BERLIN â€” The case of the businessman who taught his dog to raise his paw at the command â€œHitlerâ€ may never go down in the annals of Third Reich history as consequential, but it is has given people here a reason to laugh, not at the nationâ€™s sinister deeds but at those who were responsible.
Nearly 66 years after the end of World War II, Germanyâ€™s Nazi past continues to reveal itself here in ways large and small, and on an almost regular basis, often shedding new light on the unique crimes of those who ran the Third Reich and those who came to power after its fall.
The case of the dog owner the Nazis wanted to prosecute for training his canine to mock the FÃ¼hrer was revealed at the same time Germans learned their intelligence service knew where Adolph Eichmann, architect of the Holocaust, was hiding as early as 1952, eight years before the Israelis captured him.
The combined reports in national newspapers led last week to yet another round of Nazi-related headlines, though the one about the dog offered the unusual respite of a Nazi-era action that sounded like a punch line. The Eichmann revelation was important because it added a date to a fact historians here said was already known.
â€œThe dog affair tells us the Nazis were not only criminals and mass murderers, they were silly as hell,â€ said Klaus Hillenbrand, a historian and author who has focused on the Nazi era and uncovered the case in federal archives. â€œThere are very few things you can laugh about because what they did was so monstrous. But there were two or three dozen people discussing the affair of the dog rather than preparing for the invasion of the Soviet Union. They were crazy.â€
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