WOOF! WOOF! WOOF! number 8

Dackeland über Alles I

I know that many of my fans are curious about what it has been like for me traveling through Germany (and Austria and Schweiz). As you may already know I am the only member of the Hurdy-Gurdy Band to be born in Germany. Animama was born in Hungary and Gurdypapa was born in Brooklyn!

I was born in alittle village called Weila, not far from Schaebisch Hall in the middle of Germany. Here is a photo (below left) of my Dackelmama, her name is Ani, believe it or not!

My father's name is PreussenHeld. (below right). He is the champion prizewinner Jagd Teckel (hunting Dackel) of Germany and Switzerland. It's a shame he wasn't around very much when I was little, but you know we reine rasse dackels are hardwired, so when it comes to smelling out weasels I'm a chip off the old block!

At left is my beloved Onkel Otto von Bayern. He arranged my adoption by the Gurdy Family. Without his help I would certainly have had a very different life.

My puppy siblings and I greet my new brother Julien.
New brother Gaspar. He and Julien smell wonderful!
We travel away from my Dackel family! We travel away from my Heimat und Mutti!

We travel to a wonderful place called Paris. It is very exciting.

Gurdypapa keeps telling me Wait! This is not home yet. But I don't have a clue what he's talking about.
Should I trust these people?
As it turned out, we flew in an airplane to America! The Gurdyfamily actually has a house with big backyard. I get to sleep on the sofa, hang out by the fire when it's cold, and go for long walks with Gurdypapa. (Walking Gurdypapa is one of my jobs).

Sometimes we would read the New York Times together.

The Gurdyfamily named me Mackie Messer. Let me tell you the story of that name.

The character of Macheath, later to become Mack the Knife, (Mackie Messer in German) first appeared in The Beggar's Opera by John Gay (1685-1732). Gay was a popular English playwright and poet, a friend and collaborator of Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope.

The Beggar's Opera is a comic ballad opera, the first of its kind, and took London theatre by storm. Gay uses lower-class criminals to satirize government and upper-class society, an idea that has been used often ever since.

The main character of The Beggar's Opera is a swashbuckling thief called Macheath. He's a dashing romantic, a gentleman pickpocket, a Robin Hood type. He is polite to the people he robs, avoids violence, and shows impeccable good manners while cheating on his wife.

The Beggar's Opera was a success from its first production in 1728, and continued to be performed for many years.

We now skip about 200 years to post-WWI Europe and Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956). World War I had a revolutionary impact on the arts. The avant-garde movement, in despair after the war, embraced the concept of the anti-hero. Gay's play was revived in England in 1920, and Brecht thought it could be adapted to suit the new era – who's more of an anti-hero than Macheath? So in 1927 he got a German translation and started writing Die Dreigroschenoper, "The Three Penny Opera."

John Gay 1712 (left)
Bertold Brecht (above)
Kurt Weill (right)

Mackie Messer 1932 (below)

Brecht worked with Kurt Weill (1900-1950) on the adaptation. He did far more than just translate Gay's play, he reworked it to reflect the decadence of the period and of the Weimar republic. Mostly, Brecht wrote or adapted the lyrics, and Weill wrote or adapted the music. Gay's eighteenth-century ballads were replaced with foxtrots and tangos. Only one of Gay's melodies remained in the new work. The play parodies operatic conventions, romantic lyricism and happy endings.

The main character is still Macheath, but Macheath transformed. He's now called Mackie Messer, AKA Mack the Knife. ("Messer" is German for knife.) Where Gay's Macheath was a gentleman thief, Brecht's Mackie is an out-and-out gangster. He's no longer the Robin Hood type, he's an underworld cutthroat, the head of a band of street robbers and muggers. He describes his activities as "business" and himself as a "businessman." Still, the character does manage to arouse some sympathy from the audience.

The Brecht-Weill version premiered in Germany in 1928 and was an instant hit. Within a year, it was being performed throughout Europe, from France to Russia. Between 1928 and 1933 it was translated into 18 languages and had over 10,000 performances.

To hear the "Ballad of Mack the Knife" (Die Moritat von Mackie Messer) from The Three Penny Opera, click here.

Beyond my name, however, I've been wondering about my forebears, both German and otherwise.

Here (right) is the famous Neanderthal Stone Dackel that was "discovered" in Germany in1846 by kindly Doktor K. Geck and which caused such controversy for over 100 years. In 1967 it was proved beyond a doubt to be a hoax.

It's clear, and certainly the subject of a future Woof!, that Dackels and other dogs have been performing since ancient times.

Dackels have a special place in the these lands: Germany, Austria and Switzerland. This is where Das Dackelheit (Dackelness) was born and flowered.

Dackels and the Great Composers: Now there's an upcoming Woof!

The crazy years of The Great War and after: the Weimar Republic, Berlin and caberets, Marlene Dietrich and the Blaue Engel, Vienna and Freud. And everywhere, Dackeln, Dackeln und noch mehr Dackeln!

Then came the terrible nightmare. And dogs of all breeds were trained to do terrible things.

The sad truth is most German Shepherd dogs collaborated willingly with the Nazis.

For one breed in particular Blinde Gehorchen (Blind Obedience) was not a strong point.

Dackels were an important part of the underground resistance to the Faschist Dictatorship.

During The Great War my Ur-Onkel Fritz von was decorated for valour on the Western Front.

His singing, and corporal Schmidt's accordeon playing brought cheers and applause from the French and British trenches, on the other side of No-man's land.

Just a small note about Schaefferhunde: After the war, German Shepherds realized their terrible and tragic mistake and barked "Never Again".

They have since returned to their tradition of Noble Service.

After the war it was learned that German scientists had worked feverishly to create a rocket powered Dackel, the D-2. They were to swim the Channel paving the way for Operation Sea Lion Invasion of Britain.

Despite all the commands shouted at them none of the mechanical Dackels would go in the water.

So, can a Dackel go home again? Can he find happiness in the old Heimat?

See what happens when a Dackel returns to the Vaterland. Go to directly to

Woof! Woof! Woof! 9 :

Dackeland über Alles II

Ein Dackel kehrt d'Heim!

Whether for the Olympics, or selling clothes in München, by the 1960's, Dackels are back!

Hep-Labas!

Waldi ist immer dabei, one of the great classics of the Dackelbildungs Roman movement.