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Cyanide pill
CyanideEva
Eva with a cyanide pill

Composition

Concentrated solution of potassium cyanide (KCN) in a glass vial

Function

Poison
Suicide pill

Cyanide pills are lethally poisonous drugs preferred by the Nazis to commit suicide, and in one case, murder. This was the path taken by Adolf Hitler and several others. The pills are featured several times in Downfall.

Traditionally, lethal pills are oval capsules, approximately two centimeters long, consisting of a thin-walled glass ampule covered in brown rubber (to protect against accidental breakage) and filled with a concentrated solution of potassium cyanide, KCN. It is important to note that purpose-made lethal pills (of the rubber-coated type) are never swallowed whole. Instead, they are to be crushed between the user's molars to release the fast-acting poison contained within.

Their main advantage is that, whereas a concealed pistol will quickly be discovered and confiscated when someone is overpowered and searched, a small pill more easily evades detection.

In Downfall

Himmler gave Hitler a moderate supply of cyanide pills. Eva Braun decided that she would commit suicide with a pill rather than blow her brains out with a gun. Traudl and Gerda also asked a pill for themselves. As Hitler gave them out, he held Traudl's hands and wished he'd have a better birthday present to offer.

In order to test the effectiveness of the pills, Hitler decided to test one of them on his dog, Blondi, with the help of his dog handler Fritz Tornow and Dr. Werner Haase. The dog died nearly instantly. He became completely inconsolable afterwards.

Some time after Hitler's death, Magda Goebbels with Ludwig Stumpfegger's help feed her children a sedative in the guise of a drink to put them unconscious, but not without Helga struggling. After the children went under the influence she proceed to administer the pill one by one, and they gasped as the poison took effect. Goebbels just lingers outside the room, fully knowing of what's happening.

During Wilhelm Mohnke's breakthrough of Berlin, Constanze Manziarly is shown staring at a cyanide pill capsule, possibly contemplating suicide. Whether she took it is unknown, as she was never seen with the group afterwards, and on official accounts she simply "went missing".

After learning that the German forces had surrendered, Walther Hewel is shown clearly inserting the pill into his mouth and crushing it while simultaneously shooting himself in the head, along with Stehr.

Known casualties

In parodies

In The GoebbelMan, the pills are depicted as caffeine pills, which Hitler distributes to people to avoid being attacked by the eponymous creature that said to attack people in their sleep.

Gallery

Trivia

  • As the 20 July Plotters were making their move with Operation Valkyrie, Joseph Goebbels concealed a cyanide pill in his cheeks just as Major Otto-Ernst Remer of Berlin's Reserve Army division were about to arrest him. He almost became one of its casualties. This is depicted in the 2008 film Valkyrie.
  • It is possible that the real Hitler tried to use a pill to poison himself when he died, but it didn't work, so he just shot himself.

See also

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