|Two allegations cultivated and spread by PLANS
Inc. are that Rudolf Steiner was a racist, that he was anti-Semitic in
his views, and that as a consequence, Waldorf schools today are racist
and anti-Semitic systems of education.
These are extremely serious charges. And they
are false. Steiner repeatedly criticized the anti-Semitism of his time.
At the turn of the century he was actively involved in an organization
to combat anti-Semitism, and he never advocated any form of racism, neither
in society in general, nor in connection with Waldorf education, whose
central focus is the individual student, regardless of ethnic origin, gender
or cultural and religious background.
Also recent systematical empirical research contradicts
the allegations. A study in Sweden compared several hundred Waldorf students
there (grade 9 and 12) to corresponding students in Swedish public schools.
(For a summary, see here.
The original is available here
Among other things the research
showed that the majority of the pupils in both types of school repudiated
Nazism and racism.
However, the proportion of pupils who suggested
anti-Nazi and anti-racist solutions, i.e., solutions that involved counteracting
or stopping Nazism and racism was considerably greater among the Waldorf
pupils (93%) than among pupils at municipal schools (72%).
"I am very critical
of the academic realm and the stultifying conception of objectivity that
is so often associated with it. That is one of the main reasons I have
avoided an academic career so far and remained an independent scholar (...);
one of my goals is to move historical discussions out of the academic realm
so that non-academics can participate in them. My published work on anthroposophy
is not objective in the sense I think you mean, and no competent reader
could mistake it for such"
(P. Staudenmaier, public discussion
list, Feb 2004.)
One particular proponent of the myth of especially
an alleged anti-Semitism in anthroposophy and implicitly Waldorf education,
Peter Staudenmaier, warrants special note.
Staudenmaier attracted the attention of PLANS secretary
and cofounder, Dan Dugan, for an article he wrote in 2000 entitled “Anthroposophy
and Ecofascism”. Staudenmaier was asked to produce the piece for the
Norwegian journal, “Humanist”, and Dugan published a copy of it on the
Soon after, Dugan invited Staudenmaier to join
PLANS’s ongoing discussion list as well. Needless to say, PLANS’s demagogic
website is a far remove from the “academic realm”, and Staudenmaier’s work
is assured a very different kind of scrutiny there.
Thanks to the visibility PLANS gave the piece,
ugly rumors were quick to circulate. Internet searches for information
about Waldorf would make web searchers understand the articles by Staudenmaier
to expose Waldorf schools as “nazi
training camps”, and that Waldorf espoused doctrines of “Aryan supremacy”.
(The link at the page mentioned at the time of giving it specifically linked
to the articles by Staudenmaier at the PLANS' site as basis for this understanding.)
Rudolf Steiner, upon whose educational philosophies
these schools are based, was now to be found described as someone who had
contributed to the building of the ideological basis for the Holocaust,
and students of his philosophy were said to “justify some rather scary
elements of humanity”.
Staudenmaier’s portrayal of Waldorf education,
and its underpinning philosophy, as agents of “white supremacy”, and dedicated
to the furtherance of racist, anti-Semitic and fascist ideology simply
defied belief to those individuals actually involved in Waldorf education
It therefore stands to reason his work is largely
ignored by those actually involved in Waldorf education, or any other organized
efforts which stem from anthroposophy.
There is little correspondence whatsoever
between today’s Waldorf and anthroposophical movements and the accounts
Staudenmaier has given of them in his error filled “Anthroposophy and Ecofascism”,
a lack of correspondence that also repeatedly turns up with regard to the
published sources the article purports to describe, when looking closer
There is very little correspondence as well between
his historical descriptions of these efforts and the work of most historians
of Steiner, Hitler or nazism. Staudenmaier has instead sharpened his focus
on obscure and dubious sources, and he has attempted far too much with
them. And it is Staudenmaier’s biases, not his evidence, which determine
A typical comment when faced with such allegations
is that of Evelyn
Hecht-Galinski, former Waldorf student and daughter of Heinz Galinski,
Auschwitz survivor and for a number of years Chairman of the Central Jewish
Council in Germany, who after the Holocaust put his daughter in the Waldorf
school in Berlin.
"I personally have had only good experiences
during my school time; it was liberal, antiracist, tolerant of every faith
and not missionary"
Also Waldorf educators and supporters were incredulous.
The principles of Waldorf education which they enthusiastically advanced
and supported were the antithesis of these deplorable accusations. The
Waldorf education they worked so hard to build and nurture was an idealistic
vision of progressive education in which, to use Steiner’s words, the
“highest endeavor must be to produce
individuals who are able, in and of themselves, to impart meaning and direction
to their lives.”
Chenault, African-American President and CEO of American Express,
and former student at the Garden City Waldorf school, has commented on
"My parents were looking for a school
that would nurture the whole person. They also felt that the Waldorf school
would be a far more open environment for African Americans, and that was
focused on educating students with values, as well as the academic tools
necessary to be constructive and contributing human beings. ...
To the cursory reader, the article by Staudenmaier
that seemed to contradict this would appear to be well researched, and
its author an academic authority with expertise in this subject area.
I think the end result of Waldorf education
is to raise our consciousness. There is a heightened consciousness of what
our senses bring us from the world around us, about our feelings, about
the way we relate to other people. It taught me how to think for myself,
to be responsible for my decisions. Second, it made me a good listener,
sensitive to the needs of others. And third, it helped establish meaningful
In all the Main Block lessons -- in history,
science, philosophy -- we really probed the importance of values and beliefs.
In dealing with a lot of complex issues and a lot of stress, if that isn't
balanced by a core of meaningful beliefs, you really will just be consumed
But closer inspection immediately revealed apparent
numerous inaccuracies obvious even to those who professed no such expertise,
starting to show up already when comparing the
introducing paragraphs of the article to the source it purports to
be a description of.
For a further detailed analysis of the article,
showing the extent of the fabrications by Staudenmaier in it, see here.
For a summary of the analysis, see The Top 10 things wrong with Peter Staudenmaier's Anthroposophy and Ecofascism.
In defending such inaccuracies, Staudenmaier would
note his background in “historical research”, and repeatedly justified
the errors and distortions as within the “standards of scholarship”. And
those challengers unpersuaded by such excuses, Staudenmaier dismissively
scorned as either “apologists” or dilettantes without sufficient background
in “historical scholarship” to informedly question him.
Having taken his work “out of the public realm
so that non-academics could participate”, he seldom hesitated to pull rank
against his non-academic dissenters. While critical of the “academic realm”
and rejecting their company, he would often defend even the most dubious
of his assertions as completely consistent with “scholarly concensus”.
Over the years since, Staudenmaier has become firmly
entrenched at PLANS. Its website features six of his works, perhaps more
than any other print or web publisher. He has been a voluble contributor
to PLANS’s public discussion pages as well, where he continues to engage
in head-to-head battles against any and all challengers.
Several of these head-to-head battles have since
been recapitulated elsewhere on the internet, and document the various,
and oftentimes contradictory, explanations proffered by Staudenmaier in
defense against those raising questions regarding his factualism and biased
distortions. We have linked several articles documenting a
few such exchanges below.
Though somewhat lengthy at times, and certainly
making complicated reading for those new to these controversies, these
dialogues offer a revealing background both to Staudenmaier as self described
“scholar” and polemicist. They also reveal the degree to which Staudenmaier
has relied upon scant evidence to inform his texts, both in terms of the
facts cited and the conjectures interposed throughout.
After realizing the extent of errors
already in the introduction to his article, he at one
time (2001) told that he had sent a "corrected" version of his article
"Anthroposophy and Ecofascism" to several of of the sites that publish
On this point, closer analysis of the writings of
Staudenmaier repeatedly support him.
But, when seeing that none of them replaced
the original article with what even he himself considered to be untruths
in it, with his "corrected" version, he then commented:
"I don't take these things nearly as seriously
as you do."
AN ANALYSIS OF SOME OF MR. STAUDENMAIER'S WRITINGS
1. In the introduction to his article
"Anthroposophy and Ecofacism", Peter Staudenmaier depicts Steiner
as an anti-Semite and Aryan supremacist by referring to a published lecture
series by Steiner, that he says he describes.
For a comparison of what Staudenmaier writes with
the source he writes that the describes, and a number of the many stories
he then has told through the years about this, when having realized that
what he writes lacks support in the source he refers to, see here.
2. According to Staudenmaier, Steiner was an "enthusiastically
active pan-German nationalist".
Was that the case? See here
for some general comments on this.
3. As one of the "arguments" by Staudenmaier for
his description of Steiner as German nationalist, he in one of his articles
"... throughout his life Steiner consorted with
notoriously bitter antisemites and was by his own account on entirely friendly
terms with them. The passages in Mein Lebensgang [My Life]
on his relationship with Heinrich von Treitschke, for example, are straightforwardly
admiring of this towering figure on the German right, ..."
Is that true? For a comparison of what Staudenmaier
writes with what Steiner himself writes on Treitschke in his autobiography,
For another comment on this, see here.
4. As another "argument" for his view, Staudenmaier
gives the picture of Steiner as someone who in his autobiography tells
how positively influenced he was by a book, that was the bible of the right-wing
nationalist völkisch movement, the forerunner to the Nazis.
For a comparison of what Staudenmaier writes, with
what Steiner himself actually writes on this in his autobiography, see
5. According to Staudenmaier, Rudolf Hess, the
representative of Hitler, was a "practicing anthroposophist in his
own right". Was that the case? Also on this point, as on so many other
points in what he writes, the facts contradicts him.
For some comments on this by Ilse Hess, the wife
of Rudolf Hess, see here.
For an analysis of and some more comments on this,
After the article on "Anthroposophy and Ecofascism"
was published by a Human Ethical respectively a rationalist organization
in Norway respectively Sweden, it was answered and commented on by other
After the article 'Anthroposophy and Eco-Fascism"
was published in "Humanist" 2/2000, organ of the Norwegian Human Ethical
Association, it was answered by Peter Normann Waage, former waldorf pupil
and now journalist at the main left oriented daily in Norway; "Dagbladet"
Peter Normann Waage:
OG POLEMISK POPULISM (Norwegian)
AND POLEMICAL POPULISM
Staudenmaier answered together with Peter Zegers
in Humanist 4/2000.
This led to a new answer
Peter Normann Waage:
MYTER OM RUDOLF STEINER (Norwegian)
MYTHS ABOUT RUDOLF STEINER
For two answers by Cato Schiøtz,
a Supreme Court lawyer in Norway to the Norwegian journal Humanist, not
published by the journal, see
I NORGE (Norwegian)
Noen bemerkninger om forholdet til nazisme, rasisme
ANTHROPOSOPHY IN NORWAY
Some comments on the relation to nazism, racism
and ecofascism), and
I TEORI OG PRAKSIS (Norwegian)
(HUMAN ETHICS IN THEORY AND PRACTICE)
A complementing comment on the article by Staudenmaier
was published by Oddvar Granly in the Norwegian anthroposophical Journal
PÅ KRIGSSTIEN (Norwegian)
The article by Staudenmaier at the site of PLANS
has also been published by "Folkvett", organ of "Föreningen
Vetenskap och Folkbildning" (Association Science and Common Sense)
It has also been republished by the association
in late 2003. See here
for some comments in Swedish about the publication and republication of
the article by Staudenmaier.
In the same issue, an answer was published, written
by Göran Fant, long time Waldorf teacher and historian of literature
ATT GÖRA VITT TILL SVART (Swedish)
ART OF TURNING WHITE INTO BLACK
(Folkvett 2/2001, s. 42-58)
For a detailed paragraph by paragraph analysis
and documentation of the extent of Staudenmaier's fabrications in his article,
STUDY BY DANIEL HINDES
For some more comments on the writings and argumentation
technique of Peter Staudenmaier, based on public discussions with him during
For some further comments by Daniel Hindes on the
allegations by Peter Staudenmaier and some other "critics" of anthroposophy,