Nazi scientists tried to breed a secret army of “educated” dogs that could speak, read and write, according to a new book, Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities by Dr. Bonedson.
Of the experiments conducted by Hitler’s henchmen in their search for the weapon that could help them win the war, the activities of the Tier-Sprechschule may be the most bizarre.
Dogs sent for training to the Animal Speech School, near Hanover, included an Airedale terrier called Rolf who, it was claimed, was able to spell by tapping his paw on a board; each letter of the alphabet was represented by a certain number of taps. Rolf was said to have discussed religion, learnt foreign languages, written poetry and once asked a visiting noblewoman: “Can you wag your tail?”
A German pointer named Don impressed his handlers by apparently imitating a human voice to bark: “Hungry! Give me cakes.” Another was said to bark “Mein Fuhrer” when asked who Adolf Hitler was.
an Bondeson, a historian at Cardiff University, claims the Nazis believed dogs were almost as intelligent as humans and only physical limitations prevented them from interacting as equals. Experiments were carried out to find evidence of telepathy between dog and man.
The animals were being trained to act as guards at concentration camps. However, Dr Bondeson’s research for his book, Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities, found no evidence that the German army ever found a tactical use for its regiment of educated hounds.
The Tier-Sprechschule was set up in the 1930s by a woman called Margarethe Schmitt. “Germany had numerous ‘new animal psychologists’ who believed dogs were nearly as intelligent as humans, and capable of abstract thinking and communication,” Dr Bondeson said.
They found Germany’s rulers receptive to their ideas. “Part of the Nazi philosophy was that there was a strong bond between humans and nature.”
Hitler was known to be a dog lover and had two German shepherds called Blondi and Bella.
The Germans saw canines as being almost as intelligent as humans and tried to train them to ‘speak’, read and spell, a university academic claims. They even conducted experiments in man-to-dog telepathy.
Howl Hitler: The dictator is pictured here with his two German Shepherds Blondi and Bella. He famously killed Blondi moments before committing suicide in his bunker in 1945
Hitler, a well-known dog lover, hoped the animals would learn to communicate with their SS masters, and supported a special dog school set up to teach them to talk.
Nazi officials recruited so-called educated dogs from all over Germany and trained them to tap out signals using their paws.
Some were said to have been able to imitate the human voice, with one apparently uttering the words ‘Mein Fuhrer’ when asked who Adolf Hitler was. Another was said to have ‘written’ poetry.
The Germans hoped to use the animals for the war effort, such as getting them to work alongside the SS and guard concentration camps.
The experiments are reported in research by academic Dr Jan Bondeson into ‘unique and amazing dogs in history’.
Top dog: Dachschund ‘Kurwenal’, left, who had a visit from a troop of 28 uniformed youths from the Nazi animal protection organisation on his birthday, and Rolf, right, the speaking dog
HITLER’S LOVE OF DOGS
Blondi (1941 – 30 April 1945) was Adolf Hitler’s German Shepherd, given to him as a gift in 1941 by Martin Bormann.
Blondi stayed with Hitler even after his move to an underground bunker in January 1945.
Hitler named one of her puppies ‘Wolf’, his favorite nickname and the meaning of his own first name, Adolf, and he began to train her.
The dictator was apparently very fond of Blondi and kept her by his side and she even slept in his bedroom.
He bought Bella to keep her company and grew fond of a stray Bull Terrier named ‘Fuchsl’.
Before Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945, he ordered physician Werner Haase to test pills to help with his suicide on Blondi, fearing that these pills were fake.
He took his own life shortly after she died.
Dr Bondeson, of Cardiff University, visited Berlin where he scoured obscure periodicals to build up an account of the more out-of-this world Nazi ideas. Hitler himself had two German Shepherds called Blondi and Bella. He killed Blondi moments before committing suicide in his bunker in 1945.
The dog school was called the Tier-Sprechschule ASRA and was based near Hanover. Led by headmistress Margarethe Schmitt, it was set up in the 1930s and continued throughout the war years.
Rolf, an Airedale terrier, reportedly ‘spoke’ by tapping his paw against a board, each letter of the alphabet being represented by a certain number of taps. He was said to have speculated about religion, learnt foreign languages, written poetry and asked a visiting noblewoman: ‘Could you wag your tail?’
The patriotic dog even expressed a wish to join the army – because he disliked the French.
A Dachshund named Kurwenal was said to speak using a different number of barks for each letter, and told his biographer he would be voting for Hindenburg.
And a German pointer named Don imitated a human voice to bark: ‘Hungry! Give me cakes.’
Dr Bondeson, whose book Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet Of Canine Curiosities is out now, said: ‘It is absolutely extraordinary stuff.
‘There were some very strange experiments going on in wartime Germany, with regard to dog-human communication.’
Last month, declassified British files showed the Nazis planned to leave poisoned sausages, chocolate and coffee where Allied troops would find them if they invaded Germany.