The Brazilian Ranch Where Nazis Kept Slaves

The picture was taken on a farm, about 100 miles west from Sao Paulo, Brazil, in the 1930s.  It was found by a former rancher from Cruzeiro do Sul farm, Mr Jose Ricardo Rosa Maciel, who doesn’t quite understand why the swastika appeared on the flag.

But this is not his first ever discovery of this type. On another time, the old man’s pigs broke a wall of the pigsty and ran away into the field. When he went to check the wall, he noticed some of the bricks had fallen and what he saw after was so unbelievable, the man thought he was hallucinating.

On the inside, every single one of those bricks were stamped with the Nazi symbol. Many years back, Brazil used to have strong economic connections with Nazi Germany, since Brazil used to have the biggest fascist party from outside Europe, with over 40,000 members. But many years had to pass before Maciel found out what were the exact connections between his farm and the Nazi Party. He finally heard the story from Sidney Aguilar Filho, a history professor who took the time to do some detective work on the farm.

Filho was able to find out that the previous owner of the farm was a very wealthy family from Rio de Janeiro. The father Renato, and his two sons, Otavio and Osvaldo were part of an extreme right-wing party, who were sympathetic to the Nazis. The organisation was called the Acao Integralista Brasileira.

The family would sometimes organize events and invite a large number of the Acao Integralista Brasileira members on the farm. The rest of the time, however, it was also a brutal and terrible work site for abandoned children and non-white children, the BBC News reports.

Filho said the children were brought there in groups. The first group arrived in 1933 and there were 10 children brought from an orphanage in Rio, with other 2 groups due to arrive later. In total, there were 50 children working on the farm at that time. At one point, one of the two sons, Osvaldo Rocha Miranda, offered to be the guardian of the children.

Aloysio da Silva was number 23. He remembers Osvaldo sending his driver to take the children and then he would point at each one of them, saying who was to come with him and who was to stay there. He promised the children he would take them somewhere nice, where they would play football and ride horses; all lies, unfortunately.

They were beaten , they were guarded by dogs and they were only called by numbers. They had to clear the weeds on the farm and keep the farm clean at all times.

“There were photographs of Hitler and you were compelled to salute. I didn’t understand any of it,” said Argemiro dos Santos, another one of the boys who worked there.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE