Nazis tried to teach dogs to talk and speak, claims a new book. In Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities, Dr Jan Bondeson asserts, “There were some very strange experiments going on in wartime Germany, with regard to dog-human communication.”
The Germans expected great things of their canine charges and Adolf Hitler, himself a dog lover, supported a special dog school to help them learn how to speak.
The dog school, named Tier-Sprechschule ASRA, was based near Hanover and led by headmistress Margarethe Schmitt from its inception in the 1930s up to the end of the war.
Some of Frau Schmitt’s more extraordinary pupils included:
- Don, a German pointer, who could bark, “Hungry! Give me cakes.”
- Kurwenal, a Dachshund, who would use a different number of barks to signify different letters.
- Rolf, a Airedale terrier, who speculated about religion and learnt foreign languages. A patriotic dog, Rolf wanted to join the army because of his dislike for the French.