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Re: Repeat: Weleda did not use Nazi prisoners for labor  walden
 Mar 19, 2005 16:59 PST 

An interesting perspective on this subject was written on this list by past
listmate, Peter Staudenmaier - 7/3/03

Peter Staudenmaier wrote:

Well before the start of the second world war, a number of leading Nazis had
become intensely interested in Rudolf Steiner's approach to farming,
biodynamic agriculture. Some of these Nazi bosses were also intrigued by
additional aspects of anthroposophy (and some of them became
anthroposophists themselves), while others were primarily concerned with
promoting anthroposophical methods of cultivation, which they perceived as
more natural than standard agricultural approaches. The best-known of these
pro-anthroposophical Nazis was Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy, but others were
just as important in providing direct support for biodynamics by the Nazi
state: R. Walther Darre, Hitler's minister of agriculture; Alwin Seifert,
the Nazis' "Reich Advocate for the Landscape"; and Oswald Pohl, chief of the
concentration camp system, among others.

The leadership of the biodynamic movement, for its part, was
enthusiastically pro-Nazi; their journal vigorously promoted Darre's
agricultural policies, and put Hitler's picture on their title page early in
1939. The movement's leader, Erhard Bartsch, offered to collaborate with the
SS in its plans for re-settling the conquered territories in eastern Europe
with 'Aryan' farmers. Because of this ongoing sympathetic relationship
between top Nazis and biodynamic growers, the biodynamic movement was
largely spared the vicissitudes that beset other anthroposophical projects,
which were caught in a tug of war between opposing factions within the Nazi

When the war began, Nazi support for biodynamic undertakings did not slacken
in the least; in fact it intensified. Bartsch's estate at Marienhoehe became
a gathering point for environmentally-minded Nazis and anthroposophists;
Darre visited there, and Hess sent his greetings. Before Darre fell from
power, he attempted to establish biodynamics -- which he renamed 'farming
according to the laws of life' -- as the officially favored and subsidized
form of agriculture in the Third Reich.

After Hess's flight to Britain in 1941, the anti-anthroposophist faction
within the Nazi leadership seized the opportunity to crack down on the
remaining anthroposophical institutions, including biodynamics. But in an
intriguing turn of events, SS head Heinrich Himmler himself took a notable
interest in biodynamics, and arranged for a large-scale conversion of
several SS enterprises to biodynamic methods. The most notorious of these
were the biodynamic plantations at major concentration camps like Dachau and
Auschwitz, where the labor was performed by camp inmates. A leading
anthroposophist, Franz Lippert, who had been head gardener at Weleda for
many years (along with Bartsch, he participated in Steiner's 1924
agriculture course, where biodynamics was born), volunteered to oversee the
plantation at Dachau, and joined the SS. Well into the war, he continued to
express a fanatical commitment to Nazism. His stint at Dachau did not
discredit Lippert in the eyes of his fellow anthroposophists; after the war,
he remained a central contributor to biodynamic journals, and
anthroposophists continue to defend his wartime activities to this day.

Much of this history is recounted in two books by British historian Anna
Bramwell: Blood and Soil (a study of Darre), and Ecology in the 20th Century
(which includes a chapter on the Nazis titled "The Steiner Connection"). I
have strong reservations about several aspects of Bramwell's work, but for
those who would like an introduction to the issue in English, these books
are the most thorough source. Two books have recently been published in
Germany that address the issue at length; one is a study of Seifert written
by Charlotte Reitsam, which emphasizes Seifert's anthroposophical
associations. The other is a book about the biodynamic farms at
concentration camps: Wolfgang Jacobeit and Christoph Kopke, Die
Biologisch-Dynamische Wirtschafstweise im KZ. Anthroposophists themselves
generally prefer to ignore the topic entirely, though there have been brief
treatments by the more historically inclined anthroposophists, such as Arfst
Wagner or Norbert Deuchert. The massive book on anthroposophists during the
Third Reich by anthroposophist Uwe Werner has very little to say on the
subject that is either useful or reliable. Whenever I get around to writing
again on anthroposophy's history, I plan to give more attention to the
biodynamics-Nazi connection.

Peter Staudenmaier
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