In 1944, Finnish soldier Aimo Koivunen separated from his unit and survived for weeks inside the Arctic Circle without food or shelter – fueled by a dose of meth large enough for 30 men. man.
During World War II, Finland thwarted the Soviet invasion, allied with Germany to invade the Soviet Union, and then fought against Germany with the Allies. And soldier Aimo Koivunen’s methamphetamine-using survival story is the breathtaking embodiment of that chaos.
While fleeing a Soviet ambush, Koivunen took a near-lethal overdose of methamphetamine. The drugs helped Koivunen cover hundreds of miles of ground – but they nearly killed him in the process.
Aimo Koivunen’s Fatal Ski Patrol
Heavy snow covered the ground in Lapland on March 18, 1944. Finnish soldiers fought for their country for more than four years of almost non-stop war. Deep behind the enemy lines, a Finnish ski patrol was surrounded by the Soviet Union.
Aimo Koivunen led Finnish skiers through the thick, unspoiled snow. Koivunen’s comrades asked him to cut the tracks for the remaining soldiers to pass by. The exhausting work quickly drained Koivunen – until he remembered the pack of pills in his pocket.
Back in Finland, the team received a ration of a stimulant called Pervitin. The pills would give soldiers an explosive burst of energy, the commanders promised. Koivunen was initially resistant to taking the drug. But his people are in desperate circumstances.
So Koivunen reached into his pocket and pulled out the stimulant.
By chance, Koivunen brought along supplies of Pervitin for his entire team. Still on the run from the Soviet Union, through the snow, Koivunen managed to stuff a pill into his mouth. Thick gloves meant to protect him from arctic conditions prevented him from taking a single dose of Pervitin.
Instead of stopping to analyze the recommended dosage, Aimo Koivunen took 30 pills of pure methamphetamine.
Immediately, Koivunen started skiing much faster. His lineup initially matched his pace. And the Soviet Union backed off, unable to keep up with the new pace.
After that, Koivunen’s vision blurred and he lost consciousness. But he did not stop skiing. During the power outage, Koivunen continued to cut the snow.
Aimo Koivunen covered 100 kilometers of snow while on meth. And when he regained consciousness, he was still affected.
His team had fallen behind, leaving him alone. That was not good for Koivunen, who had no ammunition or food. All he has is a skateboard and a blast of meth-induced energy.
So Koivunen continued skiing.
He soon learns that the Soviets did not give up the chase. During his long voyage, Koivunen repeatedly encountered Soviet troops.
He also slipped over a landmine. Accidentally, the mine exploded causing a fire. Somehow, Koivunen survived the explosion and the fire.
However, the mine left Koivunen injured and delirious. He lay on the ground, momentarily unconscious, waiting for help. Unless he moves soon, freezing temperatures will kill Koivunen. Motivated by meth, the Finnish soldier returned to his skateboard and kept going.
As days passed, Koivunen’s appetite gradually returned. While the enormous dose of meth quelled the soldier’s desire to eat, hunger eventually relieved his condition.
Winter in Lapland leaves several options for the soldier. It gnaws on pine needles to relieve hunger. One day, Koivunen caught a Siberian jay and ate it alive.
Somehow, Aimo Koivunen survived sub-zero temperatures, Soviet patrols, and an overdose of methamphetamine. He finally reached Finnish territory, where compatriots rushed their countrymen to the hospital.
By the end of his ordeal, Koivunen had covered 400 kilometers of territory – or 250 miles. His weight dropped to just 94 pounds. And his heart rate remains at a staggering 200 beats per minute.
Amphetamine use during World War II
Aimo Koivunen wasn’t the only World War II soldier fueled by performance-enhancing drugs. The Nazi regime also relied on drugs like methamphetamine to give its soldiers an advantage.
In the days before the Nazis invaded France, commanders distributed Pervitin to millions of soldiers.
Berlin’s very own Temmler pharmaceutical company developed Pervitin in 1938. The pill, essentially an swallowable form of meth, cured depression, the pharmaceutical company claims. For a short time, Germans could buy “energy pills” over the counter.
Then Otto Ranke, a German doctor, arrested