On a cold, wet winter’s day, Mummy and I went in search of a dog’s tombstone located deep in the heart of St. James, London. We did find it – sitting in a small, gated patch beneath a tree, preserved in its own miniature housing, outside number 9 Carlton House Terrace.
The German quotation on his little tombstone states simply he was “a true companion”:
Giro was an Alsatian who belonged to Dr. Leopold von Hoesch, the German Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 1932 to 1936. Giro was believed to have been killed suddenly in 1934 when he was electrocuted when biting through a live electrical cable.
Although the German Embassy was once the building next to Giro’s grave, let it be known this is not Giro’s burial grounds. Long after the war, builders were excavating a strip of land in front of 9 Carlton House Terrace to create a deep underground car park. It is likely that a builder must have found the gravestone and placed it safely under the tree. Reportedly, a German man walking past noticed the tombstone and he also recalled the name Hoesch as the former German ambassador.
Giro is often unfairly referred to as the ‘Nazi Dog’ simply because he belonged to Dr. Hoesch, a respected statesman who did much to improve relations between Britain and Germany.Dr Leopold von Hoesch came to England as a representative of Germany’s short-lived Weimar Republic which ruled Germany for a time between the two world-wars.
When Hitler came into power, Dr. Hoesch became a representative of the Third Reich, entirely by proxy rather than choice. He was a voice of dissent. He challenged and denounced Hitler for invading the Rhineland. Hitler became greatly vexed by his ambassador in Britain.
Tragically, Dr Hoesch died of a heart attack in 1936 just a month later, at aged 55. He was granted a grand funeral parade and gun-salute by the British in London – the Swastika flag draped over his coffin. It was to be the only time that such a symbol was on public display in the UK.
In our conclusion, Giro was a faithful pet and companion to a man who wanted nothing more than better relations between Germany and Britain. And Giro, an Alsatian, was incapable of such atrocities of war. The fact that Dr. Hoesch had a little tombstone made for Giro at his passing says a lot about the man. He must have known how to love.
May’s comment: As we continue to discover the many treasures of London, here’s one so unexpected and obscure. We were alerted to this by one of our blog readers who know that we are always after all things dog-related. History lies deep in almost every corner of this great metropolis. I love learning about it’s many stories!
This is the second time we have found pet/dog tombstones in London. The other time was at the Pet Cemetery in Hyde Park – Shhhh! It’s a Resting Place.