Distant Relatives

History isn't always about important people and big events, and since this blog is all about dogs, I give you a little bit of random history about some dogs you may not know a whole lot about - Hitler's dogs.

Adolf Hitler, as most people are aware, owned a German Shepherd Dog named Blondi whom he poisoned using a cyanide pill just prior to using the same on himself inside his bunker in Berlin as the city was being taken by Russian troops in April of 1945.

What a lot of people don't know is that Blondi wasn't Hitler's only German Shepherd. Hitler, the dictator, one of the most evil men in history, was a dog lover. He liked most breeds with the exceptions of Boxers and small lapdogs. It's said that he hated cats, but he was also allergic of them, so one can only speculate whether he just didn't like cats, or whether he didn't like them because they made him sick.

Hitler's first dog was a bull terrier named Fuchsl (meaning, "little fox" - sometimes referred to in historical literature as Foxl, a sort of Anglicized form of the name) whom he adopted in the trenches of France while serving as a soldier in World War I. Some historians write that the dog had been the mascot of an enemy unit and had "escaped" toward German lines during a shelling or bombardment, though there seems to be no proof to support these statements. What is documented, however, is that Fuchsl at some point "vanished", and it was believed he had been stolen. (Dr. Boria Sax, "Animals in the Third Reich", here.)

Photo of Hitler with Fuchsl in WWI.

Some time after World War I, while Hitler lived at his apartment in Munich, at Prinzregentenstrasse 16, the first German Shepherd dog enters the scene in form of Blonda.

And no, Blonda isn't a typo.

Blonda was a purebred German Shepherd dog, described to be "from the good lines of the time" by historians. She was born in 1926 from Ally von der Grottenau and Armin von Ridekenburg, both dogs about whom little is known nowadays. However, the lines of the grandsire of Armin von Riedekenburg, Junker von Nassau, still exists today.

Blonda, however, is not the same as the Blondi we see in most of the photos and keep hearing about. As a matter of fact, this Blonda most likely isn't even the same Blonda that Hitler had in the early 1930's.

As far as I was able to piece together from various historical sources, there was a second Blonda, who was a daughter of his original Blonda. Sources pointed out that Hitler's original Blonda, born in 1926, was bred to a German Shepherd named Muckl von der Korbinianslinde and had a litter of five puppies. The names of those puppies vary depending on the source, but are supposed to have been Astra, Blonda, Kora, Treu and Wolf. Some people say that Muckl (sometimes referred to as "Muck", depending on the source) also belonged to Hitler.

Hitler and Blonda.

This photo shows the second Blonda in the 1930's. It was cropped from a photo postcard showing Hitler seated, feeding her a treat. The odd stripe on her side is from a leather dog harness that seems to have been edited out of this photo, although it can be seen in some of the other photos of Blonda. The stripe is not part of her natural coloration.

In the photos below we see Hitler's Blondi, who is the dog most talked about and most pictured by historians.

Hitler with the sable Blondi at the Berghof.

Blondi was supposedly given as a gift to Hitler by Martin Bormann in 1941, at which point both of the original Blondas may have passed already, or the original Blonda may have been "retired" to Hitler's kennels at the Berghof.

If you compare the two photos - the tall skinny sable Blondi and the shorter and much fatter Blonda, it's obvious that they're not the same dog, even if you're not a dog expert. In addition, Goebbels writes in his diary in 1942 that Hitler was "playing with his young German Shepherd dog". (Though that note of Goebbels' may also be about another German Shepherd named Bella.)

Hitler's Blondi was, by all means, a spoiled rotten dog. She had her very own caretaker, military dog handler Feldwebel (Sergeant) Fritz Tornow, who took care of her training, as well as most of her daily care. Not only that, but when Blondi got sick one time, she was fed a special diet of lean raw meat and eggs, as Hitler's former butler, Heinz Linge, recounts in "The Hitler Book". Blondi also didn't live in a kennel outside like regular military (and privately owned) dogs in the Third Reich - she had a large wooden box in Hitler's room, slept at the foot of his bed most of the time, and was allowed in the sleeping compartment of his special train.

In May of 1942, Hitler acquired another German Shepherd, a female named Bella, from a postal official in Ingolstadt, to "keep his Blondi company". (See David Irving, "Hitler's War", here.) Hitler probably didn't consider that two grown, intact females hardly ever get along. But that's not why Bella didn't get to be his dog for long - it was the fact that she liked to get up at nine o'clock each morning and then proceeded to jump on Hitler's bed and paw him playfully that led to her being sent away, since Hitler liked to stay up most of the night to catch up on his reading.

I don't know what happened to Bella, though she was probably kept at the Berghof. As I mentioned previously, Hitler had a kennel facility at his Berghof home to which the original Blonda may have been retired and to which Bella was probably "retired" after she did not work out as a companion.

Hitler's kennels at Berghof are mentioned in an article that was published in the British "Homes and Gardens" magazine in 1938 which spoke highly of the "model kennels" where he "breeds magnificent Alsatians" that are "given the run of the house". The photo of the black dog below is from that article, where it is captioned as "The Fuehrer in the garden, with one of his pedigreed Alsatians beside him." Some source the kennel name as being "von Wachenfeld" since the Berghof was also named "Haus Wachenfeld".

In addition to the article, there is also film footage of German Shepherd puppies running around at the Berghof, which are seen below in period color footage. The footage is taken from the documentary, "Hitler's Private World Revealed".

Litter of German Shepherd puppies.
Second picture shows puppies with Eva Braun's dog.

Blondi wasn't the only companion dog in the Hitler household, either - Hitler's girlfriend, Eva Braun, also had two dogs. To be precise, she had two black Scottish Terriers named Negus and Stasi. Hitler didn't like lap dogs in general and Scotch Terriers in particular, generally referring to Eva's dogs as Handfeger - "hand brushes" - and warned his photographers that no images of the two were to be published. Eva, in turn, wasn't exactly fond of Blondi and liked to kick her when Hitler wasn't looking, according to Hitler's Secretary, Traudl Junge.

Eva with one of her dogs, Hitler with Blondi.

Fortunately, Blondi seems to have been a wonderful example of her breed and not the kind of vicious attack dog that many German Shepherds are made out to be nowadays (particularly when people talk about German Shepherds in that time period, being used as guard dogs), and she was never aggressive.

The children of propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels who adored her and loved to have her as a playmate. The Goebbels children - Helga, Hilde, Helmut, Hedda, Holde, and Heide - were between the ages of 4 and 12 by the time their parents killed them in spring of 1945, so they were all still fairly small when they played with Blondi.

In fall of 1944, Hitler had some special plans for Blondi - he planned to breed her to a suitable male from equally good lines as her own. That suitable male was Harrass, a purebred German Shepherd who belonged to Professor Gerdy Troost.

Gerdy Troost was another woman we don't hear or read about much in history. She was the wife - and after 1934 the widow - of the architect Ludwig Troost, who had been one of Hitler's favorite architects. Even after his death, Gerdy remained close friends with Hitler and many others of the Nazi party bigwigs, for whom she did extensive interior design work.

But back to the story.

In spring of 1943, Gerdy Troost was in search of a German Shepherd dog of her own after being encouraged by Hitler to get one. He even gave her a book on raising and training dogs written by the "father" of the German Shepherd breed, Rittmeister (Cavalry Captain) Max von Stephanitz. It was Martin Bormann who eventually arranged for her to meet two dogs at her Munich apartment, out of whom she chose Harrass.

Hitler requested whether he could breed Blondi to Harrass, which they eventually did.

However, there is some discussion as to whether the litter of puppies Blondi had in the Berlin bunker were those of Harrass, or whether they were from a different sire altogether. It is suggested that Hitler tried to breed Blondi to Harrass in fall of 1944 with no results, and then bred her to the dog of Alfred Rosenberg in 1945, which resulted in the April 4 litter born at the bunker.

There are two questions remaining - did Blondi ever have a litter of puppies? And if so, what happened to them?

Either way, Blondi was bred and had puppies on April 4, 1945 in the bunker in Berlin where Hitler, his staff, and the Goebbels family were staying as the Russians neared town. Hitler had a box for Blondi and her puppies in the bedroom, though most of the time they had free run of one of the bunker's bathrooms. The first male puppy of the litter was named Wolf, and some witnesses say that Hitler would be found carrying and petting the puppy frequently during those last days.

At one point, Eva Braun wrote her sister Gretel a letter, sending along a photograph of Blondi nursing her puppies. The letter told her sister that the puppy that was marked in the picture was the one she (Eva) picked out for her (Gretel).

Picture was posted on Axis History Forum.
It's from one of Nerin E. Gun's books about Hitler and Eva Braun.

On April 30th (April 29th, in some sources), Hitler had Blondi poisoned by Dr. Haase, one of his physicians, to test whether the cyanide pills supplied by another physician, Dr. Stumpfegger, were working, and afterwards, her puppies were reportedly taken to the courtyard by Fritz Tornow, the dog handler, and shot.

Russian troops later recovered Blondi's body as well as that of one puppy (most likely Wolf) when they searched the area, but never made a mention of any other pups in their records, so we don't know for sure what happened to them.

But... even though this litter was born in April 1945, there’s mention of Blondi with puppies in October of 1944. This begs for the question to be asked whether Blondi actually had two litters, or whether maybe Bella had a litter that was misidentified by sources as Blondi's litter. Unfortunately, I haven't found any further research on that yet.

Below are two photos of other dogs at the Berghof with Hitler. These should illustrate that Hitler did not in fact just have Blondi, but a whole bunch of German Shepherds at his Berghof home. Unfortunately, it seems that many historical sources automatically label a German Shepherd pictured with Hitler as Blondi, even though it's impossible for the young sable Blondi to be the amazing color-changing dog and turn into all of these other dogs. Even someone with no dog knowledge can tell that the dogs pictured below look nothing like the Blondi pictured above.