The ‘Stars and Bars’ alive and well down in Brazil

The town in Brazil that embraces the Confederate flag

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The debate over flying the Confederate flag has reignited in the US, but the American South isn’t the only place in the world you’ll see the emblem – it’s also proudly displayed in the rural Brazilian town of Santa Barbara D’Oeste.

Once a year, the descendants of about 10,000 Confederates that fled the United States to Brazil after the US Civil War have a sort of family reunion.

“They all take part in stereotypically southern things like square dances, eating fried chicken and biscuits, and listening to George Strait,” says Asher Levine, a Sao Paulo-based correspondent for Reuters.

“And a lot of Confederate flags everywhere, all over the place.

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Despite being six or seven generations removed from their antebellum ancestry, many local Brazilians still maintain strong ties to Southern culture, and proudly wave the Confederate flag.

But for them, Levine says, the flag is much more of an ethnic symbol than a political one.

“They see themselves as ethnically American to some degree,” he says.

“At an Italian festival, you would see people waving an Italian flag. Or on Saint Patrick’s Day you see people waving the Irish flag. They see it that way. They don’t have any political affiliation to it whatsoever.”

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Over time, the Southern white population has mixed with the Brazilians, resulting in people with a variety of different shades of skin colours waving the Confederate flag. Americans might be surprised by the resulting visual.

“A lot of people who are descendants of these confederates have African blood as well, so you’ll see at the party people with dark skin waving the Confederate flag.”

Levine says he talked to an American at the festival who was completely amazed at watching a young girl singing Amazing Grace – often sung in black churches across the US – while standing on top of a Confederate flag.

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The banner is everywhere – kids wave mini-flags and women wear Confederate flag dresses.

“You know, the symbolism is totally lost on them, but for us it’s quite a contrast,” Levine says.

Despite being a very mixed-race country, Levine says that the killings in Charleston are being seen in Brazil as more of a gun safety issue than a racial issue.

“When they see an event like what happened in South Carolina last week, they wonder if it’s really so much better in the United States, safety-wise.”

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After the end of the American Civil War, beginning in 1867, the region began to see immigration from the southern United States, these immigrants were known as the Confederados.

Today’s Confederados maintain affection for the Confederate flag even though they consider themselves completely Brazilian. In Brazil, the Confederate flag has not had the racial stigma that has been attached to it in the United States. Many modern Confederados are of mixed-race and reflect the varied racial categories that make up Brazilian society in their physical appearance. Recently the Brazilian residents of Americana, now of primarily Italian descent, have removed the Confederate flag from the city’s crest citing the fact that Confederados now make up only 10% of the city’s population. In 1972, then Governor (and future President) Jimmy Carter of Georgia visited the city of Santa Bárbara d’Oeste and visited the grave of his wife Rosalyn’s great-uncle, who was one of the original Confederados.

Nazis Cows in the U.K. eliminated because of Aggressive behaviour 

Aurochs: How Hitler and Goering resurrected extinct species to make ‘Nazi super cows’

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Heck cattle was bred by Nazis as propaganda tools.

A breed of cow that went extinct in the 1600s but was brought back to life by Hitler has made the headlines across the UK.

Devonshire farmer Derek Gow had to slaughter most of his herd of Heck because of their “incredibly aggressive” behaviour. Some of the animals would try to kill anyone that approached and, as a result, have been turned into sausage meat.

Gow killed all but two bulls and four cows of the herd. “The ones we had to get rid of would just attack you any chance they could. They would try to kill anyone. I have worked with a range of different animals and they are far and away the most aggressive I have ever dealt with.”

Origins

Aurochs, or Bos primigenius, died out in 1627 in Poland. They were a large breed of cattle, standing up to 1.8m in height, and was ancestor to modern domestic breeds. Aurochs had huge curved horns that characterised the breed – in some the horns could reach 80cm in length – and their legs were longer than modern cattle.

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Historical accounts suggests the beasts were fast and very aggressive. They were not afraid of humans, and if they were hunted would attack back in response.

Evidence suggests the wild species began to be domesticated around 8,000 years ago.

By the 13th century, populations of wild aurochs had fallen dramatically with their range restricted from human expansion. They had disappeared from Britain by 2,000 BC, but remained in eastern Europe until the 17th century.

Rise of Nazi super cows

In the 1930s, Nazi second in command Hermann Goering asked geneticists Heinz and Lutz Heck to re-create the extinct species. A keen hunter, Goering instructed them to develop a genetically engineered species by back-breeding from auroch descendants.

The Heck brothers – working independently – crossed Spanish fighting bulls with Highland cattle, along with primitive breeds from Corsica and Hungary. The result – Nazi super cows. They were used for propaganda material during WWII – their bodies were huge and muscular, with massive horns – an illustration of the strength of the party.

Hermann Goering

Hermann Goering commissioned the Heck brothers to create the species.

Gow said: “There was a thinking that you could selectively breed animals – and indeed people – for ‘Aryan’ characteristics, which were rooted in runes, folklore and legend. What the Germans did with their breeding programme was create something truly primeval.

“The reason the Nazis were so supportive of the project is they wanted them to be fierce and aggressive. When the Germans were selecting them to create this animal they used Spanish fighting cattle to give them the shape and ferocity they wanted.”

Problems and downfall

While resembling aurochs, Heck cattle never matched the size and stature of the extinct species. The brothers only ever managed to breed the cattle to the size of domestic cows. However, the physical resemblance was strong – as was the aggressive temperament.

German jackbooters with a milking cow

Neither of the Heck brothers is believed to have survived WWII, with Lutz Heck’s breed of cattle also dying out before 1945. As a result, all modern Heck breeds are descendants of Heinz Heck’s experiments, with breeds including Hungarian Grey, Highland, Corsican and Murnau-Werdenfels.

Modern Hecks

Heck bulls today measure about 1.4m in height and weight up to 600kg. Their horns, while present, are not as uniform as aurochs, curving up or out more than the original species. However, the breed is very well suited to life in the wild, able to withstand cold temperatures and nutrient-poor food.

Currently there are about 2,000 Heck cattle in Europe, with the species found roaming free in nature reserves in Barvaria and the Netherlands.

Gow said that since he slaughtered the aggressive animals, the rest of the herd is no longer murderous.

“Since they have gone it is all peaceful again. Peace reigns supreme on the farm. Despite these problems, I have no regrets at all. It has been a good thing to do and the history of them is fascinating,” he said, adding that the sausages tasted a bit like venison.

Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia

Prague residents surround Soviet tanks in front of the Czechoslovak Radio station building in central Prague during the first day of Soviet-led invasion to then Czechoslovakia August 21, 1968. Vera Machutova woke one August night in 1968 to the thunder of Soviet tanks surging through this Czech city on the East German frontier. Forty years later, with the Czech Republic now a democracy within NATO and the European Union, Machutova is troubled by the conflict in Georgia, whose army was routed last week by Russian forces that pushed deep inside its territory. The banner reads, “Entry forbidden to unauthorized personnel”. Picture taken August 21, 1968. To match feature CZECH-RUSSIA/INVASION REUTERS/Libor Hajsky (CZECH REPUBLIC) – GM1E48I1OC701

On 20–21 August 1968, Czechoslovakia was jointly invaded by four Warsaw Pact countries: the Soviet Union, Poland, Bulgaria and Hungary. About 250,000 Warsaw Pact troops (afterwards rising to about 500,000), supported by thousands of tanks and hundreds of aircraft, participated in the overnight operation, which was code-named Operation Danube. Romania and Albania refused to participate, while East German forces, except for a small number of specialists, were ordered by Moscow not to cross the Czechoslovak border just hours before the invasion. 137 Czechoslovak civilians were killed and 500 seriously wounded during the occupation.

The invasion stopped Alexander Dubček’s Prague Spring liberalisation reforms and strengthened the authoritarian wing of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ). The foreign policy of the Soviet Union during this era was known as the Brezhnev Doctrine.

People throw Molotov cocktails and stones at Soviet Army tanks in front of Czechoslovak Radio station building in central Prague during the first day of Soviet-led invasion to then Czechoslovakia August 21, 1968. AP – In this Aug. 21,1968 file picture, Prague residents carrying a Czechoslovakian flag and throwing burning torches, attempt to stop a Soviet tank in downtown Prague, Czechoslovakia as the Soviet-led invasion by the Warsaw Pact armies crushed the so-called Prague Spring reforms. In August 2008, the ex-communist country will mark the 40th anniversary of the Prague Spring challenge to Soviet domination – bold pro-democracy reforms that the Kremlin swiftly and brutally crushed. Experts say Russia’s threat of a military response if the U.S. and Czech Republic ratify a missile defense system is mostly bluster. But for Czechs, the timing couldn’t be more jarring. – AP REUTERS/Libor Hajsky (CZECH REPUBLIC) – GF2E45J1BUZ01

Public reaction to the invasion was widespread and divided. Although the majority of the Warsaw Pact supported the invasion along with several other communist parties worldwide, Western nations, along with Albania, Romania, and particularly China condemned the attack. Many other communist parties lost influence, denounced the USSR, or split up or dissolved due to conflicting opinions. The invasion started a series of events that would ultimately see Brezhnev establish peace with U.S. Richard Nixon in 1972 after the latter’s historic visit to China.

The legacy of the invasion of Czechoslovakia remains widely discussed among historians and has been seen as an important moment in the Cold War. Analysts believe that the invasion caused the worldwide communist movement to fracture, ultimately leading to the Revolutions of 1989, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Soviet Army soldiers sit on their tanks in front of the Czechoslovak Radio station building in central Prague during the first day of Soviet-led invasion to then Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968. REUTERS/Libor Hajsky(CZECH REPUBLIC) . – PM1E45J17KL01
Lone car passing dozens of Russian tanks during Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia during Prague Spring. (Photo by Bill Ray/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

History continuously repeats itself.

Stirring Historical Photos

Rail Commuters Wearing White Protective Masks, One With The Additional Message “Wear A Mask Or Go To Jail,” During The 1918 Influenza Pandemic In California

Rail Commuters Wearing White Protective Masks, One With The Additional Message “Wear A Mask Or Go To Jail,” During The 1918 Influenza Pandemic In California

 

Cop Stops The Traffic In New York So A Mother Cat Holding A Kitten Can Cross Safely C.1925

Cop Stops The Traffic In New York So A Mother Cat Holding A Kitten Can Cross Safely C.1925

A Beach In Iran A Few Months Before The Islamic Revolution, 1979

A Beach In Iran A Few Months Before The Islamic Revolution, 1979

A French Boy Introduces Himself To Indian Soldiers Who Had Just Arrived In France To Fight Alongside French And British Forces, Marseilles, 30th September 1914. [colorization]

A French Boy Introduces Himself To Indian Soldiers Who Had Just Arrived In France To Fight Alongside French And British Forces, Marseilles, 30th September 1914. [colorization]

West German School Children Pause To Talk With Two East German Border Guards Beside An Opening In The Berlin Wall During The Collapse Of Communism In East Germany In November 1989 (Photo: Stephen Jaffe)

West German School Children Pause To Talk With Two East German Border Guards Beside An Opening In The Berlin Wall During The Collapse Of Communism In East Germany In November 1989 (Photo: Stephen Jaffe)

Max Schreck Relaxing Behind The Scenes Of Nosferatu, 1922

Max Schreck Relaxing Behind The Scenes Of Nosferatu, 1922

 

Martin Luther King Jr. Removing A Burnt Cross From His Front Yard In 1960

Martin Luther King Jr. Removing A Burnt Cross From His Front Yard In 1960

A Young Female Welder Photographed By Bernard Hoffman In Connecticut, Circa 1943.

A Young Female Welder Photographed By Bernard Hoffman In Connecticut, Circa 1943.

 

Mt St Helens The 17th Of May 1980 And 4 Months Later

Mt St Helens The 17th Of May 1980 And 4 Months Later

 

John F. Kennedy Campaigning Door-To-Door In West Virginia (1960)

John F. Kennedy Campaigning Door-To-Door In West Virginia (1960)

Chief Low Dog – An Oglala Lakota Chief Who Fought With Sitting Bull At The Battle Of Little Bighorn, C. 1881

Chief Low Dog - An Oglala Lakota Chief Who Fought With Sitting Bull At The Battle Of Little Bighorn, C. 1881

 

Eiffel Tower Under Construction, July 1888 [colorized]

Eiffel Tower Under Construction, July 1888 [colorized]

Archduke Franz Ferdinand And His Wife Minutes Before Assassination That Would Lead To Ww1, 1914 [colorized]

Archduke Franz Ferdinand And His Wife Minutes Before Assassination That Would Lead To Ww1, 1914 [colorized]

Choctaw Indians Raised Money for Irish Famine Relief 

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On March 23, 1847, the Indians of the Choctaw nation took up an amazing collection. They raised $170 for Irish Famine relief, an incredible sum at the time worth in the tens of thousands of dollars today.

They had an incredible history of deprivation themselves, forced off their lands in 1831 and made embark on a 500 mile trek to Oklahoma called “The Trail of Tears.” Ironically the man who forced them off their lands was Andrew Jackson, the son of Irish immigrants.

On September 27, 1830, the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was signed. It represented one of the largest transfers of land that was signed between the U.S. Government and Native Americans without being instigated by warfare. By the treaty, the Choctaws signed away their remaining traditional homelands, opening them up for European-American settlement. The tribes were then sent on a forced march

As historian Edward O’Donnell wrote “Of the 21,000 Choctaws who started the journey, more than half perished from exposure, malnutrition, and disease. This despite the fact that during the War of 1812 the Choctaws had been allies of then-General Jackson in his campaign against the British in New Orleans.’

Now sixteen years later they met in their new tribal land and sent the money to a U.S. famine relief organization for Ireland. It was the most extraordinary gift of all to famine relief in Ireland. The Choctaws sent the money at the height of the Famine, “Black 47,” when close to a million Irish were starving to death.

Thanks to the work of Irish activists such as Don Mullan and Choctaw leader Gary White Deer the Choctaw gift has been recognized in Ireland.

In 1990, a number of Choctaw leaders took part in the first annual Famine walk at Doolough in Mayo recreating a desperate walk by locals to a local landlord in 1848.

In 1992 Irish commemoration leaders took part in the 500 mile trek from Oklahoma to Mississippi. The Choctaw made Ireland’s president Mary Robinson an honorary chief. They did the same for Don Mullan.

Even better, both groups became determined to help famine sufferers, mostly in Africa and the Third World, and have done so ever since.

The gift is remembered in Ireland. The plaque on Dublin’s Mansion House that honors the Choctaw contribution reads: “Their humanity calls us to remember the millions of human beings throughout our world today who die of hunger and hunger-related illness in a world of plenty.”

Choctaw contribution memorial in Ireland

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The Great Irish Famine led to the massive Irish migration to America.