Okay, I knew the Nazis were into all sorts of pseudoscience in pursuit of their crazy theories (and just to keep Schiklgruber happy) , but setting up a research institute to teach them to speak (real words, not “arf!”), read, and even read minds?
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.’
That last, I think, qualifies as an understatement.
Of course, it would explain that air of dictatorial authority our dogs exhibited whenever they wanted a cookie. Hmmm…
And while this is yet another example of a what a bunch of fruitcakes the Nazis were*, it’s also marvelous material for a “weird alternate history” roleplaying game. Not that I’ve ever considered such a thing…
Click through for more Nazi weirdness.
*Albeit, armed, sociopathic, and extremely dangerous fruitcakes.
h/t Moe Lane