The progenitor of modern domestic cattle, the auroch, became extinct in 1627. In the 1920s the Heck brothers started a program to “recreate” the auroch by selective breeding using “primitive” cattle breed. When the NSDAP took power in 1933, the project of the Heck brothers received state support – not in the last place because their attempt to recreate the aurochs fitted well in Hitler’s ideology.
Because of this Heck cattle have become associated with nazism and due to their aggressiveness, British media refers to this breed as “Nazi Super Cows“. Despite their unlucky past, Heck cattle are popular among conservationists in nature management as grazers.
Nevertheless as an attempt to recreate the aurochs, Heck cattle have failed – there are too many differences between this breed and their wild ancestors. But this does not deter others from stepping in the footsteps of the Heck brothers. Armed with modern science (i.e. genetics) several teams are determined to breed the aurochs back, while others are intending to clone one.