When most of us think of World War II, we envision concentration camps, Pearl Harbor, that returning soldier perhaps-too-aggressively kissing a stranger in Times Square, and the ultimate fall of the most evil regime in recent memory.

But for some over in the Brexit-ravaged U.K., there is one other thing that comes to mind: livestock. 

A farmer in England has come under fire in recent years for his successful breeding of a type of cattle known as “Nazi cows.” 

While their hooves didn’t leave them with the ability to “heil,” these mean-spirited super cows were originally created under the guidance of the famed German zoologist Heck brothers (they were always told never to swear) and were found to be in high regard by the then-chancellor of Deutschland.

This modern-engineered bovine was born from the memories of ancient ancestors through carefully conducted breeding techniques.

While the final product is not an exact replica, they are, to most who are knowledgeable in the field, close enough to pass the smell test. After all, they all end up tasting the same …

Nazis are widely known for attempting to create all kinds of “super” creations (among … other things).

Whether it was their never-ending quest for a master race, a fabled super-soldier, this bigass hotel, or even their very own Star Wars-esque space station, the Third Reich was always thinking of ways to improve efficiency.

And yes, that included cows!

‘Moo-ving’ on back

The fabled Nazi cows were attempted replicas (not comfortable using the term ‘descendants’ here as they share absolutely zero traces of bloodline) of an extinct breed of auroch which lived from the Pleistocene era to exactly the year 1627.

Don’t ask me how anyone knows such a precise date, but trust the internet, people. It’s science! 

Like many young boys, the aforementioned Heck brothers enjoyed learning about dinosaurs, and perhaps foreshadowing Michael Crichton’s 1990 sci-fi hit, decided to dive deep into the world of “dino DNA.”

The brothers, Heinz and Lutz, initially started their breeding with a fairly noble, albeit boring, purpose in mind: They wanted more people to know what the extinct aurochs looked like. 

For too long these nerd herders had been hearing people say that the aurochs resembled the “wisent” breed of cattle and, darn it all, the Heck brothers would not stand for that malarkey.

They put their thinking caps on and got to forcing various cow breeds into uncomfortable sexing.

During this time, Heinz was the director of the Hellabrunn Zoological Garden in Munich, and Lutz was employed by the then-Berlin Zoological Garden.

With these resources, the fellas got to cooking and whipped up their first attempted facsimile in 1932, when Heinz rolled out “Glachi” on the showroom floor.

Born of a mix of 75% Corsican and 25% hodgepodge (grey cattle, Lowline, Highland, and Angeln … all cows, I guess), Glachi was a specimen to behold with a skull Richard Kiel would be jealous of.

Subsequent attempts at keeping the line going used Glachi as the focal point, making him very popular on the weekends.

The Heck cows bred successfully, and in the mid-1930s, the Nazi government decided to fund their silly little program.

Author Michael Wang wrote in Cabinet Magazine that the idea of reintroducing aurochs into Germany was “part of a larger project of constructing a national identity based on mythic foundations.”

Oh, so that is what they were doing. Could’ve fooled me with all of their evil!

Lutz eventually got a job in Hitler’s Forest Authority, which kinda sounds like the place they’d place the dumb kids, and soon after the Nazis felt that the brothers’ passion for genetic engineering aligned with their goals for whitewashing Europe.

Aryan Cows
This picture from the Nazi news service shows Sudetenland German men, women, and children with their animals after fleeing Czechoslovakia in September 1938, location unknown. (Berliner Verlag/Archiv/picture alliance via Getty Images)

I mean, if it was good enough for cows, why not try it on people? Seriously, is anyone else truly surprised that these guys got wiped off the face of the planet? 

The brothers Heck had to rely on various primeval methods for their bovine blueprints. They utilized everything they could get their little hands on, from old writings to cave paintings — the week-by-week breakdown of which would have produced a truly terrible podcast.

But they ultimately found something along the lines of success, as they each ended up creating a passable pair of angry heifers to roam the landscape chewing grass and kicking ass!

But they were not to last.

The peak of WWII and its mighty drubbing upon the interlocked nations led to bombings of the areas where a great many of the cattle were kept. Bombs released by the Allied powers ensured certain death for the majority of the flock. 

“Animals succumbed to shrapnel wounds or burned to death in their cages. Dangerous species broke loose and were shot. Such was the fate of the Heck cows,” Wang wrote. “Lutz Heck’s son gunned down the agitated and stampeding aurochs, together with warthogs and wild boar, after they had escaped their burning enclosures,” he further, needlessly elaborated, making an already disturbing image so much more graphic and off-putting.

 So that was that. The end of the line … All she wrote, right?

‘They do move in herds’

In 2009, a “conservationist” named Derek Gow imported 13 descendants of the few surviving Heck cattle. He made them feel at home in Britain, releasing them on his farm to commence their eating, jaw-jacking, and rebuilding their forces. 

But perhaps Gow bit off more than even he could chew. After a few rounds of breeding, his numbers were above 20 and he already felt the pressure to reduce the size of his heifer herd down to six, out of concern for their dangerous aggressiveness.

You know about that quasi-fun theory that if every ant suddenly decided to work together, their species could easily wipe out mankind and take over the world? It’s kind of like that, except with 20 cows (Nazi cows). 

“The ones we had to get rid of would just attack you any chance they could. They would try to kill anyone,” said Gow. “Dealing with that was not any fun at all.”

He added that he doesn’t see anything wrong with bringing back the “Nazi cows,” telling The Independent: “I don’t think there is anything more sinister in owning Heck cattle than there is driving a Volkswagen.”

Gee, ya think?

Gow, while well-intentioned at heart, elaborated on the bovine beasts being much more surly than anticipated.

“If I was standing here and some of the more aggressive ones were in this field, and they could see me, then they would come right across now and try and kill (me),” Gow told the BBC at the time. 

He also added that the cows would charge at people “with every intention of wiping you off the face of this Earth.”

We’re so #blessed that he helped reintroduce these lovely creatures into our otherwise trouble-free modern society. 

While Gow has no regrets about helping to bring back this cow, he recognizes it has not been the most fruitful campaign, with the infamously angsty cows being hard to market commercially.

Not great for getting love on the petting zoo scene! 

Even the effort to get them off his property led to problems. Gow spun a tale of having to employ a very athletic young man to stand in front of a moving crate and coax one of the cows to charge at him in order to get the cow loaded onto a truck for removal.

But if one thing does stand the test of time, it is the sheer will of the human race to time and time again look a mistake square in the eye and say, “I can assuredly do much, much worse.” 

And while that might not look nice and neat on a cross-stitched throw pillow, it is a great representation of what the 21st century has thus far had to offer. 

So, a fleet of Nazi-generated über-cows?

Can’t see any reason why we wouldn’t want to bring them back …

A deeper dive — Related reading on the 101:

Cows create methane through digestion. When food breaks down in their stomachs, the process creates methane, which the cows then release from their bodies through burps and farts.

It’s easier to assume that climate change has only been detrimental to developing nations — but they’re not the only ones. Developed nations’ economies have already been impacted.