I have already dealt briefly in the chapter on Economics with the agricultural problem, but it is so important, being the foundation on which everything rests, that I propose to discuss it here in more detail. It is also of interest as showing the way in which the National Socialist Government approaches an economic problem. They begin by approaching it as a social problem, the well-being of the agriculturist and his family and their recognition as a living and essential part of the community being the first question to be considered. In no case do they indulge in revolutionary economics. They have not only accepted the existing economic structure in Germany, but they go further than that and search into the past history to find a solid foundation on which to build. Germany has her big land owners but she also has her peasant proprietors amounting to more than 500,000 families among whom the custom of inheritance from father to son is very largely prevalent.
The Bauer, the Peasant Proprietor is the solid foundation, Hitler says, on which to build a state, and he must be established and protected by law so as to form a Peasant Aristocracy, proud of their position in the commonwealth and recognition by the State. It is a class alas absent in this country except where a county council has established small holdings. The English yeoman and peasant farmer was destroyed by the robbery of the commons and the enclosure act.
In France, in Germany and in Austria, the farm house of the peasant is familiar in the landscape, sometimes clustered in villages, in other places far apart. Under one roof is the family house, and storage for hay, and room for all the pigs and cattle during the hard continental winter, when everything must be gathered under one roof. The peasant is an interesting feature of most continental countries. In Italy he scorns to marry a townsman and it is among them that you find purity of race and handsome men and beautiful girls. The castle on the mountain side has long been a ruin. The peasant's home continues from one generation to another.
In Spain the population of the cities have no national characteristics or race features, and are poor undergrown specimens of humanity. I have never forgotten seeing the peasants riding into Toledo in their picturesque costumes. These were the men who had conquered Mexico and Peru and showed race in every feature.
Hitler is right, therefore, when he builds the German State on the peasant, a race which we destroyed in the 18th century to satisfy the greed of our land owners.
While in Russia the Soviet have been striving to destroy the peasant and convert him into a communal wage slave, a struggle in which millions have died of starvation, Hitler has built his State on the peasant as its foundation.
The contrast between Communism and National Socialism could not be more marked. The National Socialist builds on a long tried system of land ownership; Communism sweeps it all away in the name of an untried economic theory. Under the law establishing the peasant it has been made illegal to lend money on the security of the house and land and they cannot be sold in payment of debts.
Another interesting provision is that any destitute member of the family has the right to claim the shelter of the ancestral home.
We shall never solve our agricultural difficulties in this country until the man who tills the soil owns the soil or has it in perpetual lease direct from the State.
Another important principle established in Germany is that the land yields its best return to the intense cultivation of the small unit of land. The application of mass production ideas to the land has already in the U.S.A. and in Australia converted millions of acres into a desert. The small economic unit is the right principle for cultivation but it is at a disadvantage in selling the product, and this is where the second part of the organisation comes in.
On the 13th September, 1933, the German Government enacted as the basic law for agriculture, the National Food Corporation Act which decided the provisional constitution of this organisation. Thus the Corporation was lifted from the level of a voluntary organisation to the position of a public body. The National Food Corporation became a compulsory institution for the persons affected, and is subject to official supervision. Therefore the National Food Corporation includes not only the productive group - that is agriculture itself - but also all those groups which are in any way concerned with providing the German nation with food. They comprise the groups engaged in the manufacture of various commodities out of these products as well as those concerned with the distribution to the consumer. By reason of this co-operation, the National Food Corporation forms a body consisting of producers, manufacturers and distributors all of whom are of equal importance within this organisation.
The following is a rough outline of the organisation of the National Food Corporation. At the head of the whole organisation of the National Food Corporation is the National Peasants Führer R. Walther Darré with his deputy.
To assist him the Peasants Führer has an advisory body, the Reichsbauernrat (National Peasants Council), membership of which is purely honorary. Its members are nominated by the Peasants Führer.
In the Stabsamt (Planning Dept.) the Peasants Führer has created an institution where the work is planned for many years ahead by several main sections which deal with questions of trade and industry, law, comparative agriculture, training in agricultural practice and theory, the introduction of up-to-date working methods, peasant customs and racial matters.
In the Verwaltungsamt (Executive Department) the plans already decided on by the Stabsamt are put into operation.
Section I of the Verwaltungsamt is concerned with the welfare of the individual, be he the owner of an agricultural estate, that is to say peasant or agriculturist, tenant farmer or agricultural labourer. All questions bearing on the rural population are treated here.
Section II of the Verwaltungsamt deals with all questions of rural economy, with the homestead, with the estate, in short with everything connected with the peasant's calling. It comprises, besides the technical side, all matters connected with soil, crops, and plant life, training, forestry, agricultural implements and machinery as well as with domestic economy.
Section III of the Verwaltungsamt is responsible for the organisation of the market, e.g. for questions of the distribution of supplies for the utilization or processing of agricultural produce. The economic bodies concerned are grouped in eighteen associations which - under their own administration - have been assigned special duties to the community but are under the direction of Section III. The following are the most important organisations:
Hauptvereinigung der Deutschen Getreidewirtschaft.
Hauptvereinigung der Deutschen Viehwirtschaft.
Hauptvereinigung der Deutschen Milchwirtschaft.
Hauptvereinigung der Deutschen Eierwirtschaft.
Hauptvereinigung der Deutschen Gartenbauwirtschaft.
Reichsverband Deutscher landwirtschaftlicher Genossenschaften.
Hauptvereinigung der Deutschen Brauwirtschaft.
Wirtschaftliche Vereinigung der Deutschen
Hauptvereinigung der Deutschen Fischwirtschaft.
Wirtschaftliche Vereinigung der Margarine- und
Hauptvereinigung der Deutschen Kartoffelwirtschaft.
In addition to the sections enumerated, the Verwaltungsamt has three more sections. Two of these are concerned with financial matters and questions of personnel while the section "Public Enlightenment" is responsible for the press, broadcasting, the organisation of exhibitions, films, lectures, agricultural market information, advertising, literature, publishing, archives, and libraries.
An Inspector-General has been appointed to superintend the setting into operation of special schemes and to control the offices of the Landes- und Kreisbauernschaften (Regional and District Peasant Associations).
The National Food Corporation is subdivided into Landesbauernschaften (Regional Peasant Associations) whose area generally coincides with that of the various German Federal States or the Prussian provinces. The Landesbauernführer (Regional Peasants Führer) and his deputy are responsible for the work of the Regional Associations. The organisation is similar to that of the Verwaltungsamt for the whole of the Reich, though on a smaller scale. There are in all twenty Regional Associations which are in turn subdivided into Kreis- and Ortsbauernschaften (District and Local Peasant Associations).
The Districts Association are, in the main, in close touch with the peasants and land owners and supply them with such advice as cannot be supplied by the Local Associations.
Each District Association is headed by a District Association Führer who holds an honorary position.
The administration of the Local Associations is also an honorary function. The Führer of the Local Association is in uninterrupted touch with each peasant and thus holds a particularly responsible office.
Finally, it should be mentioned that the National Food Corporation also supervises the peasants' schools, the agricultural schools and colleges, and the stock breeding boards, so that it includes in its sphere of activity everything connected with the task for which it is competent.
It has already been intimated that the National Socialist agrarian policy has abandoned (in the case of particularly important food products) the capitalistic maxim that the price is dependent on supply and demand. In this way not only the distributors and manufacturers but also the producers of our food supplies are no longer forced to go in for financial speculation. In this respect, the poorer classes were at the greatest disadvantage; for, lacking the necessary capital to await favourable times, they had to sell their goods prematurely in order to obtain ready money. The peasant, as a rule, belonged to the class of speculators with limited capital, for he can generally turn over his capital only once a year. The same applied to the middle-sized industries immediately connected with agricultural produce, such as flour mills and breweries. As a result, many of the small and middle-sized concerns were taken over by larger firms with considerable capital, a development unfavourable to national economy. The harmful influence of this speculation was counteracted by the marketing regulations laid down by the National Socialist agrarian policy which introduced fixed prices, and fixed prices means fair prices.
A fair price must fulfil the double condition of protecting both the producer and the consumer. The peasant and the agriculturist must be protected against the necessity of having to sell their products at cut prices if they are to sell them at all; whereas the consumer's interests must be guarded against being robbed at times when, owing to seasonal changes, production falls off. The fixed price should be high enough to cover the cost of production and to guarantee the proper continuance of agricultural work. On the other hand, it must be low enough to exclude the possibility of the consumer's being robbed; the consumer, in fact, should always be able to rely on stable prices which are in proportion to his income. In this way the prices of bread, milk and butter, for example, have remained stationary for years, though, from a speculative point of view, price fluctuations would have been technically justified by the variation in the yield of the annual crops etc. The fixing of the prices has, however, prevented this to the benefit of both parties. With regard to the necessities of daily life, the prices have also been fixed, generally speaking, for the dealers' trade as well as for the trader utilizing or processing agricultural produce. In fixing the rate of the middleman's margin it was not intended to kill this trade since it has long shown its value as a machinery for private distribution. The idea was simply to remove any possibility of financial speculation on the part of anyone concerned.
But the marketing regulations have other important functions apart from mere price regulation. In the first place they regulate the functioning of the entire system of manufacture and distribution. Furthermore, by means of the marketing regulations a systematic organisation of the sale of agricultural products is secured. This shall hereunder be demonstrated by an example taken from the dairy business.
Before the agricultural marketing regulations were introduced, the milk market was in a chaotic state. Obviously, everyone wished to share in supplying milk to the big towns, because the best prices were to be obtained there. The milk supplied to Berlin, for instance, did not all come from the surrounding districts, but was in part sent hundreds of miles, even from the Allgäu, a district situated in the extreme south of Germany. This is explained by the fact that the Allgäu peasant received locally for his home made butter and cheese such a poor return that he found it a better paying proposition to send his milk to Berlin, in spite of the distance. Apart from the middleman's profit there was the enormous cost of haulage over some 435 miles to be paid. Things went from bad to worse, and no solution appeared possible. At the same time it was found impossible to lower the retail price because the unproductive middleman's charges prevented any reduction. When marketing regulations were introduced, the dairy business throughout Germany was divided into certain milk supply regions, an arrangement which has proved extremely beneficial to the entire dairy trade.
Similar arrangements have been made for the supply of other commodities.
The marketing regulations also endeavour to improve the quality of all products of German soil. The price of superior qualities cannot be demanded for inferior qualities; the idea of improving the quality is therefore not penalized but encouraged. For purposes of research in the direction of the improvement of quality the National Food Corporation is provided with all manner of research and teaching institutions. Hence marketing regulations imply not stagnation but increased efficiency.
Where necessary, the marketing regulations also help to secure order and discipline in the market. The problem of food supplies cannot be allowed to depend on the arbitrary action of individuals to the extent of affecting the common interest. The private individual's initiative is in no way restricted, but competition must be kept within bounds, so as not to become harmful to the national economy. In cases of harmful and unnecessary competition the National Food Corporation can take decisive action by licensing only such a number of businesses in any locality or districts as may be reasonably expected to make a living.
It may be pointed out once more that marketing regulations are not identical with "planned economy". Nobody intends to limit the area under the plough or to enforce certain rules concerning cultivation. There is a fundamental difference between marketing regulations and "planned economy".
To sum up, the following are the functions assigned to the marketing regulations:
I. Protection of the producer.
II. Protection of the consumer.
III. Organised movement of goods, organised manufacture.
Establishing a New German Peasantry
The term ländliche Siedlung (rural settlement) is more generally used than Neubildung Deutschen Bauerntums (Establishing a New German Peasantry); the latter, however, gives a clearer idea of the actual facts. Miniature and suburban settlements will not be considered here, nor for that matter cottage settlements which, from small beginnings, develop into peasant holdings.
It is the aim of the National Food Corporation to create as many new peasants' estates as possible, particularly in thinly populated districts. They must have the size of at least one Ackernahrung (i.e. sustaining a man, his wife and two children), thus guaranteeing a livelihood from the soil worked.
The success hitherto attained in establishing a new German peasantry is, strange to say, hard to express in figures. Thus, not much is gained by stating that, in 1934, nearly 5,000 new estates were set up. Neither can a clear idea of the development in this direction be gathered from the fact that 144,617 hectares (approximately 357,000 acres) of land in all parts of Germany were provided for purposes of internal colonisation in 1934. But in comparison with the fact that, during the years 1919 to 1932, on the average only 67,184 hectares (approximately 165,000 acres) per year were provided for the same purpose, it will easily be seen that the establishment of new peasants' estates is proceeding rapidly.
There are three ways for providing land for this purpose.
A certain acreage will be provided out of the large landed estates. It should, however, be made clear that this does not mean any compulsory expropriation of large properties, but that the owners will be compensated for the land acquired for this purpose. Besides privately owned land, government property also will be utilized for internal colonization, as far as technical conditions permit. The Reichssiedlungsgesetz (Reich Act to make provision for Internal Colonization) provides the possibility of obtaining from private and public estates in the manner described an acreage of nearly 1.7 million hectares (approximately 4.2 million acres) with a view to creating new agricultural land. It is, however, not yet possible to say when the whole of this land will be available.
A second possibility of providing land for agricultural purposes is the cultivation of waste land, bogs, fens and swamps. This method of obtaining arable soil is particularly important since in this way useless land is turned into useful land. In contrast to the cultivation of bogs we cannot base exaggerated hopes on the cultivation of waste land, because there is only a limited quantity of the latter available. It must also be borne in mind that certain stretches of waste land can never be made productive owing to peculiarities of conditions such as climate, altitude, nature of the soil, etc., which cannot very well be changed. The total area in Germany utilisable from an agrarian point of view is about 30 million hectares (approximately 73 million acres). It would be unlike the German peasant to have allowed millions of hectares of waste land to lie idle beside his good fields. In the case of bogs and swamps, the conditions, as already pointed out, are entirely different. Here, in contrast to the case of waste land, the individual has generally no possibility of undertaking by himself any successful and comprehensive reclamation. Results can only be realised when a large part or the entire area of the bog is tackled at the same time. For this reason it has been advisable to make use of the Arbeitsdienst (Labour Service) for the cultivation of waste land. We may estimate the area of bog and waste land capable of being cultivated at about 2 million hectares (approximately 5 million acres). It is, of course, impossible to achieve great results at short notice. Nevertheless, extensive reclamation of bog and waste land, amounting to over 200,000 hectares (approximately 500,000 acres) has already begun. This land is situated in all parts of Germany. The most important reclamation would appear to be the Rhin and Havel swamps near Berlin, the Sprotte fens in Silesia, the Ried marshes in Hesse, the Chiemgau bog and the Danube marshes in Bavaria and the swamps on the left bank of the river Ems in North West Germany. In the Labour Service young Germans of all classes have an opportunity of becoming acquainted with and acquiring respect for the work involved in the reclamation of the German bogs and marshes.
Unfailing energy and tenacity have been and will be called for in order to make use of this possibility of obtaining new land, namely by reclamation from the sea. Extensive dykes are required. Since the German nation, the "People without Space", needs new land, they will not shrink even from the most difficult tasks. Within a 50-year programme, the North Sea on the West coast of Schleswig-Holstein alone is to yield up 100,000 hectares (approximately 250,000 acres) of new land. Good results have already been obtained. In 1935 the Adolf Hitler polder, 1,334 hectares (approximately 3,300 acres) in area, and the Hermann Göring polder, 550 hectares (approximately 1,300 acres) in area, were inaugurated. In this way land for nearly one hundred peasant estates under the new Act has been provided. A considerably greater number of handcraftsmen's settlements have also been formed here.
The selection of new peasants depends on certain conditions. It goes without saying that they must be of German descent. The peasant and his wife must be valuable individuals from a racial point of view and come from healthy stock, so that a guaranty is provided for healthy offspring. Families with many children are given preference when new land is being distributed. It is also of primary importance that the applicant should be able to prove that he himself as well as his family are suited to the life. These new peasant estates must not be regarded as a practising ground for all and anyone to try their hands at experimenting, nor as an instructional institution for those who consider themselves fitted for agricultural work. Technical qualifications are therefore required under all circumstances. Only where these primary conditions are satisfied the financial situation of the applicant is considered. For financing these undertakings definite rules have been drawn up on lines which make it possible even for persons of moderate means to take over one of those new estates.
The establishment of these new peasant estates is undertaken by estate companies under the supervision of competent authorities, an arrangement which guarantees close co-operation with the National Food Corporation. The new agricultural estates are got ready up to a point from which it is possible to begin to work them properly whereafter every peasant is free to make the best use possible of the opportunity afforded him for improving his position according to his personal energy and for endeavouring to do his best for his own welfare and that of his descendants. Only by struggling to succeed will he become attached to the soil. Not only younger sons of peasants are to be provided with a new estate, but everyone capable of fulfilling the required conditions, particularly agricultural labourers. Since these latter cannot, as a rule, compete with the others financially, especially favourable conditions will apply in their case, and they will thus be provided with the possibility of rising in the social scale.
Besides these fundamental matters a certain number of other points have to be considered in connection with the planning of houses, schools, and with similar questions. Their solution will, as a rule, be arrived at in practice. As a result of the close co-operation between the competent authorities, the National Food Corporation and the estate companies, the conditions laid down by the National Food Corporation will always be carefully observed.
This great work of settlement and internal colonization going on in Germany serves the end of national reconstruction. Where reconstruction is taking place, peace must prevail. Hence Germany too needs peace for her work.