How could someone kill millions of people yet show such love and devotion to his dog?
The man looked much older than his 56 years as he sat on the concrete steps holding the German Shepherd puppy in his lap. He cooed in its ear and tickled it under the chin as muffled overhead explosions shook the room, and plaster fell from the ceiling around him.
His hand shook uncontrollably and the lights flickered skittishly in the subterranean gloom, but the pup relished being the centre of his master’s attention. Just four weeks old and already as precious as his mother, the owner had given him the name of Wolf.
Both were on borrowed time. Adolf Hitler’s world was literally crashing down around him as he sat on that step. In those last days, he seemed more interested in training Wolf than in facing his own inevitable demise.
Hitler’s pride and joy, and one of his few distractions from the rapidly worsening war situation, was Wolf’s mother, Blondi. She had been presented to Hitler by his adjutant, Martin Bormann, as a Puppy in 1941. A dog lover since his early teens, Hitler was besotted with the clever, nimble German Shepherd. She enjoyed a relationship with her owner that no human - not even his mistress, Eva Braun - ever did. From the moment that he acquired her. Hitler and Blondi were inseparable.
Eva Braun famously loathed Blondi. She herself was the owner of a pair of terriers - Negus and Stasi - who often accompanied her in her stays at the Berghof, Hitler’s Mountain retreat in Bavaria. The two little dogs ruled the roost there, and an exasperated Hitler often had to ask her to take the dogs out, so that Blondi could occupy her rightful place at the master’s side. Braun felt - perhaps rightly - that Hitler thought more of Blondi than he did of her.
Although Blondi was always looked after by her own kennel master. Hitler undertook the training of the dog himself. He taught Blondi to jump over hurdles and run through hoops, as well as to fetch sticks. On command from her master. Blondi would ‘sing like Zarah Leander’ a famous Swedish singer and actress who was very popular in the 1930s and 40s.
As World War Two progressed, Hitler spent more and more time operating his generals and admirals, but no one was to come between the increasingly deranged Hitler and his beloved stress relieving dog. Blondi always accompanied him on his special train. As the Third Reich entered its death throes, it was all but inevitable that Blondi joined her master in his final descent below ground. Hitler entered the subterranean bunker under Berlin’s blackened, burned out Reich Chancellery in mid-January 1945, as the city around him collapsed into a sea of flaming, flattened buildings and rubble-strewn boulevards.
The submarine-like underground lifestyle in the cement catacomb of the bunker only served to unhinge the deranged Hitler more than ever. The lights burned 24 hours a day, and the dark, fetid walls oozed condensation.
UNtil the final arrival of Eva Braun in mid-April, Hitler’s one consolation was Blondi. His despair at the failure to retake Budapest in March was partially allayed by the news that Blondi was in pup; Hitler had tried for months to mater her with a German Shepherd called Harras, and Blondi finally obliged with a litter of five puppies at the beginning of april
It was too late. With is world in ruins, Hitler decided to commit suicide rather than surrender. On 29 April, he became suspicious that the cyanide capsules given to him by Himmler might be fake and had tornow break one in Blondi’s mouth. The dog died immediately. Viewing her corpse, Hitler was said to be ashen and inconsolable. Tornow then shot the puppies in the Chancellery garden in between russian bombardments.
In the last throes of delusion and paranoia Hitler had said that “in the end, only Fralein Brain and Blondi will remain faithful”. It’s an interesting note on his mindset in those final fateful days.
This tragic finale was an obvious inevitable end to the relationship between an unhinged psychopath who murdered millions, while at the same time displaying an almost unceasing devotion to a dog which, in the end, was guilty of nothing more than loving her owner to the last.