New movie to feature lipizzaner rescue of WW2

Share
General Patton and Colonel Podhajsky during WW2.
General Patton and Colonel Podhajsky after the evacuation of the lipizzaner stallions during WW2.

A new film on the evacuation of lipizzaner horses from a Nazi breeding farm in Czechoslovakia during World War II is expected to hit theatres in December 2016.

The rights to the book Operation Cowboy, by best-selling author Stephan Talty, have been bought by Mad Riot Entertainment, the company of producers Mark Canton and Lawrence Smith.

The film Operation Cowboy is based on the book of the same name by Stephan Talty.
The film Operation Cowboy is based on the book of the same name by Stephan Talty.

Where the 1963 Disney movie Miracle of the White Stallions, starring Robert Taylor as Colonel Alois Podhajsky, featured the rescue of the stallions of the Spanish Riding School, the latest film tells of the rescue of the mares by the Third Army’s United States Second Cavalry.

During World War II, the high command of Nazi Germany transferred most of Europe’s Lipizzan breeding stock to Hostau, Czechoslovakia. The breeding stock was taken from Piber in 1942, and additional mares and foals from other European nations arrived in 1943. The stallions of the Spanish Riding School were evacuated to St. Martins, Austria from Vienna in January 1945, when bombing raids neared the city and the head of the Spanish Riding School, Colonel Alois Podhajsky, feared the horses were in danger. By spring of 1945, the horses at Hostau were threatened by the advancing Soviet army.

The rescue of the Lipizzans by the United States Army, made famous by Miracle of the White Stallions, occurred in two parts: The United States Third Army under the command of General George S. Patton, was near St. Martins in the spring of 1945 and learned that the Lipizzan stallions were in the area.

Patton himself was a horseman, and like Podhajsky, had competed in the Olympic Games. On May 7, 1945, Podhajsky put on an exhibition of the Spanish Riding School stallions for Patton and Undersecretary of War Robert P. Patterson, and at its conclusion requested that Patton take the horses under his protection.

General Patton riding Favory.
General Patton riding Favory.

Meanwhile, the Third Army’s United States Second Cavalry, a tank unit under the command of Colonel Charles Reed, had discovered the horses at Hostau, where there were also 400 Allied prisoners of war, and had occupied it on April 28, 1945. “Operation Cowboy”, as the rescue was known, resulted in the recovery of 1200 horses, including 375 Lipizzaners.

Patton learned of the raid, and arranged for Podhajsky to fly to Hostau. On May 12, American soldiers began riding, trucking and herding the horses 35 miles across the border into Kotztinz, Germany. The Lipizzaners were eventually settled in temporary quarters in Wimsbach, until the breeding stock returned to Piber in 1952, and the stallions returned to the Spanish Riding School in 1955.

Talty’s book Operation Cowboy is based on personal interviews and new archival research. It is being adapted for the screen by Paul Russell Smith.

Talty ghost-wrote A Captain’s Duty with Richard Phillips, which became the Tom Hanks film, Captain Phillips.

The rescue of the lipizzaners has also featured in Saving Horses: The Untold Story of Operation Cowboy in World War 2, written by Ryan Jenkins, and The Perfect Horse: The Daring Rescue of Horses Kidnapped During World War II, by Elizabeth Letts.

 

 

 

17 thoughts on “New movie to feature lipizzaner rescue of WW2

  • June 13, 2015 at 12:11 am
    Permalink

    where and when will this movie be available?

    Reply
  • April 8, 2016 at 8:03 am
    Permalink

    The German officer that actually came to the allies is mentioned in an obscure history….as much as I have found out about him was that he was a flyer in WWI with the famous Circus…..he was decorated….and after the horses rescued as the Russians were coming in, the German officer disappeared….

    I am still researching him…. dormannelson@sbcglobal.net

    Reply
  • September 26, 2016 at 8:05 am
    Permalink

    Check the bibliography in this novel: The Perfect Horse: The Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis Hardcover – August 23, 2016 – by Elizabeth Letts. She’s covered more resources than I can imagine, and traveled to Europe to visit the sites, met family members of the unsung heroes who risked so much to save the horse.

    Reply
    • November 29, 2016 at 9:18 am
      Permalink

      I’ve read “The Perfect Horse” and it is a powerful, incredible recount of a part of history never taught in school. What a page-turner!

      Reply
    • February 9, 2017 at 7:27 am
      Permalink

      My sister, Jo, gave me this book for Christmas and I am thoroughly enjoying it. Letts’ detailed history is amazing and her narrative clearly depicts the unique connection between horses and the humans who love, admire and revere them so much.

      Reply
    • July 16, 2020 at 3:35 am
      Permalink

      Great book. But I had to stop at page 55. It took me a long time to recover from the horrible images her writing conjured. I spoke with some friends about it and they told me that the book would become easier to read if I kept at it. I don’t believe in sugar-coating history, but sometimes you just have to take a beat or two in order to recover. The book DOES get better. And I agree wholeheartedly that it is well-written, well researched and that Letts know a bit about horses. ‘Eighty Dollar Champion’ is likewise a very good horse story.

      Reply
  • March 24, 2017 at 9:05 am
    Permalink

    Does anyone know if this movie was ever completed and debuted? I can’t find anything more on it. I’m very proud to say that my father was a part of this. If anyone can tell me more about the film- I would appreciate it if you’d update me. lidoroiz@outlook.com

    Reply
  • January 7, 2018 at 2:17 pm
    Permalink

    A great story is how the Lipizzanars got to the United States …….Temple Smith !

    Reply
    • January 10, 2018 at 3:47 am
      Permalink

      Howdy, I checked and there is no push to make the movie. I am working on the German officer who really turned the information into the allies. He was afraid the Russians would make draft horses or food out of those fine horses.

      Reply
      • January 14, 2019 at 12:22 pm
        Permalink

        My father was in Patton’s 2nd Cavalry and helped rescue the famed Lipizzaners. He was Sargent William W. Bassford.

        Reply
        • January 17, 2019 at 7:38 am
          Permalink

          Howdy Zelda,
          Saw your note…. I have a photo of Dr. Bassford in his later years…. do you have any photos of him
          while he was in service…and did he take any photos while the rescue went on?
          Best,
          Dorman Nelson
          dormannelson@sbcglobal.net

          Reply
    • January 11, 2018 at 5:00 am
      Permalink

      Howdy, Just found out from the president of MadRiot Entertainment that the Lipizzaner horses movie is in pre-production! dorman nelson

      Reply
  • April 20, 2019 at 2:59 pm
    Permalink

    My Dad was an Army officer with that survival unit and told me of the story many years ago. He was there. Amazing job

    Reply
  • August 18, 2019 at 9:17 pm
    Permalink

    Lipizzaner Rescue of WW2
    Useful post, Nice info!
    Amazing write-up, always find something interesting.
    Thanks

    Reply
  • November 12, 2019 at 6:04 pm
    Permalink

    thank you everybody i knew none of this but will now hard copy and save for my granddaughter my father was a horseman, my great uncle a world war 1 vet, many cousins world war 11 vets my dad would have been in on the rescue if he’d been there, but was in the states farming and raising children who love horses judith (gIgi) von THUN ford

    Reply
  • November 20, 2019 at 8:04 am
    Permalink

    As Gen. Patton’s reincarnation , I was … (the also-
    mentioned) General George S.mith Patton [ in my previous incarnation ]. My ticket stub for reviewing the Royal Lipizzan Stallion arena performance , in this lifetime…is dated : * September 23 , 1983 * ; Section 11 / Row 2 / Seat 8.

    Reply
  • June 4, 2020 at 7:10 am
    Permalink

    I think my (now deceased) father was photographed riding one of these Lippizaners to freedom.

    ,
    ..

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *