Part Two: The Procedings of
Open Discussion of Swiss
under the Chairmanship of Rudolf Steiner
31 December, 2.30
AT 2.30 in the afternoon of 31 December a
meeting of the Swiss Anthroposophical Society took place in
the Architects' Office. Herr Aeppli had called this meeting
and had asked Dr Steiner to be present and take the
the Vorstand of the General Anthroposophical Society present
are: Dr Steiner, Albert Steffen, Fräulein Vreede, Dr
Wachsmuth. Later also Frau Dr Steiner.
greets Dr Steiner and requests him to take the chair.
opens the meeting called for the purpose of a free discussion
at the request of the delegates of the Anthroposophical
Society in Switzerland:
I thank Herr
Aeppli most warmly for his kind words. Now let us begin the
meeting. Who would like to make a contribution to this open
discussion? Would anyone wishing to speak please do so.
Professor Bürgi, Bern, requests Dr Steiner to become the
Chairman of the Swiss Anthroposophical Society.
DR STEINER: I am somewhat surprised by
Frau Professor Bürgi's suggestion. For — at least
in the long run — we cannot very well depart from the
stipulation of the incompatibility of the offices of the
central Vorstand with other offices. Thus I too would not be
able to take on any other position in some part of the
Anthroposophical Society in the long run. But quite apart
from that, if we are to enter into a provisional arrangement
for the time being, would not Herr Steffen be a better choice
as General Secretary for Switzerland? It seems to me that if
we are going to enter into a provisional situation, then Herr
Steffen would be the right person. Of course it is entirely
up to you to have a discussion about it. But it seems rather
a problem, or indeed senseless, for me to assume the position
of Chairman of the Swiss Society when the only reason
preventing Herr Steffen is the fact that he is a member of
the central Vorstand. I am in the very same position. Perhaps
you would speak further on this.
HERR STEFFEN: I would want to decline. It does not seem to
DR STEINER: But my dear Herr Steffen, why
not? Since it is to be provisional, I cannot see why not! But
perhaps there is another way of getting out of this fix.
Perhaps we can achieve both ends, dear friends: bringing
about a Swiss leadership for the Swiss Anthroposophical
Society and, arising out of the local situation, creating a
close link with the central Anthroposophical Society. Or
ought it not to be possible for there to be a close link
between the central Anthroposophical Society, which has its
seat here in Switzerland, and the Swiss Anthroposophical
Society? Perhaps we can get out of this fix by seeing to it
that we in principle maintain the incompatibility while you
express it by choosing a kind of General Secretary apart from
us yet at the same time confer on both of us the chairmanship
as members of the Vorstand of the central Anthroposophical
Society. It would then be that the Swiss Society comes to the
resolution, arising out of this meeting of its delegates,
that it is an obvious thing for the central Vorstand to be
regarded also as the head of the Swiss Anthroposophical
Society. And the Swiss Anthroposophical Society then appoints
an acting General Secretary. If we were to do it like this,
it would not have to be provisional, for it would be an
expression of the very best of all situations: The Swiss
members have no fear for their independence in that they
simply take into their bosom the whole of the
Anthroposophical Society. This is how I think we could solve
this problem. Herr Steffen and I together will take on the
chairmanship in our capacity as Presidents of the
DR HUGENTOBLER: Truly we could not have come up with a
DR STEINER: Would anyone else like to speak?
suggests that the choice of General Secretary be left to the
DR STEINER: It is of course rather
difficult for the Vorstand to make this choice if the matter
is not discussed first. I am sure I am not giving away
esoteric secrets by saying that it is extremely difficult to
discover which individual is so popular all over Switzerland
as to be generally accepted as the administrator. Perhaps a
little discussion on the matter might contribute to achieving
a result. The office will then be exercised in close contact
with Herr Steffen and myself. And then what Frau Professor
Bürgi said would probably no longer apply in the way it
would have done had an independent General Secretary been
chosen. What she said was that the Swiss Society was in an
exposed position through being so close to the Goetheanum and
so on, and that therefore it would be important for the
office to be exercised in a suitable manner. But now, since
you have been so good as to chose us to take on this office,
these arguments may not apply quite so sharply any longer. I
rather think that now the person's popularity will be all
that matters. But would anyone else like to say
believes that it is perhaps not necessary to have a General
Secretary in addition to the present Vorstand.
DR STEINER: Would not people prefer that a person be
nominated by the meeting so that the various administrative
tasks can be better carried out? Surely people would prefer
this? I would like to hear what people think.
EDGAR DÜRLER: We of the ‘New Generation’
branch suggest Dr Oskar Grosheintz.
DR STEINER: Dr Oskar Grosheintz has been suggested. Are
there any other suggestions?
would like further clarification of the duties incumbent on
DR STEINER: Now that we are making a new
beginning, should we not start afresh with new arrangements
and disregard the old ones? Could we not give up the old ways
and reorganize things starting from the roots? From an
objective point of view I don't think there is anything
against the Swiss Anthroposophical Society being constituted
in such a way that its main representation lies with the
General Anthroposophical Society in the way we have just
decided. However, on the level of feelings I do want to avoid
a sense possibly arising later on that the Swiss
Anthroposophical Society is being patronized in any way or
treated as a second-rate child. In actual fact this would not
be possible, for by embracing it in the first place it is
shown to be a first-rate child. This would indeed have to be
the case. But nevertheless, a hint of a feeling could arise
somewhere that the Swiss Society is only an appendage of the
General Anthroposophical Society. Tact also has a part to
play in this, and in practice I don't think it would happen.
But if anyone here does have a hint of any such feeling in
his heart, then please do express it now, so that we can
really come to a conclusion on this matter. Otherwise it
would probably be best with regard to Switzerland simply to
make allowances for the old ways to which people are so
attached and to carry out the general administration
ourselves. In this case Herr Thut's suggestion would be the
right one: simply to let the Swiss Anthroposophical Society
be administered along with the General Anthroposophical
Society. And for any constitutional matters having a
substantial inner significance for the Society we would then
call a meeting of whatever representatives the different
branches wished to send. By doing this from time to time we
would be expressing what people have become so attached to in
Switzerland, namely the democratic element. I think that
would then be the best way to get on. We would always call on
the individual members. This would be possible in Switzerland
because it is such a small country, but it would not be
possible in any other national Society. It would also not be
necessary for these meetings to take place always at the
Goetheanum. They could be in different places since it is so
easy to get everywhere. In fact it would be quite a good
thing if these meetings of members were what are usually
called wandering meetings. Having meetings from time to time
in Bern, Zurich, Olten and so on, always combined,
presumably, with one of my lectures, would be the best way of
managing our affairs in Switzerland.
HERR THUT: It was not my intention to cling to this old
organization at all costs. I merely wanted clarity about
which aspects would remain and which would not, so as to be
as clear as possible about how the things that are still in
question would work.
DR STEINER: In that case I would consider
that Herr Thut, and probably most of you here, would prefer
it if the representation of the Swiss Society were carried
out here by the General Anthroposophical Society? Routine
matters can easily be attended to by the administration and
no special secretary would be needed for this. And then, in
order to keep in contact with the different parts of
Switzerland, it would be best if we could nominate, as an
advisory group for the Vorstand here, three, four or five men
and women who would be trustees, to whom we could turn when
necessary and with whom we could hold the wandering meetings.
These would not have to be so very frequent, but the group of
trustees would give us contact with the different parts of
Switzerland. Perhaps this is what people would like?
HERR STORRER: If this were to be the case, then of course
the ‘New Generation’ group would withdraw its
DR STEINER: Would anyone else like to speak?
asks a question.
DR STEINER: Your question refers to the
Programme. But this is a matter of the agenda each day. You
said that you arrived this morning and found the meeting in
the hall was not what you expected? Was it not? Well you see
we have had to depart from the Programme because it was not
possible in the plenary gathering to speak in depth about all
the questions that need discussing unless we had constantly
adjourned the meetings and had had a running agenda for the
members' meetings. That is why I myself departed in the daily
agendas from the original Programme. But the agenda for the
following day has always been announced in detail the day
before. Thus the meeting of doctors in question took place
this morning. What a pity that you did not have a chance to
ask someone who was here yesterday. Any member would have
been able to tell you that there was going to be a meeting of
practising doctors in the Glass House at 8.30 this
For you see:
We wanted to make this particular Christmas Conference as
fruitful as possible and do as much as we could to prevent
everything from being watered down in general discussion.
That is why medical matters were to be discussed among
practising doctors only; so they were removed from the
general meeting and are to be dealt with in three meetings of
which the first took place this morning at 8.30, the second
tomorrow and the third probably also — the time is yet
to be announced. Thus the things announced in the Programme
are in fact being dealt with in an even better way than had
originally been made known. A general discussion amongst all
the members would not have led to any better outcome. I have
even made sure that all the meetings which do not concern all
members but only particular groups have also been announced
in the general meeting, so that those not concerned with a
particular meeting nevertheless know that it is taking place.
That you did not find this out was probably due to the fact
that you did not arrive before 8.30, when you would have had
an opportunity to ask someone. I don't think a General
Secretary would have been able to inform you any better than
any of the members if you had got there this morning. In
House Friedwart you could have obtained exact
But of course
there could also be very good reasons for nominating a
General Secretary. This is something we could discuss
further. There was no vote about it, but I should like to
take a vote on this. Would those friends who are in favour of
Albert Steffen and myself continuing as chairmen of the Swiss
Anthroposophical Society please raise their hands. (They do.)
Would those who are against also please raise their hands.
(Nobody does.) So, the suggestion has been adopted. Now it is
a question of whether we decide to let the administrative
office of the General Anthroposophical Society take over the
routine administration of the Swiss Anthroposophical Society
and whether we set up a group of elders, or for that matter
younger people, to whom we can turn from time to time when
necessary or when something has to be decided.
supports this suggestion.
supports Dr Usteri.
asks whether representation by a General Secretary would not
be more advantageous than that by the representatives of the
DR STEINER: I think it would be best if
the individual branches were to suggest their delegates to
us. The group of delegates can be as large as the number of
branches that exist. The disadvantage hitherto has been that
the group of representatives of the branches has at the same
time been seen as the council. A council like this is no good
for anything. But here — perhaps I am boasting, but
this is what we intend — if the administration is
firmly taken in hand by the leadership of the
Anthroposophical Society, then it will be up to this
leadership to take the initiative and call the delegates of
the branches together for a meeting. In such a case a rather
large group of delegates would probably not pose any
particular difficulty. So I think it will be quite manageable
for every single branch to nominate a representative for this
circle. This, it seems to me, will be the best way. But if
any branches wanted to join together to send a delegate, that
would also be possible. But it is not necessary for this to
be done today. It would perhaps be better to have a thorough
discussion in the branches themselves and let us know who has
been chosen sometime during the next two or three weeks. Then
our administration will be entirely democratic, which is much
favoured in Switzerland.
Now I would
like to ask whether there is anything else you wish to bring
up. I cannot imagine that you do not also have other wishes,
urges, longings on your mind.
would like to know whether the question of the administration
has now been settled.
DR STEINER: The meetings would take place
anyway, and as for the purely administrative matters, they
would be reported to this group so that the administration
would be relieved of the responsibility if the council would
accept the responsibility. Would anyone else like to
DR USTERI: Now that there has been such applause, I
presume that a formal vote on the two points is not
DR STEINER: Actually, I would ask you to
vote once there is no one else who wishes to speak. Now does
anyone else wish to speak on the matter of this group or on
what I have said about the group relieving the
HERR STORRER: I should like to suggest
that the small branches send one and the larger branches two
delegates. But then we should have to define what we mean by
‘large’ and ‘small’.
says that what matters is not whether there are one or two
but that they are the right people!
DR STEINER: Would anyone else like to say something about
So are you
making this proposal? The proposal is that the small groups
send one and the larger groups two delegates.
says something (inaudible).
DR STEINER: The two proposals are in agreement with one
another, they are not contradictory; but we shall have to
define ‘larger’ and ‘smaller’. So
what is a large and what is a small group?
HERR STORRER: Looking at the Swiss branches, I would say
that the large ones are those at the Goetheanum, in Bern, in
Basel, in Zurich and in St Gallen.
DR STEINER: But you could imagine that a branch which is
small today might grow large later on. We do need a figure to
tell us when a group is starting to become a large one.
HERR STORRER: A small group has not more than ten
DR STEINER: So ten and less is a small branch; eleven and
over a large branch.
HERR TRINLER: A branch with as many as a hundred members
does not necessarily achieve any more than a small one.
HERR THUT: It is not a matter of what the branch achieves.
Perhaps forty or fifty could be the number determining a
Schweigler asks how he should understand the matter of
deciding about the delegates: Would this be by a vote or
simply by acclaim? Which is best?
DR STEINER: The situation varies from one
country to another. You will have heard that in England I
suggested that the selection of representatives be made not
according to branches but according to whatever figure is
arrived at by dividing the total English membership by seven.
I think this would be a very good method for England, but it
would not be good to apply this way of thinking to
Switzerland. Here I think we should aim in this group for two
delegates from branches with over fifty members and one from
those with fewer than fifty members. Apart from this, the
difference is not particularly important. I think that would
be best in this case. A branch with ten members can perhaps
work better than a branch with two hundred members,
certainly. But that applies to all forms of democratic
representation, and I do not believe that you can base any
particular rule on this. Otherwise you would have to say:
Those branches which work well send two representatives and
those which work badly send one. But this would be rather
difficult to determine! And a branch which does not work well
will certainly not believe such a thing of itself.
DR HUGENTOBLER: I don't think Herr Schweigler realizes
that there are things about which you cannot vote.
Schweigler denies this. Dr Hugentobler answers
DR STEINER: So if I have understood this
correctly, then the proposal regarding the groups of
delegates is as follows: Firstly the group of delegates is
instituted, and secondly branches of over fifty members send
two representatives and branches of under fifty members send
A MAN ASKS: Are the branch leaders not the people best
DR STEINER: But the branch leaders are not decided by the
meeting of delegates but by the branches themselves! It has
nothing to do with whoever might be the branch leader at the
A MAN: But (inaudible).
HERR GEERING-CHRIST: That is a misunderstanding on the
part of this gentleman!
DR STEINER: The initiative has to lie with
somebody. And now the initiative will lie with us here in
Dornach and we shall be supported by the delegates. The
meeting of delegates will be a kind of control body. It does
not have to work as a council. A difficulty only arises if
there is a council scattered all over the place that never
does anything. That is where the difficulty lies.
DR USTERI: Have we accepted Dr Hugentobler's proposal that
there should be a vote?
DR STEINER: It has been proposed that
there should be a vote. Very well. Dr Hugentobler's
suggestion was the most far-reaching, namely that the
branches choose their own delegates and let us know in due
course, whereby branches of over fifty members will send two
and those with fewer than fifty will send one. Does anyone
want me to divide this proposal into two parts? If that is
not the case, then I now propose the vote for both the
questions and ask those in favour to raise their hands. Who
is against? The proposal seems to have been adopted.
So now the
whole of the administration and leadership of the Society in
Switzerland has been constituted.
else wish to speak about a matter that concerns the Swiss
HERR STOKAR: I should like to ask the
present chairman, Dr Steiner, for his opinion on whether the
Swiss Society should now come to grips with the Statutes. As
stated in the Statutes, it is now up to us to discuss the
Statutes and work out a suitable form for our national
Society, perhaps by adding to the general Statutes.
DR STEINER: That will of course be the
subject of the first meeting of delegates, and it will be our
task, as the council of the Swiss Society, to work out a
draft. On the basis of this draft the first meeting of
delegates will be able to discuss with us how we adopt the
draft statutes or else modify them or whatever. This will
surely be in order on the basis of the decisions made
HERR STOKAR has another question: When
there are official public announcements to be made, will they
be made from here or will the representatives in the
different towns be expected to make them?
DR STEINER: First of all there will be an
official report in the first supplement to
[ Note 73 ]
and apart from this official
report a good number of friends have been present and
experienced it all for themselves. They will pass on anything
they consider important. That is how I see it. As I see it,
people are actually obliged to speak within the circle of the
Society about what they have experienced here, and they could
also speak about it wherever else they like in a tactful way
such as is appropriate when speaking in public.
Hugentobler wants the links with Dornach to be better.
HERR GEERING-CHRIST: Will nothing be made public?
DR STEINER: Let me repeat what I have just
said: Members should feel obliged to speak amongst the
members about whatever they have experienced. About whatever
they have experienced! But they should also feel in duty
bound to bring these things out into the world in, shall I
say, a tactful manner. And I include the press in this. It
will be possible to do it in a suitable way and we shall make
sure that it is done in a suitable way. Indeed, I should like
to say anyway — and as far as I know the whole
Vorstand, which I have been so very instrumental in bringing
into being, supports this — that I count courtesy as
something that ought to exist extensively within our Society.
We need courtesy. Some of us regard it as the most terrible
thing that could have happened that one of our most valued
members in Switzerland
[ Note 74 ]
has been lost to us. He was
a member of the Goetheanum committee and one of the reasons
he was able to give was that he once entered the Goetheanum,
as a member of the committee, and was then thrown out. There
have been many such examples of ‘discourtesies’.
We shall very urgently have to make it our task that courtesy
is not the least of the unwritten paragraphs of our Statutes.
We shall have to make very, very strenuous efforts in this
direction. I presume that what Dr Hugentobler meant
encompassed a good deal of this.
It was no
small task for the provisional Vorstand to find quarters for
all the many people who have come here, and some are indeed
lodged in the most primitive and dreadful quarters. Yet they
managed. But that does not make the work any less! In
addition to all this — please be patient for a few more
moments — we shall have to succeed gradually in being
truly courteous in every way both towards Switzerland and
towards the outside in general!
says that people could be more observant and take more into
account: Yesterday evening someone had arrived in Dornach who
had lost his membership card two or three years ago. Every
seat was occupied and it was impossible to find one anywhere,
and so on.
DR STEINER: In that particular case it
would not have helped if the Swiss Society had had a
representative or a council since it was a meeting of the
General Anthroposophical Society. We should have been
delighted if only you had come up to our table at the front.
This is the very reason why I made sure that the Vorstand
should be visible right from the start. They will be visible
at every future meeting and I hope, knowing the Vorstand as I
do, that they will also be courteous in future. So please be
so good as to turn to the Vorstand during this Conference and
things should be alright. Are there any more questions?
GENERAL REPLY: No.
DR STEINER: It seems to me that we have
more or less reached the end of our agenda, and as far as the
question of courtesy is concerned, let us rather carry it out
in practice! I think we can now close this meeting. Please
permit me to close the meeting.