Back in 2015, I had a slightly emotional rant about something that keeps on entertaining especially the English-speaking world: the “nazi cow nonsense”. Such an absurd headline is the result of people not caring about historical facts and just wanting to be entertained by or to entertain with something that sounds as absurd as a “nazi super cow”. A discreet tip: if you are about to write a headline that ludicrous, you might take one moment and scrutinize.
Anyway, in my 2015 article I covered the true motivation behind the Heck brothers’ attempts and the connection with single officials of the Nazi regime. Some weeks ago, I was addressed to a blog article written one month after my 2015 article that contains a lot of claims and mistakes that slightly upset me. I found no commentary function so I use my own blog for writing a clarification. The article has a nonsensical title, on the blog homidlikeme. I go over the mistakes and wrong claims step by step. Why is it important to dismantle defamations like that? Because it does have an effect on the world outside, people working on project might develop objections against breeding-back or breeds resulting from breeding-back as a result of these nonsensical stories, so you might do real damage by spreading it.
First of all, the author of the blog managed to misinterpret my graphic on Wikimediacommons showing a life restoration of an aurochs bull and cow. Although stated very clearly, he mistook it for a comparison between an aurochs and a Heck bull (obviously he cannot tell the difference between a male and female bovine).
Amusingly, the author also assumes that aurochs were killed off in an act of self-defence from those “un-friendly forest creatures”.
The author of the article claims that the German dictator “suggested that resurrecting an extinct megabeasts[sic] would be good for national morale (i.e. propaganda)”, which is plain wrong, invented nonsense. There is no evidence that this man ever heard of the project of the Heck brothers, not to mention ever spoke a sentence containing “aurochs”. He did not know about the project, and if he would have known, he would very likely not have cared about it. In contrast to Herman Göring.
The author further writes “Heinz and Lutz Heck were already keen on the idea of reverse-engineering a copy of the extinct Aurochs, and the money and breeding stock the Nazi war machine could provide as it steam-rolled over Europe gave them everything they needed to get started”. Plain wrong, do your history homework or at least read the Wikipedia article! The Heck brothers started their work in the 1920s, and their motivation was free of any ideological nonsense and not commanded from some Nazi official. While it is true that Lutz Heck actively profited from having the hunting-fanatic Göring on his side, his brother Heinz, whose stock is the base of all living Heck cattle, evidently avoided contact with the regime.
With the sentence “Heck cattle can reach a maximum height of 1.4m and a weight of 600kg, which makes them one of the largest breeds of domestic cattle available”, the author exposes his lack of basic knowledge about cattle. Those size data make Heck cattle average, compared to modern day cattle of intensified agriculture actually smaller, cattle. He probably never stood next to a living bull if he considers the height of 1.4 that gigantic.
Then, the author quotes the statement of UK farmer Derek Gow saying that his Heck herd were the most aggressive animals he ever worked with. I already discussed the temperament of Heck cattle in this post. Cattle behaviour depends a lot on socialisation, also in Heck cattle. If you take Heck cattle from a grazing project, that are used to have a lot of space and are not used to being handled like farm cows, and you do not have experience in keeping cattle stemming from those circumstances, you should not be surprised that you are unable to handle them.
Now I want to address a few words to the author directly: claiming that the Heck brothers attempts were “performed in a grossly unethical way” baseless and does not make any sense, claiming the breed has a “genocidal past” is a repelling defamation and an insult to all grazing projects and Heck cattle breeders working with this cattle breed. You might not be aware of this, but writing stories like that can actually do real damage to actual projects in the world outside. So next time before writing something absurd like “nazi super cows”, please do the required homework or just keep your mouth closed.
Ironically you write “Heck cattle have struggled to overcome their association with the Nazi regime”. Exactly, because of people behaving like you.
PS.: The “what the Heck” pun is getting old.