Gerald McSwiggan

The Doctrine of Blut und Boden

Introduction

Translated into English, Blut und Boden means “blood and soil,” and was a phrase used by Hitler to mean that people of German descent (blood) have the right to live on German soil.

Although Hitler used the phrase to establish German supremacy over the Jews, it was popularized by Walther Darré in 1930 to establish a connection between race and land (Staudenmaie 1). For the defenders of the doctrine, the Jews were a wandering people without roots or land, and did not belong on German soil. The term “blood and soil” had been circulating for some time before Hitler or Darré, but it was the Nazis who used the doctrine as a principle of thought. The phrase in itself is not dangerous, it could simply be used to motivate German nationalism, particularly that of farmers; however, Hitler used the infamous words to give moral justifications for the extermination of the Jews.

Walther Darré

Darré was an important figure in the Nazi party; he was one of the party’s chief “race theorists” and was influential in gaining peasant support for the Nazis during the early 1930s (Staudenmaier 1). He also had great influence on the ideology of National Socialism, and was in favor of the re-agrarianization of the Nazi party. The Blut und Boden doctrine was against the influence of modern metropolitan life, and was aimed toward the countryside of Germany. In support of traditional “blood and soil” ideas, “schemes for mass rural private-housing settlements were keenly promoted as antidotes to the evils of the modern metropolis” (Peukert 184).

However, traditional “blood and soil” ideas were not the only ones circulating through Germany, the newer interpretation of the doctrine used by Hitler and Darré was dangerously popular. Darré stated: “The concept of Blood and Soil gives us the moral right to take as much land in the East as is necessary to establish a harmony between the body of our Volk and the geopolitical space” (Staudenmaier 2). This “moral right” also involved starting World War II and exterminating the Jews, all in support of the superior German race.

Racism

The doctrine of Blut und Boden was used to promote racist ideas in Germany and the preaching of Adolf Hitler. In order to understand the feeling of superiority in Germany as it relates to “blood and soil,” the teaching of German students must be considered. In most other European textbooks, the history of that particular country begins with the events that took place on that country’s soil. A German textbook, on the other hand, almost always starts off by explaining the expansion of the Germanic people throughout Europe. Germans are taught, from a very early age, to have interest in other nations and look upon Europe with a possessive glance. This is a special type of nationalism, which can almost be called internationalism, and makes the philosophy of Blut und Boden quite dangerous. Instead of being content with the “soil” they occupy, many Germans felt that because of their “blood,” the rest of Europe should also be theirs.

The idea of a great race of people is what led to the planned genocide of the Jewish people, and the regaining of the soil that is “rightfully” German. Nietzsche disagreed with this interpretation, and “proclaimed racial cross-breeding as the origin of the Germans” (Poliakov 72).

If this were true, by the logic of Nazi ideology, the Germans were no better than the millions of people killed in their concentration camps; by the logic of the rest of the world, of course they were no better. From the doctrine of Blut und Boden came a heightened sense of racism in Germany and a willingness to keep the German population “pure”. German racism can be split into two categories, both of which have to do with ”blood and soil.” The first type is exterior racism, which “was thought of as marking off the territories inhabited by Germans from those inhabited by other ‘races’” (Poliakov 74). The second has to do with the expansion of the “pure blood” and “was thought of as running through the other European countries, and dividing the ‘Germanic racial elements’ from the other, less valuable, elements” (Poliakov 74). This division is because many Germans, or people with “pure blood”, lived in other countries in Europe. So, not only does the German blood belong on German soil, it also belongs on the soil of the rest of Europe. This is the possessive feeling that came from the schoolbooks early in every German student’s life.

The Solution

By 1939 Nazi leaders decided that the best way to solve the “Jewish
problem” was to force them out of the country (Patterson 76). There were public beatings of Jews, forced cleanings of streets and public bathrooms, and the night that every window in a Jewish store was smashed, or Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass).

Although there were a few critics of these drastic measures, the majority of the German public seemed to revel in the fact that the Jews were being treated so harshly. The consensus of the people of the “pure race” was that the Jews got what they deserved and should continue to be treated as such. Adolf Hitler, at a speech made to the Reichstag on January 30, 1939, said: “If international finance Jewry within Europe and abroad should succeed once more in plunging the peoples into a world war, then the consequence will be…the destruction of the Jewish race in Europe” (Patterson 78-79).  Racism was rampant in Germany, and the doctrine of Blut und Boden was part of the cause.

Conclusion

As Nazi power increased in Germany, and Hitler’s will was unleashed on the people, ideology like “blood and soil” surfaced and escalated the racism. With the concept of a superior race being established, Jews and other people with impure blood found themselves in the midst of a war. They did not have a land of their own, a fact that bothered the Germans, and ultimately caused them to seize the people with such adulterated blood. The concept of Blut und Boden was important to Hitler and his German followers, important enough to kill millions of people in the name of race.

Works Cited

Patterson, Charles. Anti-Semitism: The Road to the Holocaust and Beyond. New York: Walker and Co., 1982.

Peukert, Detlev J.K. The Weimar Republic. New York: Hill and Wang, 1987.

Poliakov, Léon. The Aryan Myth. Trans. Edmund Howard. New York: Barnes and Noble Inc., 1974.

Staudenmaier, Peter. “Fascist Ecology.” 12p. Online. http://www.tao.ca/~ise/archive/ise00028.html. (Not online, May 2001)


Works Consulted

Breuer, William B. Death of a Nazi Army. USA: Scarborough House Publishers, 1985.

Mosse, George L. Toward the Final Solution. Madison: U of Wisconsin, 1978.