The Northrop Frye Centre Presents:
Humans, Animals, and Nazis: The Berlin Zoo in German History
Thursday, November 10, 2016 at 11:00am
Prof. Gary Bruce (University of Waterloo)
Northrop Frye Centre (VC102), Old Victoria College Building
(91 Charles Street West)
In 1943, fierce aerial bombardment razed the Berlin zoo and killed most of its animals. But only two months after the war’s end, Berliners had already resurrected it, reopening its gates in the heart of a shattered city. How do we explain this profound attachment of Berliners to their zoo? Much of the answer lies in the history of this enormously popular attraction, one that embedded itself into the day-to-day cultural life of the German capital. Given its enormous reach, German governments of various stripes used the zoo to spread their political message, from the colonialist display of Africans, Inuit, and other “exotic” peoples in the late nineteenth century to the Nazis’ bizarre attempts to breed back long-extinct European cattle. The Berlin zoo therefore helped to shape German views not only of the animal world but also of the human world for more than 150 years.
|Gary Bruce is Professor of History at the University of Waterloo. He is the author of The Firm: The Inside Story of the Stasi (Oxford University Press, 2010) and Resistance With the People: Repression and Resistance in Eastern Germany 1945-1955 (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003). Prof. Bruce's newest project, Through the Lion Gate:A History of the Berlin Zoo (forthcoming with Oxford University Press) examines the Berlin Zoo from its founding in 1844 to the union of the two Berlins in 1990, examining changing perceptions of the role of animals in human existence, popular notions of the 'other' and the 'exotic' and the growing attraction in both the German scholarly community and the general population to the world beyond German borders. |