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.
But already in the spring of 1940, it appears that many pet owners were plagued by remorse.
Contemporaries spoke of a “Holocaust” – after the ancient Greek word for the burnt victim of animals.
In the remaining years of the war, the fate of the surviving animals took an astonishing turn.
In letters and newspaper articles, people told how they got through the difficult times with their companions.
Everything was shared, even the food when it ran out.
People often stood in line for animal feed as long as for their own food.
Feeding cats with milk was forbidden, but the ban was only on paper – according to official estimates, the cats dumped a good 80 million liters a year.
The authorities rightly suspected that it was not enforceable in the population!
Above all, however, the animals helped with their lively nature, they raised mood and morality – even and especially the smallest.
When this happened, protectors, veterinarians, and people concerned about these unnecessary deaths received criticism.
When British propaganda focused only on the Germans, many sectors were deeply dismayed at what was really happening in London.
Hilda Kean: The Big Cat and Dog Massacre: The Real History of World War II unknown
And I mean…It should be noted that this great massacre took place long before the bombing of London began, long before the people really felt the effects of the armed conflict.
It was not an inevitable result of the war, but an individual decision that became collective.
But perhaps what’s most shocking about this unprecedented mass action was that none of it was done out of any real necessity. Rather the owners took the fateful decision to have their pets euthanized because they believed they were doing the best by their animals.
Somehow, the memory of how hard dogs and cats suffered during the First World War triggered this collective madness as soon as it became known that a new war was coming.
People would rather do that than see their animal starve.
This mass killing of pets is a tragic and shameful episode in history, but at the beginning of the corona pandemic, almost 90 years after the London massacre, the same massacre is taking place across Europe.
In China, there were many pets that were sold or given away, in Germany many farm animals were killed or gassed, and mass death still threatens zoo animals everywhere.
Back then it was the war, today Corona is the cause.
It is always the weak one, these without rights, the voiceless, who falls as the victim.
The story repeats itself, but human animals are not capable of learning.
My best regards to all, Venus