Im Zeitalter des Lebendigen? Zum Verhältnis der Nähe zwischen Regimevertretern und Exponenten der biologisch- dynamischen Wirtschaftsweise im Nationalsozialismus
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Recent studies have shown that at least since 1941 under the guidance of plant breederMartha Künzel and gardener Franz Lippert biodynamic cultivation and research was being carried out on the herb plantations affiliated to the Concentration Camp of Dachau. At the same time, biodynamics was being practised in the ConcentrationCamps of Ravensbrück and the adjacent landed estates of Heinrich Himmler and Oswald Pohl, who was the head of the SS economic enterprises. The agricultural properties of Robert Ley and Wilhelm Frick were converted to biodynamics, too. Rudolf Peuckert, „peasants‘ leader“ of Thuringia and since 1941 chief staff managerin the Nazi party’s „department of agricultural policy“ („Amt für Agrarpolitik“), was practising biodynamics on his private farm.
In Himmler’s plans concerning the „non-capitalist settlement“ of violently depopulated Polish and Soviet lands, biodynamics became a vital chapter. Furthermore, Werner Troßbach emphasizes the actual pursuance of biodynamics (1942/43) in Himmler’s „pearl project“, an ethnically cleansed district near the Soviet town of Žitomir (nowadays central Ukraine), hitherto neglected in precedent research.
Previously, some authors stressed elements of compulsion in Himmler’s dealing with biodynamic leaders since 1941. However, as early as in February 1940, biodynamic leader Erhard Bartsch declared: „I have established firm cooperation with SS-General Pohl.“ The author, consequently, emphasizes the elements of voluntary cooperation/ collaboration and reconstructs a gradual process of integration of biodynamics into the Nazi system, based on intensive lobbying from the biodynamic side. As early as in 1935, biodynamics had become a highly respected part of the Nazi-streamlined („gleichgeschaltet“) life reform movement („Deutsche Gesellschaft für Lebensreform“). In 1940 and 1941, Nazi Minister of Agriculture and „Imperial Peasants‘ Leader“, Richard Walther Darré, adopted biodynamics as an essential tool in his plans for a future „regeneration of the German peasantry“.
According to the author, the reasons for the smooth integration of biodynamics into Nazi structures were manyfold, some dating back to Weimar times, such as the ideology of agrarian fundamentalism and a certain involvement of biodynamic leaders in anti-democratic groups and – on a small scale – even in the Nazi party. For the time after 1933, the author draws special attention to the Nazis‘ quest for the mastering of the „laws of life“ („Lebensgesetze“), as they put it, i.e. the „control of birth and death, sex und reproduction, body and germline, varieties and evolution“ (Hans-Walter Schmuhl) under the primacy of race. Biodynamic leaders were offering their services, as they shared Himmler’s and Darré’s animosity towards hard sciences. In 1940, a kind of fusion was emerging, with a mutual exchange of basic terms: biodynamic leaders accepted Darré’s renaming biodynamics as „agriculture according to the laws of life“ („Lebensgesetzlicher Landbau“), while Darré in his letter to the party leaders(Reichsleiter) used biodynamic language, highlighting „the living“ („das Lebendige“) supposedly opposed to hard sciences.
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