Waldorf enthusiasm for Nazism
Many Waldorf documents from the Nazi period proclaim allegiance to the fatherland, to the nation, to the German essence, and even to National Socialism as the embodiment and vehicle of the long-awaited spiritual renewal of Germany. While the more pointedly obvious instances of Nazi vocabulary may be seen as motivated at least in part by tactical considerations, the underlying national mythology is perfectly in line with the pre-1933 anthroposophical view of the historical and cosmic mission of the German spirit. These texts often reveal more about the details of Waldorf perspectives on Nazism than the outward trappings of political conformity do (although such latter symbols – including Nazi flags, oaths, marches, portraits of Hitler, and so forth at German Waldorf schools after 1933 – merit more attention than they have so far received). Written testimony from Waldorf supporters about their attitudes toward Nazism took a variety of forms, both public and private, official and casual. The following examples concentrate on positive expressions of political compatibility between Waldorf education and National Socialism.
In a 1934 letter to a Nazi party liaison office complaining about the actions of a powerful local Nazi official, Mergenthaler, against the Stuttgart Waldorf school, a party member and parent from the school declared that Waldorf education from the beginning had pursued “exactly what we National Socialists strive for,” and insisted that the Führer himself would surely intercede on behalf of the school if he were made aware of the situation. Invoking the Waldorf schools’ contribution to the “new Germany,” the letter writer maintained that his views were shared by all of the parents at the Stuttgart Waldorf school.
Four years later, after Mergenthaler’s final blow against the Stuttgart Waldorf school, 363 parents from the school signed a letter to Hess and Goering asking that Mergenthaler’s order to close the school be rescinded. The letter read in part:
"The Waldorf school in Stuttgart was founded as a bulwark against the corrosive powers of intellectualism and materialism in 1919, when our Volk was at its lowest point politically and culturally. […] Already at that time, when international tendencies were dominant, and despite facing strong hostility, the school consistently cultivated German spiritual life and built the entire education of the children on this basis. Eighteen years of experience have proven that through the Waldorf school, our children are being brought up to be hardworking, full-fledged members of the national community, healthy in body and soul. We are therefore convinced that the educational work of the Waldorf school can be successfully made fruitful for the cultural rebuilding of our Volk within the framework of the National Socialist state."
A similar 1936 letter from 230 parents at the Waldorf school in Hamburg-Wandsbek insisted that Waldorf pedagogy “fulfills the educational principles established by the Führer himself.” The letter cited several passages from Mein Kampf to substantiate this claim.
Subsequent posts will provide more detail from further documents such as these.