JvH Spiegel article translation
- Here is my translation of the recent Der Spiegel Magazine article on
Judith von Halle, the 35 year old stigmatized Jewish anthroposophist
architect in Berlin.
A FOUR YEAR STARVATION DIET
by Frank Thadeusz
translated by Tom Mellett
Der Spiegel (The Mirror) Magazine
July 28, 2008
A follower of Rudolf Steiner claims to bear the stigmata of Jesus. She
also ate nothing for years. The judgment of an anthroposophical
commission: the case warrants investigation.
Starting with Easter 2004, Judith von Halle had to stop using tooth
paste. Dental hygiene had unexpectedly led "to a delirium, where I
hovered between life and death for four to five hours." A tiny
quantity of alcohol contained in the tooth paste lubricant had
provoked "the most violent symptoms of poisoning" in the organism of
the Berlin resident.
But the fear of cavities and gum disease was moot. Suddenly it
transpired, as the then 31-year old reports, that she had to abstain
from eating anything anymore. Even a light leaf salad brought her to
the brink of collapse.
But even with her rejection of food, the strange transformation of her
body was not at all complete. In the course of her remarkable
metamorphosis, she also felt her sense perceptions become sharpened
like those of a predatory animal.
All of a sudden, under favorable wind conditions, she "could hear
exactly what was spoken hundreds of meters away." Also she could now
"sniff out" in some miraculous way, whatever would occur in the
digestive process of another organism --- what was eaten many hours
before, where the food came from, what condition it was in, how it was
Then spontaneously, some sort of bruising appeared on her hands and
feet, yet these were just harbingers of a far grander spectacle: while
elsewhere the republic's families were happily eating their Good
Friday fish, she, in her own body, was empathizing with Jesus'
suffering on the road to Golgatha --- including "the hours long
abuse, the torturing, and finally, the death throes of the Crucifixion."
Ever since this time the "stricken one," according to her own
testimony, hasn't eaten one bite of food. Her body will only tolerate
water, and then only in modest amounts.
Is all of this just the wacko ravings of an attention-seeking egocentric?
Von Halle hardly goes out in public. Apart from a few rather
heavy-to-digest lectures ("The Human Significance of the Phantom, the
Resurrection Body") for an initiated public, this afflicted woman
shrinks from every encounter with strangers. She is carved out of
completely different wood than the Italian priest Padre Pio --- her
most well-known predecessor.
The farmer's wife, Theresa Neumann, from the Upper-Palatine region of
Konnersreuth (NE Bavaria, close to the Czech border), was elevated to
stardom by her believers in the 1920's because, on the annual day of
the Lord's crucifixion, she was said to bleed consistently from her
eyes, palms and breasts. As many as a thousand people a day would make
pilgrimages to the house of Father Ferdinand, where the woman with the
stigmata lived in a single room and would greet visitors in the yard
outside. For many years, die-hard "Tessie" devotees have lobbied for
the canonization of Neumann --- so far without success.
That pious woman obviously had virtues, which at that time encouraged
a cult-like veneration: her whole life long, she resisted all earthly
temptations and prayed only to the "Blessed Savior." Otherwise, the
rosy-cheeked country girl was hard-working and slaved away with the
scythe in the field.
The Bible-loving Theresa with her simple grade-school education is
worlds apart from her successor. The polyglot academic von Halle lived
for a time in Tel Aviv and in Houston, Texas, and she works as an
architect. The tormented farm girl was given the admiring nickname of
"Passion Flower," so now the most recent one laden with the agonies of
Christ might be personified as: "Passion-Lady 2.0."
She hardly fits the image of a Christian zealot: She was born into a
Jewish family and feels obligated to the teachings of Rudolf Steiner.
It is actually with his ideas that she explains the disturbing events
to herself. Therefore the stigmatized body must "be that body which
human beings will carry beyond earth evolution into the Jupiter
In the anthroposophical community of Germany, at the Berlin Center
where Judith von Halle was employed as a secretary when the stigmata
started, the affair soon set off a vast upheaval.
Bewildered by her own transformation, von Halle first went to work
with bandaged hands --- but she feared the ridicule of her colleagues:
"People would naturally think, after a few months, that this woman is
eccentric because she always wears gloves." Within her circles of
family and friends, people were surprised to see that she who had
always loved to cook and eat, now doesn't even touch a plateful of
bread rolls or even the cakes she used to bake herself.
The continuing cover-up gradually wore down the architect. She
recognized that "this game of hide-and-seek was an absolute lie for me
and for other people." So she revealed herself to a handful of trusted
friends. They really found the phenomena so outlandish that they could
hardly contain their enthusiasm to tell others about it. And so the
word of the miracle spread like wildfire in anthroposophical circles.
The reactions ran the gamut from ostensible concern ("Might she be
anorexic?") to brusque dismissal ("That has nothing to do with
anthroposophy"). The supposed thoroughly punctured hands of von Halle
must have indeed reminded Steiner-rookies of her relationship to the
church and to Christianity --- something she did not fully explain.
The master [Steiner] rejected the liturgies of both Catholics and
Protestants and totally believed in the need to do without an
intermediary between the faithful and God. Nevertheless, in 1922, he
inspired the founding of the "Christian Community" --- a Christian
church, which is associated with anthroposophy and operates without an
obligatory canon of dogma.
On earth, anthroposophists certainly deem the writings of Steiner
(over 350 volumes) as sacred, above everything else ---- even if the
"augurs" occasionally strain the meaning of their interpretation.
However, the fact that von Halle dared to interpret her mystical
torments through the teachings of the mastermind put the top
leadership of the anthroposophists in a dither. Observers despairingly
reported: "The members of the Anthroposophical Society who are
concerned with the destiny of Judith von Halle, whether closely or
not, are helpless in face of the facts."
Furthermore a sudden anxiety cropped up: the mysterious affair could
severely damage the image of eurythmy enthusiasts who at times eyed
her suspiciously anyway. Unceremoniously, the weird lady and a few of
her supporters were expelled from the Anthroposophical Center in
The cleansing quickly came home to roost: several dozen followers of
the bleeding lady simultaneously resigned their membership and with
von Halle they created their own counter-society. Moreover one of the
members of the commission recently appointed by the anthroposophical
board (Vorstand in Germany) came to the to the conclusion that von
Halle should be awarded funding so that she could work through her
blood and hunger hardship in a working group.
As of now, however, she still remains in exile. Now the faithful are
drumming up support to fund the ailing one: "It is well-known that,
for health reasons, she can only give a few lectures."
The fact that the story of her alleged four year starvation diet is
not really credible does not worry her followers at all. According to
the present state of research, the end result of going without food is
invariably death. So why is Judith von Halle still alive?
Her faithful hit back with this answer. "A proof of her living
without food is not possible at all," asserted one of them and made
reference to Therese Neumann, who had been dragged to a hospital for
observation under orders from a bishop. --- something the resolute
farmer's wife resisted with all her might. Rumors were never proved
--- according to one story, a pot with stew was located not far from
Judith von Halle's suspicious starvation story is not bolstered by a
dramatic weight loss. Supposedly she only lost two pounds at the
outset. With Therese Neumann, at first the pounds just rolled off her.
Later though, her figure suspiciously filled out again --- despite her
The worshiper of Christ had a compelling explanation for it: "God
doesn't do things halfway."
To find out more about Therese von Neumann, visit this site:
There are photos of Therese bleeding in 1926.