ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elizabeth Letts is the New York
Times bestselling author of The
Eighty-Dollar Champion, and two
novels, Quality of Care and Family
Planning. A competitive equestrian
in her youth, Letts rode for California
in the North American Junior Three-Day Eventing Championships. She
“The stallions are irreplaceable. The danger here in the city is too great. They
need to be evacuated to a safer location immediately,” Podhajsky repeated firmly.
He was trying to create the impression that the matter was not open for debate,
though he knew that he was entirely at the mercy of the Nazi leader’s whim.
He was grateful that he had been able to secret some of the horses out in twos
and threes, but even the piecemeal strategy was no longer feasible. Trucks and
fuel were now impossible to come by without permission at the highest levels.
To remove fifteen stallions from a wartime city under siege would be a grand
undertaking; he would never pull it off without the agreement of the man who
stood before him.
A long pause ensued while the Gauleiter reflected. Podhajsky kept his level gaze
upon von Schirach’s noncommittal expression, certain that the fate of his stallions
hung in the balance. For months, the German authorities had been toying with
him—asking him to leave the city, then refusing to grant travel permission.
“It is not easy for me to agree to the evacuation,” the Gauleiter said. “I have
always considered the Spanish Riding School to be Vienna, and with the depar-
ture of the Lipizzaner, a piece of Vienna goes from us.”
Podhajsky wondered if he should say more or remain quiet while von Schirach
The Nazi leader finally spoke. “But I love them too much to leave them in
The fortunate stallions from Vienna had been granted a reprieve: They were
danger any longer ...”
Podhajsky felt his knees almost buckle in relief, but he responded only with a
curt nod. Inside, he felt a deep surge of gratitude toward his stallions. The horses
inspired people to love them, even this cold-hearted and brutal Nazi. Effectively,
the stallions had won their own freedom.
headed to the safer territories of Upper Austria. But Podhajsky knew that his
ordeal was far from over. It would be a long, difficult trek to get the horses safely
away while air raids bombarded the city daily.
From The Perfect Horse: The
Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the
Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the
Nazis by Elizabeth Letts. Copyright
2016 by Elizabeth Letts. Reprinted
by permission of Ballantine Books, an
imprint of Random House, a division
of Penguin Random House LLC. All