Steiner, an opponent of WW1
- Der Staudi has expressed his opinion on Steiner's war record:
" Steiner supported WWI."
WC, message 19487
"Many anthroposophists believe, like Frank, that Steiner opposed WWI. This is a
remarkable error, but a very common one among Steiner's admirers. "
WC, message 19496.
But did Steiner support WW1? Steiner delivered a lot of lectures during the 4 years of the War. Of the significant fraction of that output that I've read I've never seen one that supported it. The typical kinds of views he expressed in WW1 can be seen from the quotes below.
"And so from the spirit of our Spiritual Science we have to-day tried to transform the Christmas thought into an impulse; and while looking up to it from that which is now going on around us, we shall try not to behold a want of purpose in the Earth-evolution, but rather in the midst of sorrow and pain, even in strife and hatred, to see something which finally helps man a step forward. More important than the search for the causes of what happens to-day is this: that we should turn our gaze to the possible effects, to those effects which we must conceive as bringing healing to mankind. That nation or people will do the right thing which is able to fashion something healing for mankind in the future, from what springs up out of the blood- saturated Earth. But this healing can only come about when man finds his way to the spiritual worlds: when he does not forget that not only a transitory but an eternal Christmas exists, an everlasting bringing to birth of the Divine Spiritual in the physical Earth-man."
Golden Legend and a German Christmas Play,1915
"The quest for knowledge is intimately bound up with the most inward aspect of the human being, and every now and then we must therefore enquire into the essential nature of our will and intent. In the light of the present situation, woeful as it is, it seems the answer to this question must be a negative one. For more than three years we have seen something spread across the world that I need not discuss in detail, at least to begin with, for we are all aware of it and feel it deeply. The events now taking place are the opposite of our own intentions, which have come to expression in this very building. [ Note 1 ]
Again and again we must try to see clearly which stream of spiritual development we wish to see taken up by humanity, and today we have to say it is the opposite of the stream which has led to the terrible tragedy of these last years. This is something we may call to mind again and again when we give deep and full consideration to the events now raging all over the world. We may say to ourselves that it appears as if time were drawn out and had become elastic, as if the things we remember from before this madness took hold of the world happened not just years but centuries
There will, of course, be many today ó as there always have been ó who may be said to sleep through the events of the day, people who are not fully awake to what is going on today. But when those who are awake look back on what went through their minds four or five years ago and left an impression, they will feel more or the less the way one does when one lets the mind dwell on an old book or a work of art that was created hundreds of years ago. Events which meant something to us before this madness came on the world now seem to have happened an infinitely long time ago."
"Failure to see the spiritual reality and take account of the element of the spirit is ultimately the cause of this terrible world war. Nor can it be said that through these years ó years which have turned into centuries for anyone who is awake in them, as I have said ó humanity has learned an adequate lesson from the terrible events around us. Sadly, it has to be said that the opposite is the case.
What is the characteristic element to be found day by day, hour by hour, when we take note of what people think, or rather pretend to think and pretend to want? It is that, fundamentally speaking, no one in the world knows what they want, and no one realizes that people's perfectly justifiable aims, whichever form they may take in the minds of individual nations, would be achieved so much better if they did away with these terrible wars in which so much blood is shed. People do not realize that these terrible events with their bloodshed are really not necessary as a means of helping them to achieve their aims."
"Imagine a band of children smashing up all the pots and plates, glasses and everything in the house. The adults who see this happening are considering how to stop it, for the children keep running to the larder and all over the house to find more things to smash. Finally the adults have an idea as to how they can stop it. A number of people who are watching, people who actually consider themselves to be the teachers of these children, find a solution: They take care that everything breakable is collected and smashed to pieces ó and that, they think, should put an end to it all! I do not know how many people would not consider those teachers to be fools. This is the kind of situation where people would see the truth. Yet there are people who consider themselves to be wise and who say to the whole world: Carnage must continue until peace comes; everything has to be broken, so there will be nothing left to smash in the world. This is considered wisdom. Go on murdering people for as long as you can and you will stop the murder. This is wisdom!
For anyone who has even a spark of logic it is no longer wisdom when the teacher says to a band of children: To make sure nothing else gets smashed up, I will quickly get people to collect all other breakable objects and smash them; I reckon nothing else will get smashed after that. Why do people call this foolishness and the other thing political foresight? Because people's thinking stops at the very point where it should be most intense, which is where their thoughts relate to great questions of destiny."
"We are now living in an age when one year of war is equal to more than ten years of war in the seventeenth century, because war has become so much more destructive. By the standards of those times we have more than a Thirty Years War behind us already."
Fall of the Spirits of Darkness, 1916
"To-day man is confronted by the greatest trial of his strength his power to work his way in freedom to the spirit which is approaching him of itself, if he does not shut himself off from it. The time is past when the spiritual could reveal itself to man in all sorts of subconscious and unconscious processes. The time has come when man must receive the light of the spirit through a free, inner deed. All the confusion and want of clarity in which men are living to-day come from the fact that men must receive something that they do not yet want to receive: an entirely new understanding of things.
The old ways of thought, the old ways of regarding world-events, came to full expression in the terrible catastrophe of the world-war. Its infinitely significant warning signs are nothing but a call to re-model our ways of thinking, to try a new way of regarding the world, for the old way can only lead again and again to chaos and confusion. It is time we realised this. It is time we realised that the leading statesmen in 1914 had come to a point at which nothing more could be achieved with the old methods of thought. Because of this they led humanity into misfortune. People must impress this fact strongly upon themselves, or they will not form a strong resolution really to meet the spirit and the life of the spirit in freedom and inwardness of soul."
Some Characteristics of To-day, 1919
"From what is now happening, a few souls must come to a realization that we cannot go
on like this; human evolution must take up the spiritual! Materialism is confronting its
karma in this, the most terrible of all wars. In a certain sense, this war is the karma of
materialism. The more this fact is realized by human beings, the more they will abandon
their arguments about who is to blame for the war, and then they will have to realize that
this war has been sent into world history to admonish man to turn to a spiritual perception
of human life in its entirety. "
Christ in Relation to Lucifer and Ahriman, 1918
One wonders at what point the incongruity of making statements like the above in the context of what Steiner actually wrote about WW1, which anyone can find out for themselves, will occur to Der Staudi. There are now scholarly associations that study the esoteric that do "not endorse any particular methodological approach to the study of esoteric traditions, but [do] discourage reductionism - that is, the denigration rather than the study of esoteric traditions or figures.' (http://www.anthroweb.info/esoterikforschung.html - see section entitled 'Association for the Study of Esotericism'). Perhaps Der Staudi should heed this call; it could do wonders for the truthfulness and value of his work.