Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

15966To Waldorf Critics

Expand Messages
  • carynlouise24
    Apr 2, 2008
    • 0 Attachment
      For some reason you are continually raising the subject of wanting to
      link Rudolf Steiner's Waldorf education to Nazism – let us look at it
      from an Anthroposophy view; we never know what we might find.

      First; Rudolf Steiner was not present (in an earthly sense) during
      WW2 (full stop) He was though during WW1. I wonder if you have taken
      the time to read this.

      Friedrich Rittelmeyer:
      Rudolf Steiner Enters My Life
      Translated by D S Osmond
      Originally published in German under the title
      Meine Lebensbegegnungen mit Rudolf Steiner
      by Verlag Urachhaus in 1928. First published in English 1929


      Friedrich Rittelmeyer: For nearly five years I had devoted
      practically all the spare time I had from my profession to the
      theoretical and, above all, the practical study of Anthroposophy. My
      object was to take stock of my responsibility to humanity and then
      have the right to speak with authority. Is there anyone among the
      opponents who has applied anything like the same amount of time and
      earnest investigation before writing against Anthroposophy? And above
      all, is there any one of them who has really tested it in his own

      Extract from part three

      More than a year went by before I saw Dr. Steiner again. The Great
      War had begun, and everyone had his own immediate duties. The
      conversation I had with him early in the year 1915 at the Deutscher
      Hof, in Nuremberg, was particularly significant. Dr. Steiner began at
      once to speak of the War. "I have been glad to find that you have had
      the same idea of world-events as I have," he said. "In what sense do
      you mean that?" I asked, rather hesitatingly. "I do not know what you
      have been saying about the War." "No," he said, "and I do not mean it
      like that. But you have a great inner sensitiveness to what is really
      going on." The appreciation implicit in these words embarrassed me a
      little, and I went on: "Herr Doctor, I would be glad to know from you
      where you think that my activity now during the War is not on the
      right lines."

      This was the first, rather explosive challenge on the subject of
      current affairs, to a knowledge that transcended ordinary knowledge.
      For my work among my Nuremberg congregation was carried on far away
      from the local Anthroposophists - as they were now, after the final
      separation from the Theosophical Society - and it was highly
      improbable that Rudolf Steiner had heard anything at all about it. He
      took up the challenge at once. "It is not a good thing to tell people
      that they ought not to hate England," he said. "That only excites and
      does not help them. It is better to say: 'You do not really hate
      England at all if you are true Germans.' When the German fights he
      never hates the person, he hates the cause."

      This was, as a matter of fact, the weak point in my work at that
      time. People were not at all satisfied with my lack of hatred.
      Naturally they expressed it quite differently, and said I had not
      enough living sympathy. But, as a matter of fact, I was not
      succeeding in giving them ideals great and worthy enough to take the
      place of all-too-human feelings.

      This was the weak point among all the spiritual leaders in Germany
      during the War. They were not capable of inculcating spiritual
      substance into the life-struggle of the German people. This helped me
      to understand what Rudolf Steiner had been trying to do in the
      lectures he had given in Berlin during the early years of the War.

      In connection with the greatest figures of Germany's spiritual
      history - Goethe, Schiller, Fichte, Hegel - he had tried to fill the
      hearts of men with a realisation of the spiritual mission of Germany.
      Those lectures richly deserve to be published by themselves. The
      effect they had on me personally was that they contained something
      which could have filled the hearts of the young in Germany with the
      inspiration for which they were longing, something which, without a
      single, false note, could have inculcated moral stability and have
      kindled the greatness of spirit from which alone the true power of
      Germans can be born. Not a word needs to be taken back to-day.

      The noble inspiration kindled by the lectures, both the public ones,
      and, to an even greater extent, those delivered to a more intimate
      group, was one of the fairest gifts of Rudolf Steiner. A wisdom-
      filled vision of the real place of Germany among the nations and of
      the higher Will behind this, here became a pure and vital force,
      radiant with light but also with sacrifice. But Germans were
      listening to Chamberlain* and Traub and had no ears for Rudolf

      * The German philosopher and essayist.

      During the World War Rudolf Steiner was a wonderful experience to me.
      Never once in those years did I hear him give a private lecture
      without previously directing the thoughts of his hearers to those on
      the battlefields and to the fallen. He always spoke a longish verse,
      in which the power of helping thoughts was expressed. He had given
      meditations of this kind for those fighting on the battle-fields,
      those caring for the sick, those at home. And the words were pregnant
      with inner, strength-giving power.

      His lectures during the first year of the War have already been
      mentioned. When I asked him, in the later years of the War, why his
      lectures were no longer like they were at the beginning, he
      replied: "Because now one would have to say many things which one may
      not say." - And so he tried to help in other ways.

      The inner participation with which he followed the events was vital
      in the extreme. From time to time he would speak of detailed
      happenings at the Front in a way that made one wonder whether he
      could have gleaned them from the newspapers or whether he had not,
      far more likely, seen them in direct vision.

      He spoke so concretely, and with such vital concern that one shared
      all the experiences of those at the Front. He was so permeated with
      the world-mission of the spirit of Middle Europe, and desired so
      intensely that it should be fulfilled, not merely chattered about. He
      loved the world-mission of Germany, but it was a love born of hope
      and of care. Spirit was there, not mere enthusiasm. Nor was an unjust
      or even antagonistic word about other nations ever uttered -
      naturally not. Dr. Steiner was no more a nationalist in the narrow
      sense than he was a pacifist in the shallow sense. He rightly said
      that the age of pacifism is the age of the Great War. He inaugurated
      the beginnings of future fellowship among the peoples, and in the
      land where the League of Nations holds its sessions there rose the
      Goetheanum - the Building at which members of more than twelve
      nations worked during the War.

      At the beginning of 1917, when Woodrow Wilson launched his Fourteen
      Points on the world, there began for Dr. Steiner a new period of
      activity in connection with the War. "A word of the spirit must now
      go forth from Middle Europe. If this does not happen we shall succumb
      to this Wilson programme. It is having a much stronger effect than
      Germany realises." . . . "Middle Europe cannot exist under Wilson's
      Fourteen Points. But they must be answered from out of a spirit which
      is the right and true spirit for Middle Europe. Otherwise they will
      gain the day." About a year later, before the last offensive, a
      friend of mine heard him say: "Wilson will bring great misfortune to
      Middle Europe and achieve nothing he wishes to achieve."

      Now that this spirit had spoken in the West, Rudolf Steiner thought
      that the spirit on this side too should speak. Herein he felt his
      call. It was then, at the beginning of 1917, that he once spoke after
      a lecture of the occult methods which were being used with such power
      in Western countries. I replied: "If false occultism is so active
      nowadays, should not true occultism be able to bring something
      about?" "Yes," he said, "and that is why I am trying to do something
      now." - "What ought to happen?" I asked. "Two things. First, the
      publication of a clear and documentary statement of what was going on
      at the outbreak of war - hour by hour. Bethmann's declarations are no
      use at all. One can believe them or not. But if everything that
      happened then is ruthlessly told, the world will see that Germany was
      not so cunning and much less to blame than people think.

      But that is only one side of it. A word must be spoken about a future
      régime in Middle Europe which corresponds truly to the historical
      position, and in which it will be possible to live." He said that if
      this were done, one would see the Statesmen of the Entente, while
      saying little officially, immediately beginning to change their
      tactics. They would realise the existence in Germany of a spiritual
      power not so lightly to be brushed aside, and they would fear that
      their own people might pay heed to what was going on and want to get
      it for themselves too.

      One must now act resolutely and on a broad scale. The people of
      Austria would then say to themselves: "If that can really be carried
      through among us, we have no interest in allying ourselves with
      Russia." The working classes in Germany would also be able to win
      back confidence in a State that goes forward with a true kind of
      freedom. And among the peoples of the Entente, the feeling would
      arise: We have been mistaken. There in Middle Europe a coming age is
      actually speaking. We must come to terms with it. - Only so was there
      now any possibility of a favourable outcome of the War.

      Shortly after this Dr. Steiner gave me a copy of the manuscript he
      was trying to bring before leading statesmen in Germany and Austria
      through the intermediary of friends. Nothing was more remote from him
      than personal ambition. But had he any right to remain silent when he
      knew how to help? When I asked him what I could do in this matter, he
      answered: "Articles are no use these days; the only thing to do is to
      get at the men at the top. One must be alert to opportunities that
      may offer themselves in this direction." In company with other
      Anthroposophists at that time, and especially later on, I wrote
      letters to leading men asking them to take the thing seriously. But
      alas! it was all in vain. I often saw Rudolf Steiner come back
      exhausted from conversations with leading men.

      One of them said to him: "You may he right, but I am not your man." -
      "You must be the man, because you have the position," was the
      answer. Another said to him: "What you propose - the publication of
      an account of what happened at the outbreak of war - would lead to
      the abdication of the Emperor." "Then that is better now than later,"
      answered Dr. Steiner. During those months I once met him with a
      newspaper in his hand. He was deeply perturbed. "Here is Bethmann-
      Hollweg making another idiotic speech. It will scare peace away for
      another six months. Not a single concrete utterance about Belgium! It
      does not help at all in the long run. It merely helps party politics."
      Deeply engraved in my memory is a conversation I had with Dr. Steiner
      in his room, during the first six months of 1917. Hindenburg's famous
      retreat had come about.

      All Germany was rejoicing at the unerring strategy of the new Chief. -
      What was Dr. Steiner's opinion of the position? "It is really a
      piece of good luck that we now have Hindenburg and Ludendorff," I
      began. I looked at an unmoved face. "Well," he said
      slowly, "Hindenburg is an old man who pulled off the affair up there.
      (He was referring to the Mazurian Lakes.) But of course you know that
      the main work is being done by the Chief of the General Staff." I
      certainly did not know this at the time, but went on with my
      questions: "So the bright spot for Germany is now Ludendorff?" I was
      already uncertain. Dr. Steiner looked at me thoughtfully and
      seriously. "It is not in the interest of Germany to have such
      Generals!" came from his lips. "What do you mean?" I asked, in
      astonishment. "Well, the two of them have managed to pull off this
      retreat with all the devastations. Anyone who can estimate what that
      means for the future of Germany, can only say that it is not in her
      interest to have such Generals." It was a shock to me. When I look
      back to-day, I ask: Who was there in Germany at that time who saw
      things with this clarity of perception?

      Every week I had conversations with men from University circles who
      were regarded as leaders of thought. But what blindness they had in
      comparison with Rudolf Steiner when one had just talked with him!
      Even from the military point of view he was not to be impressed. So
      far as the highest Army Command was concerned he thought nothing of
      what was being achieved in the way of leadership. He also considered
      that this war of materials and mass did not offer, as earlier wars
      had done, any opportunity for really fine strategy. And political
      interference on the part of the Supreme Command! In justice, he
      said: "One really must not be too hard on them. They at least are
      doing something, the others nothing at all."

      A singularly interesting experience during those months shall be
      recorded here for historical reasons. It was at Midsummer, 1917.
      Kühlmann had resigned. Dr. Steiner said one day: "You are always keen
      on knowing things that are confirmed afterwards. Now I will tell you
      something. I have discovered that Moltke (not the Chief of the
      General Staff, but his uncle, the Field Marshal) is now trying to
      work for peace from the spiritual world. And now read Kühlmann's
      speech. Again and again he quotes the old Moltke. It was agreed that
      he should say nothing about peace in his speech. The others - I will
      not mention names - went to Kühlmann afterwards and reproached him
      for having broken his agreement. Kühlmann told them that he did not
      know himself what made him do such a thing." And then Dr. Steiner
      gave a poignant description of Kühlmann's bodily condition that
      particular morning which resulted in a somewhat lowered
      consciousness. This made him particularly susceptible to
      supersensible influences, and they flowed into him under the most
      unfortunate conditions.

      One day in the summer of 1917 I again met Dr. Steiner with a
      newspaper near by. He always made a point of reading a number of
      papers of varied persuasions. "Have you yet read about the Pope's
      gesture for peace? Woe betide us if we had to accept peace from the
      hand of the Pope!" "Do you think it is coming to that?" I asked. "And
      what do you think about it?" "I think," I replied, "that this new
      gesture for peace will simply increase the universal war-weariness.
      That is all that will happen." "There you are placing far too low an
      estimate on the influence of the Pope," was the answer.

      In all the things Dr. Steiner said to me during the War, this was the
      point where he proved to be not entirely correct. At all events his
      words seemed to suggest more hope than was afterwards fulfilled. But
      nowadays one knows that fundamentally he was right. It is now known
      how real were the possibilities of peace at that time. If the
      Reichstag had been correctly informed everything might have turned
      out quite differently:

      Michaelis was made Imperial Chancellor in those days, and at the very
      beginning I expressed the view - which was contrary to prevailing
      opinion - that, once again, he was not the right man for the
      position. "He is not," Dr. Steiner said. "The best thing one can say
      about him is that for the time being he is keeping the position away
      from someone still less suitable." "And who is that?" I asked with
      some curiosity. "Hertling," was the reply. And when, in spite of
      everything, Hertling became Chancellor, Dr. Steiner said: "It is
      simply outrageous that there should be such a Chancellor!"
      Kerensky's régime was overthrown. "Surely we shall have peace with
      Russia now?" I asked. Rudolf Steiner shook his head. "Peace with
      Russia would have had to be made at the latest by August, 1917. It is
      now too late." At the turn of the year 1917-18 Dr. Steiner grew more
      and more sorrowful and hopeless. "Peace ought to have been made in
      the year 1916. In 1917, with a widely conceived spiritual plan, it
      was still a possibility. In 1918 it is no longer possible. Of course
      I do not mean that an outer ending of the war is impossible. But it
      will not be peace as peace has previously been made. The war will go
      on merely in a different guise." I remembered something Dr. Steiner
      had said in the early days of the war: "In the year 1916 the war will
      essentially be at an end." His words had come true in a sense other
      than I had understood at the time.

      Dr. Steiner took an extraordinarily grave view of the menace of
      Bolshevism. I never saw a more serious expression on his face than
      when he said: "If Bolshevism were to come it would be worse than the
      whole of the war. When they carry Bolshevism over to Russia and
      conduct leaders in closed carriages through Germany, these Statesmen
      seem to imagine that Bolshevism will hereafter stop at the boundaries
      of their own country!"

      The deepest disquietude I ever saw him manifest was after the peace
      of Brest-Litovsk. I met him in the street on the way to his
      lecture. "What do you think of this Peace Treaty?" he asked me. "I do
      not like it at all," I said, "but at least we have now a breathing-
      space in the East. And perhaps it will be possible, after general
      peace has been made, to atone for the acts of military violence." "It
      is terrible, simply terrible!" Dr. Steiner said. "You should see what
      effect it is having on the dead, especially on those who are
      connected with us and who have themselves been taking part in these
      events. It is like an explosion; it simply hurls them back. - Oh! it
      is awful!" From then onwards he seemed to have lost all hope of a
      bearable termination of the war. "Now things are heading straight
      into chaos!"

      The offensive in the spring of 1918 awakened new hope in many
      Germans, myself included. Dr. Steiner never had it for a
      moment. "What do you mean," I asked him, don't you think we shall get
      to Calais?" "Well, we may," he replied. "But I cannot see how that
      will help us. That is not the way to end the war." His words about
      Calais were the other small inaccuracy I heard from his lips. I do
      not withhold it, and in any case it is of no significance compared
      with the amazing clarity with which he perceived hundreds of things
      of which others were hardly even aware. Nothing essential is omitted
      from this narrative and nothing glossed over. It is for everyone to
      judge for himself whether Dr. Steiner's knowledge has stood the test
      of the subsequent years.

      When I look back on these experiences to-day: Wilson's Fourteen
      Points, the needs of the German position, the possibilities of peace,
      the personalities of the leaders, the significance of single events,
      the happenings in Russia - compared with Rudolf Steiner's political
      insight, everyone else with whom I spoke, even the highly-placed,
      seemed to be mere dreamers. Here there was real vision, real action,
      and everything else - I know of no exception - seemed, in comparison
      with it, a blind stumbling through events.

      In those early months of the year 1917, when Rudolf Sterner came upon
      the scenes, the historical picture was remarkable in the extreme. Out
      of unknown obscurity appears a man. He goes to the Statesmen of
      Middle Europe and shows them the way to salvation. To-day it can be
      clearly seen that this indeed would have been the only way.

      The Statesmen listened to him with interest and partial agreement,
      but not one of them had the strength and the courage to act. Dr.
      Steiner had no personal ambitions whatever. He would have been quite
      content to remain in the background and give help to those who were
      responsible in the world of affairs. But before help can be given,
      two are necessary: one who helps and another who allows himself to be
      helped. Men of a religious turn of mind might say: It was as though
      prayers had been heard from a thousand hearts: the helper appeared -
      but his help was not accepted.

      It is easy to imagine the feelings of those who had experienced such
      things during the war, when, after its conclusion, Rudolf Steiner
      made one more effort to help. To the public this will seem like the
      exaggerated, inept words of a "Steinerite". But the public does not
      realise how things looked to those who said to themselves: "He was
      not listened to the first time. Nor will he be listened to the second
      time. And then for many years, perhaps for decades, it will be too

      When the collapse came I was not near Rudolf Steiner, for I did not
      see him between the end of July, 1918, and September, 1919. What he
      was saying and doing during that period is preserved in many lectures
      and in the memories of others. In this book I am only recounting what
      I myself experienced. At that time he was waging a superhuman fight
      for two things: to save the workers of Germany from the menace of
      Bolshevism and the German nation from the Treaty dictated to them at

      In September, 1919, when I saw Dr. Steiner again in Berlin, he told
      me that great offence had been caused in educated circles by his
      appearance at "Workers'" Meetings. - He could only say that if he had
      spoken as these people wished, the workers would simply not have
      understood him. In a discussion with workmen in Berlin at that time,
      I saw Rudolf Steiner from a new angle - amazingly quick and alert as
      always, but at the same time imposingly active and energetic.

      His counter-arguments poured down with devastating force on those who
      were opposing him. One of the lesser leaders, a man not without some
      knowledge of his own, but who made a conceited little speech, was so
      flattened by Rudolf Steiner that he left the hall and wept in the
      vestibule. "It would not be exactly a pleasure to come up against him
      here," I thought to myself. "But to see him like this is a real joy!"
      In conversation he was all the more peaceable.

      On the way to a lecture he chatted pleasantly about India. I had
      asked him if it was possible, in order to save time, to carry through
      one or more spiritual tasks at the same time. He said that it
      certainly was. Occult investigations could be made while a
      conversation was actually going on. But one could not expect the same
      of a European body as of an Indian. Indians might be capable of
      sending their bodies into a town to do something and at the same time
      of remaining where they were, in deep meditation. He said that our
      European bodies were not suitable for such separations. At the same
      time, with his usual sympathy, he noticed that I had injured my foot,
      went on to speak of earlier incarnations - and the next minute was
      engaged in lightning-like spiritual battles.

      At that time - the autumn of 1919 - he said in public: The Threefold
      Social Order is coming. In about fifteen to twenty years it will be
      there. But then it will come in the midst of many catastrophes.
      Since all help in the political sphere was out of the question, he
      turned his attention to domains where it could be given, and where
      there were men willing to accept it: education of the young,
      agriculture, therapeutics. The unabated energy with which he did
      this, without a trace of embitterment, was in itself an evidence of
      world-historic greatness. But from then onwards, in the cultural-
      political world, the West-East problem stood in all its magnitude and
      many-sidedness before his spirit.

      Part Two

      But now, as I look back, my thoughts carry me farther. - What
      experiences might Rudolf Steiner not have had during a single
      lecture! I heard of other examples of different supersensible
      impressions he had while he was lecturing, in connection with various

      There were occasions - so I gather from many statements I have heard -
      when his lecture would be addressed chiefly to one individual. But on
      the other hand his large public lectures were often veritable battles
      of spirits.

      In a dim way people sensed this. But as they only looked at Rudolf
      Steiner with physical eyes, they held him for a demon, whereas the
      truth was that he was waging war against the "demons".

      If they had paid heed to what he said at such times instead of
      letting themselves be carried away by superficial first impressions,
      they would have been able to recognise this.

      As John Jocelyn says under Aquarius:

      Thomas Paine wrote:

      `These are the times which try men's souls … Tyranny, like hell, is
      not easily conquered. The harder the conflict the more glorious the
      victory. That which is won too cheaply is esteemed too lightly.
      Heaven knows how to put the proper price upon its goods and it would
      be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom be not highly
      rated. Up! Lay shoulders to the wheel! Show faith by work, that God
      may bless you. `Tis the business of little minds to shrink. He
      whose conscience is firm pursues principles unto death'.
    • Show all 10 messages in this topic