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Blood and soil

Logo of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (Third Reich), and of the Blood and Soil ideology

Blood and Soil (German: Blut und Boden) refers to an ideology that focuses on ethnicity based on two factors, descent (Blood (of a folk)) and homeland/Heimat (Soil). It celebrates the relationship of a people to the land they occupy and cultivate, and it places a high value on the virtues of rural living.


[edit] Rise

The German expression was coined in the late 19th century, in tracts espousing racialism and national romanticism. It produced a regionalist literature, with some social criticism.[1]

Richard Walther Darré popularized the phrase at the time of the rise of Nazi Germany; he wrote a book called Neuadel aus Blut und Boden (A New Aristocracy Based On Blood And Soil) in 1930, which proposed a systemic eugenics program, arguing for breeding as a cure-all for all the problems plaguing the state.[2] Darré was an influential member of the Nazi party and a noted race theorist who assisted the party greatly in gaining support among common Germans outside the cities.

[edit] Nazi implementation

Richard Walther Darré addressing a meeting of the farming community in Goslar on 13 December 1937 standing in front of a Reichsadler and Swastika crossed with a sword and corn ear labelled Blood and Soil (from the German Federal Archive)

The Reichserbhofgesetz, 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).

It was one of the foundations of the concept of Lebensraum, "living space".[3] It not only called for a "back to the land" approach and re-adoption of rural values, it held that German land was bound, perhaps mystically, to German blood.[3] It contributed to the Nazi 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.[4]

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".[5] In 1942, 600,000 boys and 1.4 million girls were sent to help bringing in the harvest.[6]

[edit] How blood and soil influenced art

"Blood and soil" literature was vastly increased, the term being contract to a slogan "Blu-Bo", and developed a mysticism of unity.[7] It also combined with war literature with the figure of the soldier-peasant, uncontaminiated by the city.[7]

During the Nazi period in Germany, one of the charges put forward against certain works of art was that "Art must not be isolated from blood and soil."[8] Failure to meet this standard resulted in the attachment of the label, "degenerate art", to offending pieces. In the art of the Third Reich, both landscape paintings and figures reflected blood-and-soil ideology.[9] Indeed, some Nazi art exhibits were explicitly titled "Blood and Soil".[10] Artists frequently gave otherwise apolitical painting such titles as "German Land" or "German Oak".[11] Rural themes were heavily favored in painting.[12] Landscape paintings were featured most heavily in the Greater German Art Exhibitions.[13] 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.[14] Peasants were also popular images, promoting a simple life in harmony with nature.[15] This art showed no sign of the mechanization of farm work.[16] The farmer labored by hand, with effort and struggle.[17]

The acceptance of this art by the peasant family was also regarded as an important element.[18]

Blud und Boden films likewise stressed the commonality of Germaness and the countryside.[19] Die goldene Stadt has the heroine's running away to the city result 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.[20]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Pierre Aycoberry The Nazi Question, p8 Pantheon Books New York 1981
  2. ^ Barbara Miller Lane, Leila J. Rupp, Nazi Ideology Before 1933: A Documentation p. 110-1 ISBN 0-292-75512-0
  3. ^ a b "Blood & Soil: Blut und Boden"
  4. ^ Leila J. Rupp, Mobilizing Women for war, p45-6, ISBN 05109-7
  5. ^ Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p 110-1 ISBN 0-679-77663-X
  6. ^ 1942 - "Osteinsatz und Landdienst" - Service in the east and on the land
  7. ^ a b Pierre Aycoberry The Nazi Question, p8 Pantheon Books New York 1981
  8. ^ Peter Adam, Art of the Third Reich, p. 67 ISBN 0-8109-1912-5
  9. ^ The Greater German Art Exhibitions
  10. ^ Peter Adam, Art of the Third Reich, p. 66 ISBN 0-8109-1912-5
  11. ^ Peter Adam, Art of the Third Reich, p. 109 ISBN 0-8109-1912-5
  12. ^ Peter Adam, Art of the Third Reich, p. 111 ISBN 0-8109-1912-5
  13. ^ Frederic Spotts, Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics, p 176 ISBN 1-58567-345-5
  14. ^ Peter Adam, Art of the Third Reich, p. 130 ISBN 0-8109-1912-5
  15. ^ Peter Adam, Art of the Third Reich, p. 132 ISBN 0-8109-1912-5
  16. ^ Peter Adam, Art of the Third Reich, p. 133 ISBN 0-8109-1912-5
  17. ^ Peter Adam, Art of the Third Reich, p. 134 ISBN 0-8109-1912-5
  18. ^ George Lachmann Mosse, Nazi culture: intellectual, cultural and social life in the Third Reich p 137 ISBN 9780299193041
  19. ^ Cinzia Romani, Tainted Goddesses: Female Film Stars of the Third Reich p11 ISBN 0-9627613-1-1
  20. ^ Cinzia Romani, Tainted Goddesses: Female Film Stars of the Third Reich p86 ISBN 0-9627613-1-1

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