The Forward recently reported on the heroic exploits of Wojtek, the Nazi-fighting Polish bear. Now comes belated news of another animal who antagonized the Germans in World War II.
Jackie, a mutt belonging to Finnish pharmaceutical tycoon Tor Burg, was trained to imitate Hitler by his Nazi-hating owners, according to newly released documents cited by the Associated Press. The Nazi regime was so angry about Jackie “that it started an obsessive campaign” against Burg and his German born-wife, AP reports. In the middle of the war, the Foreign Office in Berlin commanded its diplomats in the Nazi-friendly Finland to gather evidence on the dog, and even devised plans to destroy Burg’s pharmaceutical wholesale company, the article explains.
Researchers at the German Foreign Office uncovered a cache of documents and diplomatic cables concerning Jackie, according to the BBC. In one exchange, dated January 29, 1941, German Vice Consul Willy Erkelenz in Helsinki wrote that “a witness, who does not want to be named, said he saw and heard how Borg’s dog reacted to the command ‘Hitler’ by raising its paw,” the BBC reports. Borg was interrogated by the Germans on suspicion of insulting Hitler; he denied ever calling the dog by the German dictator’s name, says the AP, but admitted that his wife called the dog Hitler. The Finnish merchant ensured the Nazi diplomats that he never did anything “that could be seen as an insult against the German Reich,” according to AP. The diplomats in Helsinki wrote back to Berlin that “Borg, even though he claims otherwise, is not telling the truth.” L’affaire Jackie took on epic proportions, according to the BBC, with documents flying between the Foreign Office, the Economy Ministry, the Chancellory of the Nazi government and German diplomats in then Nazi-friendly Finland.
In March 1941, says the BBC, the German Chancellory decided that “considering that the circumstances could not be solved completely, it is not necessary to press charges” against the Borgs. It was unclear whether Adolf Hitler had been involved in the saga himself.