitious in the case of the Baron’s list, suggest the sense in which excitation of the senses by the effects of ergot had been always mythically tethered to an influence or interaction with nature that was divine, saintly, and even miraculous. More than this, however, the baron’s recognition of the influence of ergot and grain upon state and national religion and ideology is crucial for readers of Perutz’s novel; as the baron at one stage notes, the “Chinese have no religious ideas, only a kind of philosophy” since in “the Middle Kingdom no grain as been cultivated for thousands of years. Only rice.” (95))
The link between the nation-state, ideology, religion and drugs is of particular interest to Perutz, who understood the potential of each of these social influences to produce mass hysteria in society. And ultimately, Perutz’s experience and his concerns about the rise of ideological anti-semitism meant that he could no longer live in Germany. As Perutz’s biographer, Hans Herald-Müller writes
The establishment of the National Socialist dictatorship in Germany had drastic consequences for Perutz [and the] deliberate creation of mass hysteria plays an important role in his contemporary novel Saint Peter’s Snow. By the beginning of 1933, distribution of the book in Germany had shrunk to a trickle. Soon afterwards, all the novels of this Jewish author were boycotted. When Nazi troops marched into Vienna on 13 March 1938, he knew that he had no choice but to emigrate.
In addition to the novel’s allusions to the mass hysteria, however, Saint Peter’s Snow also offers an instructive representation of individual hysteria in the form of Dr. Amberg’s disoriented and tendentious narrative. Indeed, Amberg’s disorientation not only prefigures and reflects Perutz’s own desubjectivised and disempowered position as a jew in an increasingly anti-Semitic dictatorship, but also the negative effects of a psychosis-inducing drug. Thus, Dr. Amberg, as he recalls his story, disarmed in a hospital bed, is never quite aware whether the story he recalls is real or unreal; whether it all an elaborate hoax on which his medical staff are ‘in’. In a case of doctor’s word against doctor’s mind, the medical superintendent reminds Amberg of the incident by which he came to be hospitalized thus:
“No,” said the medical superintendent. “You never reached the station. You walked straight into a car and were knocked down. The base of the skull was broken and there was brain haemorrhage, and that was the state you were in when you were brought here…but now you’re out of danger.”
I tried to read his face. He could not have seriously meant what he said, it was absurd.
“I beg your pardon,” I said quite diffidently, “but the head wound is the result of a blow with a blunt instrument. It was done with a flail.” (8)
Amberg resigns himself to the fact that he will not convince others of his memory of the baron and the plot to synthesise the mind- (and society-) altering psychochemical, but in the exchange that follows, the superintendent puzzledly observes that flails have not been used in Germany to thresh crops since the invention of machinery; that is, not for over a “hundred” years (8). Here, Perutz’s reminder to readers of the improbability of flailing in contemporary Germany also suggests the improbability of Amberg’s narrative; more than this, however, it signals the ahistoricality of Amberg’s tale, or—if it is to be regarded as at all chronometrically stable—it serves as an allusion to the ancientness and thus the ‘superstitiousness’ of Amberg’s own ideas, as well as the anteriority of ergotism, whose “severity had decreased as improved milling techniques and other agricultural innovations” which had, by the late nineteenth century, lessened the threat” to the public of, and the familiarity of doctors with the condition.
Together with a rich folkloric history, investigations into ergot alkaloids were an energetically studied subject in the ‘formal’ sciences throughout Europe, both before and after 1933, when Perutz published Saint Peter’s Snow. The pharmacological history of ergot and ergotamine alkaloid isolation has been characterized as “the story of the unexpected,” and even as a “history of the unexpected.” Before 1933, ergotamine—an ergot alkaloid derivative, present in the sclerotia of the Claviceps purpurea fungus—had been isolated in its crystalline form by Arthur Stoll in 1918 at Sandoz laboratories, not far from Germany and Dachau (where the Dachau concentration camp was later to be established by the Nazi government), and Stoll patented the alkaloid. In 1917, Sandoz had granted Stoll, then a young Swiss chemist and a student of the Jewish German organic chemist Richard Willstätter, the opportunity of setting up a laboratory to develop new bioactive drugs. But the goal of isolating these alkaloids had been underway for more than fifty years prior to Stoll’s discovery, with Charles Tanret obtaining ergotinine cristalisee in 1875, and the Swiss pharmacist F. Kraft having, among discovering many other ergotamine alkaloids, extracted a fraction composed mainly of the ergotoxine group alkaloids, which he named ‘hydroergotonine’ in 1906. The ergotoxine group (so-called hydroergotonine) and ergotamine found medical use in the treatment of severe migraine, although because these drugs had a tendency to produce effects on blood-vessels the same as those which gave rise to ergotism, they have largely been replaced by different ergot alkaloids and non-ergot based substances.
To one side of the history of modern ergot alkaloid research, however, sits a narrative based in the occult and mystical traditions, and which may be tied specifically to Jewish religious tradition—interesting and perhaps instructive for an account of Perutz’s Jewish heritage and his individual perspective on the religious potential of the ergot-based psychochemical. As “the grain of the poorest of the poor”, spurred rye was an “ethnic cuisine” very “popular among Jews of Eastern Europeans,” and its consumption throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Eastern Europe had been coincidental with the emergence of a range of religious and mystical movements in that area. As Sharon Packer notes,
Curiously, three major mystical movements of Judaism erupted at the same times and places as these ergot epidemics, while these sects were largely ignored, if not outrightly scorned, in areas free from endemic ergotism…It is possible that the simultaneous occurrence of the mystical movements and ergot epidemics peaks was no coincidence…: Subtle transcendent states can occur in early ergotism…
Such transcendental mental states were regarded as divine interventions, and, for both those who experienced them or who knew of their experience, these divine states “were seen as supernatural events until the 18th century, if not later.” Furthermore, as Packer astutely points out, given that there are almost a dozen naturally occurring psychoactive ergot alkaloids, each seasonal crop of claviceps would produce a very different variety of ergots in different and inconsistent combinations and thus the specific symptomatological character of each outbreak of ergotism would have differed, making the source of the toxification difficult to identify with any precision. Consequently, there were two very injurious forms of ignis sacer: in one, the limbs became gangrenous, while in the second form, convulsions accompanied by intense pain, and sometimes with blindness or deafness took place. In relation to our own present moment, interestingly, a biologist from the US has recently hypothesized that the alkaloidal potency of scopolamine and atropine—alkaloids found in the so-called Jimson weed—or datura from the Solanaceae (nightshade) family—may have increased in the last half-century due to the temperature rises and carbon increases in the atmosphere, and has suggested that similar changes may have taken place in respect of the ergot fungus.
Some have argued that the very origins of religion stem from a psychoactive state induced by an alkaloid of ergot rye. As R. Gordon Wasson and his colleagues have argued, in ancient Greece initiates to the Eleusinian mysteries (in which communication with the Gods is said to have taken place) are said to have witnessed “a vision that made all previous seeing seem like blindness” after drinking the kykeon, a potion prepared from weeds which it has been demonstrated were likely to have been a parasitized species of the claviceps,Claviceps paspali. Similiarly, as Packer asserts, the invention of the printing press in around 1100 represents an “ironic twist of technology” since, while this “made mystical texts” (such as “the Zohar—the compendium of Jewish Mystical writings” which became “the first Hebrew best-seller”)—readily “available to the masses,” ergot experiences had fuelled the “demand for mystical materials,” and “the very existence of such a pro-mystical milieu would establish the psychological expectations that are so critical to sculpting the exact phenomenology of the ergot experience.” As Packer’s language suggests, here mysticism becomes an elaborate phenomenology of ergotism whose potential as a political and social-reformist ideology—as is well known to the baron in Saint Peter’s Snow—is seemingly limitless.
In a curious connection, Willis Harman, a senior social scientist at the Stanford Research Institute known as SRI International, and the initiator of the institute’s futures research program (and later the president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences), suggested, in an interview on ABC radio in 1977, that the origins of LSD began with an esoteric or mystical movement specifically following the twentieth century mystic Rudolf Steiner. As Harman explains, the story of LSD “really starts” in “1935 with a group of followers of [this] German mystic [and] members of this group set out very deliberately to synthesise chemicals which were like the natural vegetable substances which they were well aware had been used in all the world’s major religious traditions down through the centuries.” As Harman continues, “By 1938 they had synthesized psilocybin, LSD and about thirty other drugs.” Harman thus suggests that LSD had been deliberately synthesized for its connection to religiosity, and at least five years before our history records say that the substance was first administered to a human (by Hofffman to himself). More extraordinarily, Harmann’s remarks directly make the claim that psilocybin had been identified and isolated at least twenty years before the time on record in all of the histories of psilocybin about the first identification, isolation and chemical synthesis of this alkaloid, by Albert Hoffman and his colleagues in 1958, and at least seventeen years before the first western study of the use of magic mushrooms by R. Gordon Wasson in 1955. Harmann’s claims are not supported by any written evidence, so it would be irresponsible to speculate too long on the possibility that either LSD or psilocybin were developed chemically before the historically confirmed dates or to credit this proposition with having a basis in fact. It would perhaps be better to take Harmann’s claim as an embellished version of the more likely and better supported claim that there did exist some specific knowledge before the 1930s of the potential uses of, and of the methods by which certain ergot-based compounds were capable of generating hallucinatory or ecstatic altered mind-states, and that of this experimental imaginary in Europe, Perutz’s novel provides some evidence. However, that Harmann designates 1938, the year on which Hoffman had first synthesized LSD, as the date by which this “group of followers” had synthesized these so-called vegetable substances, seems to suggest that Harmann means to include Hoffman—and possibly the initiative begun by Arthur Stoll, the director of the pharmaceutical department at Sandoz, to isolate psychoactive constituents from a range of medicinal plants—as part of this project of the “group of followers of Rudolf Stein.”
Whether as members of Steiner’s anthoposophy movement, as unwitting auxillaries or servants of its cause, or as an assemblage of straightforward chemists altogether unrelated to anthroposophy, it is notable that the mission set by Arthur Stoll bears a striking resemblance to the mission that Harmann attributes to the this group of followers. As Albert Hoffman observes, in his biography and history of his discovery of LSD:
In Stoll’s laboratory I found employment that completely agreed with me as a research chemist. The objective that Professor Stoll had set for his pharmaceutical-chemical research laboratories was to isolate the active principles (i.e., the effective constituents) of known medicinal plants to produce pure specimens of these substances. This is particularly important in the case of medicinal plants whose active principles are unstable, or whose potency is subject to great variation, which makes an exact dosage difficult. But if the active principle is available in pure form, it becomes possible to manufacture a stable pharmaceutical preparation, exactly quantifiable by weight. With this in mind, Professor Stoll had elected to study plant substances of recognized value such as the substances from foxglove (Digitalis), Mediterranean squill (Scilla maritima), and ergot of rye (Claviceps purpurea or Secale cornutum), which, owing to their instability and uncertain dosage, nevertheless, had been little used in medicine.
Given the link between Hoffman’s description and Harmann’s characterisation of the mission of the Steiner-followers, it is possible that Harman’s claim may be read simply as a dramatized version of the actual history in which the role of mysticism and folklore in the context of the development and discovery of these drugs is emphasized—either for effect or so as to frame, but not properly make, an argument about the extent to which such mystical beliefs were actually motivating factors to people, such as Arthur Stoll, who were involved in the direction of such psychopharmacological research and drug discovery programs, possibly even at political and policy levels.
As with ergot rye and the psylocibe mushrooms, the hallucinations and other mind-alterations brought about by the peyote cactus (and other cacti) and the psychoactive alkaloid of these plants, mescaline, had been known to traditional cultures: for instance, to the Native Indians in Mexico, who have used the peyote cactus for over 3,000 years. The discovery and chemical synthesis of the phenythaline mescaline, however, predated the discovery of a hallucinogenic ergoline-tryptamine LSD and tryptamine psilocybin by a few decades, having been first isolated and identified by the German chemist Arthur Heffter in 1897 and having its first chemical synthesisation in 1918. Notwithstanding the increasing regulation of opiates under the Harrison Narcotic Tax Act of 1914, clinical research on human subjects with mescaline and peyote began at around the same time in the US and in Europe: in 1927, the German physician Kurt Beringer published a description of his mescaline studies in research subjects and, only a year later, Dr Kluver from the University of Chicago published the first scientific monograph in English on mescaline and perception.
It was not until the 1940s, however, that mescaline was systematically studied on involuntary and sometimes-unknowing human subjects by Nazi scientists at the Dachau Concentration Camp, which, incidentally, was located only about 200 miles from the Sandoz laboratories in Basel where Hoffman first synthesized and used LSD within the same decade. As Alfred McCoy suggests, the “Nazis’ use of human subjects … shattered long-standing clinical restraints” including unprecedented breaches by medical doctors of the Hippocratic oath, however, the results of these experiments were later to intrigue and garner the respect from scientists in the US. In this sense, the experiments in Dachau initiated the intentional making of madness that would follow in the 1950s and 1960s in the US by the CIA under the MK-Ultra or ‘Mind Kontrol Ultra’ program. Directly inspired by and curious about the initial results of the Nazi experiments in Dachau and the overriding investigation question of these experiments—Can the human mind come under the control of an interrogator?— the CIA would later initiate its own experiments on unwitting subjects with LSD and by inflicting other forms of psychological torture in a multifaceted project to build a science of coercion and to investigate weapons of “mass persuasion and individual interrogation” whose costs, as McCoy points out, “reached, at peak, a billion dollars a year.”
The history of the circumstances in which the mescaline experiments on humans in Dachau took place is, however, seemingly mostly incomplete. What is known about these experiments is perhaps most helpfully conveyed by a 1945 technical report of the US Naval Technical Mission, kept in the Harvard Medical Library, which was composed for the purpose of reporting to the US military and intelligence agencies and the Department of Defense on the Nazi experiments and the potential of mescaline’s effectiveness as an interrogation agent. Nevertheless, this report indicated that mescaline was at best inconclusive as an adjunct to interrogation and at worst virtually ineffectual. As Lee and Shlain note:
The navy became interested in mescaline as an interrogation agent when American investigators learned of mind control experiments carried out by Nazi doctors at the Dachau concentration camp during World War II. After administering the hallucinogen to thirty prisoners, the Nazis concluded that it was “impossible to impose one’s will on another person as in hypnosis even when the strongest dose of mescaline had been given.” But the drug still afforded certain advantages to SS interrogators, who were consistently able to draw “even the most intimate secrets from the [subject] when questions were cleverly put.” Not surprisingly, sentiments of hatred and revenge were exposed in every case.
The Naval Technical Mission’s report was probably based on the cache of documents and data that was found, remarkably, in Heinrich Himmler’s cave depository of SS materials in Hallein, Germany by the Joint Intelligence Objectives search teams. The documents had originally been reviewed at the Seventh Army Documents Centre by Dr Leo Alexander, who, in 1945, compiled his own report (‘The Alexander Report’) based on these documents and his data findings in respect of the experiments at Dachau as the psychiatrist involved in offering advice to those adjudicating the Nazi doctors at the Nuremberg Trial.
Even in view of the reprehensible and inhumane methods and the racist and fascist ideology in whose name it proceeded, it cannot be denied the Nazi’s medical science program made a number of significant psychopharmacological and medical advances during the Third Reich. In the pursuance of improving the “health of the Aryan race,” as Richard Evans notes, for instance, “It was a Nazi epidemiologist who first established the link between smoking and lung cancer, establishing a government agency to combat tobacco consumption in June 1939.”
In 1936, the leader of the Reich’s Physician’s Chamber, Gerhard Wagner had announced the “New German Medicine” which would sideline conventional medicine in favour of a new emphasis on “the healing power of herbs.” Further, as Jonathan Lewy suggests, this new emphasis by the Reich’s physicians chamber may also have developed out of the possibility that the Nazi government, when it withdrew from the League of Nations and adopted a seemingly ‘isolated’ position vis-à-vis the international drug control regime, possibly “had hoped to avoid sanctions prescribed in the 1931 [Conference on the limitation of Manufacturing of Narcotic Drugs] treaty, which would have made it difficult to obtain raw materials for drugs from countries enforcing the treaty.” It is interesting also that, as Lewy notes, the Nazi government did not make it illegal to use or consume any drugs whatsoever in the Third Reich: the Nazi government preserved “the basic tenets” of the Opiumgesetz legislation under which “not a single drug was banned” and presumably relied on the Law against Habitual Criminals, enacted in 1933, to ensure that drug addicts were incarcerated. Although, as Lewy notes, there are no records that a single drug-addicted individual had ever been sent to a Nazi concentration camp; instead, the records demonstrate that the Nazis preferred drug-addicted persons to enter a sanitarium or Heil- und Pflegeanstalt, “which could have been either a regular or a mental hospital.”
Thus it is specifically in respect of the drug discovery initiatives, the larger medical program of Wagner, and the legal ambiguity around the drug policy under the Nazi government, that Harman’s claim about the origin of LSD—as well as the characterization of a drug-induced or involuntary increase in religious fervour visualized in Perutz’s novel—begins to obtain something of a clearer historical significance. During this time in the 1930s, it was the will of the party, as Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy stated, to “discourage the German people from harmful foreign spices and artificial drugs and to switch to the use of natural herbs.” Thus, as Schmid notes, “Through prisoner slave labor, 20 acres of moorland were appropriated in Dacahau [and] the locally grown spices covered almost the entire demand of the Wehrmact and the SS. [There] the prisoners were abused not only as free labor, but also as human guinea pigs … For about 700 Reichsmark, a German pharmaceutical company could buy a camp of people on whom they could then test their drugs.”
One of the most prominent Nazi researchers in this area was Dr Kurt Ploetner, who led the mescaline research at Dachau and by 1944 had been made the SS head of the Institute for Military and Scientific Research. And while, as John Marks points out, these “mescaline tests .. were not nearly so lethal as the others in the “aviation” series [such as the hypothermia experiments] … the drug could still cause grave damage, particularly to anyone who already had some degree of mental instability.” As Marks continues, “The danger was increased by the fact that the mescaline was administered covertly by S.S. men who spiked the prisoners’ drinks. Unlike Dr. Hofmann, the subjects had no idea that a drug was causing their extreme disorientation. Many must have feared they had gone stark mad all on their own.”
As contemporary studies of the hallucinogens have demonstrated, a significant distinction should be drawn between involuntary or unwitting clinical uses of these drugs and those that are knowing and voluntary or consensual due to the unpredictability of the drug’s action, and the fact that reactions are “heavily dependent on the expectations of the user (“set”) and the environment (“setting”) in which the use takes place.” The variability and unpredictability of user reactions was described by those who took part in the Dachau experiments; although so was the potential they saw in mescaline as a truth serum. As Marks notes, Neff, Ploetner’s inmate assistant, stated when asked by American investigators that
the subjects showed a wide variety of reactions….[and] that the drug caused certain people to reveal their “most intimate secrets.” Still, the Germans were not ready to accept mescaline as a substitute for their more physical methods of interrogation. They went on to try hypnosis in combination with the drug, but they apparently never felt confident that they had found a way to assume command of their victim’s mind.
Thus, almost twenty years after the German chemist Karl Beringer had proposed that mescaline generated a ‘model psychosis’, producing a symptomatology similar to that of acute schizophrenia—a proposition of which Nazi scientists such as Ploetner must have been aware—they were deployed in order to determine whether an individual subject was telling the truth. In addition to the cruelty of generating such adverse reactions (largely owing to the setting in which mescaline was given to the prisoners), the non-consensual and unwitting position in which these experiments were undertaken ultimately led to the formulation, by Leo Alexander, of the Nuremberg Code of Scientific Research, which was applied to the Nazi doctors at the Nuremberg Trial, and whose first principle, simply, was that “[r]esearchers must obtain full voluntary consent from all subjects.”
 As quoted in Erika Dyck, Psychedelic Psychiatry: LSD from Clinic to Campus (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2008), 2. As Dyck notes, Osmond later confided to his colleague that he did not “relish the possibility, however remote, of finding a small but discreditable niche in literary history as the man who drove Aldous Huxley mad.” (also quoted in Dyck, Psychedelic Psychiatry, 2. It is arguable that by contrast Osmond would today find a similarly small niche in literary history as the man who drove Aldous Huxley to write one of his best-known and most original prose works, The Doors of Perception (1954).
 See, for instance, Humphrey Osmond, “A Review of the Clinical Effects of Psychotomimetic Agents,” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 66(3), 1957: 418-434.
 On this subject, Erika Dyck’s detailed history of Hoffer and Osmond’s pioneering research is indispensable. See Dyck, Psychedelic Psychiatry, 32-52.
 As quoted in Leo Perutz, Saint Peter’s Snow, trans. Eric Mosbacher , New York: Arcade Publishing, 1990, book dust-jacket.
 See Joseph Switzer, “Saint Peter’s Snow by Leo Perutz,” November 2, 2008, accessed August 10, 2012, http://markswitzer.blogspot.com.au/2008 ... erutz.html.
 Robert Diantonio, “Banned By The Nazis,” review of Saint Peter’s Snow, by Leo Perutz, Jerusalem Post, March 29, 1991, 15.
 As quoted in Leo Perutz, Saint Peter’s Snow, trans. Eric Mosbacher (New York: Arcade Publishing, 1990), book dust-jacket; and as Robert Diantonio notes, “It is little wonder that writers like Jorge Luis Borges drew inspiration from his inventive novels”: see Robert Diantonio, “Banned By The Nazis,” review ofSaint Peter’s Snow, by Leo Perutz, Jerusalem Post, March 29, 1991, 15.
 Franz Rottensteiner, The Fantasy Book: the ghostly, the gothic, the imaginary, the unreal (London: Thames and Hudson, 1978), 144.
 Albert Hoffman, “A Challenging Question and My Answer,” in R. Gordon Wasson, Albert Hoffman, Carl A.P. Ruck, The Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970), 8. Also see: Arnold Burgen, “St Anthony’s Gift,” European Review, 11:1 (2003), 27-35; Sharon Packer, “Jewish Mystical Movements and the European Ergot Epidemics,” The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, 35:3 (1998), 22-41; Pieter W.J. van Dongen, Akosua N.J.A. de Groot, “History of ergot alkaloids from ergotism to ergometrine,” European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 60 (1995), 109-116;
 While Hoffman first synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide in 1937, the psychoactive effects of the substance were not discovered by him until 1943. See Albert Hoffman, LSD: My Problem Child, [DETAILS].
 Hans-Herald Müller, “Prague, Vienna, Tel Aviv-The Life and Work of Leo Perutz (1882-1957),” accessed August 6, 2012, http://www.new-books-in-german.com/featur67.htm.
 Packer, “Jewish Mystical Movements and the European Ergot Epidemics,” 230.
 Heinz G. Floss, “The Biosynthesis of Ergot Alkaloids (or The Story of the Unexpected)” in Indole and Biogenetically Related Alkaloids, eds. J.D. Phillipson and M.H. Zenk (London: Academic Press, 1980), 249-270; and Anacleto Minghetti and Nicoletta Crespi-Perellino, “The History of Ergot,” in Ergot: The Genus Claviceps, eds. Vladimir Kren and Ladislav Cvak (Switzerland: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1999), 1.
 Minghetti and Crespi-Perellino, “The History of Ergot,” 1.
 Willstätter was Professor of chemistry at the University of Berlin and the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry. He was the first chemist to determine the structure of chlorophyll and was a recipient of the Nobel prize for Chemistry (1915). Interestingly, in 1924, at the age of fifty-three and in response to increasing anti-Semitism, Willstätter retired, notwithstanding many prestigious offers both “at home and abroad.” See ”Richard Willstätter – Biography”, last accessed 10 Aug 2012, http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/ ... atter.html.
 Arthur Stoll, “Ergot—A Treasure House for Drugs,” The Pharmaceutical Journal, 194 (1965), 605-13, cited in Minghetti and Crespi-Perellino, “The History of Ergot,” 2.
 Albert Hoffman, ‘Analytik der Mutterkornalkaloide,” in Die Chemie der Mutterkoralkoloide (Stuttgard: Ferdinand Enke, Verlag, 1964), 14-175, cited in Minghetti and Crespi-Perellino, “The History of Ergot,” 2.
 Arnold Burgen, “St Anthony’s Fire,” 31. Notably, lysergic acid and other tryptamines such as psylocibin and diemtethyltriptamine (DMT) have been found to have had similarly positive medical effects on approximately half of those who suffer episodically from severe migraines or so-called ‘cluster headaches’: See M. Leone, et. al., “Melatonin versus Placebo in the Prophylaxis of Cluster Headache: A Double-Blind Pilot Study with Parallel Groups,” Cephalalgia 16 (1996), 494-496; DR Nyholt, et. al., “Migraine association and linkage analyses of the human 5-hydroxytryptamine (5HT2A) receptor gene,” Cephalalgia 16(1996 ) 463-467.
 See Packer, “Jewish Mystical Movements and the European Ergot Epidemics,” 227-41.
 Ibid., 227.
 Ibid. 227-8.
 Ibid., 228.
 See Arnold burgen, “St Anthony’s Gift,” European Review, 11:1 (2003), 27-35 (27).
 Minda Berbeco, Ye Olde Biowarfare: how climate change is affecting hallucinogens (Part 1),” http://mindaberbeco.scienceblog.com/201 ... ens-part-1, accessed Thursday 23 August 2012.
 Packer, “Jewish Mystical Movement and the European Ergot Epidemics,” 231, quoting R.G. Wasson, S Kramrisch, Jonathan Ott and Carl Ruck, Persephone’s quest: Entheogens and the origin of religion, New Haven: Yale University, 1986.
 Packer, “Jewish Mystical Movement and the European Ergot Epidemics,” 233.
 See Willis Harman, quoted in Peter Fry and Malcolm Long (eds.), Beyond the Mechanical Mind (Based on the radio series ‘…And Something Else is Happening’), Sydney: The Australian Broadcasting Commission, 1977, 101-2.
 Ibid., p. 102.
 See for instance Albert Hoffman, LSD: My Problem Child,
 See Albert Hofmann, Roger Heim, et. al., “Psilocybin, ein psychotroper Wirkstoff aus dem mexikanischen Rauschpilz Psilocybe mexicana Heim [Psilocybin, a psychotropic drug from the Mexican magic mushroom Psilocybe mexicana Heim]” (in German), Experientia 14 (3), 1958: 107–9.
 Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, Encyclopedia of Drugs, Alcohol, & Addictive Behavior, (2nd edition), Durham, North Carolina: Macmillan Reference USA, 2001, 714-715.
 Here I deploy the chemical classification proposed by David Nichols, (perhaps the world’s foremost authority on the psychopharmacology LSD) in his invaluable and comprehensive article on hallucinogens; see David E. Nichols, “Hallucinogens,” Pharmacology & Therapeutics 101, 2004, 131-181 (135).
 See Heinrich Kluver, Mescal: The Divine Plant and its Psychological Effects, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co, 1928; and Kurt Beringer, “Der Meskalinrausch (The Mescaline Inebriation),” Monogra, Gesamtgeb, Neurology and Psychiatry, 49, 1927, 1-315 (German); for an analytical history of the various laws that came to regulate the use of psychedelics such as mescaline, see Richard Elliot Doblin, “Regulation of the Medical Use of Psychedelics and Marijuana” (PhD diss., Harvard University, 2000).
 John Marks, The Search for the “Manchurian Candidate”: The CIA and Mind Control, New York: Times Books, 1979, 5.
 Alfred McCoy, “Science in Dachau’s Shadow: Herb, Beecher, and the development of CIA Psychological Torture and Modern Medical Ethics,” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 45(4), 2007, 401-417 (403).
 Ibid. 402, citing Christopher Simpson, Science of Coercion: Communication Research and Psychological Warfare 1945-60, New York: Oxford University Press, 1994, 9.
 See Simpson, Science of Coercion: Communication Research and Psychological Warfare 1945-60, 4, 25-30, 127-132, quoted in McCoy, “Science in Dachau’s Shadow”, 403.
 Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain, Acid Dreams, New York: Grove Press, 1985, 6-7. The report to which Lee and Schlain refer is the ‘German Aviation Medical Research At the Dachau Concentration Camp’, Technical Report No. 331–45, U.S. Naval Technical Mission in Europe, October 1945, a copy of which resides in the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.
 Robert Pozos has included in his article on the Nazi’s hypothermia experiments at Dachau an attachment which reproduces the chronology of Alexander’s discovery process of the Dachau documents: see Robert Pozos, “Nazi Hypothermia Research: Should the Data Be Used?”, in Milirary Medical Ethics (Volume 2), Washington: Office of the Surgeon General and the Borden Institute, 437-461, accessed 28 August 2012, http://www.bordeninstitute.army.mil/pub ... sVol2.html. (This chronology originally appeared in Leo Alexander, The Treatment of Shock From Prolonged Exposure to Cold Especially in Water, Washington DC: Office of Publication Board, Department of Commerce, 1946, Report #250.) Also see Leo Alexander, “War Crimes and their Motivation: The Socio-Psychological Structure of the SS and the Criminalization of a Society,” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 39:3, 1948, 298-326; Leo Alexander, “Sociopsychologic Structure of the SS: Psychiatric Report of the Nuremburg Trials for War Crimes,” Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, 59:5, 1948, 622-634.
 Richard J. Evans, The Third Reich in Power, New York: Penguin Books, 2007, 319, quoted in Daniel Rhodes, “An Anarchist Psychotherapy: Ecopsychology and a Pedagogy of Life,” (PhD diss., University of North Carolina, 2008).
 See Hans Schmid, “Psychopathen, Psychiater und Psychonauten (Teil 1: “Besondere Verhörmethoden” im Kalten Krieg) [Psychopaths, psychiatrists and psychopaths (Part 1: Specific Interrogation techniques of the Cold War],” (German) Telepolis, 8 August 2009, accessed 27 August 2012.http://www.heise.de/tp/artikel/30/30803/1.html, my translation.
 Jonathan Lewy, “The Drug Policy of the Third Reich,” Social History of Alcohol and Drugs, 22:2, 2008, 157.
 Ibid. 158.
 Scmid, “Psychopathen, Psychiater und Psychonauten,” Telepolis, 2009.
 Ibid., Also see Werner Pieper, Nazis On Speed 1:Drogen im 3. Reich, Löhrbach : Pieper & The Grüne Kraft, 2002. Relying on entries from Wolfram Sievers’ diaries and Nuremberg testimony, Peter Levenda has hypothesized that similar experiments had taken place in Auschwitz under the authority of the Ahnenerbe, the German think tank founded by Heinrich Himmler: See Peter Levenda, Unholy Alliance: A History of Nazi Involvement with the Occult, London: Continuum, 2002, [PAGE].
 Marks, The Search for the “Manchurian Candidate”, 5 (fn. 5).
 Nichols, “Hallucinogens,” 137.
 See Nicholas Langlitz, “Ceci n’est pas une psychose. Toward a Historical Epistemology of Model Psychoses,” Biosocieties, Volume 1, 2006, 159-180 (161); Beringer, “Der Meskalinrausch (The Mescaline Inebriation),”, 35-97 (quoted in Langlitz, “Psychose,”, 162). Levenda has suggested that the purpose of the Dachau mescaline experiments stemmed from the longstanding aim of Himmler, beginning with an assassination attempt on Hitler in 1941, to develop a method by which loyalty and innocence within the Nazi ranks could be tested: Levenda, Unholy Alliance, [PAGE].
 Marks, The Search for the “Manchurian Candidate”, 5.