York vet helped save famed Lipizzan horses

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This photograph is part of Dr. Harold Neibert’s collection and was taken during his work with Lipizzaner horses during World War II. Neibert helped to rescue the horses in the 1940s. He owns Yorkshire Animal Hospital in Springettsbury Township. Background posts: German POWs: ‘They worked cheaper than we did’ and York County veterinarian’s link to World War II Lipizzan horse rescue captures interest .
Harold Neibert is a vet from York and a vet from York.
He’s a veteran of World War II, where he exercised his training as a veterinarian to help bring 40 Lipizzan horses from the former Czechoslovakia to American control.
Some of the Lipizzaner Stallions that perform worldwide today – and in York County recently – may have come from those herded by Neibert, according to the following York Daily Record story:


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Harold Neibert in World War II.

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Dr. Harold Neibert shows pictures of Lipizzaner horses he cared for.

The “World Famous” Lipizzaner Stallions performed at the York Expo Center last week and it’s possible some of them could be descendants of the 40 horses Dr. Harold Neibert of Springettsbury Township rescued weeks after World War II ended.
Neibert, who opened Yorkshire Animal Hospital in 1952, was only 23 years old and serving with the 26th Infantry Division, part of General George Patton’s 3rd Armored Division in World War II when he said word began to spread that 40 Lipizzan horses were being sheltered in the small town of Horna Plana in the former Czechoslovakia.
Being a horse lover, Patton jumped at the chance to rescue the rare horses before they fell into the hands of the advancing Red Army.
Neibert and John Phillips, a fellow American soldier, were veterinary students before joining the Army. They were given 10 German prisoners of war and ordered to get the Lipizzans into Germany before the Russian Army advance reached them, Neibert said.
One dozen men speaking two different languages in a foreign land driving 40 horses – the odds were against them.
“The Germans were happy to be with us rather than with the Russians,” Neibert said.
The group traveled on horseback, Neibert said, guiding the rest of the horses.
Getting food was easy, Neibert said. If they needed something to eat or something to feed the horses, they simply took it from someone’s food pantry.
“At the time, if you had an American uniform on, everything would go for you,” Neibert said.
At a railroad station in Germany, Neibert and the horses packed into boxcars heading to Passau, Germany. They would rejoin Neibert’s unit, which was preparing to ship to the Pacific to fight the Japanese.
In total the trip lasted two weeks – something that Neibert has never forgotten, saying it would be nearly impossible to do again with today’s modern transportation systems.
One part of the story Neibert particularly likes to tell with a chuckle is how he almost mistakenly shot a young man who had surprised the men and the horses as they slept in a barn.
Neibert was awoken from sleep as the barn door opened and someone began to approach him. Neibert reached for his gun and was about to shoot when he realized who he was.
The young man was the farmer’s son who had snuck off in the night to see a girl, Neibert said.
“I was about ready to blast him until I realized who he was,” Neibert said.
Online
For more on the horses, visit http://www.lipizzaner.com

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
This entry was posted in Archives, all posts, Events, For photo fans, Local journalism & Web, People, Pets & animals, War, World War II. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to York vet helped save famed Lipizzan horses

  1. Barbara says:

    A wonderful story. How many of these vets are still alive to tell their story of such a humane act amidst the inhumanity of war. Are his photos archived in a library along with a tape or transcript of his story? Are his photos available on line for us to see? This would be a story to share with many children as a role model as well as a powerful memory to share with our parents who are veterans of this second world war. Thanks for the listing.

  2. Amy says:

    My grandfather was part of this group. His name is William B. Wood. He is now deceased. I was wanting more info or even some pictures. If anyone has any please email me at threewildbears@yahoo.com

  3. Patrice Barnes says:

    Someone sent me this link and the picture there could be one of my Lipizzan’s great, great, grandmas who was born in Hostau! Any idea of who he/she is?
    Patrice

  4. Jim McClure says:

    Patrice,
    You might just be able to get hold of Dr. Neibert to ask via Yorkshire Animal Hospital: http://national.citysearch.com/profile/33855662/york_pa/yorkshire_animal_hospital.html.
    Thanks for your inquiry.
    Jim McClure

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