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Christ in Relation to Lucifer and Ahriman

A Lecture by
Rudolf Steiner
Linz, May 18, 1915
GA 159

This lecture, given in Linz on May 18, 1915, was translated from the German by Peter Mollenhauer, Ph.D. It is included in Das Geheimnis des Todes (Vol. 159-60 in the Bibliographic Survey 1961).

Copyright © 1978
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[ Intro | Lecture | Notes ]

INTRODUCTION

The decision to construct the first Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland was made in May, 1913, when Rudolf Steiner visited the future building site. Construction began within a few weeks and the exterior of the building was completed in April, 1914. Work on the interior proceeded at a slower pace and lasted through World War I (1914-1918). In 1914, Rudolf Steiner had begun a scaled-down model of the Christ sculpture that was later to be installed in the Goetheanum.. As the work on the sculpture itself began, he frequently explained its significance in his lectures.

One of Rudolf Steiner's lecture tours, May 6 through May 18, 1915, took him to Vienna, Prague and Linz. In all three cities he stressed that the Christ figure in the sculptured group would have to be portrayed as a being in equipoise between the polar forces of Lucifer and Ahriman and that this being was symbol of, and model for, man's own existence here on earth. The Linz lecture, which is here translated, presents the group in a world-historical context and relates the significance of the Lucifer-Christ-Ahriman configuration to the events surrounding World War I. Steiner sees a parallel between Christ's central, but equalizing position and Central Europe's mission in World War I. He implies that Germany's and Austria's militarism and political intransigence alone did not lead to war against the world powers in the East (Russia) and the West (France, England and, since 1917, the United States). According to Steiner, World War I was the earthly expression of a struggle between luciferic forces in the East and ahrimanic forces in the West, and it was Central Europe's destiny to mediate between these forces.

The fundamental polarization of East and West that Rudolf Steiner saw emerging more than six decades ago is now a political reality. While most historians today concede that World War II was in part caused by the circumstances surrounding World War I, few would accept Rudolf Steiner's statement from his Linz lecture that World War I was “destined by the European karma” or, to state it more concretely, that it was unavoidable. If the war could not have been avoided, then the question of who was to blame or who caused it is, as Steiner says, irrelevant. Based on this position, Steiner suggests that only one question has relevancy: “Who could have prevented the war?” This question seems to contradict Steiner's statement that World War I was destined by the European karma. A quick glance at the historical record may help to clarify what Steiner meant.