1210 Anthroposphy and anti-Semitism


Was Rudolf Steiner an anti-Semite? A study

by Manfred Leist, Lorenzo Ravagli and Hans Jügen Bader

"All is race; there is no other truth."
(Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister)

"Any person who speaks of race ideals today
is speaking of impulses which lead mankind into decadence."

(Rudolf Steiner, 1917)

From Introductory Remarks:

There is a definite reason for publishing this study. A number of allegations have recently been publicly leveled against Rudolf Steiner in Germany; they pertain to his supposed anti-Semitism and racist attitude. The intention of these allegations is obvious: they are an attack on Waldorf schools and other institutions that base their activity on Rudolf Steiner's teachings, because the necessity is seen to establish "political correctness" in this sensitive area of society.

But Steiner is not the only target. The Holocaust has sharpened sensibilities considerably. Other prominent personalities have also been the addressees of such accusations in recent times: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, for example. Goethe, an anti-Semite! A charge of this sort - which, incredible as it may seem, was actually brought forth - can be sure to command the attention of the general public. It will certainly also elicit strong refutations, because anyone with even an inkling of Goethe's achievements will find this accusation just too extreme and in complete contradiction to the man and his work. However, it is possible to find remarks by Goethe which, if one does not know and take into consideration their historical background, would seem to corroborate this claim.

If such accusations are leveled against Rudolf Steiner, it is a good deal more difficult to defend him. His work is much less well known than Goethe's, and therefore the accusations appear to be more believable. This makes such claims harder to refute.

There has been an inflation of allegations of anti-Semitism in recent years which has not been particularly conducive to combating real anti-Semitism. Jens Jessen drew attention to this inflation and its pernicious effect in the German weekly periodical Die Zeit, No. 49/2000. Only "sophrosyne", the little esteemed secondary virtue of level-headedness, will in the end be able to secure the survival of the primary virtue, the opposition to true anti-Semitism.

And indeed: if Steiner's real intentions were dealt with and people became sufficiently familiar with them, that is, if sophrosyne were to hold sway, it is hardly conceivable that anyone would reap the benefits of sensationalism by accusing Steiner of being an anti-Semite…"


Rudolf Steiner was born in Kraljevic, Austria on February 27, 1861, and died in Dornach, Switzerland, on March 30, 1925. He was a scientist, writer, lecturer and philosopher, as well as being the founder and leading light of Anthroposophy, a movement based on the belief that there is a spiritual world comprehensible to pure thought but accessible only to the highest faculties of mental (spiritual) activity.

Steiner edited Goethe's scientific works, and from 1889 to 1896 worked on the standard version of his complete works at Weimer. During this period Steiner wrote his "Philosophy of Freedom", then moved to Berlin to edit the literary journal "Magazin für Literatur" and to begin an extensive, life-long lecturing career.

Convinced of the possibility of spiritual perception independent of the senses, he called the activity of his research "anthroposophy", centering on "knowledge produced by the higher self in man". All of his many books and over 6,000 lectures are available in German and most in English as well.

The practical results of Steiner's work include hundreds of "Waldorf" schools the world over, bio-dynamic agriculture and anthroposophical medicine. These movements continue growing and nourishing society.

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