So what are we to make of the death of Hitler's alligator at the age of 84? Well, to start with, he wasn't Hitler's. But there's such PR mileage in being even tangentially associated with history's best-known genocidal lunatic that Saturn the alligator got greater global publicity on his death than any soldier who died in the war.
• Alligator rumoured to have been Hitler's pet has died in a Moscow zoo
• Emaciated animals rescued from zoo in war-torn Syria
• Kiwi among animal activists trying to save animals from zoo near Mosul amid Iraq strife
Do you know the difference between an alligator and a crocodile? No, neither did I until two minutes ago, but in essence it seems that there isn't one.
Alligators have a blunter snout, crocs a toothier grin, but these are not the sort of subtleties you are likely to notice if either latches on to your leg.
In such circumstances the only sure way to tell is by geography. If the water into which the beast is retreating with a view to drowning, dismembering and eating you is in North America, it's an alligator. Anywhere else it's a croc.
Saturn was born in the swamps of Mississippi in 1936 just as the Great Depression was ending and the Spanish Civil War getting under way. (It was to the Spanish Civil War, as you may recall, that Hitler sent his Luftwaffe to get some killing practice.)
Is there a word for a baby alligator? I don't think so. They are never pups or chicks. Like many reptiles they are born complete, ready to kill from the moment they slither from the egg.
But Saturn never got to do much killing. When only a few months old he was captured and taken halfway round the world to the Zoological Gardens in Berlin, and for all but three of the next 84 years he was a prisoner. (It's irrelevant, but I think interesting, that Hitler's only words of French were Vous êtes mon prisonnier.)
Barely three years after Saturn's arrival in Berlin the second world war began.
Wars are tough on zoos. Some of the animals in Berlin Zoo were killed by Allied bombing and the consequent fires. Others escaped. Others still were butchered and eaten by the apex predator, human beings.
Only 96 of the 16,000 exhibits are recorded as having survived the war. I don't know how many of these were crocs or alligators but I wouldn't be surprised if it were several because they're born survivors.
They've been around unchanged for 80 million years. They saw the dinosaurs off. They've seen off all sorts of climate change. Nothing hunts them. Nothing much frightens them. We alone are a threat to their dominion.
In 1943 the alligator enclosure at Berlin Zoo was destroyed by bombs and Saturn escaped, not to be recaptured until 1946. These were his wilderness years. It is not known exactly how he survived, but it is almost certain he did not join Hitler's private menagerie.
Probably he slunk around the place, ate cats and corpses as they presented themselves, and when things got hot he just sank down into the River Spree to ride them out.
Allied soldiers recaptured him and, in what may or may not have been a gesture of goodwill, offered him to the Russians. The Russians duly nicknamed him Hitler and lugged him back home to Moscow Zoo where because of his name and provenance he became an instant hit.
Thus it was that he found himself on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain.
In the 1950s the Americans, in what may or may not have been a gesture of goodwill, sent Saturn a mate. But she proved infertile. Nevertheless she and Saturn cohabited for years and when she died he pined for months.
Otherwise he spent the Cold War doing nothing much. Once a drunk threw a boulder that hit him on the head and all but killed him. Another time tourists injured him with a hail of bottles.
Eventually the authorities erected a thick glass screen to protect him - though they still allowed school children, apparently, to poke him with a stick for being German.
When the Soviet Union collapsed and tanks were driven into the streets of Moscow Saturn reportedly cried out in distress. His keeper reckoned the vibrations reminded him of the Battle of Berlin.
Twice a week they fed him fish, rats and rabbits. The rest of the time he slept. He slept through stock market crashes, oil crises, proxy wars. Tyrants, bullies, presidents and empires rose and fell and he barely blinked.
In the wild alligators rarely reach 40. Saturn, by doing nothing, reached twice that. And in doing so he became at least half a dozen metaphors. RIP.