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Animals and humans during the war

2011 November 19


I am giving a paper on : The shifting animal – human relationship during the Second World War in Britain: going beyond an incorporation of non-human animals into human history at the Cosmopolitan Animals Conference being held at the Institute of English Studies  at Senate House, University of  London on October 26 -7, 2012.

I am looking at the way the relationship between humans and ‘pets’ changed and argue that  this is not simply an add-on to existing histories but implies a re-thinking of ways in which the Second World War is seen.

Keynote speakers include Donna Haraway and Simon Glendinning

Link here for further conference details

4 Responses Post a comment
  1. Marcel Glover permalink
    September 1, 2012

    They may not have been pets but all the horses at Colchester Barracks were shot at the outbreak of war. There are archive photos of piles of carcasses.

    • Hilda Kean permalink
      September 1, 2012

      Thanks for this Marcel.Do you know which archive keeps them?

  2. Penny Green permalink
    September 1, 2012

    Listening to Saturday Live I was reminded of a memory my Grandmother and Father had of pets being destroyed in London during the Second World War. My Father, then twelve years old, and my Grandmother encountered a queue of people standing on the pavement carrying pets of all kinds. Father asked Gran what was happening and she told him the pets were being killed so they would not suffer if bombs started falling. In the line was a woman carrying a beautiful ginger cat. My Father was upset and Gran tried to hurry him along. To cut the story short, Dad and Gran returned home with the ginger cat, re named him Charlie, and kept him throughout The Blitz! Charlie lived to a good age despite the efforts of The Luftwaffe.

    My Grandmother was rather a hard woman where people were concerned, but she doted on my Dad and loved animals.

    Although never intentionally cruel, my Grandad regarded cats as a nuisance and a pointless waste of space and food in a household. My Grandmother and Father stood their ground and Charlie thrived.


    Penny Green

    • Hilda Kean permalink
      September 1, 2012

      Thanks Penny. I know that many people acted like your father and grandmother and took in unwanted cats and dogs. During the Blitz amongst other things, the sharp hearing of cats and dogs alerted people to bombing so they could all rush to the Anderson shelter together!

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