Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Adolph Hitler's Horse in St. Charles Parish

In St. Charles Parish near the entrance to LaBranche Plantation in St. Rose, Lousiana, just off 11244 River Road, marked by a small stone and brass plaque, is the final resting place of the stallion some believe was the horse of Adolf Hitler. There is a story of a horse named Nordlicht - a racing champion that belonged to a ruthless dictator of the Third Reich, known as Hitler.  After the war, it was sold as a stud. Blogs, books and even the plantation’s owners would say for years that Hitler’s horse was buried in St. Rose, Louisiana.  

La Branche Plantation in St. Rose is the place to go if you’re a history buff and irreverence is your thing.  The plantation was owned by Jean Baptiste La Branche, a planter in the region. From many accounts, LaBranche Plantation in St. Rose, Louisiana, was one of the grandest on the German Coast until it was destroyed during the Civil War. All that remained was the dependency house, also called a garconniere (French for bachelor quarters).

Nordlicht, "Northern Light", was Hitler's horse. He raced the Nazi circuit in 1943 and 1944 and won the German and Austrian derbies. Undefeated, he was named horse of the year in 1944 and had his image placed on a German postage stamp. Baron Thyssen, a onetime Hitler supporter, left the horse to his manager and trainer when he fled to Switzerland. 

The US Army claimed Nordlicht as a spoil of war and brought him to the United States, where he was purchased by New Orleans surgeon and horse breeder C. Walter Mattingly, who brought him to La Branche Plantation in 1948. Nordlicht was obviously a horse of some renown, as he spent the last twenty years of his life siring numerous offspring at La Blanche.  Dr. Mattingly sold the plantation “with its exceptional Federal woodwork” to the Lentini family in 1983.

Marilyn Richoux, local historian and co-author of "St. Charles Parish Louisiana: A Pictorial History," said that local historians believe a Third Reich horse is buried at LaBranche and that a plaque is even in place over the grave, but they have no conclusive evidence that the horse definitely belonged to Adolf Hitler.

According to an anonymous Internet blog comment:

My mother remembers that horse. It was MEAN and had jumped the fence over and over, and was generally a bad horse. What I think was stupid was that this horse Nordlicht, whether or not it was Hitler's, was a beautiful but mentally off animal that was used a great deal for stud anyhow. So that lunacy is now spread liberally throughout the bloodlines of racehorses all through the States and Canada. 

It was by all accounts a bad horse, really, and had to be kept away from casual visitors.