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Richard-Walther Darre

political figure , Reich Minister

Reich Farmers' Leader and Reich Food Minister in Hitler's Germany.

Background

Walther Darré was born on 14 July 1895 in Belgrano, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Education

After attending school in Heidelberg and Bad Godesberg, Darré continued his education at King’s College. Wimbledon, and fought as an artillery officer on the western front in World War I. After demobilization, Darré briefly joined the Berlin Freikorps, then resumed his agricultural studies, qualifying in 1922 as an agronomist (Diplomlandwirt).

Career

An early friend of Heinrich Himmler, whom he first met in the right-wing, back-to-the-land movement, the Artamanen, Darré began to organize farmers in the NSDAP in the late 1920s. Though not one of the ‘Old Fighters', Darré rose rapidly in the Party hierarchy after 1930, impressing Hitler with the ‘blood and soil' ideology he expressed in his early works, indicated below. On 4 April 1933 Darré was made head of the organization of German farmers and for the next twelve years he was Reichsbauernführer (National Farmers' Leader). He was appointed Reich Minister for Food and Agriculture on 29 June 1933.

He was also Chief of the SS Central Office for Race and Resettlement and author of numerous books on racial topics, on the pig in ancient folklore, the peasantry, etc. Some of his works demonstrated both his primitive racism, his anti-semitism and the völkisch cult of the peasant.

By 1939, the Food Estate Leader ceased to have Hitler's confidence. During World War II pragmatic and military considerations assumed greater importance and it was Himmler who was given the power of decision over agricultural settlements in occupied territories. Darré’s opposition to the concept of ‘defence farms', his increasingly marginal status as a ‘theoretician’ and above all his failure to organize the German food supply efficiently, led to his dismissal in May 1942. Captured in 1945, he was eventually sentenced to five years in prison by an American military tribunal at Nuremberg for the confiscation of property from Polish and Jewish farmers and for having ordered German Jews to be deprived of basic foodstuffs, thereby deliberately provoking the starvation of civilians. Darré was released in 1950 and lived in Bad Harzburg for the last years of his life. He died in a private clinic in Munich on 8 September 1953.

Views

In his works Darré claimed that the Nordic race had been the true creators of European culture (in contrast to the ‘nomadic' Jews), that the German peasant was the driving-force of history, the substance of Germanism and the ultimate custodian of national uniqueness. Darré proposed the creation of a ‘Germanic aristocracy of the soil', a new ruling class - rooted in the agrarian community which would dominate the Ständestaat (corporatist State) that he hoped to recreate. A lower- middle-class pigbreeder, who consistently viewed economic life from the racial-biological standpoint and believed in the peasantry as the eternal ‘life-source' of the Germanic race, he was the driving-force behind the activization of Nazi agrarian policy between 1930 and 1933, exploiting the dissatisfaction and unrest in rural areas to win the farmers over to National Socialism. With the shift in Nazi Party strategy towards cultivating the rural peasant population and urban Mittelstand, Darré's romantic, anti-industrial ‘blood and soil' ideology came into vogue, influencing both Himmler and Hitler.

As Minister of Agriculture, Darré proclaimed the entail farm legislation (Erbhofgesetz), which aimed to preserve the peasantry as a privileged class and bulwark against the world of capitalism. Darré was convinced that only a large number of peasant family holdings, economically secured from the ‘chaos of the market’, could ensure the racial health of the German nation. His defence of the rural Mittelstand brought Darré into conflict with Hjalmar Schacht’s free market economics and the financial policy of the Reichsbank. Moreover Darré's ideological policies failed to increase the birth rate, to stop the transformation of the peasant into a capitalist farmer, or to prevent the flight from the land. His incompetence and impracticality gradually led to a loss of influence.

Membership

  • He was appointed Reichsleiter and SS-Gruppenführer.

    Reichstag , Germany

    November, 1933

  • Academy of German Law , Germany

  • An Honorary President

    Agricultural Society , Germany