Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Not so cute and cuddly after all!

An e-mail alerted me to the story of a strange man-versus-wolf encounter during the First World War.  It happened on the Eastern Front, involved both German and Imperial Russian troops, and was so serious that it led to a temporary truce between the two sides while they dealt with the animal problem.  Wikipedia reported the incident in its article on the Eastern Front, and linked to this New York Times report dated July 29th, 1917:

In the course of last Winter's campaign the wolves of the Polish and Baltic Russian stretches had amassed to such numbers in the Kovno-Wilna-Minsk district as to become a veritable plague to both Russian and German fighting forces.  So persistent were the half-starved beasts in their attacks on small groups of soldiers that they became a serious menace even to fighting men in the trenches.  Poison, rifle fire, hand grenades, and even machine guns were successively tried in attempts to eradicate the nuisance.  But all to no avail.  The wolves - nowhere to be found quite so large and powerful as in Russia - were desperate in their hunger and regardless of danger.  Fresh packs would appear in place of those that were killed by the Russian and German troops.

As a last resort, the two adversaries, with the consent of their commanders, entered into negotiations for an armistice and joined forces to overcome the wolf plague.  For a short time there was peace.  And in no haphazard fashion was the task of vanquishing the mutual foe undertaken.  The wolves were gradually rounded up, and eventually several hundred of them were killed.  The others fled in all directions, making their escape from carnage the like of which they had never encountered.  It is reported that the soldiers have not been molested again.

The wolf packs must have posed one heck of a threat, if modern armies equipped with rifles, artillery and aircraft had to stop fighting each other in order to deal with them!



Murphy's Law said...

Still, when we're talking the Red Army and the Wehrmacht, I'm gonna root for the wolves on principle.

Anonymous said...

Dude, wrong war!!

Ed Darrell said...

Even the wolves know war is wrong. God sent angels to Sodom to see what could be done, and the Sodomites offered to humiliate the angels as soldiers do in war; who says angels don't appear as wolves?

Scott said...

WW1, this was the Kaiser versus the Czar, Murphy.

But daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaang, that's a serious problem when you need to organize an international hunting party to get the wolves under control.