Ahead of Saturday's planned "Unite the Right" rally/protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, participants marched through town carrying tiki torches and chanting "Blood and and soil" and "You will not replace us." Fights between the protesters and Antifa counter-protesters broke out when the march reached the Jefferson statue.
The purpose of Saturday's rally, according to organizer Jason Kessler, is to protest the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue from Emancipation Park. City leaders attempted to move the location to a different park, but Kessler, backed by the ACLU, requested an emergency injunction against the city, claiming his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were being violated. The injunction was granted Friday.
On social media, though, the rally had a broader purpose - preserving history of the Confederacy and promoting white nationalism.
Supporters pushed back at being called "Nazis," but their "blood and soil" chant is directly from Hitler and Nazi Germany.
Blood and Soil (‘Blut und Boden’) was a very important philosophy for Nazi Germany. The issue of ‘blood and soil’ nearly split the Nazi Party after 1925 and was only resolved at the Bamberg Conference of 1926. Hitler believed that true Germans ‘came from the soil’ – that they had a family background based on farming and life in the countryside. The Strasser brothers were defeated on this issue and Hitler rallied his supporters around ‘Blut und Boden’ while Otto Strasser left to form his own party based outside of Germany.
The rugged toughness of peasants from medieval times was celebrated in Nazi beliefs. Numerous German peasant rebellions were portrayed in Nazi folklore as examples of the oppressor being overthrown by the oppressed. The Nazis then linked this to the German people needing to overthrow their oppressors in the C20th – the Jews.
Another chant heard last night was, "You will not replace us," which at times became "Jews will not replace us," as one participant proudly posted on his YouTube channel with the caption, "The white Man rises, today USA, tomorrow Jew-K."
Simply protesting the removal of a statue, this is not.
The Virginia National Guard is on standby for Saturday's rally.