On September 3, 1939, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced to the BC that Britain had declared war on Germany.
At that moment something happened that almost no one has ever mentioned. Without the authorities’ requests, around 400,000 dogs and cats (26% of the animals that lived with their families in London) were sacrificed in the first four days of World War II.
Pets were dying all over the city these days. Veterinary clinics and animal shelters were busy with an unprecedented extermination facility. A large operator ordered night shifts because the work could not be done otherwise.
People had brought their favorites here to have them killed. Hundreds of the citizens stood neatly lined up in front of a small animal shelter in north London. Cats and dogs were waiting with them. Life ended here for the animals.
The dog protection association ran out of chloroform to put to sleep; the helpers had to electrocute the dogs. Many companies soon no longer knew what to do with the carcasses. Most of them were taken to a large sanatorium for animals that had offered a meadow on its grounds in an emergency.
Today there is not even a plaque to commemorate the mass grave.
How did the pet massacre, this collective hysteria, come about in a country that sees itself as fond of animals?
British historian Hilda Kean found that the British showed little sign of panic in everyday life.
The food had not yet been rationed and there was still enough meat for the animals, as usual from emaciated horses. There was also no immediate danger to life and limb;
The airstrikes in London did not begin until the summer of 1940.
The owners apparently removed their animals as a precautionary measure, out of diffuse fear of what might come.
Hilda Kean believes that clear directives at the beginning of the war saved many four-legged friends.
But there were no instructions for it. And the attitude of the authorities was initially not clear.
An official manual recommended those who could not ensure the safety of their animals to use the euthanasia.
On the other hand, the state soon took care of the food and whereabouts of the surviving housemates.
Historian Hilda Kean says that it was just another way of signifying that war had begun. “It was one of the things people had to do when the news came – evacuate the children, put up the blackout curtains, kill the cat.”
They were still animals enough to be killed if in doubt.
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