Thursday, January 13, 2011

Silly pet tricks

David Letterman has a feature on his show for stupid pet tricks, but who would ever believe that a stupid pet trick could lead to surveillance and questioning.

Here is the dog, Jackie, with his owner, Tor Borg. You can read about this footnote (pawnote) in history on the Helsingin Sanomat here or in the New York Times here, but I will summarize if you don't want to go to those venerable journals.

Jackie lived in Tampere with his owners Tor and Josefine Borg. Josefine was German and known to dislike the Nazis and Tor owned a pharmaceutical company that did business with the Germans. An anonymous source reported to Nazi officials in Berlin that the Finnish dog had been trained to raise its paw in a mock salute at the command "Hitler". In 1941, Tor Borg was ordered to appear in Helsinki to answer questions about his dog. Borg denied calling his dog Hitler, but admitted that his wife had called the dog Hitler several times in the 1930s. The Germans ordered some businesses to stop trading with Borg's business, but Borg avoided court.

You can imagine the Wikileaks fallout from learning that a dog was mocking Hitler. Just look to Tunisia. Part of the cause for the rioting is apparently the Wikileaks report about:

A gracious dinner at Mr. Materi’s home was detailed in a cable from the American ambassador to Tunisia that was released by the antisecrecy organization WikiLeaks and fueled at least some of the outrage: a beachfront compound decorated with Roman artifacts; ice cream and frozen yogurt flown from St.-Tropez, France; a Bangladeshi butler and South African nanny; and a pet tiger in a cage.

The above is taken from the New York Times.

And now...back to Jackie.

The most mystifying part of this story is that the Germans were spending time on a Finnish dog just months before embarking on Operation Barbarossa. I am reading about Operation Barbarossa in the new book, Bloodlands, Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder.

Just to give you a taste of some of the facts from this book here is a sentence from page 182 that I read last night.

"As many Soviet prisoners of war died on a single given day in autumn 1941 as did British and American prisoners of war over the course of the entire Second World War."

The aim of Operation Barbarossa was to make Germany, "the most autarkic state in the world". These are Hitler's words from page 159 of Bloodlands. I had to look up autarkic--it means self-sufficient. Germany would use the Soviet Union to supply food, but first it would have to kill everyone in the way--all 31-45 million of them.

But back to Jackie and Finland. Both survived the Nazis. Tor's business flourished and is now Tamro Group. One can only imagine that Jackie did well. And Finland? Well you only need read Newsweek to know how Finland is today.

1 comment:

  1. Poland was the bone, and the Reich and USSR were the wolfhounds fighting over it.