Blut und Boden

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
'Blut und Boden' refers to an ideology that focuses on ethnicity based on two factors, descent blood (of a Volk) and the land.
It celebrates the relationship of a people to the land they occupy and cultivate, and it places the highest value on the virtues of rural living.
The German expression was coined in the late 19th century, in tracts espousing racialism and nationalist romanticism.
It produced a regionalist literature, with some social criticism.

Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl
Ernst Moritz Arndt
This romantic attachment was widespread prior to the Third Reich.
Major figures in 19th-century German agrarian romanticism included Ernst Moritz Arndt and Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl, who argued that the peasantry represented the foundation of the German people and conservatism.
Ultranationalists predating the National Socialism often supported rural living as more healthy, with the 'Artaman League' sending urban children to the countryside to work in part in hopes of transforming them into 'Wehrbauern' (warrior farmers).

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Die Artamanen-Gesellschaft
The Artamanen-Gesellschaft was a German agrarian and völkisch movement dedicated to a 'Blood and Soil' inspired ruralism. Active during the inter-war period, the League became closely linked to, and eventually absorbed by, the NSDAP. The term Artamanen had been coined before the First World War by Dr. Willibald Hentschel, a believer in racial purity, who had founded his own group, the 'Mittgart Society', in 1906. The term was a portmanteau word of 'art' and 'manen', Middle High German words meaning 'agriculture man', and indicating Hentschell's desire to see Germans move from the decadence of the city in order to return to an idyllic rural existence. The Artaman League had its roots in the overall 'Lebensreform' movement in late 19th-century and early 20th-century Germany. 
The 'Lebenreform' movement encompassed hundreds of groups throughout Germany that were involved in various experiments tied to ecology, health, fitness, vegetarianism, and naturism (Nacktkultur). Publications by right wing Lebensreformists, which sold in the tens of thousands, argued that their practices were "the means by which the German race would regenerate itself and ultimately prevail over its neighbors and the diabolical Jews who were intent on injecting putrefying agents into the nation's blood and soil". The society itself was not formed until 1923, even though Willibald's ideas were somewhat older. The Artamans were part of the 'German Youth Movement', representing its more right-wing back-to-the-land elements. Under the leadership of Georg Kenstler they advocated 'blood and soil' policies, with a strong undercurrent of Anti-Slavism. This völkisch movement believed that the decline of the Aryan race could only be halted by encouraging people to abandon city life in favor of settling in the rural areas in the east. Whilst members wished to perform agricultural labor as an alternative to military service, they also saw it as part of their duty to oppose Slavs and to remove them Germany.
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The concepts were combined in the figure of the 'Wehrbauer', or soldier-peasant. As such the League sent German youth to work on the land in Saxony and East Prussia in an attempt to prevent these areas being settled by Poles. To this end 2000 settlers were sent to Saxony in 1924 to both work on farms and serve as an anti-Slav militia. They also gave classes on importance of racial purity and the Nordic race, and the corrupting influence of city living and Jews. Like many similar right-wing youth movements in Germany the Artaman League lost impetus with the growth of the NSDAP. By 1927, 80% of its membership had become National Socialists. As such the League had disappeared by the early 1930s, with most of its membership having switched to the NSDAP. As the situation deteriorated in the late 1920s, some of the Artamans were drawn deeper into politics, opposing liberals, democrats, Free-Masons and Jews. Eventually many members of the Artaman League turned to National Socialism. 
Heinrich Himmler was an early member, and held the position of Gauführer in Bavaria. Whilst a member of the League Himmler met Richard Walther Darré, and the two struck up a close friendship, based largely on Darré's highly developed ideological notions of 'blood and soil' to which Himmler was attracted. The Artaman vision would continue to have a profound effect on Himmler who, throughout his time as Reichsführer-SS, retained his early dreams of a racially pure peasantry. Himmler was also close to his fellow member Rudolf Höss, and would later advance him in the Schutzstaffel due in part to their history in the Artaman League. The small league was dismantled and incorporated into the Hitler Jugend in October 1934 as the National Socialist youth movement gained strength.
Richard Walther Darré (see above) popularized the phrase 'Blut und Boden', writing a book called 'Neuadel aus Blut und Boden' (A New Nobility Based On Blood And Soil) in 1930, which proposed a systemic eugenics program, arguing for breeding as a cure for the many problems plaguing the state.
Darré was an influential member of the NSDAP, and a noted race theorist who assisted the party greatly in gaining support among common Germans outside the cities.

Richard Walther Darré
Richard Walther Darré (14 July 1895 – 5 September 1953), was a leading"blood and soil" ideologists, and served as 'Reichsminister für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft' from 1933 to 1942. He was an SS-Obergruppenführer and the seventh most senior officer of the SS. In 1945 Darré was the senior most SS-Obergruppenführer, with date of rank from 9 November 1934, outranked only by Heinrich Himmler and the four SS-Oberst-Gruppenführer. Darré was born in Belgrano, a Buenos Aires neighborhood, in Argentina to Richard Oscar Darré, a German with Huguenot ancestry, (born 10 March 1854, Berlin; died 20 February 1929, Wiesbaden) and the half-Swedish/half-German Emilia Berta Eleonore, née Lagergren (born 23 July 1872, Buenos Aires; died 20 July 1936, Bad Pyrmont). His father moved to Argentina in 1888 as a partner of the German international import/export wholesaler Engelbert Hardt & Co. The family lived prosperously, and educated their children privately until they were forced to return to Germany as a result of worsening international relations in the years preceding World War I. Darré gained fluency in four languages: Spanish, German, English, and French. Darré's parents sent him to Germany at age nine to attend school in Heidelberg; in 1911 he attended as an exchange pupil King's College School in Wimbledon. The rest of the family returned to Germany in 1912. Richard (as he was known in the family) then spent two years at the Oberrealschule in Gummersbach, followed in early 1914 by the Kolonialschule for resettlement in the German colonies at Witzenhausen, south of Göttingen, which awakened his interest in farming. After a single term at Witzenhausen, he volunteered for army service. He was lightly wounded a number of times while serving during World War I, but fared better than most of his contemporaries. When the war ended he returned to Witzenhausen to continue his studies. He then obtained unpaid work as a farm assistant in Pomerania: his observation of the treatment of returning German soldiers there influenced his later writings. In 1922 he moved to the University of Halle to continue his studies: here he took an agricultural degree, specializing in animal breeding. He did not complete his PhD studies until 1929, at the comparatively mature age of 34. During these years he spent some time working in East Prussia and Finland. He married twice. In 1922 he married Alma Staadt, a schoolfriend of his sister Ilse. He divorced Alma in 1927, and subsequently married Charlotte Freiin von Vittinghoff-Schell, who survived him. The first marriage produced two daughters. As a young man in Germany, Darré initially joined the Artaman League. In this organisation he began to develop the idea of the linkage between the future of the Nordic race and the soil: the tendency which became known as "Blut und Boden". The essence of the theory involved the mutual and long-term relationship between a people and the land that it occupies and cultivates. Darré's first political article (1926) discussed Internal Colonization, and argued against Germany attempting to regain the lost colonies in Africa. Most of his writing at this time, however, concentrated on technical aspects of animal breeding. He wrote his first book, 'Das Bauerntum als Lebensquell der nordischen Rasse' ('Peasantry as the life-source of the Nordic Race'), in 1928. It asserted that German farms had previously been bestowed on one son, the strongest, ensuring the best were farmers, but partible inheritance had destroyed that. Darré demanded the restoration of the ancient tradition, as well as serious efforts to restore the purity of Nordic blood, including exterminating the sick and impure.  Darré's writing is an early example of 'Green' or 'Conservationist' thinking: he advocated more natural methods of land management, placing emphasis on the conservation of forests, and demanded more open-space and air in the raising of farm animals. Those who heard and heeded Darré's arguments included Heinrich Himmler, himself one of the Artamans. Darré's work also glorified "peasant virtues" – as found in the remnants of the Nordics who lived in the country – and disparaged city living. In his two major works, he defined the German peasantry as a homogeneous racial group of Nordic antecedents, who formed the cultural and racial core of the German nation. Since the Nordic birth-rate was lower than that of other races, the Nordic race was under a long-term threat of extinction. 
Paul Schultze-Naumburg
In July 1930, after Paul Schultze-Naumburg had introduced him to Adolf Hitler, Darré joined the NSDAP and the SS. Darré's NSDAP number was 248,256 and his SS number was 6,882. Darré went on to become an active Reichsleiter, and to set up an agrarian political apparatus to recruit farmers into the party. Darré saw three main roles for this apparatus: to exploit unrest in the countryside as a weapon against the urban government; to win over the peasants as staunch National Socialist supporters; to gain a constituency of people who could be used as settlers to displace the Slavs in future conquests in the East. The German historian Klaus Hildebrand described Darré together with Himmler and Alfred Rosenberg as one of the leaders of the "agrarian" fraction within the NSDAP who championed 'anti-industrial' and 'anti-urban' "blood and soil" ideology, expansion into Eastern Europe to win 'Lebensraum', an alliance with Great Britain to defeat the Soviet Union, and staunch opposition to restoring the pre-1914 German colonial empire. The "agrarian" fraction took the view that Wilhelmine imperialism had taken Germany in the wrong direction, by colonizing lands that were unsuitable for mass colonization by German settlers, and had unwisely antagonized Britain. The lesson that the völkisch "agrarians" drew from the Second Reich was that Germany must restrict its ambitions to the continent of Europe in order to win an alliance with Britain, and land suitable for German colonization. 
Odal Rune - RuSHA Emblem
On 1 January 1932, Reichsführer-SS Himmler appointed Darré chief of the newly established SS Rasse und Siedlungshauptamt or RuSHA). Darré was given the rank of SS-Gruppenführer. The RuSHA was a department which implemented racial policies and was concerned with the racial integrity of the members of the SS. 
German National People's Party
During the 1932 presidential election, Darré engaged in a campaign against Theodor Duesterberg, the candidate of the conservative German National People's Party, who it emerged during the campaign was the grandson of a Jewish convert to Lutheranism. Duesterberg took up his dispute with Darré before the court of honor of the Former Officers of the 1st Hanoverian Field Artillery Regiment of Scharnhorst, number 10 to which Darré belonged to. The court of honor ruled in Darré's favor. In his religious views, Dárre would belong to the 'Pagan' faction within the Nazi movement, however, unlike Heinrich Himmler and Alfred Rosenberg, he has not become a figure of interest in the speculation about Nazi occultism. Darré's works were primarily concerned with the ancient and present Nordic peasantry (the ideology of 'Blood and Soil'): within this context, he made an explicit attack against Christianity. In his two main works ('Das Bauerntum als Lebensquell der Nordischen Rasse', Munich, 1927 and 'Neuadel aus Blut und Boden', Munich, 1930), Darré accused Christianity, with its "teaching of the equality of men before God," of having "deprived the Teutonic nobility of its moral foundations", the "innate sense of superiority over the nomadic tribes". In June 1933, he became Reichsminister für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft, succeeding DNVP leader Alfred Hugenberg, who had resigned. He was also named Reichsbauernführer (usually translated as Reich Peasant Leader, though the word Bauer also denotes Farmer). Darré was instrumental in founding the Reichsnährstand as part of the Gleichschaltung process. Darré campaigned for big landowners to part with some of their land to create new farms, and promoted the controversial Reichserbhofgesetz. He also converted most of the country's small farms into hereditary estates that were to be passed from father to son under the ancient laws of entailment. 
Günther Pancke
He developed a plan for "Rasse und Raum" ("race and space", or territory) which provided the ideological background for the National Socialist expansive policy on behalf of the "Drang nach Osten" ("Drive to the east") and of the "Lebensraum" ("Living space") theory expounded in Hitler's 'Mein Kampf'. Darré strongly influenced Himmler in his goal to create a German racial aristocracy based on selective breeding. In the course of the preparations for the Generalplan Ost, Himmler would later break with Darré, whom he saw as too theoretical. By September 1938, Himmler was already demanding that Darré step down as leader of the RuSHA in favour of Günther Pancke. Darré finally had to resign as Reich Minister in 1942, ostensibly on health grounds, and was succeeded by his state secretary Herbert Backe. 
Prior to their ascension to power, National Socialists called for a return from the cities to the countryside.
This agrarian sentiment allowed opposition to both the middle class and the aristocracy, and presented the farmer as a superior figure beside the 'moral swamp' of the city.
The doctrine not only called for a "back to the land" approach, and re-adoption of rural values; it held that German land was bound mystically, to German blood.
Peasants were seen as völkisch cultural heroes, who held charge of German racial stock and German history - as when a memorial of a medieval peasant uprising was the occasion for a speech by Darré praising them as force and purifier of German history.
This would also lead them to understand the natural order better, and in the end, only the man who worked the land really possessed it.
Urban culture was decried as a weakness, "asphalt culture", that only the Führer's will could eliminate - sometimes as a code for Jewish influence.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
Bückeberg Reichserntedankfest

Bückeberg Reichserntedankfest

The Reichsnährstand organized lectures, films and exhibitions, in order to instruct the German farmers with regard to the völkisch concept of 'blood and soil'.
It also organized spectacular events, such as the 'Reichserntedankfest', which was held on the Bückeberg, close to the city of Hamelin.

Adolf Hitler - Bückeberg Reichserntedankfest
These celebrations took place between 1933 to 1937, when more than a million people gathered in order to celebrate the harvest festival, and listen to speech delivered by Adolf Hitler.
To manage this number of participants a special arena, the 'Reichsthingplatz' (feldplatz), designed by Albert Speer, was built.
The site was intended to be one of the symbolically most important in the Third Reich.

Bückeberg Reichserntedankfest
Adolf Hitler - Bückeberg

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Goslar Reichsbauerntag

Wappen Goslar
Reichsbauerntag - Goslar
In addition to the Reichserntedankfest there was also a Reichsbauerntag held in Goslar.
By receiving the designation 'Reich Bauernstadt', the old imperial city of Goslar became the center of agriculture, and agricultural self-administration.
The Reichsbauerntag showed that the 'Reich Bauernstadt' had established a good tradition, which came to expression in the strong participation of the population in the work of the Reichsnährstand.
For the first time, the concept of Reich Bauernstadt, Goslar, as the center of 'Nordic-German' farming, of the state idea of 'blood and soil', reached far beyond the Reich borders, drawing the attention of many states and peoples throughout the world.

Walther Darré - Goslar
The Reichsbauerntag was thus not only a German gathering in a narrow sense, but rather its form and spiritual aims it was an event of international significance.
There were two primary themes that marked the Reich Farmers’ Rally in 1936:

  • an uncompromising declaration of war against Jewish world Bolshevism,
  • and an indomitable will to self-assertion and national independence.

In his opening remarks at the Goslar City Hall, Darré gave the assembled leadership corps the inspiring command: 'Agriculture to the front'.

Neues Volk

'Blut und Boden' also contributed to the völkisch ideal of a woman: a sturdy peasant, who worked the land and bore strong children, contributing to praise for athletic women tanned by outdoor work.That country women gave birth to more children than city ones also was a factor in the support.
Carl Schmitt argued that a people would develop laws appropriate to its "blood and soil" because authenticity required loyalty to the Volk over abstract universals.
'Neues Volk' displayed demographic charts to deplore the destruction of the generous Aryan families' farmland, and how the Jews were eradicating traditional German peasantry.

'Neues Volk' was the monthly publication of the Office of Racial Policy in Nazi Germany. Founded by Walter Gross in 1933, it was a mass-market, illustrated magazine. It aimed at a wide audience, achieving a circulation of 300,000. It appeared in physicians' waiting rooms, libraries, and schools, as well as in private homes. Its subject matter was the excellence  of the Aryan race and the deficiencies of Jews, Poles, and other groups. Articles ranged from profiles of Mussolini, reports on Hitler Youth camps, and travel tips, but eugenic and racial propaganda continued throughout it. The first six issues presented solely ethnic pride, before bringing up any topic on "undesirables." In the next issue, one article presented the types of the "Criminal Jew" surrounded by images of the ideal Aryan, which generally predominated. Such articles continued, showing such things as demographic charts showing the decline of farmland (with generous Aryan families) and deploring that the Jews were eradicating traditional German peasantry. (see above) It included articles defending eugenic sterilization. Photographs of mentally incapacitated children were juxtaposed with those of healthy children. It also presented images of ideal Aryan families and condemned childless couples. By the mid-1930s, it had doubled its pages. Other articles described the conditions under which Hitler would be a child's godfather, discussed the importance of giving children Germanic names, answered racial questions from readers. During the war, it published articles about how the foreign workers were welcome but sexual relations with Germans was prohibited.
Posters for schools depicted, and deplored, the flight of people from the countryside to the city.
The German National Catechism, a pamphlet widely used in schools, also recounted how farmers lost ancestral lands and had to move to the city, with all its demoralizing effects. 
Jews in Vienna
'How has the Jew subjugated the peoples ? With money. He lent them money and made them pay interest. Thousands and thousands of Germans have been made wretched by the Jews and been reduced to poverty. Farmers whose land had been in the family for more than 100 years were driven from their land because they could not pay the interest. What happened to those farmers ? They had to move to the cities. Torn from the land to which they belonged, robbed of their labour that gave their lives purpose and meaning, they fell victim to poverty and misery. Worn down, their souls crushed, they accepted Jewish doctrines that denied the Fatherland and opposed all that was nationalistic. Their strength and ability faded. The Jew had reached his goal.
 Gottfried Feder
The program received far more ideological and propaganda support than concrete changes.
When Gottfried Feder tried to settle workers in villages about decentralized factories, generals and Junkers successfully opposed him.
Generals objected because it interfered with rearmament, and Junkers because it would prevent their exploiting their estates for the international market.
It would also require the breakup of Junker estates for independent farmers, which was not implemented.

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The Reichserbhofgesetz, (see above) the 'State Hereditary Farm Law' of 1933, implemented this ideology, stating that its aim was to: "preserve the farming community as the blood-source of the German people" (Das Bauerntum als Blutquelle des deutschen Volkes erhalten).
Selected lands were declared hereditary, and could not be mortgaged or alienated, and only these farmers were entitled to call themselves Bauern or "farmer peasant", a term the National Socialists attempted to refurbish from a neutral or even pejorative to a positive term.
Regional custom was only allowed to decide whether the eldest or the youngest son was to be the heir.
In areas where no particular custom prevailed, the youngest son was to be the heir. Still, the eldest son inherited the farm in most cases during the Third Reich.
Priority was given to the patriline, so that if there were no sons, the brothers and brothers' sons of the deceased peasant had precedence over the peasant's own daughters. 
The Reichserbhofgesetz also prevented Jews from farming: "Only those of German blood may be farmers."

Hitler Youth - Land Service
The concept was a factor in the requirement of a year of land service for members of Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls.
This period of compulsory service was required after completion of a student's basic education, before he or she could engage in advanced studies or become employed. 
Although working on a farm was not the only approved form of service, it was a common one; the aim was to bring young people back from the cities, in the hope that they would then stay "on the land".
In 1942, 600,000 boys and 1.4 million girls were sent to help bringing in the harvest.
'Blood and Soil' was one of the foundations of the concept of 'Lebensraum', "living space".
By expanding eastward and transforming those lands into breadbaskets, another blockade, such as that of World War I, would not cause massive food shortages, as that one had, a factor that aided the resonance of "Blood and Soil" for the German population.
Even Alfred Rosenberg, not hostile to the Slavs as such, regarded their removal from this land, where Germans had once lived, as necessary because of the unity of blood and soil.
Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' prescribed as the unvarying aim of foreign policy the necessity of obtaining land and soil for the German people.
While discussing the question of 'Lebensraum' to the east, Hitler envisioned a Ukrainian "breadbasket", and expressed particular hostility to its "Russian" cities as hotbeds of Slavism and Communism, forbidding Germans to live in them and declaring that they should be destroyed in the war.
Even during the war itself, Hitler gave orders that Leningrad was to be razed with no consideration given for the survival and feeding of its population.
This also called for industry to die off in these regions.
The 'Wehrbauer', or soldier-peasants, who were to settle there were not to marry townswomen, but only peasant women who had not lived in towns.
This would also encourage large families.
Furthermore, this land, held by "tough peasant races" would serve as a bulwark against attack from Asia.

The Influence of 'Blut und Boden' on Art


Prior to the National Socialist take-over, two popular genres were the 'Heimat-Roman', or regional novel, and 'Schollen-Roman', or novel of the soil, which was also known as Blut-und-Boden.
This literature was vastly increased.
It also combined war literature, with the figure of the soldier-peasant, uncontaminated by the city.
These books were generally set in the nominal past, but their invocation of the passing of the seasons often gave them an air of timelessness.
"Blood and Soil" novels and theater celebrated the farmer's life and human fertility, often mystically linking them.

 'Der Giftpilz'
In the children's book 'Der Giftpilz' it was stated that the Talmud described farming as the most lowly of occupations.
It also included an account of a Jewish financier forcing a German to sell his farm as seen by a neighbor boy; deeply distressed, the boy resolved never to let a Jew into his house, for which his father praised him, on the grounds that peasants must remember that Jews will always take their land.

Fine Art

Albin Egger Lienz - Bergmäher
During the Third Reich, one of the charges put forward against certain works of art was that "Art must not be isolated from blood and soil."
Failure to meet this standard resulted in the attachment of the label, 'entartete Kunst' (degenerate art), to offending pieces.

Hans Toepper - Erbhofbauer
In National Socialist art, both landscape paintings and figures reflected Blood-and-Soil ideology.
Indeed, some National Socialist art exhibits were explicitly titled "Blood and Soil".
Artists frequently gave otherwise apolitical paintings such titles as "German Land" or "German Oak".

Rural themes were heavily favored in painting.
Landscape paintings were featured most heavily in the Großdeutschen Kunstausstellungen.
While drawing on German romantic traditions, painted landscapes were expected to be firmly based on real landscapes, the German people's 'Lebensraum', without religious overtones.

Adolf Wissel - Bauernfamilie
Peasants were also popular images, promoting a simple life in harmony with nature.
This art showed little or no sign of the mechanization of farm work.
The farmer labored by hand, with effort and struggle.
The acceptance of this art by the peasant family was also regarded as an important element.


'Blut und Boden' films likewise stressed the commonality of Germanness, and the countryside.
'Die goldene Stadt' has the heroine running away to the city, resulting in her pregnancy and abandonment; she drowns herself, and her last words beg her father to forgive her for not loving the countryside as he did.

'Ewiger Wald'
The documentary 'Ewiger Wald' (The Eternal Forest) depicted the forest as being beyond the vicissitudes of history, and the German people the same because they were rooted in the story; it depicted the forest sheltering ancient Germans, Arminius, and the Teutonic Knights, facing the peasants wars, being chopped up by war and industry, and being humiliated by occupation with black soldiers, but culminated in a neo-pagan May Day celebration.

'Ewiger Wald'  
Commissioned by Alfred Rosenberg's cultural organization Militant League for German Culture in 1934 under the working title 'Deutscher Wald–Deutsches Schicksal' (German Forest–German Destiny), the feature-length movie premiered in Munich in 1936. Intended as a cinematic proof for the shared destiny of the German woods and the German people beyond the vicissitudes of history, it portrayed a perfect symbiosis of an eternal forest and a likewise eternal people firmly rooted in it between Neolithic and National Socialist times.In accordance with Rosenberg's anti-Christian beliefs, the first section on prehistory displayed various customs and rituals of an asserted pagan forest religion like a maypole dance or funerals in treetrunk coffins. Further, it depicted the forest sheltering ancient Germanic tribes, Arminius, and the Teutonic Knights, facing the German Peasants' War, being chopped up by war and industry, and being humiliated by black soldiers from the French occupation army. The years of the Weimar Republic appeared to be disastrous for people and forest alike to legitimize the assumption of power and thus the film culminated in a National Socialist May Day celebration filmed at the Berlin Lustgarten.
In 'Die Reise nach Tilsit', the Polish seductress is an obvious product of "asphalt culture," but the virtuous German wife is a country dweller in traditional costume.

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