The Nazi Background of Today's Berlin Zoo


Some bibliographic notes


In the polite Germany of today, let alone the polite society of today's Western world, it is unusual to find Nazi-derived sentiments expressed as crudely as in the public pronouncements by today's leaders of the Berlin Zoo (see the German press reports in German and in English). The Nazi history of the Zoo throws light on this otherwise surprising anachronism.

There is now a full scholarly account of the Zoo's place in Nazi Germany. (Kai Artinger, "Lutz Heck: Der 'Vater der Rominter Ure,' Einige Bermerkungen zum 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 Nazi and in direct contact with Goering, played a major role in Nazi propaganda. And it is also clear that the post-war Zoo leadership has consistently tried to obfuscate this role. The current director of the Zoo, Hans Frädrich, is very much implicated in the cover-up.

As it happens, Frädrich acknowledges the influence upon him, as a young student, of the most prominent of Nazi biologists, Konrad Lorenz. (Die Arche Noah an der Spree, by Klös, Frädrich, and Klös, Berlin, 1994, p. 331). Lorenz's Nazi involvements were not fully appreciated until the publication of Ute Deichmann's important work Biologen unter Hitler (Frankfurt, 1992), translated into English as Biologists under Hitler (Cambridge, Mass., 1996). The important role of Lorenz in the Zoo, even after the war, is made clear in the Zoo's publication Die 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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