Myth: "Anthroposophy is anti-Semitic"
"Value should be attached solely to the mutual exchange between individuals. It is irrelevant whether someone is a Jew or a German ... This is so obvious that one feels stupid even putting it into words. So how stupid must one be to assert the opposite!"

Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kultur- und Zeitgeschichte 1887-1901 (Collected essays) (GA 31), Dornach 1989, September 1897.

"Evil will be openly present in a large number of people as an attitude, a way of thinking, not any more covered up or hidden. The evil ones will praise the evil as something especially valuable. A certain sensual pleasure in this evil, this demony ...  can already be seen in many people ... Nietzsche's 'blond beast' is for example only a spectral premonition, pointing to it."

Rudolf Steiner: The Temple Legend (GA 93), London 1985, a lecture 11 Nov 1904 in Berlin on Manicheism


What was Steiner's view of Jewry and Judaism and their role in human culture, and how is Judaism treated in Waldorf education and Waldorf schools?


Rudolf Steiner described a group of "original Semites" from the time preceding the last glacial age, as the origin of the main post-glacial cultures. In his view, the end of the last glacial age -- some 8,000 B.C. -- is the time that is reflected in the myth of the great Flood, or the great Deluge.

While other groups of people in late "pre-diluvian" times, in Steiner's understanding, still had an instinctive pictorial clairvoyance, people belonging to the original Semites had started to lose that faculty and develop the faculty of thought in a way not found among the other groups of people of the time.

In his view, that made the original Semites of "pre-diluvian" times its most advanced group. He described them as the origin of the first high culture of post-glacial or "post-diluvian" times, developing in Central Asia during the 7th and 6th millennia B.C. as an original mythical Indian culture. The later (Indian) Vedic scriptures describe this culture as being inspired and led by someone they refer to as "Manu", surrounded by the 7 mythical Rishis.

It has for long been assumed that the historical "Aryans", which one long held theory described as invaders of present day Pakistan and India around 1,500 B.C. were the origin of both the Indian and a number of European cultures and languages (the so-called "Indo-European" cultures and languages).

Recently the view however has gradually started to develop, that the "Aryans" in question have a much older origin than previously assumed. It points to a slowly developing understanding of the original mythical Indian culture, some 3,500 - 5,500 years older, which anthroposophy indicates was the first main post-glacial / "post-diluvian" culture, under the leadership of the mythical "Manu".


Steiner identified the mythical figure of "Manu" as identical with Noah. Later etymological analysis of the term "Manu" referred to in the Vedic scriptures, has also identified this figure as identical with the Noah, whom Genesis describes as the one who saved and led a number of people from "pre-diluvian" times to "post-diluvian" / post-glacial times. In his Timaeus and Critias, Plato places the time of the Flood around 8,500 years B.C. as we would figure it (see Plato Prehistorian by Mary Settegast, pp. 15-20).

In the identification of Noah as Manu, Rudolf Steiner confirmed the description of both the Vedic scriptures and Genesis as reflecting a reality, which in his view, was the common origin of the later Semitic and the Indo-European peoples and cultures. In special lectures, he described the depth and importance of Genesis (The Secrets of the Biblical Description of Creation. GA 122).

During the beginning of the 20th century, Rudolf Steiner worked within the theosophical tradition. The theosophical tradition long before the time of Steiner described human evolution, in connection with the development of our present solar system, in terms of the formation of a number of successive "root races". The theosophical notion of "root races" probably arose out of an obsession with the concept of "race" and "races", which was prevalent during the latter part of the 19th century

With regard to the development of humanity since the last glacial age, theosophy describes this post-glacial phase as the "Aryan root race". From a present post-Holocaust perspective, this terminology can seem automatically to implicate an anti-Semitic stance in anyone using the term.

That is not the case with Rudolf Steiner, who early on criticized the use of the concepts "root race" and "sub races of root races" in the theosophical tradition to describe the development of humanity, and characterized the use of these terms as a "childhood illness" of the theosophical movement.

In anthroposophy, the development of humanity in connection with the development of our present solar system is not described in terms of "root races", but with the term "Earth epochs", and the development of humanity during post-glacial times in this long-term perspective is described as the fifth "Earth epoch" or with the terms the "post-Atlantean epoch" or the "post-Atlantean cultural epochs".

For more on this, see here.

In contrast to the seeming anti-Semitic stance connected with the theosophical terms "root race" and "Aryan root race", Steiner held a number of lectures, both during his time as General Secretary of the German branch of the Theosophical Society 1902-1912, and later within the framework of the Anthroposophical Society, describing and commenting on the depth and importance of the Hebrew tradition as such, as the basis of the development of Christianity and beyond.

In these lectures he points to the importance of Abraham and the continuing importance of Moses as something that did not end in the past, but will continue into the future. Furthermore, around the turn of the 20th century, he was deeply and actively engaged in the Berlin "Association against anti-Semitism".

As integrated or assimilated as a part of other cultures and nations, people of Jewish origin have, for two millennia, played an important role in the development of these cultures and have made an essential contribution to the development of a universal humanity.

As in human culture in general, people of Jewish origin have also played a prominent and central part in the founding of anthroposophy, the first Waldorf school, the Waldorf movement and the anthroposophical movement world wide, and for more than 90 years have played and continue to play an important and central part in the development of anthroposophy and Waldorf education.

At the suggestion of Rudolf Steiner, Waldorf education pays more attention to the Jewish tradition than probably any other form of education which is not explicitly Jewish. The Torah and the drama it describes as the origin and development the Hebrew culture is a main subject in grade 3, preceding the description of Nordic mythology in grade 4 and Greek mythology in grade 5.

One motive for this is to support and provide the pupils with the picture of the caring God Father given in the Torah, as a pedagogical therapeutic tool in relation to the sometimes half-conscious crises of students at this age (around 9) in relation to the world.

With the advent of Christianity and the subsequent Diaspora, people of Jewish origin, belonging to one of the most developed cultures of humanity, have been central in contributing to the development of other cultures and a consciousness that not is bound to a specific race or nation, but that is cosmopolitan.


The view by the Nazis that people of Jewish origin, because of their origin, not should be respected and have full citizen rights in any country -- as also the opposite view, that only people of Jewish or other origin, because of their origin, should have or be able to get full citizen rights in a country -- are both expressions of a thinking in terms of ethnicity and nationality that belongs to the past, not the future.

National Socialism developed as a perversion of a number of cultural impulses and traditions. To these belong the understanding of evolution as viewed both from the perspective of natural scientific evolutionary theory and from the perspective of the esoteric tradition. Anti-Semitism and racism are the most odious results of these perverted impulses.

National Socialism also developed as a perversion of the understanding of the relation between the individual and the state, as developed by the German philosopher Hegel, in a similar way that the Hegelian philosophy was perverted by State Socialist philosophies in the East.

One of the forms of perversion developed by Nazism was an outdated cultivation and worship of "the Nordic hero" with ritual and half-magical means, based on a reenlivening of an outdated instinctual clairvoyance of the past. 

Anthroposophy completely rejects and condemns everything that Nazism developed in these contexts.

Nazism constituted a total perversion of the cultural development of humanity and the meaning of the concept "human", and made the Jewish people into the victims of this perversion in the Holocaust, to an extent that has few counterparts in history with its estimated 6 million victims.

Anthroposophy completely rejects every form of racism and anti-Semitism, including the white Aryan supremacy propagated by National Socialism and its later offshoots, and membership in the Anthroposophical Society is incompatible with membership in any organization advocating nationalist or racist ideals.

For more, see

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Copyright 2004: Robert Mays and Sune Nordwall