The cult of Rudolf Steiner Part 1

The cult of Rudolf Steiner Part 1

Continuing a long and shameful history of Anthroposophists suing those who write critically about their movement, the German federation of Waldorf schools has announced it will sue journalists who have reported on the role of Steiner’s followers in the current pandemic. Here is a new interview (in German) with the spokeswoman for the federation.

She makes several familiar false claims about Steiner’s racial teachings, about Waldorf schools in Nazi Germany, and so forth. It is hard to understand how the organized Waldorf movement can fall for the same mistakes repeatedly, digging themselves deeper into a hole of their own making.

Also, in France, a former Waldorf student who became a Waldorf teacher was sued not just once, but six times, his name is Grégoire Perra.

He attended Waldorf schools in France and later became a Waldorf teacher and author. He also broke with Anthroposophy and Waldorf, writing and lecturing on the faults he came to perceive in these. Anthroposophists and Waldorf representatives have sued him several times, alleging slander. You might consult an English translation of Grégoire’s memoir, “Ma vie chez les anthroposophes” (My Life Among the Anthroposophists, Anthroposophical doctors initiated the most recent court action lodged against Grégoire. 

Not to mention that throughout 2021 the head of the Anthroposophical society the Goetheanum posted on its website that “der Krankheitsverlauf meist dem einer normalen Grippe entspricht,” which translates into that COVID-19 simple was like a ‘normal flu’. Until on 21 December, the leading Waldorf School in Switzerland was forced to close due to Covid.

Shortly after that, the Goetheanum replaced its claim that COVID was simple like a ‘normal flu’ replaced this by a long-worded esoteric explanation of what covid should be seen to be.

Another fact the German federation of Waldorf Schools seems to overlook is that long before the 6 January 2021 capitol riot in Washington, in August 2020, demonstrators stormed the steps of the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament building, brandishing flags from the country’s imperial era and symbols of the extreme-right they were called into action by a Waldorf mother, a female follower of Rudolf Steiner. In cases, Waldorf mothers can also be Anthroposophists or as in this case ‘Querdenker.’

The protest was violent and escalated to the attempted storming of the Reichstag building. The police took stock of violations of the law, immediately 424 crimes had been registered, a police spokesman said at the request of the Tagesspiegel in addition, there would be 61 criminal offenses and administrative offenses during the protests.

Almost all German newspapers had something to say about, for example, the leading Frankfurter Allgemeine titled “Greater insight thanks to Rudolf Steiner?” To which were added the comments of two sociologists in Der Spiegel titled The self-appointed “elect” and another Der Spiegel article titled “Steiner’s sect.”

And added: “Many Germans deal with anthroposophy every day without even knowing it. The cosmetics group Weleda, for example, is a company that was co-founded in 1921 by Rudolf Steiner, the inventor of anthroposophy. All creams, soaps, and medicines that Weleda sells are manufactured according to anthroposophical guidelines, which include rather strange rituals. The water in which substances are dissolved has to be jerked in a certain way so that they can develop their power. Biodynamic agriculture is also an anthroposophical event. A bio-dynamically produced apple is not just ecological – if you want the label “bio-dynamic”, you have to align your farm with Rudolf Steiner’s esotericism – which also includes burying cow horns filled with minerals in the fields in autumn. Steiner believed that in this way they would transfer their “tremendous” power “to the astral and the etheric” over the winter. Of course, it doesn’t hurt. It’s still bizarre.”

There are allegations that Steiner’s image of man has racist elements because he believed in different stages of human development- But what can be stated: “Because they believe in the worldview of a man who has been dead for almost a hundred years because they study his writings as if they were sacred, very many anthroposophists have difficulty finding their way around the present. Or the other way around. The present is too confusing for them, so they take refuge in the visions of a man like Steiner.”

Also, Steiner biographer Helmut Zander writes that; “Querdenker refer to Rudolf Steiner, and relied on supernatural knowledge instead of science.”

In fact, Querdenker has garnered so much attention that a whole list of books has been published about this subject, a few of them as seen below, all of them by different publishing houses, whereby also the German spy agency decided to watch the Querdenker movement.

So who was this Rudolf Steiner?

Steiner was born on 27. February 1861, on the periphery of the Habsburg Empire, while he hadn’t gone to a Gymnasium for secondary school, the usual prerequisite for pursuing a university degree, he contacted a professor at the university in Rostock, which Steiner never attended, who agreed to serve as his doctoral supervisor from afar. In 1891 Steiner submitted a dissertation, published a year later and now available in English under two different titles, ‘Truth and Science’ and ‘Truth and Knowledge, which was accepted, just barely, by the philosophy department at the University of Rostock, and Steiner received his Ph.D.

Nevertheless, he never really was accepted much as an academic circle and in a comment title “Did Rudolf Steiner try to buy a doctorate?” mentioned that “I believe that Rudolf Steiner was personally humiliated by his rejections from academia and like a petulant child, he never forgot the hurt, and then he went on to denigrate and despise the academic world because they “did him wrong.” 

But he became famous in Theosophical circles first by joining a Theosophical study circle in 1888. More importantly, when the German Section of the Theosophical Society (DSdTG) was created on October 19, 1902, as subordinate to Adyar headquarters, Rudolf Steiner was elected Secretary-General.

In a letter to his later wife Marie von Sivers, he wrote in 1904: “I joined the theosophical movement because it has been in my blood and soul forever. And I know that only with Theosophy did I find my right place”.1

A pattern thus emerges, where H.P. Blavatsky wrote “Isis unveiled” based on Hermetism; Steiner took on this topic in his book “Theosophy” 1904. In “The Secret Doctrine,” H.P.B. developed a Cosmology, Anthropology, and historical presentation, a topic that Steiner took on in his “Occult (in German “Secret”) Science.” H.P.B. published in the 3. part of the Secret Doctrine suggestions for esoteric training, and Steiner commented on this in his “Knowledge of the Higher Worlds” 1904. Steiner’s later lectures were a commentary based on these three essential works.

And where Blavatsky back in 1878 had contact with John Yarker, who in 1902 became Grand Hierophant of the Memphis-Misraim Rite. In 1904 Steiner and his future second wife Marie von Sivers joined this Memphis-Misraim Order, which at the time was headed by Theodor Reuss the latter who approached John Yarker in the sum­mer of 1902 for a warrant to establish the Rite in Germany.2

Rudolf Steiner’s Misraim cult

In early 1906, Steiner then sought up Theodor Reuss to obtain a patent for his lodge the contract which was made on 3 January 1906.3

Steiner however traced his own rite back to Cagliostro (even during Steiners many books had already been published) that the Sicilian charlatan Giuseppe Balsamo and Cagliostro were the same person something the current editors of Steiner’s lectures in the newly added footnotes claims to be unsure about) who according to Steiner “was recognized in its true nature only by the highest initiates, attempted originally to bring Freemasonry in London to a higher stage.”

Like in the case of Cagliostro, there are elements to Steiner’s Misraim Dienst (Misraim-Service) the second call of his “inner Esoteric school” section and Mystica Aeterna as its third section drew from grimoire-type magic, such as the consecration of the water and salts for blessing the temple and the accolades.

Steiner, who at this stage also often referred to Blavatsky’s “Masters” as if he had direct contact with them. Even Friedrich Eckstein, who was friends with Steiner and at the time housed Franz Hartmann, who had just returned from Adyar, told Steiner that the alleged ‘Masters’ were a farce. Yet Steiner insisted that what his rite concerns: This ritual is none other than that which occultism has recognized for 2300 years and which was prepared by the masters of the Rosicrucian’s for European standards. 4

Steiner distanced himself, however from regular Masonry, even his own first three degrees bore some similarities, whereby he wrote that: If something is found in this ritual that has come across into the three degrees of John, it only proves that these degrees of John have taken something from occultism. My sources are only the “masters”.5

Cagliostro claimed to have been initiated at the pyramids in Egypt, and he asserted that he possessed the knowledge to transmute base metals into silver and gold. Other claims included the ability to evoke spirits and that he had lived for no less than two thousand years. According to historian Thomas Feller Cagliostro traveled Europe forging documents and pimping his wife.6 Cagliostro has been described as an opportunist who, by calculation, has joined a quasi Masonic system. Maybe the same can be said about Steiner.

As of 1907, Steiner increasingly adopted this alleged ‘Rosicrucian’ approach to separating his Esoteric School from Besant’s; he styled himself as representative of a theosophical Rosicrucianism part of his effort to distinguish a properly European and German esoteric tradition. Yet he did celebrate White lotus day (the anniversary of the death of Blavatsky) until 1912. However, just as his approach to claiming direct access to Blavatsky’s alleged ‘Masters,’ Rosicrucianism was based on fiction. The origins and teachings of the Rosicrucian’s are described in three anonymously published books that have been attributed to Johann Valentin Andreae (1568–1654), a Lutheran theologian and teacher who wrote the utopian treatise Christianopolis (1619). The Fama Fraternitatis of the Meritorious Order of the Rosy Cross (1614), The Confession of the Rosicrucian Fraternity (1615), and The Chemical Marriage of Christian Rosenkreuz (1616) recount the travels of Christian Rosenkreuz, the putative founder of the group, who is now generally regarded as a fictional character rather than a real person. Even the manifestos themselves go so far as to state that they are speaking in parable. It is possible that Johann Valentin Andreae was poking fun of the very people who believed the Rosicrucian’s were real.

Steiner however claimed that Christian Rosenkreuz was a historical figure, and the Fama Fraternitatis is an account of actual events. 

Rudolf Steiner in Munich with Annie Besant, leader of the Theosophical Society. Photo from 1907:

Hoping he could become President himself, Steiner was disappointed that after the death of Colonel Olcott, Besant was made President of the Theosophical Society; hence as of the end of 1907, increasingly pushed the primacy of his Europe-centric Rosicrucianism. At the end of 1912, Steiner then decided to change the name of his Theosophical Society into Anthroposophical Society.

Yet as became evident from the 2014 publication of Steiner’s Zeitgeschichtliche Betrachtungen (in English Das Karma der Unwahrhaftigkeit) that is Steiners lectures from 4. Dezember 1916 till 30. January 1917 they still contained Theosophical nomenclature.

The primary Rudolf Steiner scholar in Germany, Helmuth Zander, concluded that a central ritual was pivotal to Steiner’s Anthroposophy and that the auditorium of Steiners Goetheanum was designed to hold his quasi-Masonic rituals for a larger audience, by 1914 his Mystica Aeterna (a Rite of Misraim as coming from John Yarker) had already more than 600 members.7

In his “The Principle of Spiritual Economy,” lecture IX, Steiner describes the interconnected “lineage” that would now flow into the initiation of Christian Rosenkreuz. Firstly, “Zarathustra had two disciples,” where we are told that Hermes would later receive his astral body, along with all his occult knowledge, and Moses would receive his etheric body. Already, you see three occult schools tied together in this occult doctrine.

It does not stop there, though. More occult streams would be added. Steiner taught that Jesus himself received the astral body of Buddha and the etheric body of Krishna, no less! Interestingly, at his baptism by John, the “I” of Jesus vacated his body, and the “I” of Christ replaced it for the next three years. Now Christ permeated through the astral, etheric, and physical bodies of Jesus.

Christian Rosenkreuz now enters the scene. Steiner describes several of CRC’s incarnations. One was Hiram Abif, the masonic master who had been slain. Another was John, yet he wasn’t John the Baptist in his earlier incarnation. No, Steiner’s CRC was Lazarus-John. Remember, according to the Bible, Christ raised Lazarus from the dead. This raising of John was done on his etheric body. Later he would reincarnate as a boy in a monastery in Europe, where he would obtain the astral initiation of Christ. Lastly, during his incarnation as Christian Rosenkreuz, he would receive the “I” of Christ during his “Chemical Wedding.”

Thus, the previous transmissions given to Christ (Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Krishna) were all transmitted to CRC. Again, this is all according to Steiner, even if it ignores facts such as the Chemical Wedding based on two earlier Italian allegories that share the same story. Since there were no German prototypes, Andreae drew upon Italian prose forms, notably Boccaccio’s Amorosa visione [Amorous Vision] (1342-43) and Colonna’s Hypnerotomachia Poliphili [Poliphilo’s Dream about the Strife of Love] (1499), two dream explorations. In Boccaccio, as in Chymische Hochzeit, the narrator receives a supernatural summons from a maiden (Virtue) to a fête, sets out, chooses between various ways, reaches a splendid edifice where various maidens symbolize abstractions, and see remarkable displays and festival vehicles. In both Italian works, the sustaining strategy is a somewhat melancholy peregrination (with frustrating eroticism) through surviving or shattered marble works of antiquity. This element is present in Chymische Hochzeit.8 A giveaway that the manifestoes were a hoax. C. Rosenkreutz is said to have died in 1486, while Paracelsus was not born until 1493. One of the books mentioned, the Vocabularium, may be a ghost book or a retitling of another document. None of that matters for Steiner. 

Even in his last lecture before he became too ill to do so, he stated that: At the resurrection of Lazarus from above to the conscious soul, the spiritual being of John the Baptist, who had been the spirit that overshadowed the disciples since his death, penetrated the previous Lazarus, and from below the being of Lazarus, so that the two penetrated. That is then after the awakening of Lazarus Johannes, the disciple whom the Lord loved.”9

Serge Caillet (who wrote many books on related subjects) details that what has often been understood as a combination of Rites was, more of a modification. Thus, for example, Yarker received a charter from the reformed rite of Misraim from Pessina in exchange for a charter from Memphis.10

This fusion, Caillet explains, resulted in the marginalization of the degrees of the Rite of Misraim by Marconis’s many successors and, in particular, John Yarker. This marginalization began quite quickly, and as early as 1881, the absorbed Misraim degrees were being replaced by a new combined Degree system, which can only be called modern. This new system in its later 97, 95, or 33 Degree versions is typical of the syncretism in vogue in the 19th century, as reflected by the addition of several degrees which are not original to 18th century Egyptian Freemasonry. These degrees do not predate Marconis and do not have roots in 18th century Freemasonry. Roger Dachez puts it: The first to have published rituals and given characteristics of the different grades – beyond the 30 high degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite and which form the basis of the Egyptian Pyramid – remains Marconis de Negre.11

Here is how Dachez characterizes Yarker’s work: In the primary sources of his “Manual of the Degrees of the Ancient & Primitive Rite of Masonry,” published in 1881, Yarker devotes many pages to detailing the rituals of the 30 High Degrees of his “reduced” system. We cannot consider them all here. Yarker took over a system in genesis. He developed it considerably from the intimate knowledge he had acquired of all the Degrees practiced in the various Anglo-Saxon Masonic systems.The lectures of the Degrees are lengthy elaborations in which God and the heroes of the Old Testament are constantly called upon. At the same time, many ritual procedures, even textual borrowings, come from necessary Degrees in British Masonry -for example, from the Royal Arch of the Rose-Croix of Heredom. The Egyptian Rite was, for Yarker, exclusively a system of High Degrees – in competition with others. Under Degree names created as pretexts, Yarker unrolls themes which are dear to him, and which we find in the copious “Lectures of his Antient and Primitive Rite of Freemasonry” (1882) and which he will develop further in his famous work “The Arcane Schools: a Review of their Origin and Antiquity;” with a general history of Freemasonry, and its relation to theosophical, scientific and philosophical mysteries (1909), the veritable summit of his life’s work. However, the reality of whether his system was put into practice is very doubtful, but what is clear is that the Rite could no longer be the same after him. Even if unused, it now had a corpus that all of his successors would feel compelled to take into account.

In the first place, if the texts written by Yarker for the Degrees between the 4th and the 20th are of interest in themselves, we can see that it was only an attempt to partially rewrite Degrees that mostly have been known for a long time and which had taken their places on the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (AASR) scale since the end of the 18th century. As we have seen, the Rite of Memphis begins at the 34th Degree in the 90 or 95-grade scale. For Yarker’s (Rite), it starts with the 21st. However, it is pretty tricky for the next dozen grades to find a common thread or a logic of progression, as in the AASR. Among this dozen (of Degrees), only two or three have escaped oblivion in the highest strata.12

Yarker was without a doubt the first to give life, at least on paper, to degrees which, until now, had only had a title. However, Yarker didn’t complete all the original high degrees either. Of the degrees Yarker wrote, only 14 of his 33 degrees are non-Scottish Rite degrees.

And while Steiner’s quasi Masonic rite is still practiced today, added to this is the so-called secretive “First Class” where members are not even allowed to make private notes at home and the instructions to the “readers” of the First Class send out by the Goetheanum a Steiner University (pictured below) need to be returned to the Goetheanum (the Vorstand of the Anthroposophical Society) here:

Which is part of the campus of the University for Spiritual Science where people come to Study Steiner’s teachings:

Steiner’s political concept

According to Peter Staudenmaier (the primary Steiner scholar writing in English) the intellectual context for the rapid ferment of organized occultism under Anthroposophist auspices was the theory of ‘social three folding’ that Steiner began developing in 1917. The full name that Steiner gave to this doctrine was “Dreigliederung des sozialen Organismus” or the three-fold structuring of the social organism.13

Although Steiner had established the center of the Anthroposophical movement in the Swiss village of Dornach in 1913, he spent as much time in Germany and Austria during World War One as in neutral Switzerland. 

During this period Anthroposophist’s believed that the World War would bring Germany the stature it deserved, world spiritual predominance. They described the war as a “turning point in history which will give Germany and the German people leadership in the entire realm of human spiritual culture.”14

In 1916 Steiner sought to establish a press office in Switzerland to promote the German and Austrian cause but was turned down by the German high command.15 Steiner maintained a friendly relationship with Helmuth von Moltke the younger, chief of the German general staff, whose wife was an active Anthroposophist.

The earliest efforts to propagate a three-folding program came from mid-1917 to mid-1918, when German and Austrian forces controlled large swathes of territory in Eastern Europe. During this period of hegemony on the Eastern front, Steiner addressed his initial three folding proposals to a range of German and Austrian aristocrats and political and military leaders.16 Steiner’s July 1917 memoranda to the Austrian Kaiser, the first formulation of the three folding theory, took these military gains for granted and explicitly raised the possibility of augmenting the territory of the Habsburg empire.17 

According to anthroposophical sources, the leader of the German delegation to the Brest-Litovsk treaty negotiations, Richard von Kühlmann, took a copy of Steiner’s ‘social three folding’ memoranda to Brest-Litovsk at the beginning of the negotiations in December 1917.18

Thus it is important to recall that the original version of Steiner’s political ‘social three folding’ developed out of this particular historical situation, in which Germany and their Austrian allies had not only conquered vast portions of the East, but also seemed poised to win the war overall; American troops had yet to arrive on the continent, and Entente forces had suffered a series of significant defeats. The eastern territories were, moreover, the primary bone of contention between advocates of Wilsonian self-determination and Steiner’s three folding alternatives. Shattered Anthroposophist hopes of a new European order under German auspices go a long way toward accounting for the bitter tone of Steiner’s remarks regarding Wilson, and ‘Western’ democracy in general, once Germany had lost the war.19

Steiner’s attitude toward democracy was often firmly negative. In October 1917, for instance, he ridiculed “democratic institutions” as mere tools of the “powers of darkness” who are always “pulling the strings” from behind the scenes.20 This skepticism toward democracy was accompanied by a variety of authoritarian assumptions deriving in part from Anthroposophy’s self-conception as an esoteric worldview.21

The First World War did not conclude with the German victory its advocates expected. The far-reaching social changes that swept Germany and Austria in the wake of the lost war spurred a re-assessment of anthroposophical priorities. This led to the emergence of Waldorf schools, biodynamic agriculture, the religious renewal movement known as the Christian Community, and the distinctive Anthroposophist approach to economics and politics that Steiner called ‘social threefolding. The roots of all these endeavors can be traced to Anthroposophist reactions to the war and subsequent disillusionment, centering on the notion that the unblemished German spirit had been failed by an inadequate array of social institutions which needed to be revitalized through spiritual and national regeneration.22

Steiner’s movement shared several of the chief preoccupations of the nationalist right in post-World War One Germany: war guilt, Germany’s honor, the fate of the eastern territories, the Allied occupation in the west, the status of the German people within Europe and its mission in the world. In some cases, Anthroposophist views on these topics were expressed in racial or ethnic terms.

According to Ulrich Linse, Steiner’s goal was to be named minister of culture of Württemberg, and that his transient focus on proletarian audiences in the Stuttgart area in 1919 aimed to pressure the Social Democratic provincial premier to give him a government post.23 Whereby Albert Schmelzer notes that Steiner considered founding a political party.24

With this occultic and political history, it should not come as a surprise that some Steiner followers felt entitled to take the lead in the recent storming of the Reichstag.

“Poland ought to remain divided”

Steiners social threefolding movement reached its highest degree of public notoriety in the course of the acrimonious controversy over Upper Silesia in 1921. As part of the post-war settlement ordained by the Versailles treaty, the Interallied  Commission organized a plebiscite in the ethnically mixed province to determine whether it should belong to Germany or Poland. Upper Silesia was a crucially  important industrial area that belonged to Prussia before the referendum, and Steiner rejected the Allied-sponsored vote as an illegitimate interference of foreign powers in the affairs of Mitteleuropa.25

Not surprising Steiner considered Woodrow Wilson who included a recreation of Poland as the thirteenth of his famous Fourteen Points as mere political platitudes.”

According to Steiner, Poland ought to remain divided as it had been for the previous several centuries; he considered the Polish people, except where it was Germanized, to consist of a feudal aristocracy and an uncivilized peasantry. In his view: It is not possible to reconstruct any Poland, to create a Polish state. […] You can build it up, but it will always collapse again. In reality, there will never be a Poland for any more extended period of time because it cannot exist. At the decisive moment, Poland must be divided so that the Poles can develop their talents. Hence this Poland will never exist, and to speak of Poland today is an illusion.26 You see, precisely by studying the Polish essence, one can very accurately observe just how impossible it would be for territory in such an exposed location [i.e., Upper Silesia] to vote in favor of simply entering the Polish element.27

Instead of a plebiscite, Steiner and his followers proposed applying the principles of three folding, with their separation of economic from cultural and political functions, to Upper Silesia. This seemingly quixotic notion was one of many proposals floated in advance of the referendum, competing with separatist efforts, claims for provincial autonomy, and intensive nationalist propaganda on both German and Polish sides.28 In January 1921, Steiner, wrote a “Call to Save Upper Silesia” on behalf of the League for Social Threefolding. The text declared that the province should provisionally remain unaffiliated with either Germany or Poland, in the interest of “true German convictions,” until more auspicious conditions are obtained. As Steiner later explained, the aim was “to establish Upper Silesia as an integral territory that is inwardly united with the German spiritual essence.”

This proposal initially received a somewhat sympathetic hearing among German communities in Silesia, while reactions from Polish Silesians were generally hostile. In private sessions with Silesian Anthroposophists in January 1921, Steiner emphasized that the very idea of a Polish state was “impossible” and “an illusion.”29

Several figures who became prominent Anthroposophists fought in German paramilitary units in the Upper Silesian conflict as well. Max Karl Schwarz, for example, belonged to one of the German paramilitary outfits (the Freikorps) that played a violent role in the dispute over the province. According to his fellow Anthroposophist Franz Dreidax, Schwarz was a fighting member of a Freikorps unit in Upper Silesia. At the same time, archival sources report that Schwarz was indeed the leader of the Freikorps battalion in the Upper Silesia conflict. Schwarz later became one of the central figures in the biodynamic movement, particularly during the Nazi era. Another Anthroposophist, Gottfried Richter, who was soon to become a leading figure in the Christian Community, fought in a German paramilitary Freikorps unit in Upper Silesia in 1921.30

Yet, in spite of the attempted interference from Rudolf Steiner and his followers, as we have seen, the First World War proved to be the turning point in modern Polish history. It smashed the three empires which held it captive (Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary) and created a power vacuum that a new state in eastern Europe could fill. The core of independent Poland was the former province removed from Russia by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (1918). At the Spa Conference in July 1920, the victorious Allies invited the German government to discuss disarmament and reparations. Nevertheless, the Polish Army’s advance into Ukraine in the spring of 1920 was poorly timed. Not only were most of the White armies defeated, but the Red Army was increasingly effective as a fighting force.

The core of independent Poland was the former province removed from Russia by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (1918). To this was added territory from Germany by the Treaty of Versailles (1919) and from Austria and Hungary by the Treaties of St Germain and Trianon (1919 and 1920). Of course we know that the Nazi’s later would undertake a new devision of Poland to adjust for territories in Poland held by the Wehrmacht around Lublin and Warsaw, while Germany ceded all of Lithuania to the Soviet sphere of influence.

We, today, know a lot more about what happened during Operation Reinhard: how most of the killing was done in the low concrete bunkers of the main death camps, which the Nazis managed to destroy before fleeing. We can read if we can bear to, the methods of torture individual guards used as they killed people for fun at Majdanek. But there is still uncertainty as to who ordered what. By late October 1941, the SS had recruited gas specialists like Josef Vallaster from their medical euthanasia program and begun building the Belzec camp. Detailed accounts show that the regional SS and the commander who had a leading role in Operation Reinhard, Odilo Globočnik exhibited ‘enormous activism’ in pursuit of genocidal racism long before Operation Reinhard. His obsession was to repopulate southern Poland with Germans and then ‘encircle’ the entire Polish population ‘gradually throttling them both economically and biologically’.31

Arendt says, the systematic murder and dehumanization of an entire people, whether carried out spontaneously or by obeying orders, just doesn’t fit with the idea of human-scale sin. The radical evil of the death camps, she writes, emerged from a system:

 … in which all men have become equally superfluous. The manipulators of this system believe in their own superfluousness as much as in that of all others, and the totalitarian murderers are all the more dangerous because they do not care if they themselves are alive or dead if they ever lived or never were born.32

Their purpose was not just to kill individuals but, as the philosopher Claudia Card tells us, to inflict ‘social death’.33

No matter how thoroughly we trace the chain of command back to Hitler, fascism was not just a program for government; it was a collaborative project, which millions of people participated, to subjugate their fellow humans and deny their own potential to be free. It was, as the black French Marxist Aimé Césaire wrote, ‘colonialism done to Europe’.34

Steiner’s ethnocentric Racism

While Steiners schools today are grappling with “those racist thoughts“, Rudolf Steiner wrote this was not obvious to his immediate followers.

In fact, his conspiracist beliefs, along with the antisemitic elements in his teachings, fell on fertile ground among followers.

For example, Ettore Martinoli the founding Secretary-General of the Anthroposophical Society in Italy was also the director of an antisemitic institute in Trieste, the Center for the Study of the Jewish Problem, and in early August 1942, Martinoli obtained permission from the city government for the Center to conduct research in local record-keeping agencies in order to identify Jewish residents of Trieste. Above all, the Center was given access to the municipal registry office, with its complete holdings on births, marriages, and residency. Between August 1942 and July 1943 the Center compiled a list of Jews in Trieste on this basis, evidently including addresses.

Writing in a major Fascist journal in April 1943, Martinoli depicted a life-or-death struggle between Fascism and Jewry, which Fascism must win if it is to create a New Europe. The goal of the “Jewish conspiracy” is “world domination,” while Fascism is fighting “to liberate and purify the world” from the Jewish menace and thus pave the way for “a new humankind.” Martinoli raged against “the Jewish plutocratic oligarchy” and blamed “the liberal democratic regimes,” the enemies of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, for giving shelter to the sinister Jewish threat. “Under the guise of democratic liberty the most despotic domination imaginable has developed, the domination of plutocracy and of Jewry.” (Ettore Martinoli, “Gli impulsi storici della nuova Europa e l’azione dell’ebraismo internazionale” La Vita Italiana, April 1943, 355-64)

Martinoli’s efforts impressed the German consul, who submitted an extremely positive report to the foreign ministry in Berlin in November 1942, highlighting the Center’s access to the municipal statistical office and pointing out the usefulness of its work identifying and assembling records of Jews. The report mentioned Martinoli’s Anthroposophist affiliations and claimed that information from the Trieste Center influenced Mussolini to order intensified surveillance of Jews across Italy.

With the German occupation, the city became a center of Nazi efforts to extend the Final Solution to Italy; the SS contingent overseeing operations in Trieste was headed by Odilo Globocnik. One of the most infamous concentration camps in Italy, the Risiera di San Sabba, was located in Trieste. Mass arrests and round-ups of Trieste’s Jews began just after it was effectively annexed to the Reich in October 1943, and the city was declared judenrein or free of Jews in January 1944. In the space of three months, one of Italy’s largest Jewish communities was eliminated. And it has been concluded that Martinoli’s efforts paved the way for the efficient round-up of Trieste’s Jews.35

Other examples of this kind of attitude by Steiner’s immediate followers are cited in the extensive study Between Occultism and Nazism: Anthroposophy and the Politics of Race in the Fascist Era (Aries Texts and Studies in Western Esotericism), 2014.

Whereby one should add that even today, after more than thirty years of critical discussion of the subject, Steiner’s followers remain conspicuously unwilling to challenge his racial teachings in any substantive way. There are a few exceptions among the younger generation of Anthroposophists, but so far they are rare. 

As Peter Staudenmaier the author of the above-cited book commented there are a variety of reasons for this bleak state of affairs. One of them has to do with the usual Anthroposophical lack of familiarity with what Steiner actually taught; particularly in English-language Anthroposophist circles, many of Steiner’s followers have never heard of his major texts on race and are unaware of their existence. But not a few of Steiner’s admirers basically agree with his racial views and find no grounds for rejecting them — that is why the racist aspects of Anthroposophy are not merely a matter of historical interest. Another important factor is the general level of disregard for historical context within the esoteric milieu, a shortcoming that bedevils virtually any Anthroposophist commentary on Steiner’s racial teachings.

Coming back to the introduction referring to the Corona-Protest-Parteien while the specifics of the conspiracy theories touted by Anthroposophists the underlying ideas are old ones. Many conservative groups like Anthroposophy have applied that label to any technology or medicine they do not like. This includes everything from barcodes to vaccines. Through that lens, almost anything can be interpreted as some type of evil government conspiracy.

One of the attributes of these particular types of conspiracies is that old elements keep getting recycled in new ways.

To be continued in part 2.

1. Rudolf Steiner: “Briefe 1890 – 1925”, Volume 2, Rudolf-Steiner Verlag, GA 39, page 434.

2. Rudolf Steiners esoterische Lehrtätigkeit: Wahrhaftigkeit – Kontinuität – Neugestaltung (Rudolf Steiner Studien), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1997, p.169.

3. Ibidem Rudolf Steiners esoterische Lehrtätigkeit, p. 169.

4. Ibid. Rudolf Steiners esoterische Lehrtätigkeit, p. 194, the original reads: Dieses Ritual ist kein anderes als dasjenige welches der Okkultismus seit 2300 Jahren anerkennt, und das von den Meistern der Rosenkreuzer für europäische Verhältnisse zubereitet worden ist. 

5. Ibid. Rudolf Steiners esoterische Lehrtätigkeit, p. 194, the original reads: Wenn in diesem Ritual sich etwas findet, was in die drei Johannesgrade herüberkommen ist, so beweist das nur, dass diese Johannesgrade etwas aus dem Okkultismus aufgenommen haben. Meine Quellen sind nur der “Meister”.

6. For this, including Cagliostro as Balsamo, see the two detailed books by historian Thomas Freller Cagliostro And Malta: Fact And Fiction And The Greatest Impostor Of The Eighteenth Century. 1997, and  Cagliostro: Die dunkle Seite der Aufklärung, 2001. Both of these books contain many references, documents, and original research. Still, because they are in German and remain untranslated, they have been largely missed by more recent writers in English.

7. See Helmut Zander’s 1917 pages book Anthroposophie in Deutschland, 2 volumes.: Theosophische Weltanschauung und gesellschaftliche Praxis 1884–1945, 2007. Followed by Rudolf Steiner: Die Biografie, 2011, and Die Anthroposophie: Rudolf Steiners Ideen zwischen Esoterik, Weleda, Demeter und Waldorfpädagogik, 2019.

8. See Johann Valentin Andreae, Fantasist and Utopist by Everett F. Bleiler, Science Fiction Studies Vol. 35, No. 1 (Mar. 2008), pp. 1-30 (30 pages) Published By: SF-TH Inc. What with Andreae’s dependence upon Italian models (Colonna and Boccaccio) for his narrative form, one wonders if he and/or his friend Christoph Besold were aware of the intense discussion and analysis of the technique and subject matter of “wonder” and “the marvelous” (maraviglia) in sixteenth-century Italian criticism. Hathaway and Weinberg, upon the Platonic/Longinian analysis of wonder in the work of Francesco Patrizi, are especially interesting. While this criticism was limited to poetry, it could be easily transferred to prose fiction.

9. The original in German reads: Bei der Auferweckung des Lazarus sei von oben her bis zur Bewusstsseele geistige Wesenheit Johannes des Täufers Seele, der ja seit seinem Tode die Juengerschar ueberschattende Geist gewesen sei, in den vorigen Lazarus eigedrungen, und von unten her die Wesenheit des Lazarus, so dass die beiden sich durchdrangen. Das ist dann nach der Auferweckung des Lazarus Johannes, der Juenger, den der Herr lieb hatte” Rudolf Steiners esoterische Lehrtätigkeit, p. 269.

10. Serge Caillet, Arcanes et rituels de la magonnerie egyptienne,2017, p. 19.

11. Roger Dachez, Les rites magonniques egyptiens, p. 64.

12. Roger Dachez, Les rites magonniques egyptiens, p. 65-67.

13. See among others Peter Staudenmaier, Between Occultism and Nazism Anthroposophy and the Politics of Race in the Fascist Era, Brill Academic, 2014.

14. See the declaration of “Absichten und Ziele” on the first page of the premier issue of the Anthroposophist journal Das Reich, April 1916.

15. See Rudolf Steiner, Wie wirkt man für den Impuls der Dreigliederung des sozialen Organismus (Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1986), 232-33.

16. See Graf Otto Lerchenfeld, “Zeitgemäße Erinnerungen aus dem Jahre 1917” Anthroposophie July 1933, 305-11, and Ludwig Graf Polzer-Hoditz, “Eine historische Bemerkung” Anthroposophie March1934.

17. The 1917 memoranda are reprinted in Steiner, Aufsätze über die Dreigliederung des sozialen Organismus, 329-75, and Boos, ed., Rudolf Steiner während des Weltkrieges, 60-90; they denounce “Western” ideals of self-determination and democracy.

18. On this see Wehr, Rudolf Steiner, 259. 

19. For context see Vejas Liulevicius, The German Myth of the East, 1800 to the Present (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).

20. The Fall of the Spirits of Darkness, 1995 by Rudolf Steiner  (Author), Anna Meuss (Translator), 223. Rom Landau, God Is My Adventure – A Book on Modern Mystics, Masters, and Teachers, 2008, p. 76, confirms that Steiner’s social threefolding program was conceived as an alternative to democracy: “It was the time when democratic systems, copied from more advanced Western communities, were celebrating their victory in Germany and other Central European countries. Steiner was resolute in his strong disapproval of them.”

21. Helmut Zander’s thorough examination of ‘social threefolding’ underscores these aspects of the theory while noting significant countervailing tendencies as well; see Zander, Anthroposophie in Deutschland, 1286-1356. An October 1920 pamphlet from the Bund für Anthroposophische Hochschularbeit also calls for a “Führer” to lead Germany out of “materialism” and says that such a leader “can today only be found in Rudolf Steiner.”

22. See Helmut Zander’s examination of Steiner’s reaction to World War One in Zander, Anthroposophie in Deutschland, 1250-86. General context is available in Richard Bessel, Germany after the First World War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), and Wolfgang Schivelbusch, Die Kultur der Niederlage (Berlin: Fest, 2001), 227-343.

23. Ulrich Linse, Barfüssige Propheten: Erlöser der zwanziger Jahre, 1983, p. 84.

24. A contemporary account is available in Roman Boos, “Rudolf Steiner und die Politik” in Friedrich Rittelmeyer, ed., Vom Lebenswerk Rudolf Steiners: Eine Hoffnung neuer Kultur (Munich: Kaiser, 1921), 209-40.

For Steiner’s own perspective see his January 1920 lecture to members of the Anthroposophical Society, “Ist die Dreigliederung des sozialen Organismus Politik? – geisteswissenschaftlich beantwortet” in Steiner, Geistige und soziale Wandlungen in der Menschheitsentwickelung (Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Nachlaßverwaltung, 1966), 120-34.

25.  For the background of this see Richard Tims, Germanizing Prussian Poland (New York: Columbia University Press, 1941); Peter-Christian Witt, “Zur Finanzierung des Abstimmungskampfes und der Selbstschutzorganisationen in Oberschlesien 1920-1922” Militärgeschichtliche Mitteilungen 13 (1973), 59-76; Richard Blanke, “Upper Silesia 1921: The Case for Subjective Nationality” Canadian Review of Studies in Nationalism 2 (1975), 241-60; Andrzej Michalczyk, “Deutsche und polnische Nationalisierungspolitiken in Oberschlesien zwischen den Weltkriegen” in Dieter Bingen, Peter Oliver Loew, and Kazimierz Wóycicki, eds., Die Destruktion des Dialogs: Zur innenpolitischen Instrumentalisierung negativer Fremd- und Feindbilder (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2007), 66-82; Kai Struve and Philipp Ther, eds., Die Grenzen der Nationen: Identitätenwandel in Oberschlesien in der Neuzeit (Marburg: Herder-Institut, 2002).

26. Rudolf Steiner, Wie wirkt man für den Impuls der Dreigliederung des sozialen Organismus? Zwei Schulungskurse für Redner und aktive Vertreter des Dreigliederungsgedankens. Zwölf Vorträge und eine Fragenbeantwortung, Stuttgart, 1921 Herausgegeben von Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, 1986, 212-13; cf. 207-08 and 245.

27. Ibid., Steiner, Wie wirkt man für den Impuls der Dreigliederung des sozialen Organismus?, 202.

28. Cf. Waldemar Grosch, Deutsche und polnische Propaganda während der Volksabstimmung in Oberschlesien 1919 – 1921 (Dortmund: Forschungsstelle Ostmitteleuropa, 2002); Günther Doose, Die separatistische Bewegung in Oberschlesien nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz,1987); T. Hunt Tooley, “German Political Violence and the Border Plebiscite in Upper Silesia, 1919-1921” Central European History 21 (1988), 56-98; Tooley, “The Polish-German Ethnic Dispute and the 1921 Upper Silesian Plebiscite” Canadian Review of Studies in Nationalism 24 (1997), 13-20; James Bjork, Neither German nor Pole: Catholicism and National Indifference in a Central European Borderland (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008), 214-66.

29. Rudolf Steiner, Die Anthroposophie und ihre Gegner (Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 2003), 328. For an ex post facto Anthroposophist account see Walter Kugler, “Polnisch oder Deutsch? Oberschlesien, ein Schulbeispiel für die Notwendigkeit der Dreigliederung” Beiträge zur Rudolf Steiner Gesamtausgabe 93 (1986), 1-13.

30. See Bundesarchiv Berlin R58/6189/2: 579 and Bundesarchiv Berlin RK/I475: 2674. Erhard Bartsch also served as a volunteer in a German Grenzschutz regiment in Upper Silesia after World War I (BA R58/6223/1: 299). In Bartsch’s words, he was active “im Grenzschutz gegen Polen und Tschechen” (Bundesarchiv Berlin RK/I18: 1910 archival research thanks to Peter Staudenmaier).


32. Arendt, Hannah, The Origins of Totalitarianism, London, 2017, p. 602.

33. Card, Claudia, Confronting Evils: Terrorism, Torture, Genocide, Cambridge, 2010, p. 237.

34. Césaire, Aimé, Discourse on Colonialism, New York, 1972, p. 36.

35. On this see Michael Wedekind,  Nationalsozialistische Besatzungs- und Annexionspolitik in Norditalien 1943 Bis 1945: Die Operationszonen Alpenvorland Und Adriatisches Küstenland (Militärgeschichtliche Studien), 2003, pp. 358-59, reasons that since the lists of Jews to be detained and deported were available immediately after the Germans occupied the city, the Trieste Center must have provided them directly to the German forces. Wedekind concludes that Martinoli’s efforts paved the way for the efficient round-up of Trieste’s Jews.  Mayda Giuseppe, Ebrei sotto Salo – La persecuzione antisemita 1943-1945, 1978,pp. 46-47, corroborates this argument.

es this argument.

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