“Blood and soil” was a slogan used by Nazis to represent two of their values: the German Volk, and the rural lifestyle. Nazis used this propaganda to combine the idyllic rural lifestyle (“soil”) with their message of racism (“blood”). It made a strong connection between one’s blood and the soil one lives on, setting the ground for expulsion of those races with (supposedly) no connection to the soil. It grouped the urban lifestyle with the nomadic lifestyle, spurning both and preferring the tranquility of agriculture.
The Bible has a story for those who feel cheated, for those who feel hatred for their brother, and for those who are attracted to this “blood and soil” concept. Here is the story of Cain and Abel:
Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” (Genesis 4:3-12)
A couple things to notice:
- Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd. Farmers typically live sedentary lifestyles, while shepherds live semi-nomadic lifestyles. The farmer can see a shepherd’s herds as either symbiotic or parasitic.
- Cain felt cheated. He did not understand why God regarded Abel’s offering, and not Cain’s.
Whatever his motivation, Cain killed Abel in cold blood. If we pay close attention to the words used in this story, we find the theme of blood and soil. God tells Cain, “Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”
The Nazis’ “blood and soil” slogan was meant to mobilize a population to hate Jews and Romanies, who were considered sojourners encroaching on German Lebensraum (“living space”). But the Bible gives a strong warning for those who, like Cain, harbor hatred for their brother. Because of Cain’s act of murder, the “soil” was now physically connected to Abel’s blood, which was “crying out to me [God] from the ground.” God took away Cain’s soil, making Cain “a fugitive and wanderer on the earth.” Banned from agriculture, Cain built the first city mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 4:17). Cain’s act of hatred produced the exact opposite result which the Nazis’ “blood and soil” slogan sought to attain.
You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 22:21)
You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)
The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:34)
You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:19)