Finding Zasha

By: Randi Barrow


When 12-year-old Ivan's town of Leningrad goes under a Nazi siege (nothing and no one passes in or out), his mother, neighbor 'Aunt' Vera, and himself must flee. His mother is going with her business to the Ural Mountians, and sends him to his Uncle Boris's cabin. However, he decides to live with his Aunt Vera and her sister in the countryside. Then, just when he thinks that he's safe, his new town falls under Nazi occupation. Soon a group of Nazis march in, along with their Major, Axel Recht. As he plays his concertina (an instrument as seen in the picture above) for the soldiers, he sees the Major's two adorable German Shepherd puppies, Zasha and Thor. Ivan learns that the puppies are being trained to hunt down his fellow Russians, and decides to save both of the dogs from the Nazi's and their cause. Read Ivan's exciting adventure behind enemy lines on his quest to save the two German dogs from the hands of Major Recht and the Nazis! (If you're just begging for more read the sequel: Saving Zasha!)


I think the overall theme of this book is loyalty to your country and deciding where your loyalties lie. One example of this would be, without giving much away, that in the beginning of the book Ivan and his friends (Alik and younger brother Misha) are playing around. Alik and Ivan are pretending that they are Stalin and another general, and that they have captured Hitler (Misha) in Leningrad. They pretend and play this even though they are under Nazi siege, and are bombed frequently by the Germans, so they are being loyal to their country. They are being loyal even if their country isn't currently coming to help them at all. However, he also helps the German dogs, which was considered traitorous at that time. There are a few other examples having to do with Nazis, partisans, and a few other things, but none that won't spoil the book. :)
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Hitler's Blondi and His Other Dogs

In the beginning of the book Ivan, and a few of his friends, mention Hitler's German Shepherd named Blondi. Ivan describes her as, "...a beautiful German Shepherd.", but who was she really? What exactly did she do being Hitler's pet? Was she Hitler's first dog? Did Hitler even like dogs as a whole? Now think I will now tell you a bit about her and about Hitler's other dogs.

His first dog was a bull terrier named Fuschl (or Foxl as Hitler liked to call him). He was a dog from France that Hitler found while serving there in WWI. (Some say Fuschl was the mascot of that particular Russian unit.) His Foxl disappeared in the end, and Hitler claimed that Foxl was stolen, but it is more likely that he just escaped. Hitler was a dog lover at heart, but didn't like small 'lap dogs' or Boxers. He was also allergic to cats, which is probably why he never liked them.

Hitler had many different German Shepherds over the years the first of them was named Blonda (who is a different dog from Blondi, who was younger). Blonda had a litter of puppies, of which no one seems to know much about. It is confirmed that one of the puppies was also named Blonda. After both of the Blondas died is when he got Blondi. There are many different accounts of Blondi, but most sources say she was given to Hitler as a gift. She was defiantly his favorite. She is seen in many different pictures with him, and he loved her very much. He even bought her another German Shepherd named Bella, as a friend. Bella was soon sent away though because she didn't like Blondi much, and liked to get her master up at nine in the morning to play.

Blondi went almost everywhere that her master went, and slept in his room. Feldebel Fritz Tornow was even assigned Blondi's own personal dog trainer! In early April 1945 Blondi had five puppies at the bunker where Hitler and his loyal Nazi members stayed their last days. She had been bred some time earlier with Gerdy Troost's German Shepherd, Harrass. The only name of the puppy that has been accounted for was the first male, and Hitler's favorite puppy. Hitler named him 'Wolf' after his own name, Adolf (which means 'Noble Wolf').

Blondi stayed with Hitler to the end, even when Hitler's personal docter tested the accuracy of the cyanide on her. When it worked Hitler was devastated. After Hitler and Eva committed suicide Feldebel Firtz Tornow- Blondi's own handler- took the puppies outside, and shot them. Russian troops later recovered Blondi's body along with Hitler, Eva, and a German Shepherd puppy (thought to be Wolf). Even though they searched the area it was never recorded that any other puppies or their bodies were found.

Blondi's story is very sad, and it seems brutal that Hitler would let her take the cyanide. Some things are just honest mistakes though. Like hiring Feldebel Fritz Tornow as your dog's personal dog handler. It just goes to show though, some dogs are loyal to the end.

Did Randi Barrow Portray This Correctly?

I think that the author accurately portrayed this. Especially by making Zasha and Thor German Shepherds. It really ties in! Also at the beginning it says that they saw a picture of her with Hitler in a few newspapers. Which would be true according to a website I read that said that Nazis had complete control over the media and newspapers in their conquered regions. The only inaccurate thing might be that the boys hope she 'escapes', which couldn't and wouldn't happen. This is because she was almost always with Adolf, and was very loyal to him. Although, I think Randi, the author, was just referring to the fact that the boys were just pondering the idea for their play when she referred to that. Even though she didn't refer to Blondi much directly I think that Blondi was probably a big inspiration in hhe background, her being Hitler's personal pet and all.


("Blondi- what happened to her other four pups? - Stormfront." Stormfront RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2014.)

("Newspapers in Nazi Germany." History Learning Site: Newspapers in Nazi Germany. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2014.)

("Adolf Hitler had army of talking dogs, claims Dr Jan Bondeson." NewsComAu. News.Com.Au, n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2014. )

("Google Images." Google Images. Google, n.d. Web. 8 Jan. 2014.)

Hitler Clips with Blondi:

What's A German Shepherd Dog? What Are They Like?

Want to learn about more about the wonderful German Shepherd? Click Here!