Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More from Maspeth


This video today, 12:10 P.M. in Maspeth's Reiff Park

video

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We didn't run across any loose dogs this morning in Prospect Park, but around 8:50 we suddenly heard a chorus of loud yapping on the Nethermead, apparently a dog fight. And at 11:30 there was a loose dog on the Peninsula meadow (picture above).

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Just what kind of society lets dog owners unleash their pets for the express purpose of intimidating imagined wrongdoers (as the DOPR says, "off-leash keeps parks safe")? See this recently-published memoir by a Jew who survived the Holocaust as stenographer to Amon Goth, commandant of the Krakow-Plaszo concentration camp:
Goth's dogs, a huge Great Dane named Rolf and a mongrel named Alf, would usually accompany him on his rounds through the camp and elsewhere as well. Alf was supposedly a mixture of German shepherd and Siberian wolf. In any event, it was an extremely aggressive animal. The dogs ran free through the camp with their master and were possibly his cruelest weapon. They were trained to attack on command, or to attack anyone who approached their master at a run from behind. Both of them were not just theoretically capable of tearing a person to death; they proved they could on several of my poor fellow prisoners.

One day, a few weeks after I began working in the commandant's office, Goth was standing with some other SS men outside the Red House, near the camp entrance. Before leaving for a conference in town, he had to sign a few letters. I approached him with the folder containing them. He gestured me to hurry, and then turned around to continue speaking to the SS men. I began running toward Goth from behind, when the two dogs immediately rushed toward me to attack. I stopped short and had just enough time to back against the wall of the house, so the two dogs couldn't pull me down right away. The Great Dane bit my right upper arm and his teeth went through my heavy sweater, my shirt, my skin and muscle, right down to the bone.

At that moment, Goth looked around for his dogs, saw what had happened and called them off. They then stopped attacking me, and I picked up the letter and took them to Goth, knowing that the next bite probably would have killed me.
Mietek Pemper, The Road to Rescue: The Untold Story of Schindler's List, pp. 51-2, transl. David Dollmayer (Other Press, New York, 2008).

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