Look, it’s Monday morning. You don’t really want to read my meditations on Habakkuk or the umpteenth “Pope Francis Says Stuff, Much of It Quite Awesome, Some of It a Bit Daffy” post.
You want to hear about Heinrich Himmler’s plan to use slave labor to breed giant rabbits in order to provide fur to keep Nazi pilots warm and comfy in a plan called Operation Munchkin.
So yeah … that actually happened.
Details of a bizarre Nazi plan to breed giant Angora rabbits in concentration camps to provide fur-lined clothing for Hitler’s armed forces has been unearthed in a German archive.
‘Operation Munchkin’, as it was known, was the brainchild of sinister S.S. chief Heinrich Himmler who was had a career as a trained chicken farmer before he became the architect of the Holocaust.
He ordered a breeding programme for the rabbits and specified that they were to be raised in luxury just yards away from the where the most terrible crime against humanity was taking place.
While prisoners were starved, beaten and tortured to death in Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and Dachau, the rabbit hutches in these and 27 other camps camps were spacious and heated.
Some of these inmates were even executed if their S.S. overseers believed they were not treating their rabbit charges with enough respect.
The breeding programme began in 1941 shortly after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.
Himmler got the idea for utilising rabbits for wool production after reading of a small-scale scheme that was started during the First World War.
He wrote at the time: ‘Throughout Europe it is my intention to establish breeding stations in concentration camps’ and even decreed that they should be kept in pens where they had ‘plenty of space.’”
The story moves from the comical to the horrifying with alarming speed, as the nightmarish images of starving Holocaust victims forced to lavish food and care on bunnies for Nazis float through your brain. We remain fascinated with Nazi Germany not just because we wonder that such a great nation could foster such unfathomable evil, but because the Nazi elite was the most unlikely collection of zealots, tyrants, and psychopaths history has ever known.