A Brazilian rancher was surprised to learn that a farm he had once worked on held a deep secret — and it’s a dark one.
History professor Sidney Aguilar Filho determined that the farm Jose Ricardo Rosa Maciel once worked at was formerly owned by a rich family, the Rocha Mirandas. That family belonged to a right-wing group sympathetic to the Nazis, the BBC reported.
According to the BBC, Filho established that the family held rallies on the farm and even found “it was also a brutal work-camp for abandoned – and non-white – children.”
The discoveries came after Maciel found bricks on the farm that had swastika engravings on them.
“One day the pigs broke a wall and escaped into the field,” he told the BBC. “I noticed the bricks that had fallen. I thought I was hallucinating.”
The rancher became even more confused when he found a picture on his farm that showed a soccer team photo with one added element — a swastika.
“Nothing explained the presence of a swastika here,” Maciel said.
Filho was able to ultimately piece together the history of the remote farm located near Campina do Monte Alegre.
“I found a story of 50 boys aged around 10 years old who had been taken from an orphanage in Rio,” Filho told the BBC. “They were taken in three waves. The first was a group of 10 in 1933.”
The children, used to keep the farm clean, were “subject to regular beatings with a palmatoria, a wooden paddle with holes designed to reduce air resistance and increase pain. They were addressed not by their name, but by a number,” the BBC reported.
Watch a video that takes you inside the farm:
Other punishments even included starving the kids, according to survivor Argemiro dos Santos who later escaped.
According to the BBC, however, some of the surviving members of the Mirandas family dispute such claims and say the family stopped supporting Nazism before World War II.
Maurice Rocha Miranda, for instance, denied the family kept “slaves” but reportedly said the children on the farm “had to be controlled, but were never punished or enslaved.”
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