Richard Walther Darré (July 14th, 1895 - September 5th, 1953) was an SS-Obergruppenführer and one of the leading Nazi "blood and soil" (German: Blut und Boden) ideologists. He was appointed by Hitler as Reich Minister of Food and Agriculture. He served in that position from 1933 to 1942.
In the Nazi Party
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. On 1 January 1932, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich 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.
In his religious views, Dárre would belong to the Pagan faction within the Nazi movement; however, unlike Himmler and Alfred Rosenberg, he has not become a figure of interest in the speculation about Nazi occultism.
Darré's works were primarily concerned with the ancient and present Nordic peasantry: 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 tribes". Soon after the Nazis came to power in 1933, Darré became Reich Minister of Food and Agriculture, succeeding German National People's Party leader Alfred Hugenberg. 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.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 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.