|Tor Borg and his dog Jackie, who imitated a Nazi salute, were the subjects of some 30 recently found Nazi files. (Tamro Image Bank)|
BERLIN — Newly discovered documents have revealed a bizarre footnote to the history of World War II: a Finnish mutt whose imitation of the Hitler salute enraged the Nazis so deeply that they started an obsessive campaign against the dog’s owner.
Absurdly, a totalitarian state that dominated most of Europe was unable to do much about Jackie and his paw-raising parody of Germany’s Fuehrer.
In the middle of World War II — months before Hitler ordered some 4.5 million troops to invade the Soviet Union — the Foreign Office in Berlin commanded its diplomats in the Nazi-friendly Nordic country to gather evidence on the dog and even came up with plans to destroy the pharmaceutical wholesale company of its owner.
Historians had not been aware of the episode before some 30 files containing parts of the correspondence and diplomatic cables were recently found by a researcher at the political archives of the German Foreign Office.
Klaus Hillenbrand, who has written several books on the Nazi period, was contacted by the historian and examined all of the documents for an article to be published today in the daily newspaper Die Tageszeitung.
“Just months before the Nazis launched their attack on the Soviet Union, they had nothing better to do than to obsess about this dog,’’ Hillenbrand said.
Finland cooperated with Nazi Germany, but the relationship between the two countries was strained.
Finland allowed the Nazis to take over the northern part of the country after the Finns suffered heavy casualties and lost 10 percent of their territory to the Soviet Union in 1939-1940.
The dog, Jackie, was a mutt owned by Tor Borg, a businessman from the city of Tampere. Borg’s wife, Josefine, a German citizen known for her anti-Nazi sentiments, dubbed the dog Hitler because of the strange way it raised its paw high in the air like Germans greeting the Fuehrer with a cry of “Heil Hitler!’’