A Special Presentation From Hahn's 50th AP K-9, West Germany
WORLD WAR TWO COMBAT:
Featuring The History of The United States and Great Britain!
Our Allies...The Soviet Union
And Their Use Of War Dogs!
Soviet Handlers, Red Star Kennels, Moscow
The Red Army trained as many as 50,000 dogs before and during the early part of the war. Dogs proved themselves paricularly valuable during the severe Russian winters, when they located and dragged wounded soldiers from the front on sleds.
A wounded man's chance of survival in the extremely low temperatures of Russian winters, depended largely on how rapidily he was discovered and then transported to a first aid station. Dogs alone could travel in the deep snow, which bogged down motor vehicles, thus improving their chances!
During one battle, near Duminichi, in between attacks, a german shepherd named Bob, located sixteen wounded men, who had crawled into shell holes and ditches. Bob, when he came across a soldier, would lay down beside him, until the wounded man took some dressing from a medical kit strap on the dog's back.
SiteBuilder Note: The following article was written by the Soviets, shortly after WW II, and contains some excessive claims, such as, "they were the first to use war dogs during WW II." Actually, the first, was the Nazis when they invaded Poland, along with the French and British. Not to totally discredit the Soviets, they did advance the use of war dogs in other areas, and did make the breeding and training of dogs a science, before most western countries!
Red Star Kennels, Moscow!
Colonel Medvedev, Director, WWII
Under the leadership of Colonel G. Medvedev, the Kynolog (Director) of the Central Military School of Working Dogs (aka: the Red Star Kennels), began the breeding of new dogs, able to perform guard work.
When the Great Patriotic War began, the number of working dogs of different breeeds in Osoviahim clubs was more than 40 thousand. Alongside with new machines and arms, 168 separate units of working dogs took part in battles during the war.
Black Russian Terriers, Guardmount
Those units were formed out of Clubs and Hunting Societies' dogs.
During the war "the USSR was the first in the world in using dogs in military services." New forms of usage of tank-fighting dogs, mine-sniffing dogs, of usage of diversion service (spy) for work in the enemy's rear lines and for transporting of the seriously wounded, of ammunition and food were worked out.
Soviet Units of Millitary Working Dogs and Training Battalions of the Central School fought for Moscow, Leningrad, Bryansk; they fought at the Western front, South-West, North-West, North, South and Baltic fronts as well.
Soviet Handlers, Red Star Kennels!
Dogs helped to clear out mines in 303 large cities; Pskov, Smolensk, Bryansk, Livov, Minsk, Kiev, Stalingrad, Odessa, Kharkov, Voronezh, Warsaw, Vienna, Prague and other cities were among them.
For successful militarry operations against the Nazis, the Units of Military Working Dogs were awarded with the Order of Bagdan Khmelnitsky, the Order of Alexander Nevsky and the Order of the Red Star. 80% of the officers received government awards, and the Central Order of the Red Star School of Dog Training was honoured to take part in the Moscow Victory Parade.
And in one sector of the front, a team of sled dogs, in five weeks, carried 1,239 wounded men from the battlefield and hauled 327 tons of ammunition.
White Samoyeds, were found particularly useful for winter operations and were used to pull white-clad Russian marksmen on sleds close to enemy lines undetected. Plus six dog teams transported machine guns in sleds and two dogs teams were used to pulled soliders on skiis into battle.
Two Russian Anti Tank "Suicide"
Dogs On The German Front
The Russian military also trained suicide dogs, during WW II. The dogs (half staved) were loaded with explosives, and trained to seek out food under moving tanks; a trigger device attached to their backpacks, would depressed causing an explosion capable of cutting through the steel under belly of the tanks.
In one day, alone, on the Izyum sector, these canine tank busters destroyed nine tanks and two armored cars. So feared by the Germans, that as soon as they heard the barking and saw the running dogs, they would frantically turned their tanks around and head back towards their own lines, for they knew from experience what was in store for them.
One Russian correspondent stated that "the dogs have saved thousands upon thousands of lives on the Russian front." And he was right!
Nazi Germany Use Of War Dogs!
Germany's High Command and Army Headquarters, secretly began rebuilding their dog army in 1930, shortly before Hitler came to power.
A central training school was established at Grunheide, near Berlin, and another near Frankfurt; both could accommodated 2,000 dogs at a time.
K-9 Unit, Field Exercise, 1932, Part Of The 100,000.
The schools operated under the guise of training German civil and railroad policemen, so as not to publically violate the WWI Versalles Treaty, which limited the Germany army to 100,000 members. A small number of Army K-9 Units were also trained at these schools, but not in any large numbers to arrouse the Western Powers.
Nazis In Russia, 1931. Russian Officer, 2nd From Left.
The German High Command also entered into a secret pact with Russia, to establish other military facilities across their border, in Russia; airfields, training schools, and various war plants. In return for the use of Russian soil, they were to train Russian officers in the art of warfare!
Also at that time, the Army High Command formed an alliance with Hitler, seeing in him, an opportunity to eliminate the Treaty and rearm the military.
Nazi SA Hander And Dog, Exhibit 1935.
The National Socialists, then formed their own training camps, where members were secretly trained in military tactics by the army (SA K-9 Units were also formed), under the guise of being public work units.
Nazi SA K-9 Unit, Berlin Exhibit 1935.
By the time, the Nazis and Adolf Hitler were in power, these units simply traded their shovels for rifles and became the new German Army.
SS Police, Hundefuhrer And K-9, Bydgoszcz.
In the ten year period leading up to World War II, Germany trained at many as 200,000 dogs. The Berlin dog paper Die Hunderwelt told of a grand recruiting rally held in that country, adding another 15,993 Shepherds, Dobermans, Airedales, and Boxers to their K-9 army. The dogs were trained as sentries, scouts, guard and messagers.
In 1939, when Hitler launched his blitzkrieg against Europe and Poland, Germany K-9 Army units were there as well, organized and trained as thorough as the Luftwaffe or armored forces were. Once occupied, the K-9 units were used for policing the cities; and the Jewish ghettos and camps create by the Nazis.
SS Officer And His Shepherd
During the Second World War every concentration camp had its SS dog unit. The dogs, trained to attack inmates, were deeply feared. Heinrich Himmler, the SS chief who was himself a German shepherd owner, said that the purpose of the dogs was "to encircle prisoners like a flock of sheep and so prevent escape".
Nazi K-9 On The Russian Front, 1943.
German War Dogs were also used for patrols and as scouts during the fighting in France; K-9 Units also saw service on the Russian front, the Low Countries, Italy, Poland, Norway and in North Africa.
Nazi Para Military K-9 Units During WW II
On June 30, 1936 all police forces within the Third Reich were formally consolidated under the control of the Reichsführer der SS und Chef der Deutschen Polizei, Heinrich Himmler.
Nazi Dog Platoon On Field Exercise, Germany 1934.
During the war, and before, German Civil Police K-9 Units were used by the SS to assist in the roundup and deportation of Jewish and other citizens to the various Nazi concentration and work camps, generally by trains.
Over 10 Million prisoners were transported to these camps, riding in over crowded boxcars...without the benefit of any food, water or sanitation facilities. Countless numbers never survive the trains. It was man's ultimate injustice to his fellow man. The Bahnschutz K-9 Units were responsible for the guarding of these prisoners!
Early History Of The Bahnschutz (Railroad) K-9
The use of large dogs gave the Bahnschutz (Railroad Police) increased effectiveness during patrols of train stations, waiting rooms and railway cars. As early as 1923, the Reichsbahn began a systematic program of training dog handlers as well as dogs.
Bahnschutz (Railroad Police), Berlin 1936.
Schäferhunde (German Shepherds), considered the most loyal and least temperamental of the large breeds and the easiest to train, composed over 90 percent of the Diensthunde (service dogs) in the Bahnschutz.
While on duty a Bahnschutzstreifer (patrolman) normally would accompanied the Bahnschutz Hundeführer (dog handler) and his dog. This allowed the handler to keep the dog on the leash while the second patrolman could perform routine duties such as checking identity papers. When a arrest was warranted, the Streifer handcuffed the suspects while the Hundeführer controlled the dog.
The Reichsbahn operated a breeding farm and training facility for Diensthunde (service dogs) in Röntgental near Berlin.
The leader of the school, was Reichsbahninspektor Langner, who was an experienced World War I dog handler and trainer; he recognized the importance of matching the appropriate handler for each dog.
He sought handlers who were, above all, Hundefreunde (dog lovers), and spent as much time training the Hundeführer as he did the Diensthund.
Each of the 700 teams of dogs and handlers underwent yearly re examination by Reichsbahninspektor Langner, and teams, that were incompatible disbanded. The K-9 training methods developed by Langner became recognized worldwide.
As noted, these same Railroad K-9 Units, were used later on by the SS during the deportation of millions of prisoners to the concentration and slave labor work camps, as well as POWs!
Photo courtesy of Grete Koch. Taken in July 1944 American AAF POWs, Guard Dog Far Right, Background.
Stalag Luft 1, Barth, Germany
On November 26, 1944 - Dr. Aaron Kuptsow, a B-17 radar officer, was shot down and then captured by German farmers, This is a brief account of what it was like for him!
"We had a force march, which I think was about 17 kilometers. That was the worst experience of my life. I was still wearing my flight boots, and by the time we reached the station, my feet were bloody and raw! I think we had three policemen and two german shepherds walking with us."
Arriving at the police station, the prisoners were turned over to the German Luftwaffe, who march them to Frankfurt for the train trip to their final destination...Stalag Luft 1.
"The march to Frankfurt was quite an experience, the guards and dogs kept us in line, the dogs nipped at us, or the guards prodded us with their guns if we slowed down."
To read Dr. Kuptsow's entire story and others, about being captured. Please use the link to: the World War II, Prisoners Of War, Stalag Luft 1 website, provided on our 50th Link Page, access off the K-9 History: Dogs Of War page for DoD.
Photo courtesy of Greta Koch. AAF POWs Arriving...K-9 Dog In Front Of Column.
North Africa...A Different Kind Of Scout!
Ousseltria, Tunisia - Allied troops held the western edge of a little valley, and the Germans and Italian forces the eastern side. The battle went back and forth, with each side trying for a knockout blow.
An American lieutenant and two sergeants were sent out to scout the enemy positions. After edging their way slowly to the eastern side, they suddenly spotted a pure white dog, about fifty feet ahead of them. The dog stood as silent as death. He didn't bark or growl a warning as a sentry dog would. Instead he stood there like a statue, head erect and tail straight out behind him. As if he was pointing!
The silents was broken by machine gun fire, hitting one of the men, both his legs shattered. The others had to leave him.
Later, a well armed patrol was sent out to find him, again near the eastern edge of the valley, the white dog appeared again. When the group finally reached the spot where the wounded man had fallen, the man was gone. To all appearances the dog had hunted him out and returned to the Germans, who found him first.
Other white dogs, were later observed, in the Ousseltia Valley, where groups of three or four would prowl through the British and American positions, pointed, then returned to their line. Apparently the German snipers were using them to point the enemy!
Towards the end of the African Campaign, both the German African Corp and Italian armies were forced to abandon most of their dogs during their rapid withdrawal in the North African desert.
The Nazis used so many dogs during the war, that by the end, there wasn't hardily any breeding stock left in the entire country.
SS Sgt. Zugsberger With Guard Dog, Plaszow Camp.
The Empire Of The Rising Sun!
The Japanese had received approx 25,000 dogs from their allied...Germany, several years preceeding its attack on Pearl Harbor; the military organized several dog training schools in Japan, and one in China at Nanking.
The dogs were used for patrols, as scouts, and for guard duty. The Japanese also like the Russians, used some dogs as suicide commandos; these dogs were trained to pull small carts towards the enemy (Americans) position, in which fifty pound bombs were loaded, once they were near enough, the bomb would be exploded!
The Japs employed dogs in their Malay Peninsula campaign, and it was reported, that untrained but ferocious Jap dogs had attacked Australian commandos on Timor; and Japanese dogs had been present at the capture of the British crown colony of Hong Kong.
SiteBuilder Note: The following article is a piece of Japanese propaganda, that circulated in the United States before the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor; let the reader remember that the source was Japanese and that its sole purpose was to stem certain persistent rumors about the miss use of Nipponese War Dogs.
JAPANESE WAR DOGS!
"In 1937, when Japanese and Chinese forces were fighting their bitter fight around the Shanghai area, a rumor went the rounds that the Japanese were using fierce, bloodthirsty dogs to fight the Chinese troops. Humorous Shanghailanders replied that the dogs must have been employed as a retaliation against the Chinese guerrila bands roaming the district. Though thought of as only another strange story connected with the hostilities in China, few Western observers fully realized that truth lay behind the circulating rumor.
That there were dogs assisting the Japanese forces was correct. That they were bloodthirsty or that they were used to devour the enemy were untruths...
Japanese K-9 Corp, Composite Photograph The Fall of the British Colony of Hong Kong!
As necessary to the Japanese forces as the coming of the wireless has been to the armies of the West is the adoption many years ago by the Japanese to the mobilizing of the country's dog power, who after a vigorous training have been in various campaigns to act as scouts, message bearers and guards...
These dogs of war are... equipped with bandages, disifectants, and other medical equipment which in smart business like leather cases are fastened on their backs, ready for instant use to the wounded on the battlefield.
Bomb and shell, mud and mire hold no terror for these brave friends of man. A dauntless spirit, an unfailing courage see them through where men would grow weary and afraid...
With a training school firmly established in Nanking, a tradition began to grow up around its barbed wire compound and low rambling gray brick kennels. In the center of a spacious compound, dogs gather round an elaborate stone monument, as if by some unknown force they are attracted to the grave of one of the corp's bravest members.
Above a stone pedestal, a concrete statue of a Alsatian police dog stands. It is Nikko, a dog who was shot by an enemy bullet in Kiukiang. Nikko was born and reared in the city from which she got her name...
After the commencement of the hostilities, Nikko was sent out together with other members of the Canine Corps to the front lines of battle, which were then near Kiukiang. Soon after her arrival, a message of the utmost importance was ordered to be dispatched to another detachment of the force some distance off. As telephone lines had been cut off, the commander of the battalion entrusted Nikko with the message.
Securing firmly a pouch around her neck, the commander bade Nikko be off. Somehow realizing the importance and danger of her mission, Nikko wagged her tail sadly and licked the commander's outstretched hand. 'You must succeed, Nikko,' was all the commander could say.
Without further delay the dog crepe into the blackness of the night. The sky was lit up with the flare of both armies pounding with heavy guns at each other's defenses. Past shell holes and barbed wire entanglements Nikko made her careful way... Many hours passed, the anxiety of the commander and his men grew as each minute ticked wearily by.
The day dawned at last. Away in the distance they could see reinforcements coming to their assistance. Nikko had not failed! But where was she? Soldiers later found her body, stiff and prostate, on the field of battle. A bullet had found a resting place in the gallant warrior's heart. Locks of her hair were cut as takens of her heroism by mournng soldier friends.
A lieutenant in charge of the Canine Corps in Nanking, who had originally been a sculptor in Toykyo modeled a likeness of the gallant dog in concrete. In it were enshrined the locks of hair cut by the grateful soldiers. Hair from two hundred more dogs who had died gallant deaths shortly found their way into the shrine...
From all parts of Japan, dogs are sent to be trained in the canine training school in Nanking. Most dogs sent to this school come from school children in Japan. All dogs received, however, are not recruited, only those well able to stand the rigors of war... Ten months of rigid training is given each dog, who is assigned under the care of a soldier trainer..."
In spite of the above pretty, sentimental tale, there are other reports about a rather nasty war dog specialist featured by the Japanese.
Unusual War Dogs...
A very unusual Japanese war dog was first used against the American infantry during the fighting on Biak Island during August and September, 1944. These animals were small mongrels, not vicious nor trained to attack.
Now and then one or two of them would approach the line of American outposts, but the minute they discovered our troops, they turned tail and ran back. Presumably the Jap purpose was to locate the American lines by noting the time and direction of their dogs return, a scheme which was quickly used against them.
American patrols promptly followed the friendly Jap dogs, who led the way back to their masters and located the Japanese positions for them.
The Setting Sun...Finis!
American troops who encountered Japanese dogs, found most of them to be miserable appearing creatures...mangy and half starved. Defects in training, the system of shifting masters, and the fact, that the Japs after initial victories were always on the defensive must have contributed to the poor condition and the generally poor showing made by their war dogs.
OUR K-9 HISTORY TOUR CONTINUES... MARINES' DEVIL DOGS IN THE PACIFIC!