Rod Liddle Rod Liddle

It’s fatuous to outlaw an emotion – especially hate

A man in Austria has been sentenced to three months in prison for posting a picture of his cat on the internet. The photograph showed the cat, which has not been named, raising its right paw in the air in what appears to be a Nazi salute. It also had a side parting in the fur on its head and what we might describe as a distinctive moustache. Clearly the benighted creature was a fan of the controversial politician Adolf Hitler, and equally clearly the Austrians feel a little bit sensitive about all that business. Outrageously, there was no punishment whatsoever for the cat itself, which surely knew what it was getting itself into and cheerfully connived in the whole sordid episode. I’d have had it shot, bang, just like that. There is no place in decent society for animals which venerate Hitler — or Goebbels, Hess or any of those others.

About 80 years ago, on Hitler’s orders, the SS became interested in politicising pets, and especially dogs. Hitler was fascinated by dogs and believed there were hidden depths to their talents. On his orders a hundesprechschule was founded to develop their intellect and teach them German, in the hope they might one day be used for military purposes. You are probably musing to yourself that the German language does not sound terribly dissimilar to the noises you might expect to hear from an inflamed Doberman pinscher, perhaps one that had caught its genitals in a gin trap (while Heinrich Heine said much the same thing about English, so each to their own). But conjugating those verbs and getting the tenses right would surely test even the brightest collie. Anyway, the best the SS could come up with was a dachshund who, when asked ‘Wer ist Adolf Hitler?’ would reply promptly and in perfect German: ‘Mein Führer!’ And also raise his paw in salute.

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