I've spent half a century (yikes) writing for radio and print—mostly print. I hope to be still tapping the keys as I take my last breath.
The phrase “blood and soil” goes back to an imaginary time in the minds of white racists, and is a translation of the German philosophy of Blut und Boden. Here is an explanation from CNN:
“The ideology stressed that ethnic identity is based on only blood descent and the territory in which an individual lives―and it celebrated rural farmers and peasants as virtuous Germans.”
It presented a romantic picture of a time past, which never really existed, in which values of honesty, courage, charity, and hard work were shared by all. It was a very important philosophy to the Nazi Party as it rose in popularity, eventually forming the German government in 1933. Blut und Boden stressed the importance of national identity based on a farming population.
People who didn’t come from the blood and soil background were deemed to be lower races. The Nazi leadership said these sub-humans had to be wiped out so as not to contaminate the purity of true Germans.
The Nazis Enemy
The Nazis, under Chancellor Adolf Hitler, identified those who were not of “Blood and soil.” Chief among their targets were Jews.
In a 1934 pamphlet called The German National Catechism written for German youth, the leadership explained why Jews had to be destroyed. It sets out the racist beliefs that drove the killing machine that eventually murdered up to six million Jews. Rubbish, all of it.
- “The goal of the Jew is to make himself the ruler of humanity. Wherever he comes, he destroys works of culture …
- “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 …”
- The farmers “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.”
- The pamphlet went on to blame Germany’s defeat in World War I (1914-18) to some sort of Jewish treason.
To repeat, rubbish all of it.
But it got a favourable hearing from Germans who were struggling through the Great Depression. On the edge of financial catastrophe, people needed someone to blame for their misfortune. They didn’t need a lot of persuading to fix on Jews as the cause of their troubles; for centuries, they had been made to take responsibility for practically everything bad that had happened.
And, that brings us to Charlottesville.
Beliefs of the White Supremacists
The protesters who gathered in Charlottesville come from several backgrounds all linked by a belief that white people are superior to all other races. The Ku Klux Klan was there, so too were neo-Nazis, but most of the racists don’t belong to organized groups.
University of Alabama political scientist George Hawley says a common thread among these people is the belief that they are victims; that their way of life is threatened by other ethnic groups. So, they have learned to fear multiculturalism. A favourite slogan of theirs is “Diversity is a code word for white genocide.”
Professor Hawley told CNN “There is a sense that whites are under siege and being deliberately dispossessed by hostile elites who wish to usher in a new multicultural order.
“They dislike the culturally-foreign immigrants who enter the United States and work for low wages, and they dislike the political and economic elites that invite them in. They are also hostile to the media and academia, which they contend push an anti-white message.”
The Turner Diaries
An important text among white racists is The Turner Diaries. The book was written in 1978 by William Pierce, leader of the neo-Nazi National Alliance. It is a fictional account of an America under the governance of a white supremacist government. One chapter describes the mass hangings of non-whites: “People would walk outside and literally see for as far as they could see people hanging from street lights in nooses.”
Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism, says this is a “fantasy that has virtually no chance of actually happening.” Fortunately, these extremist tribal views are held by a small minority although media coverage amplifies their messages of hate out of all proportion to their numbers.
And, some turn their hate into violence. Heidi Beirich is with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups and extremists. She said her group studied violent attacks that were inspired by radical racist ideology between 2011 and 2016; “there was an attack or attempted plot every 34 days in the U.S.”
When racists parade their hate in public they are increasingly met by counter-protesters, and some of these are violent. They run under the banner of “Antifa,” which is short for anti-fascist.
Fascism was the political philosophy of Hitler’s Nazis, as well as Benito Mussolini in Italy and Francisco Franco in Spain. It lives today on the fringes of the political spectrum but infects the thoughts of right-wing conservatives, such as Tea Party members in the United States.
When the extreme nationalism and racism of fascism started to develop in the 1920s, people on the political left organized against it. Some of these opponents argued that violent fascism had to be met with violence of equal or greater ferocity.
When fascism was defeated during the Second World War, the Antifa movement faded away. But, when Nazism reawakened in the 1970s and ’80s as neo-Nazism, so did the Antifa movement.
Scott Crow was an Antifa organizer in the United States for 30 years. He is quoted by CNN as saying “There is a place for violence. Is that the world that we want to live in? No. Is it the world we want to inhabit? No. Is it the world we want to create? No. But will we push back? Yes.”
- The Anti-Defamation League lists both “Blood and Soil" and “Blut und Boden” as hate slogans.
- Until 1966, the official logo of the Alabama Democratic Party showed a crowing rooster and the motto “White Supremacy, For the Right.”
- The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified 917 hate groups operating in the United States.
- “ ‘Blood and soil:’ Protesters Chant Nazi Slogan in Charlottesville.” Meg Wagner, CNN, August 12, 2017.
- “German Propaganda Archive.” Randall Bytwerk, Calvin College, 2003,
- “Who Are White Nationalists and What do they Want?” Ray Sanchez, CNN, August 13, 2007.
- “What is Antifa?” Jessica Suerth, CNN, August 17, 2017.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2017 Rupert Taylor
Jo Miller from Tennessee on December 01, 2017:
I lived through the civil rights movement of the '60's here in the southern United States, and I agree wholeheartedly with your statement that "most of the racists don’t belong to organized groups". Our current president brought out much of that latent racism in this country and made it more acceptable.
Kari Poulsen from Ohio on November 30, 2017:
Thank you for the detailed explanation of blood and soil. The news does blow everything out of proportion.
Liztalton from Washington on November 29, 2017:
Thank you for writing a well researched article on such a sensitive topic. I've always wondered about the slogan, but never researched it. I learned a lot from this article. Great job!