In the polite Germany of today,let alone the polite society of today's Western world, it is unusualto find Nazi-derived sentiments expressed as crudely as in thepublic pronouncements by today's leaders of the Berlin Zoo (seethe German press reports in German andin English). The Nazihistory of the Zoo throws light on this otherwise surprising anachronism.
There is now a full scholarlyaccount of the Zoo's place in Nazi Germany. (Kai Artinger,"Lutz Heck: Der 'Vater der Rominter Ure,' Einige Bermerkungenzum wissenschaftlicher Leiter des Berliner Zoos im Nationalsozialismus,"Der Bär von Berlin, vol. 43, 1994, pp. 125-138).It is clear that the Zoo, under the leadership of a leading Naziand in direct contact with Goering, played a major role in Nazipropaganda. And it is also clear that the post-war Zoo leadershiphas consistently tried to obfuscate this role. The current directorof the Zoo, Hans Frädrich, is very much implicated in thecover-up.
As it happens, Frädrichacknowledges the influence upon him, as a young student, of themost prominent of Nazi biologists, Konrad Lorenz. (Die ArcheNoah an der Spree, by Klös, Frädrich, andKlös, Berlin, 1994, p. 331). Lorenz's Nazi involvementswere not fully appreciated until the publication of Ute Deichmann'simportant work Biologen unter Hitler (Frankfurt,1992), translated into English as Biologists under Hitler(Cambridge, Mass., 1996). The important role of Lorenz inthe Zoo, even after the war, is made clear in the Zoo's publicationDie Arche.... (supra, passim).
Update: July 2005:
The Berlin Zoo's sordid Nazi past has finally been documented by the Zoo itself in its periodical "Bongo." For an abstract see:
For bibliographic reference to the whole article, as well as my response to this article, see my "How the Zoo Chooses to Explain."
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