Dilla in The Zone of Interest: Did Rudolf Höss Really Have a Dog?

In Jonathan Glazer’s historical drama film ‘The Zone of Interest,’ Rudolf and Hedwig Höss have a pet dog named Dilla. The dog roams around Hedwig whenever she is having food or spending her time on the grounds of her big house. Dilla remains a constant companion of Hedwig, especially when Rudolf is at the Auschwitz concentration camp, located next to the couple’s house, executing thousands and thousands of Jews. The dog in the movie belongs to none other than Sandra Hüller, who plays Hedwig. But did Rudolf and Hedwig really have a dog?

The Inspiration Behind Dilla the Dog

Rudolf, Hedwig, and their five children had several pets, including multiple dogs. However, Dilla is the name of their pet tortoise. “The children transformed the villa into a small animal sanctuary: Klaus played with and groomed the family’s two Dalmatians and hunting dog; Heideraud liked to watch her two tortoises, ‘Jumbo’ and ‘Dilla,’ crawl around the garden patio; while Brigitte carried her white mice to the Sola River behind the house, allowing them to explore the high grass alongside the riverbanks until her mother called her home,” Thomas Harding wrote in his book ‘Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz.’

It is unknown what really happened to Rudolf and Hedwig’s pets, especially while they were trying to save their lives from the Allied forces after the conclusion of World War II. Jonathan Glazer included Dilla the Dog in his narrative seemingly as a representative of the several pets the real-life counterparts of his protagonists had. Sandra Hüller’s dog is a black Weimaraner who accompanied the former to the filming sets of the movie. The Weimaraner was originally bred as a hunting dog in the early 1800s and the dogs were used by royalty to hunt down different sorts of animals, including fowl, rabbits, and foxes.

Hüller hasn’t revealed the name of her dog. “She’s called Dilla in the film — that’s all you need to know,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. However, IMDb credits Slava the Dog as Dilla. The actress made it clear that her dog didn’t have any privilege to be selected as Dilla. “She had to work for it,” Hüller told Variety, insisting that there was a casting process to choose the dog. Still, the selection helped her as an actress. “That was very helpful. I’m very grateful to my dog,” the performer told W Magazine.

Glazer shot the film with several cameras placed in and around the house of Rudolf and Hedwig without a crew behind them, capturing the mundane activities of the characters. Having an untrained dog as a part of the process was apt for him. “There was nobody on set [except] the actors. So, the actors were just living their lives, and because we had 10 setups at the same time and were shooting everything, after one or two hours, we had all the setups we needed. We had continuous action, and the sun was changing, the light was changing, the clouds were coming and going, the dog was running through the house, and everything was captured on the 10 cameras,” cinematographer Łukasz Żal told A.frame.

Read More: Where Was The Zone of Interest Filmed?