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JoAnna Lou
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Nazis Trained Dogs to Talk
Hitler planned to use dogs to win WW2

In recent years, canine cognition research has gotten extremely popular, but interest in how dogs think isn't exactly new. In the 1920's, German animal psychologists believed that dogs were almost as intelligent as humans, and capable of abstract thinking and communication.

This school of thought even influenced Hitler in his quest to win World War II. Recent research discovered that the Nazis hoped to build an army of talking dogs that would free up human workers in concentration camps.

The Nazis set up a dog school called Tier-Sprechschule ASRA in the 1930s, which stayed open throughout the war. Officials recruited dogs from all over Germany with the intention of training them to speak and tap out signals with their paws.

These findings may seem to come out of left field, but Dr. Jan Bondeson, the professor from Cardiff University behind the research, says that a strong bond between humans and nature was part of the Nazi philosophy.

"Indeed, when they started interning Jews, the newspapers were flooded with outraged letters from Germans wondering what had happened to the pets they left behind.”

I've read a lot about war dogs, but this piece of previously lost history is perhaps the most unique story that I've ever heard.

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by BNPS.

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Submitted by Carolyn | June 7 2011 |

What an amazing story! I'd be curious what sort of training methods were used to teach the dogs to speak allowing them to express opinions and desires as well as what sorts of specific activities these animals were used for. The book sounds fascinating -- I'm putting it on my reading list.

Submitted by Bob F | June 12 2011 |

Sounds like another Tale of the Holyhoax.

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