After the First World War, Steiner was denounced as a traitor to Germany for suggesting Upper Silesia should be granted independence – and the political theorist of the new National Socialist movement (Nazi party) claimed, mistakenly, that he was a Jew. He was the victim of a personal attack by Adolf Hitler, who called on other nationalist extremists to declare a “war against Steiner”. His health began to suffer and he died soon afterwards.
Astonishingly, this article was written by the education editor, Richard Garner. I can only speculate about the reasons; the article reads like a press-release from a waldorf/Steiner organization. Most surprising is the statement quoted above. It’s true that the leaders of the Anthroposophical Society went to some lengths to prove to the Nazi regime that Steiner was not jewish. This, however, was long after Steiner had died. There’s an embarrassing letter (English translation) written — a decade after Steiner’s death — by the Vorstand in Dornach to Adolf Hitler. Why did they do that? Why did they suck up to an immoral regime? Why did they even consider it appropriate to offer evidence of Steiner’s racial heritage? And to continue: Steiner was a victim of a personal attack by Hitler? He called on other nazis to ‘declare a “war against Steiner”‘? The nazis caused Steiner’s bad health, thus killed him? (Is that the implication?) I do wonder where the education editor gets his ‘facts’ from.
Now let’s try to understand why this pathetic piece of promotional junk was written in the first place. Evidently, the education editor left his critical thinking capacity at home that day. If he did any research for the article, it isn’t showing. It seems like he’s blindly repeating what somebody has fed him. It was written in 2007, and state funding for one Steiner school in the UK was about to become reality — the first one to receive state funding, i e, the Hereford Steiner Academy. When the article was published, it was still uncertain if the school would succeed getting what it wished for. It did, and is now the only state-funded Steiner school in the UK. Since then, lots of Steiner schools have asked for funding in the new free-school system; all the applications were turned down, it was reported not long ago.
Garner uncritically reproduces such nibbles of misinformation and delusional thinking as this one:
One teacher summed up the school as follows. A visiting teacher would say of Steiner: “‘Aren’t these the schools where children do what they like?’ The answer is: ‘No, they’re the schools where children like what they do.'”
Why is a journalist buying crap like this? It’s promotional junk, it’s of no value whatsoever as information, it won’t help people understand what these schools are. And it is utterly delusional for any one of the Steiner teachers to believe that Steiner schools are schools where children (all of them, presumably) like what they do. A majority of children hate eurythmy. How do these teachers account for that curiosity? — after all, eurythmy is unique to Steiner schools. And that quote is but an example! The article is a really shoddy case of journalism turned to mindless PR.
So why did Garner bring up the issue of anthroposophy under nazism? Why did he reproduce that misleading information? It seems to me like a preemptive strike — on behalf of the waldorf/Steiner organizations. They knew that the history of anthroposophy would rear its head sooner or later.
When Garner’s article was written, the situation was different than it is today (with the free-school reform underway now). One should ask what (or who) prompted him to write the article, and what that misinformation meant for the subsequent development. As far as I’m aware, the Hereford Academy is still a state-funded Steiner school, though it hasn’t been without trouble. What did politicians and journalists really know about Steiner education at that time, in 2007? How much of the information fed to them by waldorf/Steiner representatives did they swallow uncritically?