Sunday, May 17, 2015
During World War II, the high command of Nazi Germany transferred most of Europe's Lipizzan breeding stock to Hostau, Czechoslovakia. The stallions of the Spanish Riding School were evacuated to St. Martins, Austria from Vienna in January 1945 when bombing raids neared the city and Colonel Alois Podhajsky, head of the Spanish Riding School, feared for the safety of the horses. By spring of 1945, the horses at Hostau were threatened by the advancing Soviet army. The United States Third Army under the command of General George S. Patton, was near St. Martins in the spring of 1945 and Podhajsky put on an exhibition of the Spanish Riding School stallions for Patton and at its conclusion requested that Patton take the horses under his protection. Patton himself was a horseman, and like Podhajsky, had competed in the Olympic Games.
But why—when there was so much destruction, so much loss and pain, so much left to be done—devote limited resources to this particular mission? A simple explanation lies with the diverse individuals central to the rescue, who had all one trait in common: they loved horses.
Thanks to frequent contributor Bruce who sent me this interesting link!