Under the Radar

Hitler's Talking Dogs


In his new book Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities, Cardiff University historian Jan Bondeson tells how Adolph Hitler believed that dogs could be trained to read, write and talk.

Hitler set up a Tier-Sprechschule (Animal Talking School) near Hanover with the idea that trained talking dogs could act as guards at concentration camps, freeing up SS officers to take an active fighting role in the war effort.

The school's star pupil was a terrier named Rolf. Researchers claimed that the dog learned to spell and could communicate by tapping his paw on a board a certain number of times for each letter of the alphabet. Rolf apparently picked up a few foreign languages and developed some opinions on religion.

The talking thing didn't ever work out and somehow none of the researchers continued their studies after Germany lost the war. There's no word on what happened to Rolf.

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