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AMAZING article - rescuing the Lipizzaners at the end of WWII

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    AMAZING article - rescuing the Lipizzaners at the end of WWII

    My husband and I were given an article from a magazine called World War II (11/09) about the amazing rescue of the Lippizaner stallions along with several top TB's and Arabians at the end of the war. It was one of the most incredible stories involving horses that I have ever read. We were both in tears at several points while we were reading. The passion and devotion that Col. Alois Podhajsky, General Patton, and several other high ranking officers of both the German and American militaries had for these horses was awe-inspiring. The story itself is extraordinary, and it's something I never knew about before. The article is really well written with a lot of great historical information, and it conveys beautifully the pride and nobility of the horses AND the people!

    Just when I thought I was going completely crazy to be willing to make the kinds of sacrifices we do just have these amazing creatures in our lives, I realize that some of the most noble & influential people in history were "horse mad" too (p. 59 of the article includes a quote by Podhajsky in which he states, "I am bound to admit that I have always been what is commonly called 'horse-mad'")!

    This article is well worth seeking out. I had never heard of World War II magazine before this, but the article is one of those "keepers" that you photocopy and hand out to all of your horse friends, especially dressage people!

    The White Stallions

    I thought everyone knew that story. But, since you didn't, you might enjoy an old movie called The White Stallions which is about this very thing.


      Not that it's entirely accurate, but do you know there's a Disney movie out there about this?
      "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

      ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


        You need to watch the "Miracle of the White Stallions" an old Disney movie! It is all about the rescue and the parts where they were showing the riding, Alois Podhajsky did the actual riding! Talk about a tear jerker! Very well done! and some awesome parts where they are actually performing!
        Last edited by Arizona DQ; Jan. 30, 2010, 03:14 PM. Reason: misspelling
        We do not have an overpopulation of dogs, we have an under population of responsible dog owners!!!


          Original Poster

          No, I never that movie existed! Will have to figure out how I can get a hold of it. What year was it made?


            If you don't mind watching lo-res, it's on YouTube!


            (It's even got young stallions in the field "attacking" each other! )


              LOL. The Lipizanner attack,

              Since Karl Mikolka called them his 'little white mice', it's a little white mice attack.


                Not only Lipizzaners and TBs were rescued after Germany surrendered. Polish Arabian state run studs were also involved. And unlike the Lipizzaners, some of the best Arabians were not returned to their rightful owners but exported to the US. Spoils of war an' all.

                A wonderful, true account involving one of the most famous Arabians of his time (*Witez II) is, "And Miles To Go", by Linell Smith. The book is out of print but many libraries have a copy. Well worth the read for the history alone. It's also a darn good horse story.


                  I loved that book too.

                  I don't believe it was just Lipizanners and Thb and Arab that were disrupted by the war. Lots of eastern european warmbloods.

                  I'm told the Polish Trakehners and weilkopolskas at one barn I was at, were named after their ancesters who were named for towns in territory Poland lost.


                    The movie came out around 1963 and starred Lilli Palmer and Robert Powell. It was written by 2 people, one of whom was Mr. Podhajsky. I did not know the latter was in the movie.
                    Last edited by trafalgar; Jan. 30, 2010, 06:33 PM. Reason: error abd spelling


                      Original Poster

                      The article we read said that General Reed, one of the US Generals involved in the top secret mission, had purchased an offspring from one of the horses he'd helped to rescue, and he rode her for 30 years!

                      Wow. I'm sure the Disney movie is great, but it would be so awesome to update it and see a modern-day, feature film version. It just reminds me of those types of obscure stories about the war that really capture the national imagination, like Defiance or the film about how the US and German soldiers stopped fighting each other on Christmas day and just lived as fellow humans just for that one day. I don't recall the name of that film.



                        The reality was pretty neat according to stories. My uncle-in-law's father being from Wyoming and a rancher obviously familiar with horses was one of those assigned by General Patton to move the horses. The stories that were told by my uncle were that he just talked about it as something he did in the war, rescued some horses, but when we read it about it, it does seem quite amazing to be able to move those horses to escape.

                        Of course in Wyoming you move horses loose and in herds, tied in lines, whatever frequently given the large spaces, but in Europe, it is very different, and doing it in the middle of a war something else!


                          Originally posted by rcloisonne View Post
                          Not only Lipizzaners and TBs were rescued after Germany surrendered. Polish Arabian state run studs were also involved. And unlike the Lipizzaners, some of the best Arabians were not returned to their rightful owners but exported to the US. Spoils of war an' all.

                          A wonderful, true account involving one of the most famous Arabians of his time (*Witez II) is, "And Miles To Go", by Linell Smith. The book is out of print but many libraries have a copy. Well worth the read for the history alone. It's also a darn good horse story.
                          I was going to post about this book, but you beat me to it. I read this book over and over as a child. *Witez II was my Arabs granfather and as a child I thought it was the most awesome thing.


                            The movie is very hard to find. I have it on VHS and then saw it in a bin of cheap DVDs. I grabbed that DVD. Love the movie.


                              fburton, Thanks for the youtube link. That will make for some good cabin fever viewing.


                                Originally posted by JNW View Post
                                I was going to post about this book, but you beat me to it. I read this book over and over as a child. *Witez II was my Arabs granfather and as a child I thought it was the most awesome thing.
                                Also, he's found in a lot of "sport" Arab pedigrees and was the sire of Sheila Varian's mare Ronteza, who beat all breeds at the Cow Palace reined cow horse competition in 1961 -- despite falling down during her qualifier! She jumped right to her feet and stayed on the cow. (See
                                You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                                1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


                                  What many people sadly don't realise , is the damage done to the Lips in our own lifetime by the Balkan war...




                                    fburton, thanks for the youtube link -- just spent the last couple of hours watching. Can't believe I never saw that movie before.
                                    ~Another proud member of the TrakehNERD clique ~


                                      So in the scene when the Czech herd is liberated, Podhajsky is alarmed to see Arabian (stallions ?) running with the the Lippizanner mares. He asks,"You don't suppose they crossed the Lippizan mares with other horses?"

                                      Did he ever get an answer to that question?


                                        I believe the response to the question was something like "it's been a LONG war!"

                                        Here is an article posted on another bulletin board:


                                        In the comments someone posted an excerpt from Colonel Reed's memoirs.