Here is a collection of statements 

Rudolf Steiner made about 

human races, nationalities, and peoples. 

(Brace yourself.) 

The list is representative of Steiner's 

racial views, but it is by no means 

a complete compilation of the 

contentious statements Steiner made 

on these matters. 

[Asians, Europeans, Americans

“We...find there [i.e., in Asia] the Venus-race or the Malay race. We then pass on across the wide domain of Asia and in the Mongolian race we find the Mars-race. We then pass over into the domain of Europe and we find in the Europeans, in their basic character, in their racial character, the Jupiter men. If we cross over the ocean to America, where the place is at which the races or civilizations die, we then find the race of the dark Saturn, the original American-Indian race, the American race. The American-Indian race is the Saturn race.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF FOLK-SOULS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1929), lecture 6, GA 121.

[Asians, Europeans, Americans

“[O]ur white civilized humankind originated because certain elements segregated themselves from the Atlanteans [the people of Atlantis] and developed themselves higher here, under different climatic conditions. Certain elements of the Atlantean population remained behind, at earlier levels; thus we can see that the peoples of Asia and America are remnants of the various Atlantean races.” — Rudolf Steiner, DIE WELTRÄTSEL UND DIE ANTHROPOSOPHIE (Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1974), GA 54, p. 145.

[Normal and Abnormal

“[I]n Atlantean times the human body could still form itself according to spiritual characteristics. Therefore it could also take on the form which enabled it to mould all the organs, heart, brain, and so on, in such a way that they could become the expression of an actual ego being, a being with self-consciousness. These capacities and characteristics, however, developed on innumerable different levels. There were people whose inner nature was correctly balanced and who were normal, for they had not developed egoism to too great an extent, nor had they developed their ego-feeling solely on a lower level. With them, devotion to the outer world and ego-feeling maintained a balance. Such people were scattered about everywhere. And these were the men that the Atlantean initiates could do most with. On the other hand there were other men who had developed a tremendously strong ego-feeling, much too soon, of course; for human beings had not yet reached the point when they could make of their bodies an instrument for a strongly developed ego-feeling. This made the body hardened in egoism as it were, and it became impossible for it to develop beyond a certain point. There were other people again who had not reached anything like a normal ego-feeling because they were more susceptible to influences from the outer world than they should have been; peoples who had completely surrendered themselves to the outer world. Thus it was the normal human beings that were the best material for the initiates to use for the evolution of the future, and they were also the ones that the great sun initiate, Manu, gathered around him as being most capable of evolving. Those peoples whose ego impulse was developed too strongly, so that it permeated their whole being and made it a manifestation of egohood, these people gradually wandered to the West and became the nation the last survivors of which appeared as the Red Indians of America. Those people whose ego-feeling was too little developed migrated to the East, and the survivors of these people became the subsequent Negro population of Africa. If you look at those things in a really spiritual scientific way you will see evidence of them right into the physical characteristics. If a man brings his whole inner being to expression in his physiognomy and on the surface of his body, then it permeates his external being with the colour of his inner nature as it were. Now the colour of egohood is red or copper or a yellowish brown. And an overpowering feeling of ego arising from offended self-respect can even nowadays turn a man as it were yellow with rage. They are absolutely connected, these two phenomena: the red colour of those peoples that migrated to the West and the yellow colour of the man whose ‘blood boils’ as we say, and whose inner nature is showing itself right into his skin. Those people, however, who had developed their ego being too little, and who were too exposed to the influences of the sun, were like plants: they deposited too many carbonic constituents beneath their skin and became black. This is why the Negroes are black. Thus both east of Atlantis in the black population and west of Atlantis in the red population we find survivors of the kind of people who had not developed their ego-feeling in a normal way. The human beings who had developed normally lent themselves best to progress. Therefore they were the ones chosen to infiltrate the various other regions from the place we know of in Asia.” — Rudolf Steiner, "Manifestations of the Ego in the Different Races of Man, a lecture in THE BEING OF MAN AND HIS FUTURE EVOLUTION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981), pp. 117-119.

[Racial Blood, Mongols, Semites

"Now let us go up over the wide Mongolian plains. In those plains those Spirits of Form [i.e., powers] are principally active who work indirectly through the blood. There in the blood is brewed that which brings about a modification of humanity and produces the basic character of the race. There is, however, something very peculiar in this Mongolian race. There the Mars-spirits enter the blood: But they work in it in quite a definite way, viz., they are there able to work towards the six Elohim [gods] who are centered in the Sun. In the Mongolian race, therefore, they work towards these six Elohim, and in doing so they make a special attack in the other direction towards Jahve or Jehovah Who has separated His field of action from that of the six Elohim.

“But besides this co-operation of the Mars-spirits with the six Elohim and Jahve, which results in the Mongolian race, there is still something quite special. Just as the six Elohim from the Sun and Jahve from the Moon act upon the Mongolians, whilst the Mars-spirits work towards them, so in another case we must imagine that from the direction of the Moon the Jahve forces again meet and co-operate with the Mars-spirits, and that thus a special modification arises. Here you have a special modification of humanity, viz., that which belongs to the Semitic race, explained from its most occult background. In the Semites you have a modification of collective humanity, in which Jahve or Jehovah shuts Himself off from the other Elohim and invests this people with a special character, by co-operating with the Spirits of Mars, in order to bring about the special modification of this people.” — THE MISSION OF FOLK-SOULS, lecture 6.


“Is it not reasonable to assume the same conditions of evolution for the spirit as we know prevail in nature? Does a more highly developed spirit emerge from the same conditions as a primitive one — say, Goethe and a Hottentot? It is no more possible for a fish to develop from the ancestors of an ape than for Goethe’s spirit to issue from the same spiritual conditions as a savage; the spiritual ancestry is simply quite different. Spirit as well as a body are in a process of evolving. Goethe’s spirit has more stages of development behind it than that of the savage.” — Rudolf Steiner, CHRISTIANITY AS SPIRITUAL FACT (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 31.


“Now in the human being of the present day the Ego is by no means simple in character. We may recognize its nature if we compare human beings at different stages of development. Look at the uneducated savage beside the average European...the uneducated savage, with his Ego, follows his passions, impulses, and cravings almost like an animal. The more highly developed man says to himself, ‘Such and such impulses and desires you may follow,’ while others again he holds in check or suppresses altogether.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE EDUCATION OF THE CHILD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1965), an essay, GA 21.

[Savages, Evolved Races

”Now we must enter more exactly into the nature of the human soul, which formerly was not as individualized as it is today. At one point of human evolution, man stood far closer to the group soul. Tacitus, one hundred years after Christ, gives us a picture of the different tribal groups. All members of a group then felt themselves belonging together, naturally with gradations, for everything in human evolution is in stages. All members of a group then looked alike. The markedly individual physiognomies are the sign of this freeing of the individual souls from the group soul. You still find today, among savages, more or less the same features. We must hold fast to this fact, that the physiognomy coming to expression is the proof that the individuality works formatively on the body. This will be more and more marked among the further evolved human races.” — Rudolf Steiner, “The Animal Soul” (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), a lecture, GA 97.

[Savages, Animals

”You must realise clearly that certain higher animals, particularly animals that live much in the company of man, such as domestic animals, have a kind of self-consciousness, resembling that of the lower savages of to-day.” — Rudolf Steiner, “Man's Relationship with the Surrounding World” (ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET, No. 27/28, 1941), GA 98.

[Where Races Belong

"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." — Rudolf Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS (Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, 1961), lecture 3,"Color and the Races of Mankind", GA 349.

[Useless Human Beings

"Thus these brown Malayans are Mongols who have emigrated, but who, even now, because the sun affects them differently, have habituated themselves to incorporate more light and warmth. But now consider that they do not have it in their nature to do this. They have already accustomed themselves to have even such a skeletal structure, that they can only incorporate a certain degree of warmth. They do not have it in their nature to assimilate as much warmth as they are now assimilating as Malayans. The consequence of this is that they start becoming useless human beings; that they begin to become people whose human bodies disintegrate, human beings whose bodies atrophy. That is indeed the case with the Malayan population. They die from the sun. They die from Easternness. So that we can say: While the yellow people, the Mongols, still remain human beings in their full vigor, the Malays are already a dying race. They are dying off." — Ibid.

[Racial Blood, Polarity, Mongols, Semites

“So you see, that the blood of mankind is acted upon in a twofold manner; that two races originate, by the blood of mankind being acted upon; on the one side we have that which we call the Mongolian race, on the other that which we may describe as belonging to the Semitic race. That is a great polarity in humanity, and we shall have to trace much that is of immense importance back to this polarity, if we wish to understand the depths of the Folk-souls.” — THE MISSION OF FOLK-SOULS, lecture 6.

[Red Indians

“If you look at the pictures of the old American Indians, the process above described is palpable in the decline of this race. In a race such as this, everything which existed in the Saturn-evolution is now present in them, and that in a special manner; it has withdrawn into itself and left man alone with his hard bone system, and brought him into decline. One feels something of this truly occult activity, if one observes how, even in the nineteenth century, a representative of these old Indians speaks of how in him there dwells what formerly was great and mighty for man, but which could not possibly go along with further evolution.” — Ibid.


“If you now pass further over to Asia, you find there in a similar manner something we might describe as Venus forces, as an abnormal development of the Spirits of Form. These Venus forces operate by attacking principally that which we call the reflection of the astral body, the nervous system. They operate however in a peculiar way, and indeed not directly as Venus-spirits upon the nervous system. For the nervous system can be affected in two indirect ways; one way is through the respiration. When the breathing is specially worked upon, these activities establish themselves in man's respiratory and nervous system, and give it a definite form. This indirect way is selected by the abnormal Spirits of Form whom we may call Venus Beings, in the Malay race, in the yellow tinted races of Southern Asia, and towards the Malay Archipelago. Just as the glandular type of man is spread over the land of Ethiopia, so over these parts of Malaya there is spread the type of man in whom the abnormal Spirits of Form work upon the nervous system indirectly through the respiratory system. There the nervous system is worked upon indirectly through the respiratory system. In the nervous system is brewed that which, with special modifications, produces the more or less yellow-colored part of humanity. The transformation there brought about, certainly expresses itself more in that part of the nervous system which we sum up in the expression ‘Solar Plexus’, therefore not really in the higher nervous system but in that mysterious part of the nervous system which runs in two strands parallel with the spinal marrow and spreads out in various directions. This part of the nervous system, therefore, is worked upon indirectly through the respiratory system, this part which in our sense does not yet belong to the higher mental activity. These Venus-forces which work in this race, seethe deep down in the unconscious organism.” — Ibid.

[Asia, cont.] 

“[T]he Chinese were unable to think out any legal system ... [T]he European sort of invention is impossible for either the Chinese or the Japanese ... [T]he Indians in those very ancient times...had tremendous powers of imagination. The Chinese had none at all ... The Chinese lack imagination whereas the Indians have been full of it from the beginning ... [T]he Chinese were a prosaic people interested in the outer world, a people who did not live from within. The Indians were a people who looked entirely inward.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), pp. 70-82.


“In the other peoples which then follow upon the Greek people we have to deal principally with the use of the physical body for the development, stage by stage, of the Spiritual Soul [i.e., the highest part of our “soul nature”]. Hence the Greek culture was one which we can only understand if we try to do so from within, if we realize that in this culture what is important in external experience is that which pours forth from the inner nature of the Greeks. On the other hand the peoples lying more towards the West and the North have the task, under the guidance of their Folk-souls, of directing their gaze out into the world, and of seeing what is there to be seen on the physical plane, and of perfecting that which has to play a part on that plane. The Germanic Scandinavian peoples had also the special task of perfecting this as they alone could, because they still enjoyed the blessing of being able to see into the spiritual world with the old clairvoyance, and to carry the primeval experiences which they perceived so vividly, into that which had to be arranged on the physical plane.

“One people there was, which, at its later stage no longer possessed this blessing; which in the first place had not gone through such a previous evolution, but had been placed on the physical plane at one bound, as it were, before the birth of the human ‘ I ’ [the spiritual ego] and therefore was only able under the guidance of its Folk-soul, of its Archangel, to look after that which helped this human ‘ I ’ on the physical plane, that which was necessary for its well-being there. This was the Roman people. Everything that the Roman people had, under the guidance of its Folk-spirit, to accomplish for the collective mission of Europe, was for the purpose of giving importance to the ‘ I ’ of man as such. Hence the Roman people was able to develop that which places the ego among other egos. It was able to found the whole system of the rights of the individual. Hence it was the creator of jurisprudence, which is built up purely on the ‘ I ’. The relation of one ‘ I ’ to another was the great question in the mission of the Roman people. The other peoples, which grew out of the Roman civilization, already possessed more of what — coming so to say from the Sentient Soul, the Intellectual Soul or Soul of the Higher Feelings and from the Spiritual Soul itself [all of these are aspects of the human soul] — in some way or other fertilizes the ‘ I ’ and drives it out into the world. Therefore all the mixtures of races of which external history relates, which occurred on the Italian and Pyrenean Peninsula, in present-day France and in present-day Great Britain, were necessary in order to develop the ‘ I ’ in the different shades of the Sentient Soul, the Intellectual Soul or Soul of the Higher Feelings, and the Spiritual Soul on the physical plane. That was the great mission of those peoples which gradually developed in various ways in Western Europe.” — THE MISSION OF FOLK-SOULS, lecture 10.

[Eskimos, Hindus

“Who would deny that an Eskimo is a different sort of human being from a Hindu, because in the polar regions the sun's rays strike the earth at a different angle! Everywhere the scientists themselves refer spiritual effects on mankind to constellations. A spiritual impulse towards materialism is coincident with the appearance of Halley's comet and this impulse can make itself felt. The appearance of this comet in 1835 was followed by that materialistic culture of the second half of the nineteenth century....” — Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), lecture 1, GA 120.


“The Japanese will...follow all the European inventions, but they will never think up something on their own.” — VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS, p. 59.


“The old Chinese possess a wonderful Atlantean heritage [i.e., a heritage from Atlantis], but they could not progress beyond this zenith.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE APOCALYPSE OF ST. JOHN (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), p. 40.

[Chinese, Europeans

“[A] kind of ‘Chineseness’ is beginning to manifest in Europe, as though Europe were becoming ‘chinesified’ ... Consider the following: Souls exist who, as a result of their former lives, are inclined to incarnate in Chinese bodies ... Now since the Chinese population is nowhere near as great as it was in former times, it is, in any case, not possible for all these Chinese souls to incarnate there. In Europe, on the other hand, the physical population has increased considerably in recent times, and so many souls can be accommodated here who were really destined for incarnation in Chinese bodies. This is one reason why keen observers are beginning to notice that Europe is becoming ‘chinesified’ ...  By bringing about the ‘opiumising’ of Chinese bodies and causing generations to come into being under the influence of opium's forces, it was possible to condemn the Chinese to take in, to a certain extent, some very immature, sub-standard souls ... But those souls who had themselves decided to incarnate in Chinese bodies were thereby prevented from approaching these ‘opiumised’ bodies. They were diverted to Europe where they brought about among the European population those traits which have, meanwhile, been noted.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE KARMA OF UNTRUTHFULNESS, Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1988), lecture 13, GA 173.

[Americans, Europeans] 

“Not all of the people living on the earth today stand at the same level of development. Alongside those people that stand at a high stage of civilization, there are primitive peoples that have lagged culturally far behind ... We have before us in the American race a primitive aboriginal people that has remained far, far behind, among other things in regard to its religious worldview. But this race has retained the belief in a monotheistic god, which speaks to it from all the sounds of nature ... But the Europeans have ascended to a higher level of culture, while the Indians have remained behind and become decadent. One must always pay attention to this evolutionary process. It can be described as follows. In the course of millennia our planet transforms itself, and this transformation also demands a development of humankind. Those side branches that no longer fit in to current conditions become decadent. Thus we have an upright evolutionary trunk as well as side branches which decay." — Rudolf Steiner, MENSCHHEITSENTWICKELUNG UND CHRISTUS-ERKENNTNIS (Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1981), GA 100, pp. 243-44.

[Asians, Europeans

“This sound expressed the most profound awe. It is found with particular frequency in Asian languages and shows that Asians are able to develop tremendous awe and veneration, whereas in Western languages this sound is missing, since awe and veneration are not the strongest traits of Europeans.” — Rudolf Steiner, PRACTICAL ADVICE TO TEACHERS (Anthroposophic Press, 2000),  p. 21.


“A teacher: 'B.B. is in my seventh grade class. Could you give me some advice?'

“Dr. Steiner: ’He is lazy? I think it is just his nature, that he is Swedish, and you will have to accept that he cannot quickly comprehend things. They grasp things slowly, but if you return to such things often, it will be all right. They love to have things repeated.’” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 412.

[White, Yellow, Black

“The basic coloring of a man is of great significance, for that is to some extent the color of the tapestry upon which his memory appears after death; greenish, greenish-blue for the white races; violet-reddish for the Japanese; and just flesh-colored [sic] for the black races." — Rudolf Steiner, ANTHROPOSOPHICAL LIFE GIFTS (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), lecture 4, GA 181.

— Compilation by Roger Rawlings

Also see "Differences",


and "Forbidden".

Here is an item from 

the Waldorf Watch "news" page:

“In his new German language book Der Himmelsgarten (Heaven's Garden), Marc Daniels...challenges President Barack Obama to root feed our ecological, educational, and spiritual roots by inviting children from around the world to the White House for a televised Weed Out Hate event ... His call to action has struck a responsive chord with students from Manhattan's prestigious Rudolf Steiner School ... The students will be entrusted to plan and execute a march on Times Square commemorating Martin Luther King's achievements ... From 9-11AM, on January 17th, the students will distribute the peace seeds to passersby in an effort to raise race related social consciousness. The venue will be opposite the Times Square Reuters building under its billboard. There will also be concurrent events in San Francisco, CA; Dallas/Ft Worth, TX; Baltimore, MD; Toronto, CA; Springfield, IL; and Heilbronn, Germany.” 

• ◊ •

Waldorf Watch Response:

This is commendable. But Waldorf or Steiner schools have a problematic relationship with racism. Many of Rudolf Steiner’s teachings are clearly racist. Today Steiner Waldorf* schools are often at pains to profess an abhorrence of racism. Excellent. But the schools will have limited credibility on this important matter until they explicitly reject Steiner’s racial teachings. Instead, they almost unanimously defend Steiner, rejecting the charge that he was a racist. This flies in the face of the obvious truth.

Steiner taught that some races are "higher" than others; he ranked them from low to high, placing blacks at the bottom and whites at the top. 

“A race or nation stands so much the higher, the more perfectly its members express the pure, ideal human type.” — Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 149. 

What is the" ideal human type"? To understand, we need a bit of background. Steiner taught that the gods intended for primitive races to die out when higher races evolved from them. But the demons Lucifer and Ahriman interfered. 

“Instead of the intended consecutive development of races, there was a coexistence of races. That is how it came about that physically different races inhabited the earth and are still there in our time ... Let us assume the original, divine cosmic plan for the earth had been fulfilled ... In that case, a human race of Grecian beauty would have spread over the earth, and in our age we would already see humanity approaching more and more this beautiful Grecian type.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE UNIVERSAL HUMAN (Anthroposophic Press, 199), pp. 82-83.

Steiner said that the ideal human type is most closely approximated today among white Europeans. We see Steiner repeat this idea in many statements, some of which are quite amazingly offensive. The divine plan has not been fulfilled, Steiner opined, but whites are still incomparably more attractive than blacks. 

“There is a biography of Schubert in which it is said that he looked rather like a negro. There is not a grain of truth in it. He actually had a pleasing, attractive face.” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS: Esoteric Studies - Volume I (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), VII.

Intelligence, like beauty, is connected to pigmentation, Steiner taught. 

“If the blonds and blue-eyed people die out, the human race will become increasingly dense ... Blond hair actually bestows intelligence. In the case of fair people, less nourishment is driven into the eyes and hair; it remains instead in the brain and endows it with intelligence. Brown- and dark-haired people drive the substances into their eyes and hair that the fair people retain in their brains.” — Rudolf Steiner, HEALTH AND ILLNESS, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophic Press, 1981), pp. 85-86.

Steiner held that whites are the closest we have yet come to the ideal human type. Whites are smart and spiritually advanced. Other races stand at lower levels; they belong in specific regions of the Earth, which they leave at their peril. 

“On one side we find the black race, which is earthly at most. If it moves to the West, it dies out. We also have the yellow race, which is in the middle between earth and the cosmos. If it moves to the East, it becomes brown, attaches itself too much to the cosmos, and becomes extinct. The white race is the future, the spiritually creative race." — Rudolf Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS (Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, 1961), GA 349, p. 52.**

Steiner's view of blacks conformed to appalling racial stereotypes, such as attributing powerful, overheated physicality to blacks, and disparaging blacks' intelligence. (Blonds are intelligent; blacks are largely controlled by their unconscious rear-brains, Steiner said.) 

"[E]verything connected to the body and the metabolism is strongly developed in the Negro. He has, as they say, powerful physical drives, powerful instincts ... [H]is 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.” — Rudolf Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS, p. 55.

Steiner found tremendous spiritual importance in race. He taught that your race reflects the condition of your soul. He said that to understand human history and social relations, we need to focus on racial characteristics, specifically skin color. 

“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." — Rudolf Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS, p. 52. 

[See "Steiner's Racism".]


A diagram originally drawn by Steiner appears on page 51 of VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE- ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS; it represents Steiner's account of the three predominant human races. [See "Forbidden".] Blacks (Schwarz) are characterized by the rear brain (Hinterhirn), Steiner said, and they live primarily through their drives or urges (Triebleben). If they leave their proper place on Earth (i.e., Africa), they may become copper-red (Kupferrot) and die out. "Yellows" (Gelb, i.e., Asians) are characterized by the middle brain (Mittelhirn), and they live mainly in their emotions (Gefühlsleben). If they leave Asia, they may become brown (Braun) and die out. Whites (Weiss) are characterized by the forebrain (Vorderhirn), and they place emphasis on thinking (Denkleben). They are pretty much free to go where they please.

Some of the other material on page 51 is also interesting. For instance, "The black man is an egotist (Der Schwarze is ein Egoist) who absorbs all light and warmth (der nimmt Licht und alle Wärme auf)." Steiner explains that the dark skin of "Schwarzes" drinks in sunlight, which is why Negroes are overheated internally. Anthroposophists rarely translate this material into English or discuss it outside their private gatherings.


Steiner was a racist, and the thinking behind Waldorf schools — consisting primarily of Steiner's teachings — is seriously tainted as a result. Asking students to hand out "peace seeds" in Times Square is fine. But far more is needed before Waldorf schools can be cleared of the suspicion that, in embracing Steiner, they at least tacitly accept Steiner's racist views. Waldorf faculties must publicly and firmly disavow Steiner's racism. They may continue to argue that Steiner was right about virtually everything else. They may continue to pledge their allegiance to Rudolf Steiner. But on this one subject, they must make a clean, clear break. Until they do, nothing they say about human nature, human capacities, and human relations can have any moral standing.

* Schools that operate in accordance with Steiner's teachings are variously called Waldorf schools, Steiner schools, Steiner Waldorf schools, and so on. I am using these tags interchangeably here.

** Steiner deplored the movement of "lower" races to areas where they do not (in his view) belong. He made this clear to Waldorf faculty members. 

The French are committing the terrible brutality of moving black people to Europe...." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 558-559.

In the hierarchy of races propounded by Steiner (black, yellow, white, red), Native Americans might seem to stand at the pinnacle. Just as whites are higher than blacks and yellows, reds would seem to be higher than whites. But Steiner classed reds among the colored races, lower than whites; and he treated reds as essentially negligible, a decadent population verging on extinction. 

"We have before us in the American race a primitive aboriginal people that has remained far, far behind ... [T]he Europeans have ascended to a higher level of culture, while the Indians have remained behind and become decadent ... [W]e have an upright evolutionary trunk as well as side branches which decay." — R. Steiner, MENSCHHEITSENTWICKELUNG UND CHRISTUS-ERKENNTNIS (Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1981), GA 100, pp. 243-44. 

Indeed, Steiner sometimes spoke of Native Americans as if they have already become extinct. 

"The American Indians died out, not because of European persecutions, but because they were destined to succumb to those forces which hastened their extinction." — R. Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 76.

From a message posted at the Waldorf Critics discussion list:

According to Steiner's theory of racial evolution, groups like Native Americans and other indigenous peoples, as well as Chinese and Jews, were remnants of previous evolutionary eras, leftovers of obsolete racial forms. Some of them, he held, were already extinct, while others were destined to die out as racial progress advanced. The reason there are still Chinese around, for example, is that there are still souls which have not advanced far enough spiritually, souls caught up in racial particularity. The way Steiner's system works is that different racial groups represent different stages of evolutionary progress, and in time each group falls by the evolutionary wayside, while the newer groups advance further, and then later on they become the old leftovers themselves, after still newer groups have arisen. For Steiner, indigenous peoples in the modern world are thus the degenerate descendants of Lemurians and Atlanteans, those who failed to progress racially.

— Peter Staudenmaier


The following excerpts an item from 

the Waldorf Watch "news" page:

"In recent years, occasional charges of racism have been leveled against Rudolf Steiner and against institutions arising from his work, such as the Waldorf schools. Those laying the charges have increasingly shown themselves more interested in defaming the work of Rudolf Steiner than in finding what lay behind the apparently offending passages." 

[10-6-2011  "Overcoming Racism through Anthroposophy"  http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/11_EffPractices/pdfs/RacismAnthro05.pdf]

• ◊ •

Waldorf Watch Response:

Steiner's followers increasingly realize that his teachings about race create serious problems for them, and they increasingly work to mount defenses. In these efforts, they often employ fallacious forms of argumentation, such as impugning the motives of others rather than grappling with issues forthrightly. 

One line of defense adopted by Anthroposophists is that Steiner's "apparently offending passages" have been taken out of context. Sure, Anthroposophists say, Steiner said some things that may seem offensive, but he also made a number of statements denouncing racism. This is the correct context for understanding the iffy passages, they say. Overall, Steiner opposed racism.

In analyzing these matters, we should begin by determining whether any of Steiner's statements were more than just "apparently" racist. Here are two authoritative definitions of "racism":

◊ "racism, also called racialism — any action, practice, or belief that reflects the racial worldview — the ideology that humans are divided into separate and exclusive biological entities called ‘races,’ that there is a causal link between inherited physical traits and traits of personality, intellect, morality, and other cultural behavioral features, and that some races are innately superior to others.” — "racism." ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 06 Oct. 2011.

◊ “racism a. The theory that distinctive human characteristics and abilities are determined by race.” — OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY, Vol. 13 (Clarendon Press, 1998), p. 75.

It is rationally impossible to deny that, by such definitions, Steiner made racist statements. Here are two examples that clearly meet these definitions of racism:

◊ "[C]onsider how different the natural abilities, how different the talents of the individual races are. The one race stands at the level of what we call the highest civilization, while the other stands at what appears to be the most primitive, subordinate level of civilization.” — Rudolf Steiner, DIE WELTRÄTSEL UND DIE ANTHROPOSOPHIE (Rudolf Steiner Verlag 1985), GA 54, pp. 132-3. This meets the general specifications of both definitions, finding great significance in racial differences. And, while a bit vague about whether some civilizations are really higher than others, Steiner here clearly meets one of the BRITANNICA's particular specifications: He teaches that races have, by their nature, differing "traits of personality, intellect, morality, and other cultural behavioral features" (in Steiner's words, the "individual races" have "different natural abilities...different talents").

◊ “[E]ach person has the opportunity to...undergo the transformation into higher races, toward ever higher perfection. Races would never become decadent, never decline, if there weren't souls that are unable to move up and unwilling to move up to a higher racial form." — Rudolf Steiner, DAS HEREINWIRKEN GEISTIGER WESENHEITEN IN DEN MENSCHEN (Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1984), GA 102, p. 174. This quotation, too, is clearly racist according to both definitions. And here Steiner meets another of the BRITANNICA's particular specifications, teaching that "some races are innately superior to others" (in Steiner's words, there are "higher races ... higher racial forms").

[For many more examples of Steiner's racist remarks — as well as longer versions of the two quotations we have just examined — see "Steiner's Racism", "Forbidden" , "'Negro'"and "Races".] 

Well, but what about the claim that we are taking such statements out of context? The "context" Anthroposophists mean is the one created by Steiner's statements that oppose racism. Surely, Anthroposophists claim, Steiner's racially enlightened statements offset his apparently racist statements. 

Let's consider this argument. Do racially inoffensive statements offset racially offensive ones? We might note that no one who is truly free of racism will make any racist statements — none — so the large number of racially offensive remarks Steiner made are, in themselves, telling. We might also note that racists often take racially "enlightened" stands when addressing certain audiences and/or when trying to conceal their real attitudes. 

In reality, "good" statements about race do not sanitize racially offensive statements made by the same person. Consider the following questions:

Question #1. How many racist statements are too many? Ten? Five? Two?

Answer. One. A single racist statement is too many. No truly enlightened person will make a single racist statement. Yet Steiner made many statements that are distinctly racist.

Question #2. How many racially enlightened statements should you make in order to compensate for making some racist statements? If you have made, let's say, a dozen racist statements, how many racially enlightened statements must you make in compensation? Two dozen? Ten dozen? A million dozen?

Answer. None. No number of racially enlightened statements can compensate for making racist statements. The only way to compensate for making racist statements is to admit your error, apologize, promise never to make such statements again, and then never make such statements again. Rudolf Steiner failed this test.

Let's consider one other defense offered for Steiner. Anthroposophists argue that, unlike racists who say that "inferior" races are subhuman, Steiner accepted the fundamental humanity of all peoples. This argument contains some truth, as far as it goes. Steiner generally acknowledged that all people are fundamentally alike because all have human souls. But this doesn't change the fact that so many of Steiner's statements meet authoritative definitions of racism — people may be fundamentally alike, but Steiner said that humans exhibit significant racial variations, with some races standing at lower evolutionary levels than others. 

Moreover, Steiner taught that wicked people can become trapped in low, "decadent" races — and other wrongdoers, falling even lower, can descend through the bottom of the racial hierarchy. These worst of all humans will indeed become subhuman — they will become "nature spirits," beings that have no real spiritual essence. Here is an extended version of a quotation we saw above, in a different translation: 

"Races would not stay behind and become decadent if there were not people who wish to stay behind and are obliged to stay behind ... Older races only persist because there are people who cannot or will not move forward to a higher racial form ... By striving forward, [a good person] is drawn up from race to race to ever higher stages ... [But a bad person] remains behind in evolution ... He must then content himself with an inferior incarnation which has been left to him in a decadent race ... Now let us take an extreme case [in which a truly wicked person] finally arrives at a point where he can no longer incorporate in a human body ... Such souls lose the possibility of incarnation and find no other opportunity ... They appear in a later epoch as subordinate nature-spirits." — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), pp. 69-70.*

To wrap this up: "Overcoming Racism through Anthroposophy" comes from the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America. As long as Waldorf schools and their associations continue to defend Steiner's teachings on race, they will not be able to truly expunge the racism that festers in their belief system. 

[If you'd like to see some of Steiner's racial teachings in a form where nothing at all can be considered out of context, because whole lectures are reprinted verbatim, see "Forbidden", "Also Forbidden", and "Lecture".]

* I realize that a quotation dotted with excisions and interpolations may seem fishy. Have I misrepresented Steiner? Have I twisted his words? No; I have simply tried to make his tortured prose more readily comprehensible. If you'd like to tackle this passage in its entirety, from the first word I quoted through the last, here it is:

"Races would not stay behind and become decadent if there were not people who wish to stay behind and are obliged to stay behind, since they have not developed their eternal life-kernel. Older races only persist because there are people who cannot or will not move forward to a higher racial form. I cannot today speak about the whole series of possibilities, in the course of earthly evolution, for man to become one with the race, to grow together with what is the character of one race or another. Think of the Atlantean race; souls have gone through it, but not all have passed out of it. There are 16 possibilities of becoming merged with the race. They are called the '16 paths of perdition'. On these paths man would merge with the material. By striving forward, however, he is drawn up from race to race to ever higher stages. [paragraph break] We see then that it is actually possible for a person to combine with one incarnation in such a way that he remains behind in evolution. His other soul-brothers are therefore at a higher stage when he reappears in a new incarnation. He must then content himself with an inferior incarnation which has been left to him in a decadent race. This is something that positively takes place. It need not frighten people, however, for the present phase of evolution. No one is obliged to take all the 16 paths and thereby fall out of evolution. We must only be aware of the possibility. [paragraph break] Now let us take an extreme case and imagine that a person unites too fully with what is to constitute the character of an incarnation. Let us suppose he reaches what is to be reached in 16 incarnations; he takes the 16 false paths. The earth does not wait for him, the earth goes forward and he finally arrives at a point where he can no longer incorporate in a human body, for none are in existence. There will be no more bodies in which souls that have grown too much involved in their bodily nature can incarnate. Such souls lose the possibility of incarnation and find no other opportunity. Just think what they will have lost. It is possible, but only in exceptional cases, that even during earth evolution souls will be unable to incarnate because there are no more bodies bad enough. These people have gone so far that they have no other opportunity of incarnating in the normal course of evolution. Let us suppose such beings should remain on the earth — it will only be in single cases. And now, since the later is the fruit of the earlier, these would then find no bodies suitable for them. They are, as it were, too good for the bodies of a subordinate order and for the other bodies that are too bad. They must therefore live a bodiless existence. They must cut themselves off entirely from the progress of evolution. Why have they deserved this? By reason of the fact that they have not made use of life! The world is around them; they have possessed senses in order to perceive the world, to enrich the life-kernel and mould it to a higher stage. They do not advance with world evolution, they remain behind at a certain stage. Beings that stay behind at such stages appear in a later epoch with approximately the character of the earlier age. They have grown together with it, but not in the forms of the later epoch. They appear in a later epoch as subordinate nature-spirits."  — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), pp. 69-70.

Taking their cue from Rudolf Steiner, various Anthroposophists have espoused racist views. Some have expressed these views clearly in their publications. We can hope that racism is declining in the Anthroposophical community, but we should also recognize that racist Anthroposophical authors are still admired in that community — perhaps for reasons apart from racism — and their works are still published by Anthroposophical publishing houses.

Here are excerpts from two pertinent messages posted by Peter Staudenmaier.


Sigismund von Gleich (1896-1953) was [a] prominent anthroposophist during the movement's early years, a convert to anthroposophy as a young man and one of Steiner's avid followers in the period after World War I. He was editor of the anthroposophist journal Die Drei for a time, as well as a frequent public speaker on behalf of Steiner's teachings. He was also a prolific author, and two of his books are currently available in English from the Anthroposophic Press. [THE TRANSFORMATION OF EVIL (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2005) and THE SOURCES OF INSPIRATION OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Temple Lodge Publishing, 1998).]

Among his major works was a book on Atlantis published by the Waldorf publishing house in 1936 in Nazi Germany: Sigismund von Gleich, DER MENSCH DER EISZEIT UND ATLANTIS (Stuttgart: Waldorf-Verlag, 1936). The book was re-published by anthroposophists in 1990. One of the striking features of this work is its reliance on a range of Nazi racial theorists....

A central theme of Gleich's book is "the cosmic order in the arrangement of the races" (192). According to anthroposophy, the arrangement of the various earthly races of mankind reflects the “heavenly hierarchies” (60). Gleich explains that the “Aryan race” (which he sometimes calls simply “the white race”) is markedly more spiritually advanced than the surrounding races, and this different spiritual level is reflected in the color of skin associated with particular racial groups. Gleich states that lighter skin color indicates “more light of consciousness” (70). In contrast to the noble Aryans stand the Turanians, a dark Asiatic race:

“During the fourth Atlantean epoch [i.e., the fourth period during mankind’s life on Atlantis], as souls that were filled with impure urges immersed themselves deeper into the body...there arose among the Turanians an occult and sensuous-egoistic colored intellectuality...” (71)

"...[T]he first white race of humankind was formed in north Atlantis as a counter-pole to the south Atlantean black race. Just as the life processes and reproductive processes cooked inside the bodies of the [black race]...[the] north Atlanteans in cold mist regions developed the cool sensory and thinking life of the mind.” (81)

...According to Gleich, Atlantean evolution “reached its culmination in northern Europe”; “The original seeds of Caucasian-Aryan mankind” became the "Nordic-Aryan Europeans" (145). Thus “the Atlantean sequence of races” constituted a “progressive lightening of skin color, the external expression of a steadily increasing brightening of the soul with the clear consciousness of the I [i.e., the spiritual ego, the spark of divine human individuality].” (153)

...In today’s world, says Gleich, cultural differences are based on racial and ethnic differences: “In the post-Atlantean epochs, human souls develop diverse cultures on the basis of different racial and ethnic forces.” (163) Race itself is not merely physical; it encompasses spirit, soul, and body: “Three elements lead to racial differentiation: spiritual-cosmic, human-soul, and earthly.” (163) These three influences yield “the specific racial traits” of each human group (164). Racial traits are a matter of both spiritual evolution and biological heredity: “The individual racial forms of the human body are hereditary through sexual reproduction.” (168)

The dark skin of “the lowest racial remnants” is due to spiritual failure and the influence of demonic forces:

“People became black because of the after-effects of the Fall from grace, they became ‘black as sin’, or ‘black as the devil’, to whose temptations man had succumbed. Through Lucifer’s influence the astral body with its desires was corrupted and made more powerful than the divine spark of the I, which was significantly weakened and darkened. But it is the power of the I, the soul-sun power, that protects the skin from within against the dark coloration of the skin by the sun.” (171)

...“In the center of the world lies the light-ether zone of Aryan...mankind, whose constitution in many respects offers the purest sensory reflection of the original image of the human form...and who is therefore the most fit for the further development of the I through the spiritual power of thought.” (195)

Gleich explored these themes further in a variety of other publications. In a 1920 article published in the original Waldorf journal, he explained that “lower races” were “degenerated” versions of the human form, standing evolutionarily between apes and full humans, while the most advanced racial group was “Aryan-Nordic mankind.” (Sigismund von Gleich, “Der Ursprung des Menschen,” Waldorf-Nachrichten, October 1920, 453-56). In a 1939 book, also published by the Waldorf publishing house, he characterized Steiner’s “spiritual cosmology” and “new anthropology” as "cosmic eugenics" and “holy eugenics” (Sigismund von Gleich, Die Menschwerdung des Weltenwortes (Stuttgart: Waldorf-Verlag, 1939), 7-13).

...There are many other examples of Gleich's racial writings, some published under his pseudonym 'Hans Heinrich Frei'....



The foremost anthroposophical race theorist in Germany after Steiner’s death was Richard Karutz (1867-1945), a prominent Waldorf spokesman and supporter of Nazism. He participated in a seminar at the Goetheanum in 1920, moved from Lübeck to Stuttgart in 1921 to be closer to the center of anthroposophical activity in Germany, and moved again to Dresden in 1938 so that his children could continue attending Waldorf school. Karutz was an ethnologist and contributed more than any other author to elaborating anthroposophy's racial teachings. He was also the most outspoken proponent of spiritual racism among German anthroposophists both before and during the Nazi era.

In 1929 Karutz published a book on esoteric anthropology, forcefully rejecting what he called “materialist” approaches to anthropology...VON GOETHE ZUR VÖLKERKUNDE DER ZUKUNFT (Stuttgart 1929). Karutz ridiculed “materialist” versions of anthropology because they “place today’s Australian, American Indian, and Negroid savage tribes at the same level as the ancient Celts and Teutons” (126). Painting a complex panorama of “lower races” and “higher races,” Karutz depicted Europeans as the highest racial group while characterizing non-European peoples as “debased” and “decadent.” (115)

Like Steiner, Karutz portrayed the various racial groups as rungs on the ladder of spiritual progress, with white people at the top. (120-22) Racial traits, according to Karutz, are both “physiological features” and “spiritual facts”; light skin indicates spiritual development and dark skin indicates spiritual debility. (117) Karutz explained that in the ongoing process of racial evolution, the “lower races” are destined to die out, because “the so-called natural peoples or primitive peoples that survive today are merely the debased remnants of earlier stages." (127)

From 1930 onward, Karutz published a long series of pamphlets on 'moral ethnology' with the official approval of the Anthroposophical Society ... The series...[was] enthusiastically reviewed in the anthroposophist press at the time....

Calling his approach “ethno-anthroposophy” and citing Steiner throughout, Karutz declared that “today’s ethnology must once again acknowledge the idea of degeneration” ... Emphasizing the profound spiritual and racial differences between Europeans and “lower peoples,” he explained that the fate of many non-European peoples was extinction rather than evolution....

In the seventh installment of his "lectures on moral ethnology" in 1930, Karutz referred to indigenous peoples as “crippled branches" on the "genealogical tree" of human evolution, "who after a brief existence have stopped developing further." (21) Today the “colored peoples” are spiritually and culturally “stagnant and degenerated, because the soul of the colored peoples has not received the I impulse and has therefore failed to take part in the transformation of the human soul." (34)....

In 1930 Karutz published a stark warning against “race mixing” in the journal of the Anthroposophical Society in Germany ... His argument employed classic esoteric ideas in order to make a forceful case against interracial marriage, by which Karutz meant both marriages between white people and non-white people as well as marriages between gentiles and Jews.

...With articulated views like these years before 1933, Karutz unsurprisingly found much to admire when Nazism came to power. His racial writings during the Nazi era combined fervent commitment to anthroposophy with adulation for the new regime. His chief statement on race was his 1934 book RASSENFRAGEN, which carried the imprimatur of the Goetheanum....

Karutz argued that Nazi guidelines for racial instruction in schools did not go far enough in rejecting materialism; in his view these theories missed the special spiritual qualities of “our race.” Spiritual principles must inform “the political doctrine of race” if it is to be effective, and this could only happen through “the spiritual science of Rudolf Steiner.” (38) These remarks introduced a full-blown endorsement of Nazi racial policy as anchored in spiritual reality ... He underscored [his argument] by quoting Steiner and Hitler side by side. (32-33)....

...[Karutz] quoted both Hitler and Steiner...in support of a vigilant defense of the German Volk from foreign spiritual and physical influences. He emphasized that anthroposophy’s ‘spiritual science’ and the new worldview of the Third Reich complemented and mutually reinforced one another. (63-64) For Karutz in 1934, the Nazi ‘revolution’ was a “popular uprising” in which the German people followed the call of their "national spirit." (68) He resoundingly endorsed the new regime’s race principles, providing an extended anthroposophical justification of them....

Karutz was not alone in his views. His works garnered very appreciative reviews in the anthroposophist press and were cited by other anthroposophical authors addressing racial questions....

...Karutz took an active role in the Waldorf movement in Nazi Germany. A 1934 essay he wrote on behalf of the parents at the Stuttgart Waldorf school...referring to the Nazi ‘revolution’ of 1933 as the “national uprising” ... The leadership of the Stuttgart Waldorf school association endorsed the Karutz text and distributed it to the association’s membership in March 1934....

The text [emphasized] that all of the Waldorf teachers at the Stuttgart school share the same "national convictions," a “unified worldview” centered on “the spiritual-cultural mission of the German Volk.” As a result of this commitment, and what Karutz called the “authoritarian” methods of Waldorf pedagogy, many Waldorf graduates have “enthusiastically joined the National Socialist movement.” Karutz underscored the school’s devotion to the “national community,” boasted of the military background of the Waldorf faculty, and quoted Hitler repeatedly to demonstrate the proximity of Waldorf’s objectives to the premises of National Socialism.

There are of course many further examples from German anthroposophists....


Anthroposophists generally do not recognize the racism in Steiner's teachings or in their own beliefs. Often, they consider themselves racially enlightened and they disavow racism. Yet, often, racism is evident in their statements. The racism may be subtle, it may be unconscious, but it is often present.

Here, for instance, are excerpts from GAZE BOTH WAYS, a book by Waldorf teacher Alan Whitehead. Whitehead describes the sort of conversation Anthroposophists should have with their children about race. The conversation is meant to teach the children how wrong racism is. Everyone is basically alike, the parents should tell their kids. We all incarnate in various racial forms in our various Earthly lives. Underneath, we are all the same.

And yet racial stereotypes arise in the parents' remarks, as does the fundamental racist tenet that there are important psychological/spiritual differences between the races. The parents' remarks are racist.


Migrations of the 7 Atlantean Sub-races.

"I only called him a 'slopehead'," grumbled Michael..."and for that I've got a "punishment'"....

"'But that was a racist insult!' exclaimed Mother....

"Dad? When did this race business start?"....

[The father answers:] "In Lemuria, home of Adam and Eve, there was really only one race, Humanity. The Australian Aborigines are a dim reflection of this holistic condition ... The human race then divided into the 7 'sub-races' (as Rudolf Steiner describes them) in the following epoch, Atlantis.....

"[T]he first Atlantean sub-race...evolved to become the Negroid race..."

"Negro people always strike me as a 'young' folk" [the son says]...." [1]

"[T]he negroid people's time has not yet come [the mother says]. Their contribution will be based on the Mercury Mysteries — rhythm-based. Negro people really do 'got rhythm'...."

"'Young' would not describe the second Aryan sub-race, the North American Indians" [the mother says]....

"I always get a feeling of venerability and great age with them — Saturn qualities" [the daughter says].... [2]

"[They] established the concept of RANK, exemplified by the Red Indians respect for the 'Chief'" [the mother says]....

"I'll introduce the 3rd Atlantean sub-race, the Toltecs?" said Dad ... [They had] a short journey too [from Atlantis] ... Just south and west to Central and South America ... The Atlantean Toltecs brought the spirit of community into human affairs...although in the immature hands of the later Toltec kings, the forces of destruction for the whole continent had their seeds.... [3]

"By the way, the Being of a race does not require its individuals to remain constant through their incarnations. A person can be Chinese in one life, Jewish the next.... [4]

"Anyway, the next lot should interest US; the 4th sub-race, the Turanians. They brought the rampant and unbridled force of the ego into Atlantean civilisation ... [T]hey became us — well, the Caucasian race anyway ... [O]ur high mission to firmly establish individualism into human evolution was, and is, an important one. That is why Caucasians look so different from each other; more than any of the 7 races....

"[T]he 5th sub-race [were] the Primal Semites ... It was from the Ancient Semites that the core of advanced souls were chosen to lay the foundations of the new epoch. Even today...the Jews dominate the global scientific and artistic fraternities...."

"[T]he 6th [sub-race, says the mother], the Akkadians, tried to confine [mankind's] unruly new ego force with law. We still benefit from these ancient Akkadian penal practices ... [T]he Akkadians, who became the Malay race, stretched from the Himalayas in the north, west in a thin line to the Eurphrates, and east and south right down to the Indonesian Archipeligo ... The Malays, being the first to 'civilise' [i.e., become civilized], are also the oldest of the modern races; hence they are very wide-ranging physically, from the gentle, diminutive Penan...to the tall, aristocratic northern Pakistanis....

"[T]he 7th sub-race [were] the Mongols. These folks are so obviously the progenitors of those whom we today call the orientals ... They migrated further than any of the other races, and curiously, changed the least — both physically and psychically. Japanese people, with their slightly piscean [i.e., fish-like] features, are not a lot unlike the general humanity at the end of Atlantis." — Alan Whitehead, GAZE BOTH WAYS (Golden
Beetle Books, undated), pp. 85-91.

[1] The son is right, according to Anthroposophical teachings. 

“[A] centre [sic] of cosmic influence [is] situated in the interior of Africa. At this centre are active all those terrestrial forces emanating from the soil which can influence man especially during his early childhood ... The black or Negro race is substantially determined by these childhood characteristics.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 75.

[2] The daughter is right, according to Anthroposophical teachings. Just as Steiner associated blacks with childhood, he said that Native Americans are, in effect, dodderers who are near death. 

“If you look at pictures of the old American Indians the process of ossification is evident in the decline of this race ... The descendant of the brown race did not participate in [proper human evolution]. He held firm to the Great Spirit of the primeval past.” — THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS, pp. 108-109.

[3] Whitehead draws from the occult tradition that mankind divided into races during life on Atlantis. In Theosophical terms, all humans belonged to a single "root race,' but they divided into seven "sub-races." In his book THE STORY OF ATLANTIS AND THE LOST LEMURIA, W. Scott-Elliot wrote 

"The names of the different sub-races must first be given: 1. Rmoahal. 2. Tlavatli. 3. Toltec. 4. First Turanian. 5. Original Semite. 6. Akkadian. 7. Mongolian." 

Steiner used these names in some of his own work, e.g.,

"The Atlanteans were evolved by degrees in seven sub-races : the Rmoahals, Tlavatlis, Ancient Toltecs, Ancient Turanians, Ancient Semites, Ancient Accadians and Ancient Mongolians." — Rudolf Steiner, INVESTIGATIONS INTO OCCULTISM SHOWING ITS PRACTICAL VALUE IN DAILY LIFE (Putnam and Sons, 1929), p. 159.

[4] This is the key "defense" for Anthroposophical racism: We all evolve upward through the various racial forms. But this concept is based on the racist belief that some races are higher than others. 

◊ “A race or nation stands so much the higher, the more perfectly its members express the pure, ideal human type.” — Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 149. 

◊ “Older racial forms only persist because there are people who cannot move forward to a higher racial form.” — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 69. A person who evolves properly moves, through reincarnation, to higher racial stages: “By striving forward...he is drawn up from race to race to ever higher stages.” — Ibid., p. 69. 

◊ “[E]ach person has the opportunity to become caught up in the essence of one incarnation, to push away the leader of humankind, or instead to undergo the transformation into higher races, toward ever higher perfection. Races would never become decadent, never decline, if there weren’t souls that are unable to move up ... Look at the [lower] races...they only exist because some souls could not climb higher.” — Rudolf Steiner, DAS HEREINWIRKEN GEISTIGEN WESENHEITEN IN DEN MENSCHEN (Rudolf Steiner Verlag), GA 102, p. 174.

— Compilation and commentary by Roger Rawlings

Another item from the "news" page, 

reprising and extending some points 

we have seen above:

July 29, 2018




Here is a message I posted today at the Waldorf Critics discussion site. [See https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/waldorf-critics/conversations/messages/31856.]  I wrote my message in response to a brief posting by "samoancoconuts" — that is, a correspondent named Eric. [See https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/waldorf-critics/conversations/messages/31855.]

I think you are correct, Eric. I would be eager to hear Peter’s thoughts.

Here are a few of my own thoughts. I offer them for the sake of general readers. I certainly do not presume to teach you, Eric and Peter, anything on these issues.

Steiner taught that race is connected to karma. If we are deserving, he said, we rise through a hierarchy of races, climbing to higher and higher racial forms in successive incarnations. Ideally, each time we reincarnate, we do so as a member of a higher race than in our previous life. If we are undeserving or wicked, on the other hand, we fall to lower racial forms in our successive lives. Black is lowest, white is highest, Steiner taught. Just as we create our own karmas, we reincarnate in the racial form that we deserve based on our past behavior, Steiner said. The two processes (karma and incarnation within a race) are interconnected. Just as we may eventually free ourselves from karma, so we may free ourselves from the inherent limitations of race.

"A race or nation stands so much the higher, the more perfectly its members express the pure, ideal human type ... The evolution of man through the incarnations in ever higher national and racial forms is thus a process of liberation [leading to] an ideal future.” — Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 149.

Forgive me, please, for once again bringing up this quotation. It is crucial, I think. The proposition that some races are higher than others is the essence of racism, and here we find it clearly affirmed in Steiner’s teachings.

Steiner often spoke of the importance of race. In a sense, he said, our actions in any specific life depend — at least in part — on our race during that life. Steiner said that we as individuals are expressions of the soul of our race. (I’ll quote next from a different edition of the same Steiner text I quoted above.)

"Each of us belongs to a family, a people, a race. Our activity in this world depends upon our belonging to such a unit. Even our individual personality is related to it. In fact, our membership in a family, a nation, or a race affects not only our conscious activities [but also our unconsciousness], for every family, nation and race has its own destiny, just as each has its own particular character ... The life of families, nations, and races is affected not only by the individuals who belong to them but also by 'family souls,' 'nation souls,' and 'race spirits.' These are real beings. In a sense, as individuals, we are only the instruments — the executive organs, so to speak — of these 'family souls' and 'race spirits.' Indeed we may say, for example, that the soul of a nation or people makes use of the individual who belongs to it to accomplish certain tasks ... In the truest sense, we each receive our allotted human task from our family, nation, or race soul ... [A]s isolated individuals, we would wholly harden within ourselves and fall into ruin if we did not acquire the powers inherent in the spirits of our race and nation." — Rudolf Steiner, HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS (Anthroposophic Press, 1994) , pp. 190-192.

The races to which we belong help give our lives meaning, Steiner said. But race is a limitation, according to Steiner; each race is (or should be) just one stage along our journey upward. Eventually, Steiner taught, we must free ourselves of race — we must evolve beyond race. Someday, everyone who makes the journey upward through all the racial forms will emerge in a state that transcends race. This is the “liberation” Steiner mentioned. We will all become “universal humans” who are not members of any race. Of course, those who have fallen downward will not emerge this way. They may, in fact, fall so low that they will lose the capacity to reincarnate. They will have descended into a sort of perdition.

“Man has either hardened or possesses the possibility of developing to higher stages. Races would not stay behind and become decadent if there were not men who wish to stay behind and are obliged to stay behind, since they have not developed their eternal life-kernel [i.e., their spiritual essence]. Older races only persist because there are men who cannot or will not move forward to a higher racial form ... There are sixteen possibilities of becoming merged with [a] race. They are called the ‘sixteen paths of perdition.’ On these paths man would merge with the material [i.e., become wholly material rather than spiritual]. By striving forward, however, he is drawn up from race to race to ever higher stages.

“We see then that it is actually possible for a man to combine with the one incarnation [i.e., to get stuck at one stage of development] in such a way that he remains behind in evolution. His other soul-brothers are therefore at a higher stage when he reappears in a new incarnation. He must then content himself with an inferior incarnation which has been left to him in a decadent race. This is something that positively takes place.…

“Now let us take an extreme case and imagine that a man unites too fully with what is to constitute the character of an incarnation [i.e., he stalls at a specific level]. Let us suppose he reaches what is to be reached in sixteen incarnations; he takes the sixteen false paths. The earth does not wait for him, the earth goes forward and he finally arrives at a point where he can no longer incorporate in a human body, for none are in existence [at his level]. There will be no more bodies in which souls that have grown too much involved in their bodily nature can incarnate. Such souls lose the possibility of incarnation and find no other opportunity ... They must therefore live a bodiless existence. They must cut themselves off entirely from the progress of evolution. Why have they deserved this? By reason of the fact that they have not made use of life! ... They do not advance with world evolution, they remain behind at a certain stage. Beings that stay behind at such stages appear in a later epoch with approximately the character of the earlier age. They have grown together with it, but not in the forms of the later epoch. They appear in a later epoch as subordinate nature-spirits." — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), pp. 69-70.

Steiner’s adherents say he was not a racist. They say Steiner taught that all human souls are equal in that they all have the possibility of rising higher and higher, eventually reaching a universal condition beyond race.

But I suggest we pause, here, to reflect. Steiner said that some races are higher than others. Good people evolve upward through the races while bad people fall downward through the races, he said. Eventually, good individuals may emerge from the upper limits of race, but bad individuals may stall at low racial levels. Ultimate human equality will be found only among the good — it will be found among the triumphant universal humans, who no longer are members of any race. Fallen souls will not be equal to the universal humans. Having "merged with a race," they will descend to become soulless "subordinate nature spirits" who have "cut themselves off entirely from the progress of evolution." In other words, human equality will be limited to those who make the ascent, putting race behind them.

Is this an enlightened conception? In his time (the late 19th and early 20th centuries) Steiner may have seemed relatively enlightened on racial matters compared to some of his contemporaries. But by our standards today, he must be judged a racist. Surely, today, we must reject the idea that some races are higher than others. Surely, today, we must reject the proposition that humans can truly become equal only after they cease to be members of different races. Surely we should affirm that all races are equal, now, and all members of all races are equal, now. The white race is not higher than the black race. A white person alive now is not higher than a black person alive now. We are equal, now. There is no hierarchy of races. Believing in a hierarchy of races is — in and of itself — racist.

- Roger


On July 30, I added the following message at Waldorf Critics [https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/waldorf-critics/conversations/messages/31859]:

Prompted by Eric's recent reference to "Steiner's racist model," I recently offered a few thoughts about that model.

That leads me to the following.

A new book from a prestigious academic press offers an intriguing perspective on Rudolf Steiner and the movement he founded, Anthroposophy. HITLER’S MONSTERS, by Eric Kurlander, examines occult movements in Germany before and during the period when Germany was ruled by the Nazis. 

No historical account merits uncritical acceptance, especially one that deals with such highly charged material. But this book does merit, at a minimum, serious consideration. Here is one excerpt:

“[Steiner’s] insistence on having ‘proven’ occult phenomena for which there was no empirical evidence prevented anthroposophy from being accepted within the scientific community. That only changed in the 1930s, when the Third Reich began officially sponsoring elements of Steiner’s doctrines....

“Anthroposophy was at least as much a religious faith as it was a scientific doctrine. Steiner’s teachings and articles, published in his occult journal, Lucifer-Gnosis, anticipated the Nazis’ own interest in Asian religion, Gnosticism, and Luciferianism....

“The affinities between anthroposophy and the völkischright extended beyond epistemology and religion. Steiner was eager to assert the superiority of white Europeans, claiming ‘that in the grand cycle of spiritual evolution, the Germanic race had advanced the furthest’ ... ‘Humanity has risen by throwing out the lower forms in order to purify itself,’ Steiner argued, ‘and it will rise still higher by separating another kingdom of nature, the kingdom of the evil race. Thus mankind rises upward.’

“Anthroposophists embraced eugenics...because they thought that spirituality and race were intrinsically linked. ‘Human souls develop different cultures on the basis of different racial and ethnic forces,’ Steiner contended, whereas ‘dark skin is due to demonic interference’. Marriage between Aryans and ‘coloured races’ or Jews, according to Steiner, was in conflict with Germany’s world mission to sponsor positive biological and spiritual evolution.”

— Eric Kurlander, HITLER’S MONSTERS — A Supernatural History of the Third Reich (Yale University Press, 2017), pp. 18-19. 


The book contains numerous other references to Steiner, anthroposophy, biodynamic agriculture, etc.


Participants and lurkers here at the Waldorf Critics site will be interested to note that one of the experts referenced (many times) by Kurlander is Dr. Peter Staudenmaier, who often posts messages here. Indeed, Kurlander drew some of the material quoted above, at least in part, from Staudenmaier.


HITLER'S MONSTERS is available from Yale University Press as both a hardback [https://yalepress.yale.edu/book/9780300189452/hitlers-monsters] and a paperback [https://yalepress.yale.edu/book/9780300234541/hitlers-monsters].
- Roger

Here is an excerpt from Peter Staudenmaier's essay 
"Steiner & Krishnamurti"

Steiner claimed that it was the special destiny of the Germanic peoples to fulfill the "mission of white humanity" by integrating the spiritual and the physical, and that this integration of the physical and spiritual is what accounts for white skin. This integration has failed in non-white peoples, Steiner explained, referring specifically to "the Asian peoples." In Asians and other non-whites, according to Steiner, the spirit "takes a demonic character and does not completely permeate the flesh, there white skin does not appear. Atavistic forces are present which do not let the spirit come into complete harmony with the flesh." (Steiner, The Christ-Impulse as Bearer of the Union of the Spiritual and the Bodily, 8)

Steiner was explicit about this fundamental contrast: "How could one fail to be struck by the profound differences in spiritual culture between, let us say, the peoples of Europe and Asia! How indeed could one not be struck by the differences connected with the colour of the skin?" The purportedly different levels of development were central to this contrast: "How can we fail to realise that the Asiatic peoples have retained certain cultural impulses of past earthly epochs, whereas the Euro-American peoples have advanced beyond them?" (ibid., 6)

Steiner further held that it is the task of "the German people" to spread "spiritual life," which "the Oriental" has lost; the Oriental must now receive spiritual guidance from the Germans (Steiner, Gedankenfreiheit und soziale Kräfte, 141). Steiner taught that "the soul life of the Orient" is not fully part of "normal human life," explicitly equating "normal human life" with "our own, in the West"; the spirituality of the East in contrast is "decadent" and "certainly in decline" (126). He faulted English-speaking Theosophists for looking to India for "ancient oriental wisdom" and for "borrowing completely from the oriental Indians," whose springs of wisdom had long since run dry (130).

The problem, in Steiner's eyes, was not merely an Asian lack of originality and creativity; for Steiner, "the Oriental thinker" is not at the same level of development as "European spiritual culture"; it is only in the West that the seeds of the future are to be found. (132) The decadent and declining features of Indian spiritual life, he insisted, are wholly inappropriate for Europeans. (133) "And it is an example of decadence in the West, of abandonment of all the good spirits of European humankind, that there are many people today who seek to shore up their European spiritual life by absorbing the Oriental essence." (137) Steiner attributed "the purest and cleanest form of thinking" to "the Germans," who are indeed the carriers of "the future of humanity" (142); but this future can only be realized by "our own spiritual striving, not by borrowing from the Oriental" (141).

Steiner sharply contrasted "the Eastern school" from his own "western school" of esotericism, presenting the difference in racial terms: "But this oriental form of truth is worthless for us western peoples. It could only obstruct us and hold us back from our goal. Here in the West are the peoples who shall constitute the core of the future races." (Steiner, Aus den Inhalten der esoterischen Schulen, 221) "The dying races of the East still need the Oriental school. The Western school is for the races of the future." (ibid. 227)

In his book Christus und die menschliche Seele, Steiner discusses the role of "racial evolution" at length, particularly the cosmic differentiation of humankind into racial groups representing varying stages of spiritual progress. The book's second chapter, a lecture from May 1912 (in the midst of the heated intra-theosophical dispute over Krishnamurti), includes a three-page disquisition on the relationship between "race development" and "soul development," explaining that more advanced souls incarnate in "higher races," while less developed souls incarnate in "subordinate races." This process of continual racial-spiritual progress eventually results in "the dying out of the worse elements in the population" (93). Steiner then segues into a comparison of Indian and European spiritual traditions, emphasizing the differences in the "physical incarnation" between these two streams; the "Christ impulse," he explains, played the central role in differentiating the European from the Indian orientation (98).

Then there's Steiner's lecture "The peoples of the earth in the light of spiritual science," published shortly after Steiner's death in the anthroposophical journal Die Drei, vol. 5 no. 9 (December 1925). Here Steiner has quite a bit to say about "the Oriental peoples" and their spiritual practices, which pale in comparison to the spiritual culture brought forth by "the German nation" (651). According to Steiner, the Germans already possess, as part of their "ordinary characteristics," those spiritual achievements that "the Indian strives toward as his ideal of the superhuman." Hence "the European," with his "natural endowment," stands "a stage higher" than "the Oriental" (652).

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


America : death

blood : and race

decay : Attila and leprosy

differences : Steiner on

n-word : the worst word, used in a Steiner school

"Negro" : Steiner on


RS on Jews : Anthro anti-Semitism

RS on Races : title search