Hitler’s Bovine Legacy

A special breed of cow developed during the Second World War lives on today in England.

In the 1930s Hitler instituted a program that aimed to breed aurochs, a now extinct breed of cow that once roamed Eurasia, and was the famed prey of Roman hunters. His goal was to evoke the power and folklores of the Germanic people and to create what he saw as an Aryan cow.

At the end of the Second World War most of the animals held at the Berlin Zoo were killed but a few survived. Today, some 70 years later, the ancestors of those cows still live on in South West England. They are called Heck Cattle, and were named after the two zoologist brothers who bred them under the Nazi-Funded project.

Although the Heck brothers did successfully breed an animal that resembled the aurochs, the Heck Cattle are much smaller and are genetically far removed from aurochs. Only thirteen Heck cattle remain today and one would have a hard time guessing their origins simple by sight.

When asked if the Nazi heritage of the animals tarnished their image, their current owner, Derek Gow, said “I don’t think there is anything more sinister in owning Heck cattle than there is driving a Volkswagen,” he said. “They were a fantasy breed. But they are also quality cattle and a pedigree breed that is remarkably robust. They could one day be returned to a wild environment and become one of the big super-animals that roamed the forests.”

Source: The Independent

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