Nazis Tried To Train Dogs To Read, Write, And Speak, New Jan Bondeson Book Says
Hitler may be on the short list of despicable dictators most undeserving of a dog's unconditional love, but that didn't stop him from trying to talk them.
According to a new book titled "Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities," Nazi specialists attempted -- apparently with some success -- to train a fleet of "intelligent" dogs to read, write and speak.
The research comes from Cardiff University associate professor Dr. Jan Bondeson, who found that the Nazis collected pups from across Germany and put them through intense training during the 1930s at the Tier-Sprechschule ASRA (School for Dog-Human Communication) in the town of Leutenberg.
"The Nazis were sentimental enthusiasts who were really fond of animals and liked the idea that dogs were intelligent and could communicate with people," Bondeson told AOL Weird news.
Under trainer Margarethe Schmitt's direction, the institute trained dogs such as Rolf the Airedale terrier, who was said to be able to discuss religion, contemplate complex mathematics and communicate with humans by tapping out an alphabet code using his paw.
Another dog, Kurwenal, supposedly cracked jokes like a comedian and was a symbol of the educated canines of Germany.
But Hitler's presumable pick of the litter was a pooch named Don, who apparently barked "Mein Fuhrer" when asked who Adolf Hitler was.
According to Bondeson, Hitler and the Germans seem to have had hopes that the superior dogs would eventually communicate with their SS masters and act as the ultimate guard dogs.
"Why would the Nazis allow such a bizarre project to continue in a country ravaged by war unless they had an interest in studying dog-human communication?" Bondeson asks.
Considering their record on human rights, the Nazi's actually had notoriously strong feelings about animal rights.
Hitler was widely recognized as a dog lover and owned two German Shepherds, named Blondi and Bella. The dictator famously killed Blondi before taking his own life in 1945.
Bondeson says that some Nazis even wrote letters to local authorities about the pets that were being left behind when the military began forcing Jews into concentration camps.
"When the Jews were deported from certain German cities, nobody bothered about them, they said 'good riddance,'" Bondeson explains. "But as for their pets, people thought, 'Well, they can't bring those with them to the concentration camps, surely we must do something.'"
"It's a completely forgotten aspect: A good Nazi was a friend to animals."