STEINER AND THE WARLORD



I. THE WARLORD WHEN ALIVE




On other pages at this website, we’ve examined Rudolf Steiner’s visions of the distant future and the distant past. Now let’s look at how Steiner dealt with the major historical event of his own time — the Great War, or World War I — and his evident failure to foresee that event's consequences. We can do this readily by considering Steiner's relationship with the Chief of the German General Staff at the outbreak of the war, General Helmuth von Moltke.


Like other German military leaders at the beginning of the twentieth century, von Moltke had devoted himself to preparations for “Der Tag” — The Day when Germany would unleash its military might and begin “the march to final mastery of Europe.” [1] But when The Day finally arrived, von Moltke received a dreadful shock. Germany’s emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II, suddenly vacillated, casting about for alternatives that would limit the scope of the war. Wilhelm proposed ditching the German war plan, which entailed launching a massive assault on northern France while fending off Russia, France's ally in the East. Instead, Wilhelm contemplated limiting Germany's offensive to an attack on Russia. Shocked that the Kaiser would, at the last moment, undo all the years of meticulous preparation for The Day, von Moltke stood up to Wilhelm and, after a tussle, prevailed: The opening battles of World War I would proceed as planned. But the emotional toll on von Moltke was great. “I never recovered from the shock of this incident. Something in me broke and I was never the same thereafter.” [2]


Rudolf Steiner attempted to minister to the von Moltke’s spiritual needs. He exchanged messages with von Moltke both before the general died and, even more interestingly, after the general was laid to rest. For the contents of von Moltke’s messages from beyond the grave, we have only Steiner’s unsubstantiated testimony. But I’m glad to report that the Rudolf Steiner Press has published the Steiner/von Moltke correspondence in LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM: Rudolf Steiner’s association [sic] with Helmuth and Eliza von Moltke: Letters, Documents and After-Death Communications. [3]


The aggression over which von Moltke presided, principally the attack against France, led to a war that ultimately caused more than 20 million deaths and perhaps 40 million additional serious injuries. At least half of all these casualties — about 30 million — were suffered by civilians. The toll in Germany alone was approximately six million casualties. Postwar Germany was so traumatized and chaotic that a vicious fringe political party was able to gain power and, eventually, order the German army to repeat its attack upon France. That party was headed by Adolf Hitler; the war he launched — the Second World War — led to approximately 120 million casualties: 40 million deaths and 80 million other severe injuries. [4] Significantly, the German offensives against France in both World War I and World War II entailed massive invasions of neutral Belgium, in order to sweep down on France from the north. Attacking Belgium to get at France was tactically clever, but it violated international covenants.


Being (by his own account) an amazingly gifted clairvoyant, Rudolf Steiner should have foreseen — before the first German boot trod upon Belgian soil in 1914 — the horrific carnage to come. [5] We might have expected him to denounce militarists on all sides, and to warn of the horrors that would befall the world unless all sides laid down their arms. But in the event, Steiner chose a different course. He associated himself closely with the leader of Germany’s military, a man who might fairly be described as a war criminal. [6] Steiner defended von Moltke, rejecting imputations of war guilt. He embraced von Moltke as a latent spiritualist, one of his own followers, potentially an important Anthroposophist. Both Helmuth von Moltke and his wife, Eliza, studied Steiner’s works, which they found compelling. [7] In a letter to Eliza, Helmuth wrote that Steiner’s teachings struck a chord in him: “No other philosophizing author has so far been more comprehensible to me than he.” [8] Steiner returned von Moltke’s high regard, finding in him the reincarnated Pope Nicholas I. [9]


Steiner was a spiritualist, an advocate of love, and — in his own heretical fashion — a devotee of Jesus Christ, who advised us to love (not invade) our neighbors. Given all this, Steiner’s association with a militarist may seem perplexing. How can we account for it? Several plausible possibilities present themselves. • Steiner was a kind soul who wanted to spread goodness, comfort, and light wherever he could, even in the centers of German militarism. • Steiner, as a religious leader, could not turn his back on any of his followers or potential converts, even the leader of German military aggression. • The von Moltkes were aristocrats — Steiner saw benefits in their patronage. • Both Steiner and General von Moltke perceived a need for cleansing, heroic combat. [10] • Both Steiner and von Moltke were German nationalists. • Both Steiner and von Moltke understood the sovereign importance of Germany’s “mission” in the world.

Some of these possibilities should give us pause. Let’s concentrate on the last. Steiner taught that Germany has a special mission of great significance for all of mankind. This mission had been aborted to date, but Steiner foresaw it unfolding in the future. In a letter to General von Moltke, Steiner wrote, “Excellency ... Through your suffering you are serving the great cause which the German people must serve now. One day, when what is the present now will be the past, those who want to understand will know for certain: that your thoughts and intentions as well as your suffering were part of the necessary seed from which the future mission of the German people will flower. The task which lies ahead of this people is so significant that it may only be accomplished through destiny’s solemn working.” [11] Von Moltke agreed that he acted and suffered in service to a great cause. Germany, he said, will play a pivotal role in humanity’s advancement, a role which must not be left uncompleted. The “spiritual progression of humanity is only possible through Germany.” [12] 


It was natural for a German military leader of that time to think and speak as von Moltke did. Hearing Rudolf Steiner express similar views is something else again. Important distinctions should be made, certainly. Steiner did not advocate military aggression or the spread of German culture through force of arms. He taught that other nations, too, have important missions in the world, and his vision was predominantly spiritual, not political. Nonetheless, Steiner taught that Germany was culturally and spiritually superior. He taught that the evolutionary currents of human history had reached their highest expression in the white civilization of northern and central Europe. He taught that apocalyptic struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil was necessary for further human advancement. [13] In various ways, his views and von Moltke's were consonant.


Thus, Steiner elected to stand beside a man whose actions would lead, directly and indirectly, to mass slaughter and genocide. Steiner was not a combatant, nor — evidently — did he foresee the horrors to come, horrors that culminated in the Holocaust. Yet Steiner professed himself a clairvoyant endowed with a wonderful ability to peer into the future. According to the claims he made for himself, he should have seen what was coming and made strenuous efforts to direct world history into other channels. Consider the beneficial influence he might have had on the chief architect of Germany's war plans, if he chose to exercise it. But instead of correcting or opposing von Moltke, he flattered and defended him. 
















Helmuth von Moltke the Younger, ~ 1912,

Chief of the German General Staff.

[German General Staff photograph, public domain.]

His uncle, also named Helmuth von Moltke, had been 

Chief of the Prussian and German General Staff from 1858 to 1888, 

overseeing victorious wars against Denmark, Austria, and France.

The younger von Moltke — Steiner's admiring associate — was less successful. 

The German offensive in the West at the beginning of World War I bogged down, 

victory was not achieved, and the Kaiser demoted the failed Chief of Staff. 

Von Moltke's health soon declined and, a broken man, he gave up the ghost.













II. THE WARLORD WHEN DEAD




Helmuth von Moltke died in 1916, while the Great War still raged. After von Moltke's demise, Steiner “received” many communiqués from him. Steiner relayed these, in written accounts, to von Moltke's widow, Eliza. [14] Interestingly, many of Helmuth’s post-death communications (as related by Steiner) affirm the truth of Steiner’s teachings: Individuals who pass through the “veil” to the spirit realm are able to perceive clearly things that Steiner, virtually alone among living mortals, perceived. Thus, von Moltke's messages (as related by Steiner) confirmed Steiner's esoteric doctrines. Or so Steiner reported to Eliza.


Here is a fairly representative example of the communications recorded in LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM, a message that Steiner told Eliza he had received from Helmuth: “Ahriman-America should not have the only voice; Lucifer-Bolshevism should not be allowed to do the only deed. However, as no one knows any different from what the stupefying and spirit-alienating institutions of ‘modern science’ have been teaching people, a real ‘enlightenment service’ is needed above all else. A lot would be gained if a number of people were to admit to themselves that they cannot but commit wrong actions in the world if they apply what they owe to ‘modern thinking’ and were to realize that a new way of thinking had to be adopted.” [15] Many of Steiner's doctrines surface in these few sentences. A quick rundown: • Humanity contends with two great demons, Ahriman and Lucifer. • Ahriman is particularly active in America, Lucifer in Russia. • Germany stands between the two demonic nations as Christ stands between the great demons — balancing, controlling, and deflecting them. • Modern science and thinking are largely mistaken; they have led to evils such as the war. • An "enlightenment service" is needed: to wit, Anthroposophy, Steiner's teachings. • Through Anthroposophy, people can learn the correct, new way of thinking: disciplined, exact clairvoyance. [16] Steiner did not elaborate all such doctrines in his letters to Eliza. He didn't need to. She was already his student and reasonably well versed in his teachings.


Understandably, many of von Moltke's own messages to Eliza (relayed by Steiner) deal with the war that was, in a sense, his legacy. Was Germany to blame for this terrible conflict? Was von Moltke himself to blame? No. Von Moltke, speaking through Steiner, set the record straight. “How many people are saying now: Germany is to blame for this world war. To spiritual vision, which I am only able to apply now after the physical sheath [i.e., the physical body] has dropped away, the question is a very different one: could this catastrophe have been averted in the position into which my physical person had been placed by karma? ... [No.] The catastrophe could not be averted.” [17] So von Moltke and, by extension, Steiner are vindicated, according to von Moltke (as related by Steiner). No one could have prevented the war. The world was destined to experience this catastrophe. In particular, karma caused von Moltke to be Chief of the German General Staff, in which position he had no option but to order mobilization — Russia had begun its own mobilization, so Germany had to act. "It ought to be considered what would have happened if, in July/August 1914 the general mobilization of Russia had not been met by a [German] declaration of war." [18] The war was written in the stars, as it were. Germany found itself surrounded by demonic opponents and naturally had to respond. So when Russia made preparations for war, Germany naturally attacked Belgium, to get at France. Karma works in mysterious ways, sometimes. 


Dead von Moltke was able to confirm Steiner’s teachings about karma, reincarnation, and human evolution. Moreover, he realized that his recent travails recapitulated a pattern he had experienced previously. In a past life, von Moltke had been Pope Nicholas I, in which role he had stood for the true spiritual forces that were besieged by forces of darkness. Further, Helmuth now realized that Eliza had been his helpmeet through various incarnations, standing by his side while he defended the essence of European civilization against the ignorance and illusion that threatened to sweep in from the darkened corners of the world. “The ‘Spirit of Peter’ was often before my ‘I’ [i.e., my spiritual ego] in the ninth century ... If the Asian way of thinking had been victorious then, a great spiritual darkness would have descended on Europe ... ‘[S]he’ [i.e., Eliza] stood at my side and understood that European thought had to be strengthened vis-à-vis Asian thought. All this resulted in the build-up of forces with which we still had to grapple in our last earthly lives [i.e., in our most recent incarnations]. Those people who were around me then succumbed to the powers of Ahriman because they had no real interest in the European spirit ... That is why spiritual science [i.e., Steiner's teachings] became a necessity for my soul; but then the ahrimanic people, with their intense hatred for everything spiritual, were again around me....” [19] 


As both Pope and, later, German Chief of Staff, von Moltke had been surrounded by individuals with dark souls, men who were under the sway of demons, bent on the destruction of the true European (i.e., German) spirit. Helmuth von Moltke was a great hero, in other words. But perhaps even more heroic was Eliza von Moltke, "she," who opened Helmuth's eyes to spiritual truth. These truly paired souls had been destined to be together from the beginnings of time. “Only ‘she’ saved my inner being from this illusion [i.e., entanglement in the material world] by spiritual means. For this was our shared karma.” [20]


Eliza von Moltke's greatest achievement was introducing Helmuth to the works of Rudolf Steiner — the "spiritual science" that became "necessary" to Helmuth's soul. It is dreadful to contemplate what might have happened if Eliza had not shown Helmuth the way to Steiner. The world was in the grip of the two terrible demons, Lucifer and Ahriman. Demonic darkness was present even in German governing circles; political and military leaders went down false paths, seeking solutions in false ways, rather than attending to Steiner's spiritual guidance. “‘She’ brought to me during my earthly life the reality of the spiritual while I was forced to live, with many of my professional colleagues, in an earthly world of pictures [i.e., illusions]. One believed that one was accomplishing practical things together with [one’s] colleagues. In truth, one merely gave expression to illusory ahrimanic thoughts [i.e., illusions implanted by Ahriman]. For 14 years until 1914 [when the war began] the world was dominated by ahrimanic illusion; this paved the way for the luciferic period [i.e., a period dominated by Lucifer] which began in 1914 and in which the feelings of human beings became entangled. This entanglement persists to the present day ... What is not yet totally confused in Europe is now confused by the Turks. The world needs the light which can spring from western civilization and Central European culture and spirituality.” [21] The true European spirit, for which Helmuth had fought as Pope Nicholas I, was still threatened. But it was the beacon the world needed, and it was epitomized by "the reality of the spiritual" to which Eliza had led Helmuth — that is to say, it was (and is) epitomized by the teachings of Rudolf Steiner.


Germany was not to blame for the war. Yet, in another sense, Germany was not blameless. Too many Germans — including various German leaders — failed to see the true light. The great spiritual truths that Steiner would express had always been accessible to anyone who sought genuine occult initiation. But most men turned their eyes elsewhere. Even great men, such as Otto von Bismarck — founder of the modern German state — followed false lights. Bismarck established the German Empire upon a faulty, non-spiritual basis, and all the subsequent misfortunes of the German nation stemmed from Bismarck’s fundamental error. The editor of LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM summarizes the matter thus: “Had the universal mission of the Central European Spirit failed? ... The German misfortune began with the foundation of the [German] empire which, as Rudolf Steiner says, lacked ‘a task which really emanated from the essential being of the German people.’” [22] The “essential being” of the German people is spiritually pure. Entangled, worldly Germans such as Bismarck and Wilhelm II chose impure methods in their efforts to spread German influence — an error Hitler would repeat. But, according to von Moltke (as related by Steiner), one spiritually pure German offers the world Germany’s true gifts. Can you guess who this paragon is? It is Steiner himself, of course, with his enlightenment service, which is spiritual science. 


We might have hoped that messages from eternity would amount to more than a dubious endorsement of Rudolf Steiner. Helmuth von Moltke opened a direct line of communication between the mortal realm and the great beyond, yet he had little to say about spiritual matters except what Steiner had already said many times. Frustrating. But there it is.

Eliza von Moltke presumably took comfort from the letters Steiner sent to her, letters in which he relayed her husband’s convenient postmortem affirmations of Steiner's wisdom. We might paraphrase the totality of the letters Steiner sent her this way: “My dear Frau von Moltke: Helmuth assures me that he is well, and he wants me to say that everything I have taught you about the spiritual realm is quite correct.” Evidently Frau von Moltke bought it. But what should we today make of this intriguing record? Steiner was usually unable to support his spiritualistic assertions — he generally offered only his own uncorroborated word for things, asking us to trust him even when the things he wrote or said were utterly outlandish. [23] But after Helmuth’s demise, Steiner had proof that his assertions were correct. Helmuth sent him bona fide messages from the worlds on high. Now Steiner could claim, in effect: “I see sights that are invisible and I hear sounds that are inaudible. No, really. I do. Cross my heart. What’s more, a dead German general backs me up.” This is powerful, powerful stuff. Very convincing.


 


















The German invasion of France through neutral Belgium.

[www.worldwar1gallery.com.]


















A brutal advance.

[www.worldwar1gallery.com.]














Like many other German nationalists, Steiner claimed that Germany was not responsible for World War I. He argued that the war was inflicted on Germany by the Western democracies and Communist Russia. More fundamentally, he taught that the war on Earth was an extension of a celestial war between gods and demons. In this sense, the war was necessary, a fulfillment of national karma. Victory by Germany would bring the benefits of the German soul to fruition, leading to salvation for the entire Earth. "Particularly during the early years of the conflict, Steiner was a fervent supporter of the Central Powers, blaming the war on the English, French, and Russians and insisting that Germany and Austria were merely defending themselves against the evil machinations of their enemies, while simultaneously offering a spiritual and supernatural interpretation of the war's causes." — Peter Staudenmaier, "Between Occultism and Fascism: Anthroposophy and the Politics of Race and Nation in Germany and Italy, 1900-1945", 2010, p. 113. Steiner called the war “a conspiracy against German spiritual life.” — Rudolf Steiner, DIE GEISTIGEN HINTERGRÜNDE DES ERSTEN WELTKRIEGES {The Spiritual Background of the First World War} (Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1974), p. 27. Germany’s defeat was, for Steiner, an unexpected disaster, thwarting the spiritual benefits that a victorious Germany would have spread in Europe and beyond. 















The following is by Janet Biehl, 
writing about Werner Georg Haverbeck,
an Anthroposophist who worked with the Nazis:




After the Allies rudely aborted Haverbeck's many efforts on behalf of the Third Reich, he contented himself for a time working as a pastor for the Anthroposophical Christian community [the overtly religious offshoot of Anthroposophy]...


In accordance with Anthroposophical root-race beliefs, Haverbeck is notable for propounding the thesis that the two world wars in this century in fact constituted a thirty years' war waged by foreign aggressors against the German people and their spiritual life. Apparently, German spiritual life stood in the way of "the strivings for world domination by the Anglo-Saxon race," behind which lay "the intensive image of a call to world dominance, like the old Jewish consciousness." Indeed, Haverbeck maintains, the two world wars amounted to a conspiracy against the German people and spiritual life. It is a "historical lie" that the Nazis ran "mass-murder camps," argues Haverbeck, and is actually "enemy propaganda." It was Russia that was the aggressor in the Second World War.


In his 1989 book Rudolf Steiner: Advocate for Germany, Haverbeck lauds Steiner (who died in 1925) for understanding the existence of this ongoing conspiracy early on.


“During the first world war, Rudolf Steiner delivered a multitude of lectures about contemporary history, and he toiled inexhaustibly for the truth about the question of "war guilt." . . . Steiner presented his listeners with maps that showed that goals that had been proclaimed back in 1889 were being fulfilled [during World War I]. These maps anticipated the separation of Central Europe that would be ultimately achieved with the loss of East Germany. . . . What was not fully achieved through the Versailles treaty in 1919 was in fact completed in 1945: the demolition of Germany. . . . The leading forces of both parties to the cold war were united in this common struggle against spiritual Germany. ‘This war [World War I] was a conspiracy against German spiritual life,’ said Steiner.”


When Haverbeck's book on Steiner's nationalism was published, it caused an outcry of protest among outraged countercultural Anthroposophists who send their children to Waldorf Schools, use Demeter products, and are in no way racists or fascists. Yet as researcher Wölk points out, their protests were unwarranted, since Haverbeck was only presenting Steiner as what he actually was — "a crude nationalist whose demonizations were shared by the völkisch groups of his day" — to show his usefulness for nationalist and neofascist groups today. — Janet Biehl, "'Ecology' and the Modernization of Fascism in the German Ultra-Right", in ECOFASCISM (AK Press, 1995), by Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier, pp. 45-46.

















Odin's sword — from a drawing

made by a Waldorf student

[courtesy of People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools].











 



For Steiner on US President Wilson,

who brought the USA into the war against Germany,

see "Woodrow".














Here is a message posted by historian Peter Staudenmaier in November, 2012.

He begins by quoting another correspondent, "Elana."

[http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/25362]




Elana on World War I:

> Western Brotherhoods brought that war about while blaming Germany.

That was indeed what Steiner claimed about the First World War. Some of his more credulous followers continue to believe these myths today. During the early years of the war, Steiner was a fervent supporter of the German and Austrian side. In 1916 he sought to establish a press office in Switzerland to promote the German and Austrian cause, but was turned down by the German high command. Steiner blamed the war on the English, French, and Russians and insisted that Germany and Austria were merely defending themselves against the evil machinations of their enemies.

In a September 1914 lecture to German anthroposophists, Steiner declared that the war was cosmically necessary, a war "founded in the karma of the nations," a war which "must happen for the salvation of humankind." (Steiner, Die geistigen Hintergründe des Ersten Weltkrieges, 25) For Steiner, the war was not just a military conflict but a battle of national spirits, a cosmic confrontation between "Germandom" and the spiritually immature East as well as the spiritually obsolete West; it would be an evolutionary tragedy, he declared in February 1915, if the German element were to be defeated by the Romanic element or the Slavic element (ibid., 42-43).

After the unexpected German defeat in 1918, Steiner and his followers insisted that Germany was not responsible for the war. This claim became a central component of anthroposophy’s public profile during the Weimar republic. The emphasis on German innocence was coupled with conspiracy theories about long-standing Western plans to destroy and dismantle the German and Austrian empires. Steiner insisted as early as 1914 that "this war is a conspiracy against German spiritual life." (ibid., 27) With Steiner's active support, anthroposophists included Freemasons and Jews in this ostensible anti-German conspiracy.

In English, examples of Steiner’s conspiracist interpretation of the war can be found in Rudolf Steiner, The Challenge of the Times (Spring Valley: Anthroposophic Press, 1941); Steiner, Secret Brotherhoods and the Mystery of the Human Double (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004); Steiner, The Karma of Untruthfulness: Secret Societies, the Media, and Preparations for the Great War (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005); Steiner, What is Necessary in these Urgent Times (Great Barrington: SteinerBooks, 2010). According to Steiner, occultist secret societies in the Western countries had planned the war decades ahead of time:

"I have drawn your attention to the demonstrable fact that in the 1890’s certain occult brotherhoods in the West discussed the current world war, and that moreover the disciples of these occult brotherhoods were instructed with maps which showed how Europe was to be changed by this war. English occult brotherhoods in particular pointed to a war that had to come, that they positively steered toward, that they set the stage for." (Steiner, Zeitgeschichtliche Betrachtungen, 22)

Similar beliefs run throughout anthroposophical discussions of the war. Steiner's post-war polemics against the Versailles treaty, as well as his invective against Woodrow Wilson, the League of Nations, the English, French, Russians, and Americans, represent an esoteric version of resentments which were widespread in Germany and Austria at the time. Steiner's stance toward the war and its aftermath was based in large measure on his vision of 'Mitteleuropa' or central Europe, a term which in anthroposophist usage referred to those lands in which German cultural and spiritual life was seen as rightfully predominant, with the German-speaking territories of Austria, Switzerland and Germany at their core. From this perspective, the post-war interference of the Western powers in what should have been Germany’s proper sphere of influence appeared as an affront to the spiritual mission of 'Mitteleuropa' as a whole. The mission of the German people and the German spirit, in Steiner’s eyes, had been wrongly thwarted by the outcome of the war and the post-war order imposed by the West and the League of Nations.

The same myths can be found in anthroposophical publications long after 1945. One example among many is anthroposophist Renate Riemeck's book Mitteleuropa: Bilanz eines Jahrhunderts (Freiburg: Die Kommenden, 1965). Riemeck claims that World War I was planned by the Western powers decades ahead of time, beginning in the 1870s, and holds the French, the Russians, the Pope and the Rothschilds responsible for the war, but places chief blame on a group of English financiers who conspired via various Masonic lodges in order to attack Germany. Her account focuses on "secret societies" and malevolent occult forces, blames "dark powers" for the "destruction of Mitteleuropa" and the dissolution of the Habsburg Empire (83), and holds the American entry into World War One responsible for "the catastrophe of Mitteleuropa" (116).

In Steiner's day, one of the foremost anthroposophist conspiracy theorists was Ludwig Polzer-Hoditz (1869-1945), a prominent early anthroposophist who was personally close to Steiner. He was one of the more prolific conspiracist authors in the first generation of anthroposophy. Polzer-Hoditz focused many of his writings on "secret societies" and "diabolical powers that make use of conscious and unconscious agents" and so forth; his works include Ludwig Polzer-Hoditz, Die Notwendigkeit der Erhaltung und Weiterentwicklung des deutschen Geisteslebens für die europäische Kultur (Vienna: Manzsch, 1919); Ludwig Polzer-Hoditz, Politische Betrachtungen auf Grundlage der Dreigliederung des sozialen Organismus (Stuttgart: Der Kommende Tag, 1920); Ludwig Polzer-Hoditz, Der Kampf gegen den Geist und das Testament Peters des Grossen (Stuttgart: Der Kommmende Tag, 1922). Steiner praised Polzer-Hoditz’s conspiracist works; see e.g. Steiner, Soziale Ideen, Soziale Wirklichkeit, Soziale Praxis, 241.

Perhaps the most influential anthroposophist to offer a conspiracist account of WWI was Karl Heise, a prolific author of conspiratorial texts in the years after World War I. Heise dedicated his book Entente-Freimaurerei und Weltkrieg (Basel: Finckh, 1919) to Steiner and explained that it was inspired by Steiner's own lectures on the war. Steiner wrote the foreword to the book and donated a substantial sum of money for printing costs. Heise's book blames the war on Western freemasons and Jews, presenting a farrago of conspiracist myths about the plot of the Western powers against Germany. Among Heise's central obsessions was the notion that Jews were behind the evil occult machinations against Germany. He rants about Jewish bankers and Bolsheviks, about Jewish subversives and Jewish capitalists, claims that the Roosevelts are Jewish, that Woodrow Wilson's wife is Jewish, that the news agencies are controlled by Jews, that Jews are responsible for the World War (e.g. 32-33, 84, 262, 295, etc.). According to Heise, the Jews control Britain and the Empire is a plaything of the Zionists (122-127). Bolshevism, meanwhile, is a Jewish-Anglo invention (253). Heise invokes Steiner throughout the book, at one point praising Steiner as the alternative to "Jewish thinking" (297).

As we've seen on this list over the years, such beliefs have hardly disappeared. A remarkable number of Steiner's admirers cling to the same hoary myths. And many of Steiner's followers continue to insist that Germany bore no responsibility for the First World War. Examples include Jürgen von Grone, “Zum Kriegsausbruch 1914” Die Drei, January 1964, 1-10; Jürgen von Grone, “Rudolf Steiners Handeln im Dienste Mitteleuropas” Die Drei, April 1969, 80-90; Thomas Meyer, ed., Helmuth von Moltke, 1848 - 1916: Dokumente zu seinem Leben und Wirken (Basel: Perseus, 1993); Thomas Meyer, ed., Light for the New Millennium: Rudolf Steiner’s Association with Helmuth and Eliza von Moltke; Letters, Documents and After-Death Communications (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997); Karl Buchleitner, Das Schicksal der anthroposophischen Bewegung und die Katastrophe Mitteleuropas (Schaffhausen: Novalis, 1997); Thomas Meyer, “Moltke, Steiner – und welche deutsche ‘Schuld’?” Der Europäer, May 2001, 9-10; Andreas Bracher, ed., Der Ausbruch des Ersten Weltkrieges: Zum Verständnis der Vorgänge bei Kriegsausbruch 1914 und der Haltung Rudolf Steiners (Basel: Perseus, 2005); Fritz Frey, Europa zwischen Ost und West: Individualität und Egoismus im alten und im neuen Europa (Basel: Informationslücke-Verlag, 2009).











For more on Steiner's conspiracy theories,

see "Double Trouble".











A QUESTION OF GUILT




The editor of LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM, T. H. Meyer, goes to some length in an effort to exonerate von Moltke: “Moltke is either unknown [today] or depicted in a very distorted way. One of the chief aims of the present publication, therefore, has to be to set the record straight.” [24] “Moltke was certainly not interested in leading Germany into war....” [25]


Perhaps von Moltke was reluctant, but he did lead Germany into war. Moreover, during the execution of the war, he made such statements as “Our advance in Belgium is certainly brutal, but we are fighting for our lives and all who get in the way must take the consequences.” [26] The consequences included, as a matter of policy, mass executions of civilians. “The turn of events in Belgium was a product of the German theory of terror. Clausewitz [the great German military theoretician] had prescribed terror as the proper method to shorten war....” [27] Tuchman describes the German advance: “Hewing to their schedule, harassed by the Belgians’ blowing up bridges and railroads, [the Germans] dealt out reprisals ruthlessly ... On the second day at [the town of] Tamines some 400 citizens were herded together under guard in front of the church in the main square and a firing squad began systematically shooting into the group. Those not dead when the firing ended were bayoneted.” [28]


Von Moltke, a student of Clausewitz, was the chief enforcer of the German army’s all-important schedule. In THE LAMPS WENT OUT IN EUROPE, Ludwig Reiners describes von Moltke as “an aristocratic, goodhearted person” who was both weak and sickly. [29] The Kaiser selected von Moltke to be Chief of Staff based on their boyhood friendship. [30] As war approached, von Moltke grew nervous, “But all he could think to do about it was to have a talk with Rudolf Steiner.” [31] Von Moltke actively directed the war effort, taking personal responsibility for many decisions. “Moltke telephoned [General] Ludendorff and informed him that he wanted to send several army corps ... Ludendorff was game enough to tell him he did not absolutely need this assistance ... Nevertheless, Moltke sent two corps....” [32]


Retired Brigadier General S. L. A. Marshall (USAR) attributes heavy responsibility to both von Schlieffen and von Moltke. “Germany had long since endorsed an unconscionable war plan ... [S]chlieffen, planning to outflank France through Belgium, and Moltke, ordering that it be done, were bold and original only in their defiance of civilized opinion.” [33] Marshall argues that von Moltke’s revisions to the Schlieffen Plan created “another strategic concept altogether.” [34] Marshall accuses von Moltke of malfeasance: “[H]e was doing the worst possible thing in the beginning by giving the ultimate provocation to the greatest possible number of Germany’s enemies. In the light of history, there is no possible explanation of von Moltke’s vagaries except lazy-mindedness, awe of the establishment that he was supposed to master, timidity about putting himself in opposition to political authority [primarily the Kaiser], and the desire for high honor through vainglorious timeserving.” [35]


Marshall’s assessment of von Moltke stands in striking contrast to Steiner’s. LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM presents von Moltke as a good fellow who wished for peace [36] and died “of a broken heart, as his wife put it.” [37] After passing through the veil, von Moltke became “the heavenly individuality” mentioned on p. xl.


Steiner asserted that von Moltke bore no war guilt. Von Moltke was “a man who was obliged to do his military duty [emphasis by Steiner]. And who did so with a bleeding heart.” [38] The Nuremberg tribunal, convened after World War II, established the principle that soldiers have a moral duty that transcends military duty. Perhaps Steiner did not clairvoyantly foresee this, or perhaps he didn’t agree with the tribunal — an odd stance for a highly spiritual moral guide to take. At Nuremberg, Admiral Karl Doenitz and General Alfred Jodl, among others, were convicted of war crimes. They had less authority in WW II than von Moltke wielded in WW I. By these standards, von Moltke was guilty and Steiner’s defense of him is erroneous.


Note that Steiner plays fast and loose with the facts. Von Moltke's heart did not bleed because of his “duty” to supervise the “calamitous invasion of Belgium,” as Steiner himself calls it. [39] The central truth is that von Moltke's “military duty” was not imposed by his superior, the Kaiser (Steiner says, according to von Moltke, the Kaiser did not know of the plan to invade Belgium until just a few days before the invasion began [40]). Von Moltke created his own "duty" by planning and then directing the invasion.


Let's look a bit further into the consequences of the invasion, turning our attention from von Moltke to Steiner. German aggression in World War I led to Germany’s defeat, the catastrophic Treaty of Versailles, the rise of Nazism, World War II, and the Holocaust. Arguably, Steiner contributed to these disasters not only by supporting von Moltke but by making anti-Semitic and racist statements, by asserting the superiority of Aryans, and by supporting the notion that Germany has a crucially important mission in the world, however that mission may be defined. [41] There are two divergent ways to look at these matters. • Steiner was not clairvoyant, so he did not see what was coming, so he bears little or no guilt for what came. This is my position. As a rationalist, I do not claim that Steiner was directly responsible for actions taken by others years after his death. Steiner said some stupid and hateful things, but he did not know that Hitler would lead the world into its darkest nightmare. • The other possibility is that Steiner was clairvoyant, as he claimed, so he did see what was coming, so he is guilty. This is the position that Anthroposophists should logically be driven to, although few seem to grasp this. [42] If he could to see the future, Steiner should have known where history was tending, and he should have made every effort to forestall the horrors of Nazism, instead of helping — even slightly — to pave the way for them. Failing to do so was, by Steiner’s own standards, a great sin.

 



— Roger Rawlings

 













 
To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, use the underlined links, below.


◊◊◊ 13. RUDOLF STEINER ◊◊◊



Seeing Steiner through his followers’ eyes; includes brief chronology

of Steiner's life


What he prescribed, and — perhaps — why


Steiner's visions


Steiner as leader

STEINER AND THE WARLORD

Steiner and his followers, beleaguered


The coming, epoch-ending war


What he might have done





















Rudolf Steiner.

[R.R., 2015.]















 

 

ENDNOTES




[1] Barbara Tuchman, THE GUNS OF AUGUST (Ballantine Books, 1994), p. 78. 


T. H. Meyer, a Steiner supporter, criticizes THE GUNS OF AUGUST for presenting a “biased picture” of von Moltke. [LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997, p. xiii.]


World War I began in 1914 and ended late in 1918.


[2] THE GUNS OF AUGUST, pp. 81-82.

The basic German war plan had been established by von Moltke’s predecessor, Count Alfred von Schlieffen. By some accounts, von Moltke revised the Schlieffen Plan so much as to transform it, essentially, into the Moltke Plan. (See endnote 4.) Von Moltke’s emotional response to the Kaiser’s meddling shows his deep commitment to the plan. The Kaiser’s last-minute notion was to persuade Britain’s King George to remain out of the coming conflict: If George would agree, Wilhelm would cancel the invasion of Belgium and France, wheel his armies about, and send them against Russia. Tuchman describes von Moltke’s reaction thus: “Aghast at the thought of his marvelous machinery of mobilization wrenched into reverse, von Moltke refused point-blank.” — p. 78. For more on the beginning stages of World War I, see THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, http://www.britannica.com/

If von Moltke had accepted the Kaiser's last-minute alternative, there would have been no rape of Belgium. But von Moltke insisted that the crime proceed as planned, and thus — arguably — he became the chief criminal.


Note: Helmuth von Moltke should not be confused with his uncle (1800-1891), who bore the same name and was chief of the Prussian general staff. The first von Moltke, working in conjunction with Otto von Bismarck, directed the Prussian victory over France in 1870. It is not difficult — but perhaps unfruitful — to surmise how the younger von Moltke may have been both inspired and intimidated by his uncle’s accomplishments.

[3] T. H. Meyer, editor, LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM: Rudolf Steiner’s association [sic] with Helmuth and Eliza von Moltke: Letters, Documents and After-Death Communications (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997, introduction by T. H. Meyer, commentaries by Johannes Tautz and Jens Heisterkamp). According to Meyer, this English-language edition omits some materials found in the original German edition. By Meyer’s account, these excisions only focus the book more completely on esoteric matters. [p. vii.] 


The first letter reprinted in the book, from Rudolf Steiner to Eliza von Moltke, is dated August, 1904. Helmuth von Moltke became interested in Steiner’s work at approximately that time. Steiner broke from Theosophy to establish his own religion, later called Anthroposophy, in 1912. Thus, the early contacts between Steiner and the von Moltkes occurred while Steiner was still a Theosophist. Helmuth von Moltke died in 1916. Steiner (who claimed to have contacted many discarnated individuals [Ibid., p. xxvii]) maintained “contact” with Helmuth von Moltke almost until the end of his own life in 1925.


[4] Germany did not start the war. At the end of June, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war against Serbia in reprisal for the assassination of a Austro-Hungarian noble by a Serb. Although innocent of these events, Germany and von Moltke bore great responsibility for subsequent developments. “Der Tag” had long been eagerly anticipated in Berlin, and the declaration of war by Austria-Hungary triggered that epochal day. On August 1, 1914, Germany declared war against Serbia’s ally, Russia. Simultaneously, the German army began mobilizing to attack France through Belgium. When German forces entered Belgium on the night of August 3-4, Britain — a guarantor of Belgian neutrality — declared war on Germany, as von Moltke and Wilhelm II anticipated. At this point, armed conflict between several major European powers had, on paper, begun. The paper war quickly became a shooting war, with Germany fighting on both the eastern and western fronts. (The Schlieffen/Moltke plan was to stage a holding action in the east, keeping Russia at bay, while securing victory in the west. Germany would then be free to turn its attention to Russia.) Other nations eventually entered the fray: Italy, the Ottoman Empire, Japan, Australia, the United States... A Balkan conflict had metastasized into a world war, largely due to Germany’s actions.


After the reversals suffered by Germany at the First Battle of the Marne, in September of 1916, Helmuth von Moltke was cashiered as Chief of the General Staff. He was held responsible for a series of errors, including authorizing German forces on the east to stage their own attack against France instead of maintaining their planned defensive posture facing Russia. Von Moltke, thus, was responsible for two separate acts of aggression against France. [See "Helmuth con Moltke", THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA.]


According to Steiner, the war was unavoidable: it was ordained by Europe's karma. Steiner said that Central Europe — especially Germany — stood between the powers of East and West. The position he described is analogous to the posture he ascribed to Christ, standing between the demons Lucifer and Ahriman. “In Central Europe we have been assigned the immensely important task of finding equilibrium between East and West." — Rudolf Steiner, CHRIST IN RELATION TO LUCIFER AND AHRIMAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1978), a lecture, GA 159. Germany had a messianic role to play in human evolution. (Steiner also said that Waldorf schools have, in effect, a messianic role related to Germany's and, specifically, Anthroposophy's. For more on these matters, see “Unenlightened” and “The Good Wars”.)


[5] Steiner often forecast the future — sometimes peering many millennia ahead. [See “Oriphiel,” “Evil,” “Sixth Epoch,” etc.] In LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM, we learn that, after his death, von Moltke told Steiner about the near-term future, including our own time. [p. xxx] “Many adversities are yet to pass. But the light at the end of the twentieth century shines brightly before my soul.” — p. xlii. Much of this light was to be supplied by Germany as it fulfilled its mission.

[6] Assigning war guilt is always a complex matter. History is written by the victors, and often the heroes lionized by the victors bear responsibility for actions not much different from those directed by the "criminals." We will look into this a bit more in the section "A Question of Guilt".

[7] Tuchman describes von Moltke as “a follower of Christian Science with a side interest in anthroposophism [sic] and other cults.” — THE GUNS OF AUGUST, p. 78. For more about Christian Science, see "Choosing".

[8] LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM, p. xvi — letter dated March 8, 1904.

[9] Ibid., p. xxvii.

Nicholas I “was the last pope who was still aware of the individual spirit and of the world of the hierarchies. And he was the last pope who, based on his true individual experience, justly acted as a spiritual authority....” — p. xxxix. Catholics may be surprised by Meyer’s assessment of all subsequent popes. Pope Nicholas I, also known as Saint Nicholas I, was pope from 858 to 867. [See THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA. For an outline of the hierarchies, see “Polytheism". The reference is to ranks of gods.]


[10] Steiner frequently spoke of the historical need for a cataclysmic War of All Against All. This conflict will be waged largely on the spiritual plane, but whether it will therefore be less terrible than ordinary wars is open to question. If the spiritual plane is more important than the physical, a war fought there would be more momentous — and perhaps more destructive — than any fought elsewhere. In LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM, Steiner is quoted as saying that the German mission cannot be “based on the exercise of power [emphasis by Steiner] in the outer sense of the word.” — p. 96. Attempting to spread German influence by the sword (or submarine, or bomber) would thus appear to be illegitimate. The use of power in other senses, however, would seem to be okay. Steiner said that humanity can reach its next stage of evolution only through “a violent fight between white mankind and colored mankind in the most varied areas.” — Rudolf Steiner, DIE GEISTIGEN HINTERGRÜNDE DES ERSTEN WELTKRIEGES {The Spiritual Background of the First World War} (Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1974), p. 38. The prospect is horrifying, but according to Steiner the good must triumph over the evil (or the “white” over the “colored”) for evolution to proceed correctly. [For more about the War of All Against All, see "All vs. All", “Oriphiel”, and “Sixth Epoch”.]


[11] LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM, pp. 145-146.


Steiner speaks of Germany’s “future mission” because, to date, the German mission has not been fulfilled. Here is Steiner concerning the establishment of a united Germany; he attributes part of the statement to von Moltke: “The German Reich was ‘placed in the context of world events without a substantial mission that justified its existence.’ This mission should not have been such that only military power could carry it out ... It could [i.e., should] only have been directed towards the inner [emphasis by Steiner] development of its culture ... A German Reich should have developed policies that disregarded the outer exercise of power. It should have developed the politics of true culture.” — Ibid., p. 96 Germans in the past failed to find their true mission, but Steiner can lead Germany to it (according to Steiner).


[12] Ibid., p. 105.

This statement comes from a manuscript von Moltke is said to have written for his wife’s eyes alone. According to Meyer, Steiner later convinced Eliza von Moltke to permit publication, and Steiner prepared a preface, but then German authorities intervened to prevent publication. [For Meyer’s account, see LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM, pp. xx-xxii.] I will not contest the legitimacy of this document, although obvious questions leap to mind. Steiner gave the manuscript the title “The Question of War-‘Guilt’ — Reflections and Memories of the Chief of the General Staff H. v. Moltke about the events [sic] from July 1914 to November 1914.” Meyer refers to this projected pamphlet as “A Document that could have Changed World History” [sic]. “Steiner wanted the Germans to have clear ideas about the outbreak of the war ... He considered Moltke’s memoirs as ‘the most important document to be found in Germany about the outbreak of the war’ ... Germany’s political leadership had reached an absolute ‘nadir’.” — pp. xxi-xxii. The German people were not guilty, nor was the German military — it was the politicians. “[T]hose around the Kaiser were anxious to avoid exposing the whole world to the pathetic house of cards which German politics had become....” — p. xxii. Blaming politicians for almost everything was perhaps even more common in Germany than elsewhere. After the war, many Germans believed that their nation's defeat was caused by traitorous politicians and their associates: It was said that these “November criminals” engineered Germany's surrender, which occurred in November, 1918. Some office seekers, including Hitler, turned this belief to their own benefit.

Concerning national missions: According to Steiner and friends, Germany’s mission is extremely important, but other nations also have their own, lesser missions, which are tied to the evolutionary characteristics of their peoples. Von Moltke discussed national characteristics in these words: “The Latin peoples have already passed the zenith of their development ... The Slav people, primarily Russia, are still too far back in their culture ... England pursues only material aims.” — Ibid., pp. 104-105. A footnote in LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM presents a classic Anthroposophical defense of such vile nonsense: “What is said here about nations must, of course, not be taken in terms of individual human beings who, in their essential being, are always above [sic] the element of nation.” — p. 298. Take this defense with salt. Granted, each true human soul is arguably transcendent. But in Steiner’s doctrines, racial and national classifications certainly apply to individual humans — otherwise, such classifications would be meaningless. If, for example, every individual Slav were “above” the national characteristics of the “Slav people” as a whole, then those characteristics would not exist except as null abstractions. In order for the characteristics of the Slav people as a whole to have any reality, individual Slavs must embody those characteristics, to greater or lesser degrees, some a bit “above” the median, some a bit below, but all clustered in and around the generality. (Please bear in mind that I am not presenting my own views here. I am discussing Steiner’s/Moltke’s views, which I consider appalling.)

According to Steiner, the German national mission or task does not arise from Germanic nationalism. Here is a description of Steiner addressing an English audience: “[S]peaking of the character and task of the German people, [Steiner] went on to say: 'The Germans are not really nationalistic'. This was met with evident surprise; the war [World War I] had not been long over. Dr. Steiner repeated his statement and proceeded to illustrate it with a story of the opening week of the Waldorf School [in Germany] ... [T]he children, running up and down the corridors and in the playground, would keep singing, not any German Lied or folksong, but 'My Heart's in the Highlands'.” — George Adams, "Rudolf Steiner in England, A MAN BEFORE OTHERS: Rudolf Steiner Remembered (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), p. 19. I think Steiner proved his point, don’t you?

[13] For Steiner's views on races and peoples, see, e.g., “Steiner’s Racism”, "Races", and "Differences". For Steiner's views on Germanic/Nordic culture, see, e.g., "The Gods" and The Good Wars. For a look into Steiner's anti-Semitism, see "RS on Jews". For alleged connections between Anthroposophy and fascism, see "Sympathizers?" To consider Steiner's projection of apocalyptic war, see "All vs. All". For the political component of Steiner's work, see, e.g., "Threefolding".


[14] LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM, p. 177ff.


[15] Ibid., p. 230.


Although he claimed that his own work was scientific — he called it "spiritual science" — Steiner often disparaged science. [See “Steiner’s ‘Science’”.]

“Enlightenment,” for Steiner, means the rejection of Enlightenment values. The Enlightenment — also called the Age of Reason — occurred in the 1600s-1700s. It placed emphasis on careful observation, logic, and respect for evidence. Steiner’s “enlightenment” is a spiritualistic concept: seeing the light of occult “truth.” [See “Unenlightened”.]

Ahriman is, originally, the devil as described in Zoroastrianism.


[16] The stages of clairvoyant perception, according to Steiner, are imagination, inspiration, and intuition. T. H. Meyer, editor of LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM, affirms these on p. viii.

[17] Ibid., pp. 230-232.

[18] Ibid., p. 232.

[19] Ibid., pp. 273-274.

[20] Ibid., p. 232. 

[21] Ibid., pp. 279-280.

[22] Ibid., p. 11.

Steiner’s words are from An das deutsche Volk und die Kulturwelt, March 1919.

[23] The primary “substantiation” Steiner offered aside from his own word was the concurrence of other, earlier spiritualists. Thus, he spoke of karma. Others had spoken of it previously. Ergo, what he said is true. The glaring flaw in this “reasoning” is that repeating an error does not convert the error into a truth.


Put the matter this way: Steiner often alluded to ancient myths, etc., as if they contain verifiable truth. He pointed out, for instance, that Mars had long been associated with war (e.g., Rudolf Steiner, LIFE BETWEEN DEATH AND REBIRTH (SteinerBooks, 1985), p. 207). Sure. People long ago looked up into the sky, saw a red “star,” and were reminded of bloody warfare. This association may or may not strike us as poetically evocative, but it conveys absolutely no real information about the fourth planet from the Sun. If you want to know about Mars, consult NASA, not ancient myths.


Relying on the “testimony” of the ancients often means relying on ignorance. Anthroposophy, like Theosophy, in an amalgam of ancient bits of ignorance. When ignorance is added to ignorance, the result is not knowledge. It is ignorance compounded.


[24] LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM, p. xiii.


[25] Ibid., p. xvii.


[26] THE GUNS OF AUGUST, p. 74.


[27] Ibid., p. 313.


[28] Ibid., p. 314.


[29] Ludwig Reiners, THE LAMPS WENT OUT IN EUROPE (The World Publishing Company, 1966), p. 96.


[30] Ibid., p. 96.


[31] Ibid., p. 97.


[32] Ibid., p. 177.


[33] S. L. A. Marshall, THE AMERICAN HERITAGE HISTORY OF WORLD WAR I (Dell Publishing, 1964), p. 63.


[34] Ibid., p. 62.


[35] Ibid., pp. 64-65. 


[36] LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM, p. xvii. 


[37] Ibid., p. xxvii.


[38] Ibid., p. 94.


[39] Ibid., p. 94.


[40] Ibid., p. 95.


[41] See “Steiner’s Racism” and “Atlantis and the Aryans”.


[42] Some who do grasp it try to wriggle out by denying that the Holocaust ever occurred. [See "RS on Jews".] Steiner cannot be blamed for failing to see something that didn't happen.





◊◊◊◊





[R. R., 2010.]



◊◊◊◊




 

 

I asked Peter Staudenmaier if I could reprint here a list of sources he recommends

for further study of the Steiner-Moltke connection. He kindly agreed:





 

FURTHER READING



The most thorough study of Steiner's relationship to Moltke is Helmut Zander's article “Der Generalstabschef Helmuth von Moltke d.J. und das theosophische Milieu um Rudolf Steiner“, Militärgeschichtliche Zeitschrift 62 (2003), pp. 423-458. There is also a very good book on Moltke in English: Annika Mombauer, HELMUTH VON MOLTKE AND THE ORIGINS OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR (Cambridge 2001). I have several disagreements with Mombauer’s argument, but it's fine research. Mombauer systematically dismantles the notion, dear to so many Anthroposophists, that Moltke was reluctantly pulled into a war he didn't want.


For those who would like general accounts of the war's origins, there's a lot to choose from; in addition to some of the works Roger Rawlings cited, above, I'd recommend the following:


One of the best brief treatments in English is Roger Chickering's book IMPERIAL GERMANY AND THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918 (which among other things makes perfectly clear Moltke's crucial role in the drive toward war). For a variety of perspectives from German historians, see the final chapter of Hans-Ulrich Wehler's study THE GERMAN EMPIRE; Fritz Fischer's short book WORLD POWER OR DECLINE; and several very readable chapters, on the run-up to the war and on the war itself, in Wolfgang Mommsen, IMPERIAL GERMANY 1867-1918.


Any of these histories will indicate the myriad ways in which ongoing Anthroposophical myths about the First World War are severely divorced from reality. On the basic German military dynamic that gave rise to so much of what these works recount, I highly recommend Isabel Hull's book ABSOLUTE DESTRUCTION: MILITARY CULTURE AND THE PRACTICES OF WAR IN IMPERIAL GERMANY (Cornell University Press, 2005).


— Peter Staudenmaier