A "blood purity program": Holocaust expert on why Trump is stoking fears of national blood poisoning

Donald Trump's anti-semitism and the danger of “poisoning the blood” rhetoric

By Chauncey DeVega

Senior Writer

Published October 11, 2023 5:45AM (EDT)

Donald Trump | Migrants attempting to cross in to the U.S. from Mexico detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Donald Trump | Migrants attempting to cross in to the U.S. from Mexico detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

As Donald Trump finally faces serious consequences for his decades-long crime spree and other antisocial behavior, he will become more racist, white supremacist, antisemitic, violent, dangerous, and fascistic. Trump is unwilling to restrain himself – even when such vile behavior is potentially damaging to him and contrary to his goals.

For example, in a particularly bold move last week, Trump went so far as to threaten New York Attorney General Leticia James – who is a black woman. “I don’t think the people of this country are going to stand for it," he told reporters about his civil trial in New York for fraud and other financial crimes. "This is a disgrace. And you ought to go after this attorney general." In Trump’s imagination, the collective mind of his followers, a black person (especially a black woman) such as Leticia James is naturally supposed to show deference to white people. Trump has also called James a corrupt “racist” “monster."

Trump has used racist language and made threats against the other African American judges, prosecutors, and other members of law enforcement who are trying to hold him accountable under the law for his many and obvious crimes. Trump’s followers have been obeying these commands and incitements to violence.

In another example of the ex-president’s perfidy, during a recent interview with the National Pulse, Trump made white supremacist comments about “undesirables” from other countries who are “poisoning the blood” of (White) America.

Nobody has any idea where these people are coming from, and we know they come from prisons. We know they come from mental institutions [and] insane asylums. We know they're terrorists. Nobody has ever seen anything like we're witnessing right now. It is a very sad thing for our country. It's poisoning the blood of our country. It's so bad, and people are coming in with disease. People are coming in with every possible thing that you could have. And I got to know a lot of the heads of these countries. They're very cunning people. Very street-smart people. If they're not street-smart, they're not going to be there very long. And when they send up those caravans, and I had it ended, we had the safest border in the history of our country, meaning the history, over the last 80 years. Before that, I assume it was probably not so bad. There was nobody around.

The mainstream news media has, for the most part, either mostly ignored or has already moved on from this story. The media malpractice and general enabling of Trumpism and American neofascism continues. Hyper politics and the 24/7 news cycle and the attention economy will be the death of American democracy and freedom.

Trump’s comments about “diseased invaders” echo what Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler wrote in his book “Mein Kampf”:

“In the north and in the south the poison of foreign races was eating into the body of our people, and even Vienna was steadily becoming more and more a non-German city.”

“And so this poison was allowed to enter the national bloodstream and infect public life without the Government taking any effectual measures to master the course of the disease.”

"["The Jew"] occasionally bestowed one of his female members on an influential Christian; but the racial stock of his male descendants was always preserved unmixed fundamentally. He poisons the blood of others but preserves his own blood unadulterated."

The following passage from “Mein Kampf” is extremely similar, both in verbiage and meaning, to what Trump said in his interview with National Pulse:

All the great civilizations of the past became decadent because the originally creative race died out, as a result of contamination of the blood….

The adulteration of the blood and racial deterioration conditioned thereby are the only causes that account for the decline of ancient civilizations; for it is never by war that nations are ruined, but by the loss of their powers of resistance, which are exclusively a characteristic of pure racial blood. In this world everything that is not of sound racial stock is like chaff….

A State which, in an epoch of racial adulteration, devotes itself to the duty of preserving the best elements of its racial stock must one day become ruler of the Earth.

The antisemitic and white supremacist messaging of Trump’s conversation with the National Pulse becomes even more clear when placed in the larger context of similar language and behavior by the ex-president and the beliefs of his followers.

Hyper politics and the 24/7 news cycle and the attention economy will be the death of American democracy and freedom.

Trump infamously described the white supremacists and other racial fascists who ran amok in Charlottesville in 2017, killing Heather Heyer and injuring dozens of other people, as being “very fine people." They chanted “blood and soil” while marching and rampaging throughout Charlottesville. 

A majority of Republicans and Trump followers believe in the white supremacist antisemitic conspiracy theory that “white people” are going to be replaced in their “own country” by non-whites. Trump’s antisemitic and white supremacist messaging both reflects and encourages a belief in such lies and disinformation.

As I explained in a previous essay here at Salon, “Trump's fundraising emails and other communications are also filled with antisemitic themes and threats that mirror the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other racist and white supremacist hate tracts. Such themes in Trump's and his allies' messaging include the conspiracy lie that there is a 'deep state' that controls the Democrats and the liberal media through 'globalist' 'puppet masters' who are secretly pulling the strings and controlling the world by forcing the "Woke agenda" on patriotic Americans with the goal of making the country socialist or communist. Trump and the larger right-wing are also obsessed with George Soros (a Democratic Party donor who happens to be Jewish and a Holocaust survivor) and routinely launch antisemitic attacks on him.”

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Trump believes that human beings can be bred like horses and other animals and that he himself possesses “superior genes” because of his German heritage. Trump is willfully ignorant and does not read; his belief in eugenics and race science is intuitive and spiritual. The following account from a 1990 Vanity Fair profile of Ivanka and Donald Trump provides a particularly illustrative example of the ex-president’s casual antisemitism:

Donald Trump appears to take aspects of his German background seriously. John Walter works for the Trump Organization, and when he visits Donald in his office, Ivana told a friend, he clicks his heels and says, “Heil Hitler,” possibly as a family joke.

Trump’s ex-wife has also reported that he kept a collection of Hiter’s speeches in a cabinet near his bed.

Trump’s antisemitic and white supremacist statements about “poisoning the blood” are also a reminder of the many deep connections between American “race scientists” and eugenicists and their German counterparts in the first decades of the 20th century. Madison Grant, who was one of the most influential “race scientists” and eugenicists of the era (and a prominent thinker more generally) wrote the following in his influential 1923 book “The Passing of the Great Race”:

The result of unlimited immigration is showing plainly in the rapid decline in the birth rate of native Americans because the poorer classes of Colonial stock, where they still exist, will not bring children into the world to compete in the labor market with the Slovak, the Italian, the Syrian and the Jew. The native American is too proud to mix socially with them and is gradually withdrawing from the scene, abandoning to these aliens the land which he conquered and developed. The man of the old stock is being crowded out of many country districts by these foreigners just as he is to-day being literally driven off the streets of New York City by the swarms of Polish Jews. These immigrants adopt the language of the native American, they wear his clothes, they steal his name and they are beginning to take his women, but they seldom adopt his religion or understand his ideals and while he is being elbowed out of his own home the American looks calmly abroad and urges on others the suicidal ethics which are exterminating his own race….

As to what the future mixture will be it is evident that in large sections of the country the native American will entirely disappear. He will not intermarry with inferior races and he cannot compete in the sweat shop and in the street trench with the newcomers. Large cities from the days of Rome, Alexandria, and Byzantium have always been gathering points of diverse races, but New York is becoming a cloaca gentium which will produce many amazing racial hybrids and some ethnic horrors that will be beyond the powers of future anthropologists to unravel.

One thing is certain: in any such mixture, the surviving traits will be determined by competition between the lowest and most primitive elements and the specialized traits of Nordic man; his stature, his light colored eyes, his fair skin and light colored hair, his straight nose and his splendid fighting and moral qualities, will have little part in the resultant mixture.

Donald Trump would likely agree with Grant’s description of how American society is being “poisoned” by “race mongrelization."

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I asked philosopher John Roth, who is an expert on the Holocaust, for his thoughts about Trump’s recent statements about how “poison blood” from non-white immigrants is infecting the United States.

Via email Roth explained:

Adolf Hitler’s racist, antisemitic dream of domination took “purity of German blood” to be fundamental for the continuing existence of the German people. Early on, American ways aided and abetted Hitler, whose 1920s writings, including Mein Kampf, admired American racism, white supremacy, and anti-immigration policies.

Those realities showed him that right-thinking Americans knew how the health of the body politic depends on blood purity. If American trends continued in the right direction, Hitler affirmed, the United States would be a model for his Nazi regime in Germany. 

World War II crushed the Third Reich but not blood-based politics. Recently, for example, Donald Trump echoed Hitler, putting blood purity center stage when the indicted ex-president lied that “the blood of our country” is being poisoned by disease-causing immigrants.

Neither the fear of national blood poisoning nor the yearning for national blood purity should be underestimated, unreasonable though they are, because such ideas are political constructs as powerful as they are malignant. Fear of blood pollution by Jews and protection of pure “German blood” led to the Holocaust. Defense of untainted “American blood” entrenched slavery and Jim Crow in the United States and legitimated genocide against Indigenous people. Nothing good, certainly nothing that honors American democracy at its best, comes from stoked fears of national blood poisoning or nativistic aspirations to save fictional national blood purity.

Early in 1933, Hitler advanced his blood purity program when the German parliament handed him an enabling act that turned his decrees into law.  Trump has said that he might overturn the Constitution.  Failing that, he apparently believes that Article II gives him “the right to do whatever I want as president.” When confronting authoritarians like Trump, the first rule is to believe that they will attempt to do what they say.  A second Trump presidential term would escalate his fear-mongering about national blood poisoning and advance his xenophobic blood purity program.  The price for any of that is further loss of democracy. 

History tells us where this horrific road ends and the great suffering that will take place along it and at the final destination – a road that America is rapidly and recklessly accelerating down in the Age of Trump and beyond.

By Chauncey DeVega

Chauncey DeVega is a senior politics writer for Salon. His essays can also be found at He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Chauncey can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

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Antisemitism Commentary Democracy Crisis Donald Trump Fascism Racism Republican Party