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STUTTGART/DORNACH (NNA) – In the row over allegations of racism in Rudolf Steiner’s works, which has flared up again in Germany and Switzerland in recent months, German state prosecutors have rejected complaints against the Swiss publisher of Rudolf Steiner’s works, the Rudolf Steiner Verlag in Dornach.
Michæl Grandt, who has in the past himself been successfully taken to court over his attacks on Rudolf Steiner and the Waldorf schools, filed a complaint with German and Swiss prosecutors against the publisher for incitement and racial discrimination.
According to a statement from the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, which administers Rudolf Steiner’s estate, the prosecutors did not consider the issue of whether a number of passages in Steiner’s works might, from today’s perspective, be interpreted as discriminatory, but rejected the application on the grounds that the freedom to publish writings for study, research, teaching or similar purposes took precedence.
The publication of the passages in question was not, therefore, an offence, prosecutors ruled.
A similar complaint to Swiss prosecutors is still outstanding. The Nachlassverwaltung told NNA that, given the lengthy procedures with which such complaints were handled, a quick result was not anticipated. The process might take as long as another six months.
The Nachlassverwaltung has strongly rejected any claims that Rudolf Steiner is either racist or anti-Semitic.
The Anthroposophical Society in Germany, too, has come out strongly against such accusations. Racism or the exclusion of any group of people was alien to Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy, the “human science of the free human being”, the society said in a statement at the end of November.
It had specifically been “Steiner’s purpose to overcome the barriers and constraints created by designations of group and race membership.”
Anthroposophy studied the historical and current developmental conditions of the human individuality. This “commitment to the free human being” in Steiner’s works was also shown in the way that anthroposophy was implemented in practice in various fields such as education, medicine and research, the society said.
The words used by Rudolf Steiner in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century were “of course time-bound” and in today’s context could “in some instances create the impression of racism-related forms of expression,” the statement added. But “a serious examination of the content as well as the context shows the opposite intention," the Anthroposophical Society stated.
The issue of racism first re-emerged earlier this year when known opponents of Rudolf Steiner and anthroposophy applied to the German Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons, whose job it is to protect children and adolescents from any medium which might contain harmful or dangerous content, to have two lecture cycles put on the list of banned publications.
The government agency ruled in September that the publications contained passages which could be interpreted as racist from a present-day perspective but said the volumes would not be banned if they were republished with a commentary setting the passages in context.
At the time, the Nachlassverwaltung decisively rejecting any links between Rudolf Steiner and racism or anti-Semitism. Rudolf Steiner’s works contain no racist teachings, the administrators of Steiner’s estate emphasised.
Steiner had “radically championed the freedom and equality of the human individual” and had “frequently and unequivocally spoken out against racism, anti-Semitism, nationalism and similar endeavours”.
The Nachlassverwaltung is already engaged in the process of republishing particular volumes of the complete edition of Steiner’s works with updated commentaries putting ambiguous passages in context.
Similar – if low profile – attacks on Steiner and anthroposophy are also being launched in Britain. The CHASE website (www.chaseuk.info) states as one of its aims “to clarify the Anthroposophy movement's position with regard to the incontestable racist content of Steiner texts.”
Item: 071218-01EN Date: 18 December 2007
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