Kassel University and war propaganda about dogs
I’m just back from running a seminar and giving a public lecture at the Animal Human Research Centre in Kassel in Germany. In talking about the animal-human relationship during the war I looked at the impact of Nazi propaganda about animals on the policies advocated by British civil servants. My colleague in Kassel , Professor Mieke Roscher, who runs the centre is working on archival material around animals in the war. However,my emphasis is rather upon British perceptions of Nazi treatment of animals – whether this was true or not. Thus civil servants discussed the mass killing of dogs in Germany in June 1940 with the explanation that their corpses would provide much needed glycerine and fertilisers.
Although the British state discussed rationing food for companion animals and restricting ownership ultimately this did not happen. Rather British propaganda encouraged dog owners to remain supportive of the war because of the threat to pets if the Nazis were victorious. Both British humans and animals, it was argued, would be starving. The notion of the British as a nation of animal lovers was also employed in such a propaganda war.
Interestingly, propaganda about Nazi treatment of animals and the state’s propaganda about the alleged British treatment did help real animals in Britain to survive.