Richard Walther Darré
Richard Walther Darré (born Ricardo Walther Oscar Darré; 14 July
1895 – 5 September 1953) was one of the leading Nazi "blood and
soil" (German: Blut und Boden) ideologists and served as Reich
Minister of Food and Agriculture from 1933 to 1942. He was a
high-ranking functionary in the SS and the seventh most senior
commander in the organisation.
1 Early life
2 Political awakening
3 As a
Nazi Party member
4 After the war
6 See also
9 External links
Darré was born in Belgrano, a
Buenos Aires neighbourhood, in
Argentina to Richard Oscar Darré, a German with
(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.
Although his parents' marriage was not a happy one (Richard Walther
remembered his father as a hard drinker and a womanizer), they
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
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
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 contemplated returning to
Argentina for a life
of farming, but the family's weakening financial position during the
years of inflation made this impossible. Instead 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
University of Halle to continue his studies:
here he took an agricultural degree, specialising 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,
a Völkisch youth-group committed to the back-to-the-land movement.
In this context 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". Here "Blut" (blood) represents race or
ancestry, while "Boden" expresses the concepts of soil, territory, or
land. The essence of the theory involved the mutual and long-term
relationship between a people and the land that it occupies and
Darré's first political article (1926) discussed Internal
Colonisation 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
In her biography of Darré, Anna Bramwell interprets his writing as 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. Other scholars, however,
have challenged this view, seeing Bramwell's books as "devoid of
credible evidence" and containing "gross errors".
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
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.:55
Nazi Party member
In July 1930, after
Paul Schultze-Naumburg had introduced him to Adolf
Hitler, Darré joined the
Nazi Party and the SS. Darré's NSDAP number
was 248,256 and his SS number was 6,882. Darré went on to become
an active Nazi
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 Nazi 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
Nazi "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.
On 1 January 1932,
Reichsführer-SS Himmler appointed him chief of the
newly established SS Race and Settlement Main Office (Rasse- und
Siedlungshauptamt or RuSHA), a racist and antisemitic organization.
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.
During the 1932 presidential election, Darré engaged in a campaign of
anti-Semitic harassment 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 was so wounded by Darré's attacks that he challenged him
to a duel, a challenge that Darré declined under the grounds that it
was beneath him to fight a man with “Jewish blood”.
Duesterberg then 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 (see: Religious aspects of Nazism); however,
Heinrich Himmler and Alfred Rosenberg, he has not become a
figure of interest in the speculation about Nazi occultism.
Darré speaking at a
Reichsnährstand assembly under the slogan 'Blut
und Boden' (blood and soil) in Goslar, 1937
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
Soon after the Nazis came to power in 1933, Darré was initially
excluded from the Cabinet. However, in June 1933, shortly after the
Nazis seized full power, he became Reich Minister of Food and
Agriculture, 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 one of the few Nazi ministers who knew his field well.
He was instrumental in founding the Nazi Reichsnährstand
corporation 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. While this protected small farmers from
foreclosure and many other modern financial problems, it also tied
them and their descendants to the soil to the end of time.
He developed a plan for "Rasse und Raum" ("race and space", or
territory) which provided the ideological background for the Nazi
expansive policy on behalf of the "Drang nach Osten" ("Drive to the
east") and of the "Lebensraum" ("Living space") theory expounded in
Mein Kampf. Darré strongly influenced Himmler in his goal to create a
German racial aristocracy based on selective breeding. The Nazi
policies of eugenics would lead to the annihilation of millions of
non-Germans. In the course of the preparations for the Generalplan
Ost, Himmler would later break with Darré, whom he saw as too
theoretical. Darré was generally on bad terms with Economy Minister
Hjalmar Schacht, particularly as Germany suffered poor harvests in the
mid 1930s.
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.
The transcript of a 1940 speech supposedly given by Darré was
published in Life magazine, 9 December 1940: "by blitzkrieg ... before
autumn ... we shall be the absolute masters of two continents... a new
aristocracy of German masters will be created [with] slaves assigned
to it, these slaves to be their property and to consist of landless,
non-German nationals.... we actually have in mind a modern form of
medieval slavery which we must and will introduce because we urgently
need it in order to fulfill our great tasks. These slaves will by no
means be denied the blessings of illiteracy; higher education will, in
future, be reserved only for the German population of Europe...."
After the war
In 1945, the American authorities arrested Darré at Flak-Kaserne
Ludwigsburg and tried him at the subsequent
Nuremberg Trials as one of
21 defendants in the Ministries Trial, also known as the
Wilhelmstrasse Trial (1947–1949).
He was charged under the following counts:
Count I: participation in the planning, preparation, initiation, and
waging of wars of aggression and invasion of other countries. Found
Count II: conspiracy to commit crimes against peace and crimes against
humanity: The count was dismissed, the tribunal finding that no
evidence was offered.
Count IV: crimes against humanity, relating to offenses committed
against German nationals from 1933 to 1939. The count was dismissed
upon the arguments of defense counsel.
Count V: atrocities and offenses committed against civilian
populations between 1938 and 1945. Found guilty.
Count VI: plunder and spoliation. Found guilty.
Count VII: slave labor. Found not guilty.
Count VIII: membership of criminal organizations. Found guilty.
Darré was sentenced to seven years at Landsberg Prison. He,
nevertheless, was released in 1950 and spent his final years in Bad
Harzburg. He died in a
Munich hospital, on 5 September 1953, of liver
cancer. Darré is buried in Goslar.
His two main writings were Das Bauerntum als Lebensquell der
nordischen Rasse (1928) and Neuadel aus
Blut und Boden
Blut und Boden (1934),
translated into English as "The Peasantry as Life Source of the Nordic
Race" and "A New Nobility of Blood and Soil" respectively.
Peasantry/Farminghood as Life-source of the Nordic Race (1928)
New Nobility from
Blood and Soil
Blood and Soil (1929)
Nazism and race
Reich Harvest Thanksgiving Festival
^ a b Blood and Soil:
Richard Walther Darré
Richard Walther Darré and Hitler's 'Green
Party', Anna Bramwell (Kensal Press, 1985, ISBN 0-946041-33-4)
^ a b Richard [Oscar] Darré, Meine Erziehung im Elternhause und durch
das Leben, Wiesbaden, 1925
^ Bramwell gives the middle name as "Oskar".
^ Letter to his wife Alma as quoted by Bramwell.
^ Full name Alberta Helene Theresa Alma Staadt; date of marriage 29
April 1922: see catalog of archive materials held by the Munich
Archives relating to Alma Darré available at
http://www.ifz-muenchen.de/archiv/ed_0916.pdf (consulted 18 Jan 2014).
^ a b c d Heather Pringle, The Master Plan: Himmler's Scholars and the
Holocaust, p40 ISBN 0-7868-6886-4
^ a b Barbara Miller Lane, Leila J. Rupp, Nazi Ideology Before 1933: A
Documentation p. 103 ISBN 0-292-75512-0
^ Uekötter, Frank (2006). The green and the brown: a history of
conservation in Nazi Germany. Cambridge University Press. p. 202.
^ Biondi, Robert, ed., SS Officers List: SS-Standartenführer to
SS-Oberstgruppenführer (As of 30 January 1942), Schiffer Military
History Publishing, 2000, p. 7
^ a b c Hildebrand, Klaus The Foreign Policy of the Third Reich, B.T.
Batsford Ltd: London, United Kingdom, 1973 page 18
^ McNab 2009, pp. 23, 36.
^ a b c d Wette, Wolfram The Wehrmacht, Cambridge: Harvard University
Press, 2006 page 65.
^ Hakl, H. T. Nationalsozialismus und Okkultismus. (in German) In:
Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke: Die okkulten Wurzeln des
Nationalsozialismus. Graz, Austria: Stocker (German edition of The
Occult Roots of Nazism, 1997, p. 197. An English translation of this
essay is available.
^ Steigmann-Gall, Richard, The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of
Christianity, 1919–1945, 2003, p. 103
^ William Shirer,
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich Touchstone
Edition, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990
^ Lovin, Clifford R. (October 1969). "Agricultural Reorganization in
the Third Reich: The Reich Food Corporation (Reichsnahrstand),
1933–1936". Agricultural History. 43:4: 447–461.
access-date= requires url= (help)
^ "Secret Nazi Speech: Reich Minister Darré discusses the world's
future under German rule", Richard-Walther Darré, Life, 9 December
Ginger Rogers cover), pp. 43–44. 'Life' suggested a lack of
confidence in the veracity of their report with the comment "Even if
[this address] was not delivered exactly as recorded here, it might
^ a b "Records of the United States Nuernberg War Crimes Trials:
United States of America v. Ernst Von Weizsaecker et al (Case XI).
December 20, 1947 – April 14, 1949.". US Government archives
Blood and Soil:
Richard Walther Darré
Richard Walther Darré and Hitler's 'Green Party' by
Anna Bramwell, Abbotsbrook, Bourne End, Buckinghamshire: Kensal Press,
1985, ISBN 0-946041-33-4
Bramwell, British Library Integrated Catalogue, and Bramwell, Library
of Congress Online Catalog.
Biographical Dictionary of the Extreme Right Since 1890
Biographical Dictionary of the Extreme Right Since 1890 edited by
Philip Rees, 1991, ISBN 0-13-089301-3
The Plough and the Swastika: The NSDAP and Agriculture in Germany,
1928–45 by J.E. Farquharson, London, 1976, 1992 by Landpost Press,
McNab, Chris (2009). The SS: 1923–1945. London: Amber Books.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Walter Richard Darré.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Richard Walther Darré
Das Erbhofgesetz (in German)
Review of Anna Bramwell's biography of Darré,
Blood and Soil
Blood and Soil at the
Wayback Machine (archived 28 May 2005)
Quotation of speech
Neuordnung unseres Denkens "New Order of Our Thought" by Richard
Walther Darré at archive.org
Blut und Boden
Blut und Boden – Ein Grundgedanke des Nationalsozialismus "Blood and
Soil – A Basic Tenet of National Socialism" by Richard Walther
Darré at archive.org
Minister of Food
Members of the Hitler Cabinet
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Minister for Food and
Richard Walther Darré
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