A Brazilian history professor has helped a former rancher uncover the secret history of his farm—and it's a dark one. It began with two odd discoveries: a broken wall in a pigsty that revealed each brick had a swastika imprinted on a long-hidden side, and a photo believed to be from the 1930s showing a football team holding a giant swastika flag. As the BBC points out, before the war, Brazil and Nazi Germany were tight economic partners, and the country sported a sizable fascist party of its own. Still, the rancher was floored to see the swastikas, and professor Sidney Aguilar Filho was ultimately able to piece together the farm's history.
What Filho found: The farm was once owned by a rich family, the Rocha Mirandas, who belonged to the Acao Integralista Brasileira, a right-wing group "sympathetic" to the Nazis. They also ran what the BBC calls a "brutal work-camp for abandoned—and non-white—children." The details back up that assertion: "I found a story of 50 boys aged around 10 years old who had been taken from an orphanage in Rio, [starting with] a group of 10 in 1933," says Filho, who found documents showing one family member was granted guardianship of the boys. The kids were referred to by numbers, not names, tracked by guard dogs, and regularly beaten. They had to salute photos of Hitler, says one survivor. Says another, "I try to avoid talking about it." (In other Nazi-related news, Israel is trying to ban the word Nazi altogether.)