So that’s what “master race” meant.
A new book contends the Nazis attempted “to breed an army of educated dogs that could read, write and talk,” Time reports under the surely unprecedented headline “How Nazi Scientists Tried to Create an Army of Talking Dogs.”
In Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities, Cardiff University historian Jan Bondeson “mines obscure German periodicals” to discover “scientists envisioned a day when dogs would serve alongside German troops, and perhaps free up SS officers by guarding concentration camps.”
Hitler even set up a Tier-Sprechschule – “Animal Talking School” – near Hanover, Time reports, and recruited “educated dogs” from throughout the country.
“Teachers claimed a number of incredible findings,” says Time. An Airedale terrier named Rolf who could spell by tapping his paw on a board “mused on religion, learned foreign languages and even asked a noblewoman, ‘Can you wag your tail?’” Rolf apparently told his German masters he wanted to serve in the German army because he disliked the French. Another canine barked “Mein Fuhrer” when asked to describe Hitler, Time reports. “And Don, a German pointer, is said to have imitated a human voice to bark, ‘Hungry! Give me cakes!’ in German.”
“Part of the Nazi philosophy was that there was a strong bond between humans and nature. They believed a good Nazi should be an animal friend,” author Bondeson tells time. Perversely, when the Nazis started interning Jews, “newspapers were flooded with outraged letters from Germans wondering what had happened to the pets they left behind.”
After causing a stir at the Cannes Film Festival this morning, Danish director Lars von Trier has issued an apology, clarifying that he is a weirdo — but not a Hitler-admiring weirdo.
The festival’s organizers also issued a press release, saying they were disturbed von Trier’s remarks — apparently poorly delivered jokes — that “I understand Hitler” and “I am a Nazi.”
The press release included von Trier’s apology, in which he wrote, “I am not anti-Semitic or racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a Nazi.”
The famously eccentric von Trier, the winner of Cannes prizes in past years for films including “Dancer in the Dark” and “Breaking the Waves,” made today’s comments after being asked about his family’s German background. (The director himself was born in Denmark in 1956.)
“For a long time I was a Jew and I was happy to be a Jew. Then I met Susanne Bier and I wasn’t so happy,” he said, referring to the Danish-Jewish filmmaker who won an Oscar earlier this year for the Danish movie “In a Better World.”
As The Shmooze has already observed, the people of the United Kingdom have a habit of seeing Hitler in odd places — from the facade of Welsh houses to their own pet cats.
Now a small-town politician has spotted the Nazi leader — or at least his mustache — on one of his own political posters, leading to a minor controversy in Pitcombe, Somerset, a hamlet west of London.
Town councillor Mark Beech complained to police about the poster, which featured his own face and was later adorned with a Hitler mustache by an unknown vandal. Using the Public Order Act as justification, investigators made “house-to-house inquiries” at each of the town’s 20 residences, the Telegraph reported, an investigation derided by locals as “an outrageous waste of police and taxpayers’ money.”
Extremism makes strange bedfellows. The Jewish Defense League is trying to rally Toronto Jews to protest against the city’s Pride parade committee by comparing gay people… to Nazis.
Ironically — as the Forward reported in January — a right-wing fanatic named Scott Lively had floated the notion that Nazis were “a homosexual, pagan cult” in a widely discredited book.
This time around, Toronto lesbian/gay newspaper Xtra reports, the JDL is using the comparison to lure Toronto Jews to a demonstration at Pride Toronto’s offices. JDL’s Facebook invitation asserts, in part, that “during the Nazi era, many high-ranking Nazis were gay,” Xtra reports.
A group of Holocaust survivors is accusing an Austrian bakery of criminally bad taste.
The MKOe Mauthausen Committee has filed a complaint against Tortendesign, a bakery outside Vienna that frosts swastikas, SS symbols and babies giving the Nazi salute on its cakes. The designs violate Austrian laws that prohibit the display of Nazi symbols in public, the group alleges.
The committee’s call for tort reform — sorry! we couldn’t resist! — may fail, however, because Tortendesign does not show the symbols openly. Instead, the designs appear in a special “adult section” of its cake catalogue, in which customers can also find sex-themed cakes. “The question is whether a picture in a catalogue is ‘public display,’ ” a representative of the public prosecutor told Austrian media. “If it had been placed in the shop window, the matter would be much clearer.”
The tony beach town of Amagansett, Long Island, got some unusual summer visitors in 1942. According to declassified British documents released yesterday, a Nazi U-boat carrying German spies landed on an Amagansett beach on a June morning — with Jews as targets.
Metro reports “the secret agents came here to leave bombs in suitcases at Jewish-owned shops, as well as to disseminate anti-war propaganda, according to officials.” To enhance the cloak-and-dagger elements of the mission, “the agents chosen for the mission were former U.S. residents returning to their native Germany. They had received training in ‘sabotage school’ there, where they learned to assemble explosives,” Metro further notes.
Hitler’s girlfriend apparently loved a film focused on the struggle to maintain Jewish tradition.
A recently released photo now making the rounds online shows Eva Braun in 1937, in an image the dictator’s mistress titled “Al Jolson and Me.” Internet chatter about the picture has focused on Braun’s use of blackface, citing it as further evidence of the Nazi leadership’s racism.
But what online commenters have largely neglected is that the image is a tribute to “The Jazz Singer,” the 1927 Hollywood classic about Jakie Rabinowitz (Al Jolson), a Jewish man disowned by his family after he pursues a career in jazz rather than follow in the professional footsteps of his father, a cantor. The first feature-length “talkie,” the movie depicts Jewish life on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, including a Yom Kippur service and songs titled “Kol Nidre” and “Kaddish.”
So much for James Cameron pioneering the 3D phenomenon. It turns out Hitler was about 70 years ahead of the curve.
While conducting research for an upcoming film project in Berlin’s Federal Archives, Australian director Phillipe Mora discovered two 1936 black and white propaganda films shot in 3D. Born out of pre-war Nazi Germany, they were created by an independent studio for Joseph Goebbel’s Third Reich propaganda ministry.
“The films are shot on 35mm – apparently with a prism in front of two lenses,” the documentary filmmaker told Variety. “The quality of the films is fantastic. The Nazis were obsessed with recording everything and every single image was controlled – it was all part of how they gained control of the country and its people.”
Jesse James is one mixed-up guy. Just days after photos emerged of him smiling as a passenger in his car gives a [Nazi salute] (http://blogs.forward.com/the-shmooze/135003/), news broke that Sandra Bullock’s philandering ex-husband recently visited Israel.
James — who was previously snapped wearing a nazi cap and giving a “Sieg Heil” salute — visited the Jewish state for an upcoming episode of his History Channel show “Jesse James Blacksmith.” During the episode, James, who is the CEO of West Coast Choppers, studies under the tutelage of Uri Hofi, an Israeli man known as “the world’s greatest blacksmith.” (Hofi does his world-renowned blacksmithing from Kibbutz Ein Shemer in the Shomron.)
Jesse James — the much-reviled, philandering ex of Sandra Bullock — sure looks happy in photos that appear in Us magazine this week. Unfortunately, he’s grinning as a passenger in his car gives a Nazi salute.
Us, which last spring published a 2004 snapshot of James donning a Nazi cap and giving a “Sieg Heil” salute, says “new, similarly disturbing images involving James [were] posted on Facebook by ex-employees of his company, West Coast Choppers.” In one photo, “James grins and sits in a convertible alongside a pal” who gives the infamous straight-arm salute; “another image features a children’s book character, Flat Stanley,” dressed as Hitler, Us reports.
The Holocaust, for better or worse, turns up at the Academy Awards as often as Meryl Streep. The genocide has been so ubiquitous in recent years — in movies ranging from “The Reader” to “Inglourious Basterds” — that next month’s Oscars will be notable partly for the absence of films that address it.
That hasn’t stopped the subject from turning up in pre-Oscar campaigning, however. In an e-mail sent out after Sunday’s Golden Globes, an anonymous writer criticized one of this year’s front-runners, “The King’s Speech,” for “largely “gloss[ing] over the Nazi-sympathising past” of the movie’s protagonist, England’s King George VI.
For a Jewish visitor to Poland, is it moral to steal souvenirs that may have themselves been looted from Jewish homes during the Holocaust?
Not according to yesterday’s Ethicist column in the New York Times Magazine. “Traveling in Poland, I visited antique stores offering Jewish items — menorahs, mezuzas — that seemed more than 65 years old,” wrote Randy Malamud of Atlanta. “[I] found myself unable to pay for what was probably stolen property. Part of me wishes I had stolen (liberated?) some of them. Would that have been justified?” In his response, Ethicist scribe Randy Cohen quoted Marilyn Henry, a Jerusalem Post columnist who “has written much about such sad relics.” Cohen advised that “while the items may have been looted during the Nazi era, they may have been treated as legally ‘abandoned’ when the family was deported; they may have been sold at fire-sale prices by the original owner/family to raise funds to flee; they may have been held with the best of intentions by neighbors in anticipation that a Jewish family would return, and the family did not return.”
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.
Gay people were behind the rise of the Nazi party during World War II. And now, they’re trying to suppress a book about their role.
If you believe the right-wing web site World Net Daily, this isn’t wingnut fiction, but historical fact. And independent-media site AlterNet is reporting that World Net Daily is not only continuing to sell “The Pink Swastika” — a widely discredited book promoting the gay-Nazi “theory” — but is capitalizing on recent controversy “by claiming that the gay community is trying to silence the book’s ‘findings.’”
The Anti-Defamation League once again looked to make an imprint on gaming culture by declaring a new Holocaust-themed, first-person shooter video game inappropriate. The game, called Sonderkommando Revolt, is set during the October 1944 Auschwitz uprising, which resulted in the death of over 400 Sonderkommando, Jewish concentration camp workers involved in the perpetration of Nazi crimes.
“Perhaps well intentioned in its creation, [the video game’s] execution and imagery are horrific and inappropriate,” an ADL spokesperson told video game blog Kotaku. “The Holocaust should be off-limits for video games.”
With offices in Toronto, Buenos Aires and Paris, the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center keeps a vigilant eye on global anti-Semitism. And thanks to a wide and ardent network of supporters, its reach extends to the unlikeliest of places, like Japanese discount retail store Don Quijote Co.
In a letter sent Monday to company executives, the Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, petitioned that Don Quijote “immediately remove” Nazi soldier party costumes from its shelves after they were spotted by a member. The costume includes a black jacket and swastika armband. The packaging features a cartoonish Adolf Hitler in Nazi salute; “Heil Hitler” is written in Japanese.
It seems to have become a monthly ritual: A trove of never-before-seen Nazi memorabilia goes up for auction somewhere in suburban Britain. This time, it’s a collection of “previously unpublished photographs of Adolf Hitler” taken by his personal photographer before the start of World War II, according to the Scotsman newspaper.
The snaps are set to go under the gavel January 18 at JP Humbert, an auction house in Towcester, Northamptonshire, UK. The company’s web site euphemistically refers to the lot as “Specialist – Militaria”. “We’ve got somewhere around 800 negatives and maybe 600 stills, some from these negatives and other stills that don’t have a negative that they were developed from,” auctioneer Jonathan Humbert told the Scotsman. Heinrich Hoffmann, der Fuhrer’s photographer, is believed to have passed on the collection himself to an unnamed “elderly gentleman who I understand used to live in Germany,” Humbert said.
A 36-year-old German man is probably experiencing an acute case of tattoo regret today.
After seeing Nazi imagery emblazoned on the man’s arm, a Jewish doctor who was preparing to operate on him left the operating theater and had another doctor complete the procedure, English-language German news site TheLocal.de reports. News reports didn’t specify what kind of surgery the 36-year-old man required.
The patient, in the city of Paderborn in North Rhine-Westphalia, “had a graphic on his arm of a swastika and the Bundesadler (Imperial Eagle), the German national symbol adopted by the Nazi party,” TheLocal said. The eagle was a German national symbol long before the Third Reich, TheLocal said.
Underground art is getting new exposure in Berlin. A trove of sculptures labeled as “degenerate” by the Nazis — and buried after the Reich confiscated the offending work from galleries — will go on display this week after an excavation turned them up near Berlin’s city hall, the UK Guardian reports.
The collection of 10 terracotta and bronze statues were found during subway construction work in southwestern Berlin; diggers discovered twelve works, but two were too badly damaged to go on display, the Guardian said. Berlin’s mayor, Klaus Wowereit, called the discovery a “small miracle” that “shows a lot about the dark times of the city”, the BBC reported — and described the works as “witnesses to Nazi lunacy,” according to the Guardian.
Not to be the bearer of bad news, but if you enjoyed a breakfast of bread, marmalade and coffee this morning you have something in common with Adolf Hitler.
A set of previously classified documents released by the British National Archives last week reveal some rather dull details about the Nazi dictator’s life. We already knew Hitler had an artistic bent and enjoyed Hollywood movies, but the archival papers, citing intelligence information gathered from a 19-year-old Austrian P.O.W., shed light on the Fuhrer’s daily routine. The Austrian, called S.S. Schuetze Obernigg, told British intelligence he spent time at Hitler’s Bavarian Alps getaway between 1943 and 1944.
You've successfully signed up!
Thank you for subscribing.
Please provide the following optional information to enable us to serve you better.
The Forward will not sell or share your personal information with any other party.
Thank you for signing up.Close