Sanitised Steiner Texts – some examples

Steiner’s texts and recorded lectures contain content that is racist and anti-Semitic. English published translations have been cleansed of his more overt racist and anti-Semitic material. The implications of this are far reaching and will be considered in a forthcoming article. For now, primarily to support the claims made elsewhere on the website that such sanitisation occurs, CHASE gives two examples.

The first example is of an English (1999) translation of a German edition of Steiner text published in 1968. The second example appeared in English in 1999 and the German edition was published in 1993. Although these are recent examples, sanitisation of Steiner for the UK audience has a history reaching back to the very first translations of Steiner, as far back to at least the year 1906 in fact. Steiner died in the 1920’s.

Both of the examples of English sanitisation of Steiner texts were published by Rudolf Steiner Press, London. The Rudolf Steiner Press is the publishing arm and a subsidiary of the UK national society for Anthroposophy, the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain.

The first example of sanitisation involves an entire chapter of the original being expunged from the English translation of the same work. The English translation is of Steiner’s book ‘From Beetroot to Buddhism’ (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999). It omits the chapter which when translated would be titled “The Essence of Jewry”. The chapter appears in the original German text as a chapter titled “Vom Wesen des Judentums”. The omitted chapter, about twenty pages long, when translated would contain these two passages:

“This discussion that I have just described to you took place before The Great War of 1914 to 1918, you see. The fact that people no longer want the great universal-human principles, but prefer to segregate themselves and develop national forces, that is exactly what lead to the great war! Thus the greatest tragedy of this 20th century has come from what the Jews are also striving for. And one can say that since everything the Jews have done can now be done consciously by all people, the best thing that the Jews could do would be to disappear into the rest of humankind, to blend in with the rest of humankind, so that Jewry as a people would simply cease to exist. That is what would be ideal. This ideal is still opposed, even today, by many Jewish habits – and above all by the hatred of other people. That is what must be overcome.”

“Today all aspects of the Jews are dominated by racial qualities. Above all they marry among themselves. They see the racial qualities, not the spiritual. And this is what must be said in reply to the question: has the Jewish people fulfilled its mission within the evolution of human knowledge? It has fulfilled it; for in earlier times one single people was needed to bring about a certain monotheism. But today spiritual insight itself is necessary. Therefore this mission has been fulfilled. And therefore this Jewish mission as such, as a Jewish mission, is no longer necessary in evolution; instead the only proper thing would be for the Jews to blend in with the other peoples and disappear into the other peoples.”

The original book that the above passages appeared in was Steiner’s ‘Die Geschichte der Menschheit und die Weltanschauungen der Kulturv�lker’ (Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Nachla�verwaltung, 1968).

The second example of sanitisation of English translations of Steiner texts is another one where an entire chapter of the original book is absent from the English translation of it. The book concerned is Steiner’s book ‘From Limestone to Lucifer’ (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999). The omitted chapter if translated would be titled “Color and the Races of Mankind” and is about sixteen pages long. If translated into English it would contain the following passages:

“One can only understand history and all of social life, including today’s social life, if one pays attention to people’s racial characteristics. And one can only understand all that is spiritual in the correct sense if one first examines how this spiritual element operates within people precisely through the color of their skin.”

“We here in Europe call ourselves the white race. If we go over to Asia, we have mostly the yellow race. And if we go over to Africa, there we have the black race. Those are also the original races. Everything else living in these regions is based on migration. Thus when we ask which race belongs to which part of the earth, we must say: the yellow race, the Mongols, the Mongolian race belongs to Asia, the white race or the Caucasian race belongs to Europe, and the black race or the Negro race belongs to Africa. The Negro race does not belong to Europe, and the fact that this race is now playing such a large role in Europe is of course nothing but a nuisance.”

“Let us look first at the blacks in Africa. These blacks in Africa have the peculiar characteristic that they absorb all light and all warmth from space. They take it in. And this light and warmth cannot penetrate through the whole body, because after all a person is always a person, even if he is black. It does not penetrate through the whole body, but lingers on the surface of the skin, and the skin itself thus turns black. So a black in Africa is therefore a person who absorbs as much warmth and light as possible from space and assimilates it within himself. In this way the energies of the cosmos affect the whole person. Everywhere he takes in light and warmth, everywhere. He assimilates it inside of himself. There must be something there that helps him in this assimilation. Now you see, what helps him in this assimilation is his rear-brain. In the Negro the rear-brain is therefore especially developed. It goes through his spinal cord. And this is able to assimilate all the light and warmth that are inside a person. Therefore everything connected to the body and the metabolism is strongly developed in the Negro. He has, as they say, powerful physical drives, powerful instincts. The Negro has a powerful instinctual life. And because he actually has the sun, light, and warmth on his body surface, in his skin, his whole metabolism operates as if he were being cooked inside by the sun. That is where his instinctual life comes from. The Negro is constantly cooking inside, and what feeds this fire is his rear-brain.”

“Very few inventions have been made in Asia. They can assemble things, but as for inventions themselves, that is, that which arises from experience with the external world, the Asians cannot do this. […] This sort of independent thinking which Europeans develop in dealing with their surroundings, the Asians do not have this. The Japanese will therefore follow all the European inventions, but they will never think up something on their own.”

“Thus it is really very interesting: on the one hand there is the black race, which is the most earthly. When this race goes toward the West, it dies out. Then there is the yellow race, in the middle between the earth and the cosmos. When this race goes toward the East, it turns brown, it attaches itself too much to the cosmos and dies out. The white race is the race of the future, the spiritually creative race.”

The English sanitised version of the book is an otherwise complete translation of Steiner’s ‘Vom Leben des Menschen und der Erde’ (Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1993). The missing chapter in it is titled “Farbe und Menschenrassen”.

There are many other examples of the sanitisation of Steiner texts and lectures and it is intended that this article will be expanded to include further examples.

6 Responses to “Sanitised Steiner Texts – some examples”

  1. Plymouth University Axes Steiner BA Degree Course « UK Anthroposophy Says:

    […] of his original work are often Bowdlerised, or incomplete or truncated versions of the originals (see here for example). Perhaps amongst the recommended texts for students of the Plymouth Steiner course some […]

  2. What Every Parent Should Know About Steiner-Waldorf Schools | The Quackometer Blog Says:

    […] cosmology is inherently racist and abhorrent.  Black people are spiritually childish. Jews should simply ‘disappear’. Disabled people somehow must have wanted to be disabled though […]

  3. What Every Parent Should Know About Steiner-Waldorf Schools, By Andy Lewis « Blog de Grégoire Perra Says:

    […] cosmology is inherently racist and abhorrent.  Black people are spiritually childish. Jews should simply ‘disappear’. Disabled people somehow must have wanted to be disabled though actions in […]

  4. Lucienne Says:

    I can’t see any racism only explanation of racial task.

  5. grunchy Says:

    I think these statements are extremely important to consider, and to understand in the right way. It would be easy to call racism on these.but there is more than that.
    Side note- I am of Jewish descent through my mother, and I have absolutely no qualms about what he says in regards to the assimilation of the Jewish line into the rest of humanity.

    Also, its important to remember the context of who it is that wrote these: one of Steiner’s prime directives, in fact the means by which he achieved the clairvoyance needed to perceive these matters, is by being open minded, reverent, of good will and kindness to other men and animals, and in general being a most tolerant and peaceful person. So, I think it is necessary to take what he say’s about race and religion with that in mind- he is no KKK or Nazi.

    I would love to see more of this kind of sanitized material (do you have the whole chapters?)

  6. ukanthroposophy Says:

    grunchy: it’s easy to call racism on Steiner’s statements on race because his statements are self-evidently racist.

    Lucienne: perhaps you can’t see the racism in Steiner’s statements because it is so blindingly obvious.

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