“Mein Fuhrer wants you to Photograph his Dog.”
If I had been around in the First World War, this could have been the type of conversation I had with a couple of SS guards early one morning.
Stop for a moment and imagine the scene.
Standing in front of you is a man, 5ft 9in tall, dresses in a crisp pressed grey tunic with matching trousers, knee high black patent leather boots glinting in the sunlight. A long drawn face, sporting a fine mustache. Beneath the hair swept across his brow is the cold empty stare of one of the most notable dictators of the 20th Century – Adolf Hilter.
What could easily be described in a scene from a the RSPCA’s worst nightmare, Adolf Hitler was in fact, behind the façade, a great dog lover.
Hitler loved the loyalty and obedience of dogs, and through his lifetime owned a number of different breeds.
The German Shepherd breed became his breed of choice, with the most notable of his family being Blondi, gifted to him by Martin Bormann in 1941. Blondi was to stay by Hilters’ side right through the retreat into the Führerbunker located underneath the garden of the Reich Chancellery on 16 January 1945.
Hitler’s affection for his beloved Blondi extended to allowing her to sleep in the bed beside him in the bunker. The love of German Shepherd’s however didn’t reach his wife Eva Braun, who is known to have two Scottish Terriers, named Negus and Stasi.
It seems that like most men, the dog was the love of his life, Eva is known to have been jealous of the attention Hitler devoted to her and it alleged to kick her beneath the dining table.
Dog’s soon became a status symbol amongst the Third Reich, as their loyalty and obedience, showed them beside Hitler, the Wolf.
Can you find it in your heart to rescue a dog?
Well it seems that is how Hitlers’ dog ownership started. Again, not a catchline we are likely to see on rescue charity advert’s – ‘If Hitler can rescue a dog, so can you..’ But it seems his first pet was a stray white Fox Terrier, found during World War One, called Fuchsl.
He later went on to own a succession of German Shepherds, with names like Prinz, Muckl, Blondi, Blonda and Bella.
It’s said that Hitler was so scared of his beloved Blondi being captured by the Russians, he had his personal physician put her to sleep.
So, whilst I wasn’t around to photograph Hitler and his dogs, I really am glad that somebody was, as this adds a really interesting perspective to the history of the 20th Century.
Hitler was so impressed and captivated by the intelligence of dogs, that he truly believed they could help him win the war. We’ll look at this a bit more in another blog post.