Racism & the Relationship of Anthroposophy to Nazi Philosophy

Current on the WebEducation for the National Community? Waldorf Schools in the Third Reich by Peter Staudenmaier
In some ways the particulars of anthroposophical doctrines on nation and race stood in the way of a closer convergence with elements of National Socialism rather than facilitating it. This was nonetheless the shared intellectual territory on which the controversy over Waldorf schools was carried out. To the extent that this complex interplay of ideas resulted in conflict rather than congruence between Waldorf education and its Nazi counterparts, it is tempting to reduce the conflict to a basic ideological incompatibility. In an important sense, however, it was the similarities between anthroposophical and National Socialist views of the world which led to their opposition, not the differences. Waldorf versions of the national community constituted a mirror image of Nazi ideals, one which Nazism itself could not abide.
July 25, 2014Fairy-tale fallout: Rudolf Steiner’s educational philosophy has come under scrutiny in a racism row at a New Zealand Steiner school (PDF)
…two years ago, parents at this Steiner school discovered a darker side to the writings of Rudolf Steiner. They found what Perkins now considers to be “evil, evil white racism”. Over an extraordinary few months, parents and staff left the school in droves. The school has no clear record of numbers. But those we talked to say the racism – and the way the school “vilified” those who spoke out against it – drove out six of Te Ra’s 35 staff members and more than 29 families. It was a huge hit for the roll, which is now 157. Perkins spent more than five years working at Te Ra and sent her children there. “We’ve managed to get ourselves out of something,” she says. “It’s like being woken up – I felt like Snow White, I really did – I felt like the poisoned apple came out of my mouth and I woke up.”
December 22, 2012

“…out of the frying pan and into the fire” review (in English) by Peter Staudenmaier of Ansgar Martins, Rassismus und Geschichtsmetaphysik: Esoterischer Darwinismus und Freiheitsphilosophie bei Rudolf Steiner (Frankfurt: Info3, 2012)

Ansgar Martins has written a perceptive and provocative book about a topic many prefer to avoid: Rudolf Steiner’s racial teachings, a perennial bone of contention between anthroposophists and their critics. It is a sober and discerning account, by far the best to appear from an anthroposophist publisher, and a noteworthy contribution to the historical literature on Steiner and his movement. The book’s approach is nuanced, complex, and sophisticated, taking heed of the contrasting motifs in Steiner’s thinking about nation and race, what Martins aptly terms “Steiner’s wavering between universalism, individualism, cultural chauvinism, and racist stereotypes.”

February 19, 2012Anthroposophical Spiritual Racism: Karutz by Peter Staudenmaier
How Steiner’s racial teachings were carried on in Germany before and during the Nazi era. “Like Steiner, Karutz portrayed the various racial groups as rungs on the ladder of spiritual progress, with white people at the top. Racial traits, according to Karutz, are both ‘physiological features’ and ‘spiritual facts’; light skin indicates spiritual development and dark skin indicates spiritual debility. Karutz explained that in the ongoing process of racial evolution, the ‘lower races’ are destined to die out, because ‘the so-called natural peoples or primitive peoples that survive today are merely the debased remnants of earlier stages.'” From the Waldorf Critics discussion list.
February 16, 2012Anthroposophist Spiritual Racism: Uehli by Peter Staudenmaier.
How Steiner’s racial teachings were carried on in Germany and in the Waldorf curriculum. “Offering a cosmic explanation for racial differences, Uehli emphasizes that the origin of race lies in the spiritual realm and is expressed in the physical realm. The leading protagonist in this unfolding racial drama is the ‘Aryan race,’ whose members were carefully selected by their cosmically appointed guide. A sharp contrast between racial groups with exceptional biological and spiritual traits, like the specially advanced Aryans, and the large mass of people who do not share these superior traits, runs throughout the text. This fundamental contrast is coupled with the distinction between racial and ethnic groups that ‘lead’ and those that ‘follow’ and the divergence between ‘more advanced’ groups and those that have failed to evolve.” From the Waldorf Critics discussion list.
March 8, 2011Antisemitism: A Very Short Introduction
“… an extended excerpt from a very good basic text explaining the history of antisemitism, a short and accessible book which I recommend highly to anybody interested in informing themselves about the subject.” (Peter Staudenmaier)
March 4, 2011Letter from the Anthroposophical Society to Adolph Hitler
Translated by Tom Mellett and posted to the Waldorf Critics list by him. “The General Anthroposophical Society, which was constituted and founded by Dr. Rudolf Steiner in the year 1923, has assuredly had no dealings of any kind with Freemasonic, Jewish, or pacifist groups, nor even any casual contact with them in any way. Moreover, the Aryan line of descent of Rudolf Steiner was explicitly confirmed by the [Reich’s] ‘Office of Racial Politics’ in Berlin.”
From the article by Richard House: It is commonplace in developed Western culture for the slightest whiff of `racism’ to be unconditionally condemned – an understandable balance-restoring tendency, perhaps, when viewed in the context of the Western world’s own disreputable history in these matters. However, an equally interesting and quite new cultural phenomenon, at least in Britain, is the increasing challenge being mounted to what some see as an overbearingly stifling “political correctness” on questions of race. From the rebuttal by Peter Staudenmaier: Scholars have studied racism for a very long time, since decades before the notion of ‘political correctness’ was invented. Whether or not Steiner’s various statements about race are ‘politically correct’ has nothing whatsoever to do with whether those statements are racist. Like other anthroposophists, House appears entirely unaware of the extremely large body of scholarship examining racism in its multifarious forms.
December 16, 2010Steiner Waldorf Schools Part 3. The problem of racism
2009Illusion of Coexistence: The Waldorf Schools in the Third Reich, 1933–1941, by Karen Priestman, Wilfrid Laurier University, 2009
Waldorf school teachers and administrators (as well as most parents) failed to grasp the true ideological and political nature of National Socialism. In their attempt to cooperate with the regime’s Gleichschaltung policies they were misled by its ideas of national renewal and Volksgemeinschaft, and its polycratic character of administration – and, thus, fell victim to the illusion of coexistence in a nazified ‘new Germany.’ (10) This belief represented a fundamental misunderstanding of the true nature of National Socialism. It informed and determined all the choices the school leadership made in the Third Reich. Thus, while their level of cooperation increased over time as more extensive demands were made of them, this cannot be equated with collaboration. On the contrary, theirs was a policy of cooperation that allowed for a certain degree of accommodation to ensure survival. In this pursuit of coexistence, the schools were not motivated by an inherent affinity with National Socialism, as some have argued, but by their determination to continue to teach the lessons of Rudolf Steiner.” (23-24)
Peter Staudenmaier’s comments on the dissertation
January 23, 2009Steiner & Krishnamurti by Peter Staudenmaier. Posted to the Waldorf Critics discussion list January 23, 2009. “Making sense of Steiner’s indignant attitude toward the Krishnamurti affair requires taking seriously Steiner’s statements about the racial character of Asians, the future direction of racial evolution, the spiritual significance of skin color, the obsolete and inferior nature of Eastern spiritual traditions, and other factors.”
January 21, 2009Steiner’s Early Nationalism by Peter Staudenmaier. Posted to the Waldorf Critics discussion list January 21, 2009. “In early 20th century Germany, anthroposophy promised a thoroughgoing spiritual renewal that would bring salvation not only to the German people but to the rest of the world as well. What was necessary to reach this goal, according to Steiner, was a return to Germany’s authentic spiritual mission.”
June 8, 2008Anthroposophists and Antisemitism in Fascist Italy by Peter Staudenmaier.
The surprising story of how a co-founder of the Anthroposophical Society in Italy played a leading role in the persecution of Italian Jews.
current on the web‘Ecology’ and the Modernization of Fascism in the German Ultra-right by Janet Biehl (external link).
Includes an analysis of the role of Anthroposophists in contemporary Neo-Nazi movements–see the section “Anthroposophy and the World League for the Protection of Life.”
January, 2008The Art of Avoiding History: a reply that Peter Staudenmaier wrote to Göran Fant’s article “The Art of Making White into Black.” Both articles were originally published in the Swedish skeptical-humanist magazine Folkvett in 2001. “… this is the one I revised most thoroughly and expanded most extensively; it now includes much more material. Even those who have read it before might find interesting new things in it.”
December, 2007Anthroposophy and Ecofascism by Peter Staudenmaier. An update of his 2000 article.
December, 2007Anthroposophy and its Defenders by Peter Staudenmaier and Peter Zegers. An update of their 2000 article.
December, 2007The Janus Face of Anthroposophy by Peter Staudenmaier and Peter Zegers. An update of their 2000 article.
July 25, 2007Steiner education in State Schools — Parent Ray Pereira: “…for example, the class wasn’t allowed to use black or brown colours, it was only yellows and reds and certain colours that were allowed to be used. Now this was a little bit of a problem I guess for my kids because they see themselves as being brown, and therefore weren’t allowed to colour themselves as brown…” Transcript of ABC (Australia) broadcast (external link).
October 10, 2004Race and Redemption: Racial and Ethnic Evolution in Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy, by Peter Staudenmaier. Presented to the conference of the American Family Foundation, Atlanta, October 15, 2004. This article has been accepted by the University of California journal Nova Religio, and is not currently available from PLANS.
August 6, 2004Waldorf in the Nazi era. Response posted to the waldorf-critics discussion list by Peter Staudenmaier, Aug 6, 2004.
1997 – 2001Anthroposophie und Antisemitismus: Frequently updated: articles in German from 1997 to the present on the web page of Aktion Kinder des Holocaust.
July 10, 2000Report Mainz: July 10th, 2000: an unauthorized translation of the news broadcast shown on German national TV on July 10th, 2000 about racism in Waldorf schools.
Spring, 1999Three people reflect on Waldorf Education: Recollections, published in Natural Jewish Parenting, Spring 1999
Spring, 1999Rudolf Steiner and the Jews by Dan Dugan, published in Natural Jewish Parenting, Spring 1999
Spring, 1999What every Jewish parent should know about The Waldorf Philosophy by Deborah Salazar, published in Natural Jewish Parenting, Spring 1999
March, 1997RUDOLF STEINER’s ANTHROPOSOPHY, A NAZI CULT? by Peter Nasselstein.
A probing analysis from a devotee of Wilhelm Reich. External link to www.w-reich.de.
September, 1996The Roots of Racism in Waldorf Schools:
Quotations from Rudolf Steiner and other Anthroposophists compiled by Dan Dugan, July 1995, revised September 1996.
1996Waldorf Salad with Aryan Mayonnaise?:
A mother challenges ‘race’ theories in Rudolf Steiner education. By Toos Jeurissen, 1996.
June, 1996Racism and Waldorf Education by Ray McDermott and Ida Oberman. Research Bulletin: Vol. 1, No. 2 (June, 1996) p. 3, Waldorf Education Research Institute.
February 4, 1995Racial Ethnography by Robert Sikkes. Zutphen, Netherlands. De Volkskrant, February 4, 1995.
1992The Swedish anthroposophists and the “Negro problem” by Sven Ove Hansson. Folkvett 1992, No. 1.