Rabbit Raising in German Concentration Camps
March 29, 2007 11:31 PM   Subscribe

The Angora rabbit project was an SS-administered program to breed rabbits for their soft, warm fur, one use of which was to line the jackets of Luftwaffe pilots. The rabbits were raised in luxury not far from the maltreated prisoners in 31 Nazi concentration camps in Germany, including Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Dachau. Here is a photograph of the hutches taken by Lee Miller.
posted by tellurian (31 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is not a MetaTalk callout, tellurian. It's just a fantastically strange coincidence. Burhanistan's YouTube comment about these rabbits from a few minutes ago.
posted by cgc373 at 11:39 PM on March 29, 2007

posted by phaedon at 11:45 PM on March 29, 2007

I can't figure out whether any of these rabbit breeds is extant. Pointers?
posted by grobstein at 11:49 PM on March 29, 2007

Oh no. I used to own an Angora bunny - a friend breeds rabbits and let me have one. I never knew anything about its Nazi connection.

Are the Angora bunnies we get today the same sort the SS had?
posted by divabat at 11:54 PM on March 29, 2007

Lee Miller was a hottie
posted by chillmost at 12:02 AM on March 30, 2007

cgc373: heh!
grobstein: German Angora.
posted by tellurian at 12:05 AM on March 30, 2007

Lee Miller was a hottie
posted by chillmost at 12:02 AM on March 30

She was a model for Vogue before becoming a wartime photographer. There's been a couple mefi threads on her already. I happen to be close to surviving members of her family.
posted by vacapinta at 12:21 AM on March 30, 2007

aww, bunnies.
posted by blacklite at 12:22 AM on March 30, 2007

I've read about Nazi UFOs, Nazi rocketry, Nazi Christmas cards, Nazi occultism, and Nazi architecture, but somehow I always thought that bunnies would be one thing absolutely not related to them. I have been sadly mistaken.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:40 AM on March 30, 2007

What a day! Nazi-Bunnies take over the Skies ...
posted by homodigitalis at 12:48 AM on March 30, 2007

Cute Uberload.
posted by facetious at 12:52 AM on March 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

You know who else had bunnies?
posted by srboisvert at 1:52 AM on March 30, 2007

srboisvert: Yes.
posted by maxwelton at 1:56 AM on March 30, 2007

Ach du lieber — die Lebensbunprogramme! Und wissen Sie, wer sonst solche „Hasen″ gehabt hat? Gene Roddenberry!
posted by rob511 at 3:12 AM on March 30, 2007

Ja! ... Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:01 AM on March 30, 2007

also, spracht flopsy.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:32 AM on March 30, 2007

The Secret History of WWII is much fuzzier than you know.

America, of course, has a long history of animal involvement its formation and development, so when it came to the war effort, the nation’s fuzziest citizens were ready to step up to the challenge:

Captain Barkley “Barks” O’Reilly led a rag-tag squadron of American hounds on a series of daring raids behind the Nazi lines. Unsung, but not unhowled, heroes of the Battle of Bastogne, Barks’ Barkers patrolled the edges of the Ardennes sniffing and destroying German ammo dumps in an effort to hold off an Axis assault. The fighting in the forested area was brutal with German Sturmhunds, better fed and equipped for the harsh winter, taking a heavy toll on the Allied dogs. Many a tail hung low on January 13th, 1945 when Barks sacrificed himself taking out a machine gun encampment. A statue in his honor was erected some twenty years later near his family’s home in Brooklyn.

In the Pacific, the “Widdlewest Swub In Da Nwavy” captained by Theodore Mouse (great uncle to the well known Ralph S. Mouse of our childhoods), patrolled the major American shipping lanes. The “Widdlewest” (actual name the USS Neptune’s Steed) was uniquely able to track and latch on to enemy submarines several times its size. Under the cover of night, the crew would sneak out from their vessel and board enemy subs, sabotaging their engines and communications systems while stealing any plans they found. It was the unlikely Seaman Second Class Puffycheeks Q. Hamster that chanced upon the secret codes that lead to the American cracking of the Japanese code structure. He was rewarded with a cute little hat and a tasty carrot.

American animals also broke down barriers and made great steps for their species. Long thought too shiftless, lazy, and easily distracted for proper aerial combat, felines had been kept out of the U.S. Army Air Corps. It took an act of Congress in 1941 ordering the formation of an all-feline fighter group to give the cats a chance. The War Department hated the idea, thinking it doomed to failure and a waste of resources. The bravery, skill, and determination of the Pusskege Aircats proved them all wrong. Despite all the obstacles of specism and low expectations thrown in their way, the Aircats stepped up to the challenge time after time earning the grudging acceptance of even the most doubtful pilot. Thanks to the bravery and heroism of the Pusskege, no longer were the skies the sole domain of dogfights.

And that’s just some of the better know animal-based units that served in the war! On the homefront, animals nation-wide stepped up their efforts to aid in American industry and development. Who can forget that now iconic picture of Flopsy the Riviter, her long white ears tied back in a kerchief flexing her paw with the caption “We Can Do It!”? I certainly can’t.

And neither should you.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:47 AM on March 30, 2007 [7 favorites]

I warned you, but did you listen to me? Oh, no, you knew, didn't you? Oh, it's just a harmless little bunny, isn't it?
posted by fish tick at 7:08 AM on March 30, 2007

Hilarious, robocop is bleeding.
posted by emf at 7:55 AM on March 30, 2007

I debated whether to make a post about Laurices: Credit for the actual domestication of rabbits goes to the early French Catholic monks. Because they lived in seclusion, the monks appreciated an easily obtainable meat supply. Their need to find a food suitable for Lent caused them to fall back on an item much loved by the Romans - unborn or newly born rabbits, which are called “Laurices.” (Laurice was officially classified as “fish” in 600 A.D. by Pope Gregory I, and thus permissible during Lent.)

This seems to be a good place to put this information.
posted by of strange foe at 8:19 AM on March 30, 2007

**Scrambles to organize Canadian Totalitarian Beaver Corps.
posted by isopraxis at 8:26 AM on March 30, 2007

I had never heard of this before today. It seems this was part of Himmler's propaganda to portray life in the concentration camps as 'not so bad' for the tours that were conducted. "Himmler's daughter Gudrun, who often visited the camp in her adolescent years, has fond memories of the fluffy rabbits". I have seen countless documentaries about the concentration camps of World War II. I will in future when I watch these documentaries be looking out for a glimpse of these hutches.
posted by tellurian at 8:29 AM on March 30, 2007

Run away!
posted by miss lynnster at 8:47 AM on March 30, 2007

Lee Miller the real surrealist. Thanks matteo.
posted by adamvasco at 9:01 AM on March 30, 2007

Robocop, you've scurrilously failed to mention the many contributions that the noble basselope has made to the defense of our great country.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:16 AM on March 30, 2007

It's sick to think about the human beings, the concentration camp prisoners, having to pamper soon-to-be-skinned rabbits, while they starved. I suppose the SS officers got the benefit of the rabbit stew.
posted by nickyskye at 9:17 AM on March 30, 2007

They didn't skin the rabbits for the fur, they shaved them. The rabbits definitely had a better life than the prisoners.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:42 AM on March 30, 2007

Robocop, you've scurrilously failed to mention the many contributions that the noble basselope has made to the defense of our great country.

I'll be six feet in the cold, cold ground before I ever thank a basselope!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:18 AM on March 30, 2007

As deplorable as the Nazis were, there is one area that it is difficult to fault them. They did have impeccable fashion sense. I'm sure this is largely due to the fact that unlike most military uniforms, where practicality and cost are the primary design factors, the Wehrmacht's uniforms were created by a fashion designer.

Knowing this makes the idea that they would have angora lined coats a lot less weird.
posted by quin at 11:44 AM on March 30, 2007

I had no idea that Hugo Boss designed Nazi uniforms. If more people did, I wonder if the brand would still be around.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:05 PM on March 30, 2007

That laurices information gave me the heebie-jeebies. Eating aborted rabbits is wierd enough, and not disembowling them is even grosser, but calling them a fish? I now have images going through my head of hairless aborted rabbit babies darting through the water like penguins.
posted by arcticwoman at 3:34 AM on March 31, 2007

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