Adolf Hitler’s relationship with animals has been widely documented; however, the notion that he had owned any dogs or pets during his lifetime has been largely overlooked by scholars. Numerous photographs exist showing Hitler with animals, including dogs, horses, and numerous other animals. Hitler himself had a deep fondness for animals, and was known to be quite caring with them. This begs the question, did Adolf Hitler actually have dogs?
Hitler himself, who had authored some of the most controversial works of the 20th century and had personally been involved in many of its most notorious crimes, was also unusually tender with animals. Adolf Hitler’s animal friends included numerous dogs, both short and long-haired, whom he was often seen walking and cuddling around his many residences. Hitler was known to play with his dogs and often give them special treats.
Interestingly, a few of Hitler’s dogs had come from some unexpected places. One of his early pets was a gift from the England’s King George V, while another one of his beloved dogs came from America’s then-President, Franklin Roosevelt. In addition to these two dogs, Hitler also had several other canines in his personal possession, including a German Shepherd, two German Boxers, and a few Alsatians.
While there is no concrete evidence to prove that Hitler had owned any particularly rare animals, it is evident that he had a deep affection for them nonetheless. In addition to his fondness for dogs, Hitler was also known to have had a great love for horses. Several photographs show Hitler grooming and mounting horses, as well as directing their training. One of his beloved horses was a black-and-white stallion that he named ‘Blitz’ (‘Lightning’ in German).
Despite Hitler’s deep connection with animals, his legacy was marred by his numerous atrocious acts, which included the extermination of millions of innocent people. The juxtaposition of Hitler’s benevolent attitude towards animals and his otherwise depraved behavior is puzzling, and has been discussed by many historians. Some claim that Hitler’s love for animals is indicative of his psychological complexities. Others argue that the fact that he even owned any animals at all shows a small disassociation with his cruelty.
Unfortunately, much of what we think we know of Hitler and his views on animals is based on photographic evidence and speculation. Since Hitler’s personal life is a well of mystery, it is difficult to know the full extent of his relationship with animals. What we do know is that from the numerous photographs which surface from his lifetime, it appears that he had a deep admiration and attachment to animals, particularly dogs.
Hitler’s Personal Dog
Hitler was known to have had a great fondness for a dog named Blondi, believed to be a German shepherd. Blondi had been gifted to him by Eva Braun, who was at the same time both his mistress and wife. Blondi quickly became Hitler’s constant companion and was often photographed alongside with him. During the last days of Hitler’s inner shelter in the Fuhrer Bunker, Blondi was with him at all times, and even accompanied him on the final suicide mission with Braun.
Animals During WWII
The cruel politics of Adolf Hitler during World War II affected not only human beings, but animals as well. Given Hitler’s overarching narrative of racial purity, he advocated for the extermination of pets and livestock considered ‘unfit’. As a result, thousands of animals were killed – seemingly without empathy or remorse. The full extent of these deaths is unknown, as reports of such events were not generally kept.
Hitler’s Legacy Towards Animals
Despite his depraved acts, Adolf Hitler’s legacy towards animals remains complex. Although he was known for his harsh treatment of many humans, when it came to animals, he adopted an entirely different demeanor. In addition to his loving relationship with many of his beloved pets, Hitler was also very capable of treating animals in a humane manner. Evidence suggests that Hitler cared deeply for animals, for example, banning the use of animal slaughter in German slaughterhouses.
Animals An ‘Escape’ for Hitler?
What is perhaps most puzzling about Hitler’s relationship with animals is that he seemed to forget his ideological and political stands when it came to them. Studies suggest that his love for animals may have been an ‘escape’ from his chilling, totalitarian beliefs. Perhaps living with animals provided some solace in his otherwise tumultuous life.
Animal Rights during Hitler
Adolf Hitler’s reign had undeniable consequences for animals and animal rights in Germany. Countless animal cruelty laws were instated during Hitler’s era, and numerous visits were made to inspect the treatment of animals in auction markets, slaughterhouses, and other such establishments. During this time, a special unit known as ‘Sonderkommando fur Tierverjung’ was established to inspect and keep records of animal abuse cases.
The legacy and effects that Hitler had on animal rights still remain to this day. Germany and much of Europe has kept the animal protection laws and regulations which were established during the Nazi era and continue to enforce them. In addition, the animal rights organization PETA has admitted to having roots in Nazi Germany, as it had been established with the intention of protecting ‘people, animals and the environment’.