Waldorf schools: no place for Nazis!

By Angelika Lonnemann, January 2023

Some people who are politically far to the right believe that Waldorf schools would be the right schools for their children. Or that they would be the right places where they could work unimpeded as people with right-wing convictions.

When I first heard about such phenomena, I was dismayed, outraged and ashamed. After all, my image of Waldorf schools until then had been completely different. For me, Waldorf schools were places in contradiction to the right – namely places where teachers looked at and taught pupils with a very special, respectful and humanistic view. Where children were not judged by their performance, where children of all nations and religious affiliations, with or without support needs, were welcome. Where people wanted to make decisions through direct democracy, without leaders. And where people have also been taking action on food in a regional and sustainable way for decades.

When in the 1980s I saw the class eight play at the Ulm Waldorf School, where my father taught, the class teacher had given the weakest and most insecure pupil the lead role in The Magic Flute. This unbelievably intense image of trusting the weakest to achieve the greatest and supporting them on their way there was the basis of my enthusiasm for Waldorf education. As a mother of two daughters at a Waldorf school, I later came to know mainly those parents who, like me, were convinced democrats, many of them politically to the left and green.

In this issue we report on attacks by right-wing people and institutions who want to claim Waldorf schools and Rudolf Steiner as their own. Even though – compared to the majority of all Waldorf teachers, staff and parents – they are a very small minority, we want to call it out and urge vigilance. And clearly declare that we will not tolerate it. We, that is the editors of Erziehungskunst, the advisory board and our publisher, the German Association of Waldorf Schools.

The Anthroposophical Society in June 2022 commemorated an assassination attempt on Rudolf Steiner by right-wing extremists. In May 1922, a group of right-wing extremists and National Socialists in Munich attempted to kill Steiner with close combat weapons. Only through the “courageous intervention of some friends” could Steiner be protected.

Steiner was regarded in right-wing circles as an agent of international Jewry and a stooge of Bolshevism. There is therefore no justification for placing anthroposophical philosophy and thus Waldorf education close to right-wing ideas.

Standing up against Nazis, naming and denouncing racism is human, democratic and necessary. Please join us and stand up against dehumanising propaganda, violence and nationalism. Let us stay alert!