• Germany's news in English

Nazi plan to teach dogs to talk uncovered

The Local · 27 May 2011, 17:08

Published: 27 May 2011 17:08 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Bondeson, a researcher at Britain's Cardiff University, stumbled upon the information in German periodicals while conducting research in Berlin for his book about dogs.

But the quest for loquacious canines didn’t actually start with the Nazis, Bondeson told The Local, but years earlier with figures like Clever Hans, an infamous German horse who was supposedly able to figure out complex math problems.

Although the horse was proven a fraud – it was shown that instead of solving problems, he was responding to suggestion from his master – the idea that animals could possess surprising intelligence became increasing popular among Germans.

Rolf the dog – an intellectual Airdale terrier who could supposedly tap out poetry with his paws and demanded to fight in World War I – pushed the hype to new levels.

By the time Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, an entire movement of animal psychology had been established that fit well with the image of the Nazi leader doting on his German Shepherd Blondi.

“Part of the Nazi concept was that a good Nazi was a friend of animals,” Bondeson said. “So, for example, when the Jews were deported from certain German cities, nobody bothered about the Jews, but there were many letters in the newspaper saying ‘well what about these poor doggies that the Jews had owned’?”

By the late 1930s, Nazi patrons were funding research into getting dogs to talk, although the idea occasionally attracted controversy. One woman courted trouble when her dog was reported to say something like “Mein Führer” and the fascists apparently were angered by a Finnish man teaching his mutt to raise its arm in response to the phrase “Heil Hitler!”

But Bondeson said an animal language school was eventually founded where dogs were meant to be trained to communicate by tapping their paws or imitating the human voice. The school even received praise from Hitler himself, according to the researcher.

The school was ultimately unsuccessful, although the proprietor claimed the dogs were trying talk, Bondeson said.

Bondeson said it’s still unclear what the Nazis hoped to achieve with the odd programme, although it clearly received support from highly placed party leaders.

“It is not known yet, due to the scarcity of original sources,” Bondeson said, who mused in his book about the possibility of “super-intelligent canine stormtroopers.”

But he admitted the Nazis were far from developing an army of dogs.

“These were like early experiments,” he said. “It was more an experiment to see if it could be done at all.”

After World War II, the idea that animals could talk largely faded away in Germany. And it’s clear that the idea that whole idea was either a great scam or an example of people deluding themselves, Bondeson said.

“Modern research has pointed out that dogs are much more clever than people give them credit for. But still, dogs have no business writing poetry, learning foreign languages or speculating about God,” he said.

Story continues below…

”Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities” is available in bookstores in the United States and Britain and on websites such as amazon.com.

Moises Mendoza



The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

17:24 May 27, 2011 by DOZ
I guess the Dog is still relished by the Nazi's in North America, since I was stalked by Dog Owners my whole Life. Definetley explains the mentality of Canadians and their love affair of using the word Nazi, and using Dogs to harrass and persecute.
17:27 May 27, 2011 by harcourt
But surely they did - weren't they called SS and Gestapo
17:41 May 27, 2011 by donniaahumanoid
Hitler was a vegetarian who loved animals. No wonder they tried to teach dogs how to talk. Notice how it faded out right after World War II ended?
18:03 May 27, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
This is one of the most ridiculous things ever. But because it was the Nazis who were experimenting with it, it's all of a sudden of great interest (well, enough for someone to write a book over it). In any case, the Nazis had way more interesting crazies, like those archaeology expeditions to Tibet and South America looking for traces of "Aryans" to justify their occult obsessions. They spent a lot of money on that one!
18:17 May 27, 2011 by 9900lawre
They did succeed! The dog could say its own name over and over again!

rolf rolf rolf

So as you can see it's true!
18:24 May 27, 2011 by bramblebush
"But still, dogs have no business writing poetry, learning foreign languages or speculating about God"

They have more sense than to speculate about "god", they speculate about "dog"...
20:51 May 27, 2011 by Keefy
"They did succeed! The dog could say its own name over and over again!

rolf rolf rolf"

OK, Rolf, that's a good start...now, what do you get on top of a house?


Brilliant Rolf - now, what's one divided by two?


In Elizabethan times, what did people wear around their necks?


What do people say if they accidentally sit on a sheet of emery paper?


Very good, Rolf - we'll give you a bone to chew on whilst we consider your place in our new takeover of ze world.
21:43 May 27, 2011 by vossy
The Nazi's succeeded didn't they - what about Mickey and Minnie?

00:12 May 28, 2011 by iseedaftpeople
well I guess all that is just symptomatic of a time when Germany elected a monogonadic clinical psychopath as its leader. Delusion was rife in those times...
01:21 May 28, 2011 by pepsionice
I would imagine that as the Americans arrived....they took the dogs and their trainers to hidden sites in America....where they later taught American dogs to mention "Kennedy" and "Nixon".
13:41 May 28, 2011 by n230099
@ iseedaftpeople:

Well, exactly. The piece seems to suggest that this was a 'nazi' thing. Germany elected these knotheads and now make fun of them as if they came from Mars. This was Germany. The headline should read "We tried to teach dogs to talk"
14:13 May 28, 2011 by LarsBar
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
22:17 May 28, 2011 by PierceArrow
Keefy and 9900lawre, those were good ones, and I am adding one more question for Rolf.

Which American baseball player held the home run record before Hank Aaron?


But seriously, volken, Nazis were animal rights wackos, and the people most outspoken against Hitler were Christians such as Martin Niemoeller and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. And that is NO joke!

Read Eric Metaxas' new biography of Bonhoeffe, or Bruce Walker's "The Swastika Against the Cross", to understand the truth.
23:35 May 28, 2011 by 9900lawre
After taking over ze vorld and celebrating his triumph. The morning after he was asked how he felt? Ralf replied....

01:11 May 29, 2011 by FIUMAN
Although, on the surface, this story is amusing it begs to be reminded that this story should instead be read not as amusing but as a testament of the generation it represents. During the Nazi period ideology replaced morality. Instead of filtering the world through a moral or even ethical filter the Germans allowed these norms to be tossed aside and replaced with the filter of National Socialist ideological constructs. Under those constructs if there was a super race they could have a super race of animals too. Under those constructs even dead Jews were to be dug up, their tombstones demolished and erased from the land and from the memory. To me this story is a testament to how debased from morality the German people became and how perverted from professional ethics German science became under the Nazis. It rings as a bell to other civilized countries to examine their past misdeeds for similar events. Tuskegee experiments, Soviet gulags, etc come to mind.
06:24 May 29, 2011 by nepo77
I can see the movie already: Dog Stormtroopers and Paul the Octopus as there prophetic evil leader.
14:49 May 29, 2011 by DavidtheNorseman
I once knew a husky that could say the English word, "river" (Thora rolled her "r"'s a lot but it was totally comprehensible)...that was it's favourite place to go with it's master for a walk. My old Bouvier could understand any of the English words I used that covered the concept of going for a walk, including my using "constitutional"....

Sorry that my comment has nothing to do with Nazi's......(except that that generation was in the past and blaming the current crop of Germans for their sins is silly - go back to 1815 and Blucher and Bulow were helping put down the tyrannt Napoleon....)
17:50 May 29, 2011 by Lisa Rusbridge
Seriously, what did the Nazis think a talking dog would say?? As someone who has had dogs my entire life I'm fairly certain it would be along the lines of: "barking is fun!", "I want another treat", "that hamburger bite was tasty, can I have another?", "no, I'm not moving over on the sofa. too bad for you", "I wish I had thumbs so I could open the fridge door myself", etc., etc., ;-)

01:03 May 30, 2011 by FIUMAN
I just looked at the photo with this article. Is it me or does the dog (Blondi) whose leash Hitler is holding seem VERY skinny? I never noticed this before. You can see bones sticking through the skin....
09:37 May 30, 2011 by Angry Ami
Yo there's a dog on my street here in Berlin that can talk, he goes "auf auf"

auf meaning on, lol, probably looking for the next pee spot, LOL
09:49 May 30, 2011 by wenddiver
Actually, they kind of have it backwards,

Trying to conquer the World is Crazy,

should have stuck to teaching the Dog to talk and weird archeology, which would just make you popular at cocktail parties.
15:43 May 30, 2011 by Gilly58
The dogs name wasn't called Lassie by any chance.
07:16 May 31, 2011 by Sastry.M
We have to differentiate between God,Dog and Man.Anyway God is the highest and hence we start with God. If by mistake God has mis-spelled his words in reverse order and appeared live on earth he has to spend his life sniffing ground for food and guidance. Because Man also appeared on earth with a mindful genius of discrimination and workable intelligence next to God, Dog immediately befriended with man keeping up faith with his master and wagging tail symbolically by greeting. Thus God kept his faith even as a dog in the Truth of his own self as part of His Creation. Then where did Man falter even with the best attributes of His Creation and faithful friendliness shown as a Dog?

It is because human form is symbolic of "Mind" and hence is called as 'Manushya' in sanskrit,'Mensch' in german and simply 'Man" in english.from the root 'Man" meaning mind.The problem with 'mind' of man with all of its superlative attributes is ,however, it entertains a 'benefit of doubt' because of choice of decision over bi polar concepts. Thus 'faith' of both god and dog are misunderstood by man both in simple righteous conduct as well as religious concepts.

Finally it makes no difference whoever seek to make dogs speak since they always keep up their faith and mankind falter with doubt.
17:20 May 31, 2011 by Keefy
"Seriously, what did the Nazis think a talking dog would say??"

For you, ze warrrrr iss overrrrrr...
22:52 June 1, 2011 by finanzdoktor
@FIUMAN: You're right. I thought it was a possible distortion in the photograph. Maybe Blondi was one a vegetarian diet, too?
Today's headlines
These are Germany's top ten universities
The new library of Freiburg University. Photo: Jörgens.mi / Wikimedia Commons

These are the best universities in all of Germany - at least according to one ranking.

Introducing Swabians - 'the Scots of Germany'
Photo: DPA

These Southern Germans have quite a reputation in the rest of the country.

Woman sues dentist over job rejection for headscarf
Photo: DPA

A dentist in Stuttgart is being taken to court by a woman whom he rejected for a job as his assistant on the basis that she wears a Muslim headscarf.

Isis suspect charged with scouting Berlin attack sites
Photo: DPA

German federal prosecutors said Thursday they had brought charges against a 19-year-old Syrian man accused of having scouted targets in Berlin for a potential attack by the Isis terror group.

Berlin Holocaust memorial could not be built now: creator
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

The architect of the Berlin Holocaust memorial has said that, if he tried to build the monument again today, it would not be possible due to rising xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Germany and the United States.

'Liberal' Germany stopping Europe's 'slide into barbarism'
Ian Kershaw. Photo: DPA

Europe is not slipping into the same dark tunnel of hate and nationalism that it did in the 1930s - mainly thanks to Germany - one of the continent's leading historians has said.

Eurowings strike to hit 40,000 passengers
Travelers impacted by the strike on Thursday wait at Cologne Bonn airport. Photo: DPA.

The day-long strike by a Eurowings cabin crew union is expected to impact some 40,000 passengers on Thursday as hundreds of flights have been cancelled.

Deutsche Bank reports surprise quarter billion profit
Photo: DPA

Troubled German lender Deutsche Bank reported Thursday a surprise €256-million profit in the third quarter, compared with a loss of more than six billion in the same period last year.

US 'warned Merkel' against Chinese takeover of tech firm
Aixtron HQ. Photo: DPA

The German government withdrew its approval for a Chinese firm to purchase Aixtron, which makes semiconductor equipment, after the US secret services raised security concerns, a German media report said Wednesday.

Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd