Menzer re AAG history
- To All:
I just received this English text of the first
part of Rudolf Menzer's history of the confusion
surrounding the founding of the AAG (GAS). This
text was published in German by Willy Lochmann:
For those who don't know, there is a hot debate
between Menzer and that other historian of the
founding of the AAG, Rudolf Saacke:
He is the author of *Die Formfrage der
Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft und die Innere
Opposition gegen Rudolf Steiner*, the recent
Part 2 of which appears in his current web
Here is the first part of Menzer's side of the
story, text below.
The General Anthroposophical Society of Christmas 1923 - What happened to it? - And why may the facts not be disclosed?
[Translator's Note: This is the first in a series of short articles in which Rudolf Menzer summarizes his analysis of the 'Constitution' question. They have been published over the past year in 'Symptomatologische Illustrationen', Basel.]
We are seeing today a steady increase in the attacks on Rudolf Steiner and the Anthroposophically-oriented spiritual science which he inaugurated. But the so-called General Anthroposophical Society (Reg. Association) in Dornach, Switzerland and the 'Free High School for Spiritual Science, Goetheanum' contained within it are neither willing nor able to counter these attacks effectively. On the contrary, one of the worst attacks on Rudolf Steiner is made by the G.A.S. itself in connection with the Constitution question.
It is asserted that on the 8th February 1925 the association "Goetheanum Association of the Free High School for Spiritual Science" (referred to in these articles by the letters VDG for '"Verein des Goetheanum' - originally founded in 1912/13 as the 'Johannesbauverein') was changed into the association "General Anthroposophical Society of Christmas 1923" (referred to in these articles as AAG/WT23). However, this is not correct. What actually took place on that date was, that the name 'VDG' was changed into 'AAG' and the AAG/WT23 was tacitly abandoned. It has been falsely asserted that this whole arrangement was the "wish and will" of Rudolf Steiner.
On the basis of the insufficient or false information passed on to it by the contending parties the Swiss Supreme Court in Solothurn decided on 12.1.2005 that on the 8th Feb. 1925, as a result of a "konkludente Fusion", the Christmas Conference Society (AAG/WT23) had "ceased to exist", but that the "spirit of the Christmas Conference lived on in the VDG which had been renamed and altered" for this purpose.
The whole question is extraordinarily complex. In my book1 I have tried to give a clear presentation of it. The articles that follow are intended as a guide to the historical sequence of events. Anyone wishing to study the problem in greater depth can do so with the help of the book*. As always, I am grateful for factual and constructive criticism.
At Christmas 1923, on the initiative of Rudolf Steiner and under his guidance, the association "General Anthroposophical Society" (AAG/WT23) was founded by the members of the Anthroposophical Society of 1912/13 (AG/1913). It was intended to be an "association of human beings" and not of juristic persons (§ 1). The latter should be autonomous groups, whose members have come together freely (§ 11/13), and which needed only to recognize and comply with the Statutes of the central association. Otherwise they were to remain independent. The AAG/WT23 was also a 'group' in this sense. (It follows from this, that the AAG/WT23 can be regarded as the "Anthroposophical Society in the narrower sense" and all the groups together as the A.S. in the wider sense.)
In his introduction Rudolf Steiner had set out his condition that he should be the President (Erster Vorsitzender) of the Association, and this was unanimously accepted. He also required that in future "absolute truthfulness" should prevail internally and externally, and that the "greatest possible openness to public life" should be combined with "the most inward esotericism". Esotericism was guaranteed in §§ 5/7 ff. of the Statutes in that they declare Rudolf Steiner alone responsible for esoteric matters. In the Statutes he reserved the right to name his successor (which he did not do, however).
The Statutes were conceived by Rudolf Steiner. At the Christmas Conference 1923 they were read out and explained by him - every member had been given a printed copy -; they were discussed in detail over the course of several days, and when they had been worked through three times they were accepted by voting in each case. They constitute the heart of the newly-founded 'AAG' and "express outwardly what is living in the souls" of those present (Rudolf Steiner's words in the opening lecture of 24.12.1923, GA 260). They were and still are described as a "social work of art", and they conformed with legal requirements, so that it was possible for the AAG/WT23 to be entered as an association in the Trade Register. This registration was explicitly asked for by Rudolf Steiner, and was an official requirement if the AAG/WT23 was to be a recognized legal person. Swiss association law (Art. 60 ff. ZGB) does not stipulate that the name made known publicly has to be
used internally - not even in the Statutes. If, instead of 'AAG', only 'AG' or 'Gesellschaft' (Society) were to be used, it was the AAG/WT23 that was meant. From the way Rudolf Steiner acted after the Christmas Conference it is quite evident that he held to the decisions made then by the members and wished to put them into effect.
With regard to the events of 8th Feb. 1925 one fact is of decisive significance - namely, that the entry in the Trade Register was not carried out. The question is, why did this entry fail to take place? Giinther Wachsmuth stated in the Newssheet of 30.4.1950 that after Christmas 1923 the Registrar, Notary Altermatt, had refused to allow the entry on the grounds that the Statutes were "too extensive and longwinded". However, this reason is without foundation, because in Switzerland association statutes can be formulated as one wishes. It is unthinkable that the (Swiss) notary should have been unaware of this fact. An official statement, against which one might have lodged an appeal, appears not to have been made. In all probability the fact was also known to the legally-trained Giinther Wachsmuth, so that one cannot but ask why he did not carry out the entry in the Trade Register, and why he described in this way the events outlined above.
1 Rudolf Menzer, Die Allgemeine Anthroposophische Gesellschaft von Weihnachten 1923 und ihr Schicksal, 2006, ISBN 978-3-906712-31-4.