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Animals have played important rolls in war from the beginning and World War One was no exception. Throughout the war the widespread use of dogs, horses mules and pigeons are all well documented and there have been some very interesting books written on the topic. Not so well documented is the presence of this one elephant who, being loyal to the Kaiser, is pictured in this 1915 photograph toiling away on behalf of his German masters in occupied France. The story has it that the beast was presented as a gift to the German Army by the patriotic owner of a popular circus.

It is a curious picture which leaves us with many questions, however judging by the amount of intact buildings seen in the background and the entire lack of weaponry it can be assumed that the elephant was kept far away from the front; but why is there a sailor on his back when they are so far from the sea? Adding to the queer, Twilight Zone atmosphere of the image, there casually stands the German folk poet Ludwig Ganghofer to the far right.

From Amazon:

        Watch This Film Clip of Elephants in the First World War


The Western Front Elephant (Der Welt Spiegel, 1915)

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