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The Angora rabbit project was a Nazi SS project for breeding Angora rabbits. The objective was to provide fur for the linings of jackets for Luftwaffe pilots. Angora rabbits were raised in Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Dachau.
The bound volume covered in woven gray wool, titled Angora, belonged to Heinrich Himmler, the chief of the SS in Nazi Germany and head of its concentration camps. Himmler's Angora album, which he hid in a farmhouse with his other papers near the end of World War II, tells the story of the Angora rabbit project that operated in Nazi death camps.
Chicago Tribune war correspondent Sigrid Schultz found the book in its hiding place near Himmler's alpine villa, and described the significance of the angora project:
In the same compound where 800 human beings would be packed into barracks that were barely adequate for 200, the rabbits lived in luxury in their own elegant hutches. In Buchenwald, where tens of thousands of human beings starved to death, rabbits enjoyed beautifully prepared meals. The SS men who whipped, tortured, and killed prisoners saw to it that the rabbits enjoyed loving care.
The rabbits were raised for their soft, warm fur, which was shaved and used for, among other things, the linings of jackets for Luftwaffe pilots. Himmler had given speeches bragging that "We Germans are the only people in the world who have a decent attitude towards animals." He also described his prisoners in the camps as "human animals" but added that "it is a crime against our blood to worry about them."
Few accounts of the Nazi angora rabbit project have survived, though American soldiers at one camp reported that when prisoners were asked to slaughter the rabbits at the end of the war to make stew, they couldn't bear to do it.
Today, the book is housed at the Wisconsin Historical Society. Photographs, charts and maps from Himmler's Angora are among the more than 27,000 images available in the Wisconsin Historical Society's digital collections. Angora was featured in a Wisconsin Historical Images online gallery in March 2007.
- Angora: Rabbit Raising in German Concentration Camps - The Angora project was an SS-administered program to breed rabbits for their soft fur. Discovered by journalist Sigrid Schultz, the album serves as a stark reminder of a brutal regime that valued animals more than its people. Available on Wisconsin Historical Images, the Wisconsin Historical Society's online image database.
- "Angora" album on WHS Images - Wisconsin Historical Society digital collection of photographs documenting the angora rabbit wool raising projects operated by the Nazi SS corps at each of the concentration camps throughout German occupied territory where the corps was in charge.
- Wisconsin Public Radio Online Feature: Himmler's Angora