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4 The German Essence Shall Heal the World: Ideological Affinities between Anthroposophy and Nazism

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Chapter Summary

Steiner's followers emphasized the unique importance of the "German essence", an expression which also played a notable role in Nazi rhetoric. General ideological affinities between anthroposophy and Nazism assisted practical cooperation around Waldorf education, biodynamic agriculture, and anthroposophical medicine, but the very same affinities provoked scorn from Nazi officials skeptical of occultism. The promise of German national renewal as a path to healing the world attracted both politically oriented Nazis and spiritually oriented esotericists. Much of what made Nazism appealing was the hope of communal rebirth and spiritual regeneration. The resulting exchanges were complicated by parallel and partially overlapping theories of racial evolution and national destiny. In anthroposophist dealings with the Nazi government, affinities were intertwined with hostilities: the convergence between esoteric and National Socialist ideals, and the equally intense conflict between the two, constantly interacted with and against one another.

Keywords: anthroposophy; biodynamic agriculture; German essence; national socialist ideals; Nazism; Steiner; Waldorf education



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