Letter to Hermann Olpp   

In the book Letters by Rudolf Steiner, there is a letter to a certain Hermann Olpp. But unfortunately, who he was is not known. At the back of the book, it only says that he lived from 1897 to 1955, was an economic and fiscal consultant in Stuttgart and became a member of the Anthroposophical Association in 1916. What exactly he wrote to Steiner is also unknown because that letter is not in the book and probably was not preserved. From Steiner’s reply letter, however, one can see that Olpp worked in some occupation that he felt very unhappy about and did not like.   

On July 24, 1916, Steiner wrote to him:   

Dear Sir,  

It isn’t easy to advise on matters such as yours. If you stay in the position you have now for some time, you will be able to stand on your own two feet and move in a direction that better suits your talents and preferences later on. I cannot share the view that one should feel uneasy with such a livelihood. On the contrary, it is precisely from such a position that someone can develop further. If you look at your current work in a broader sense, you can say that you are not only doing something to develop your capabilities but also something that benefits other people. And it is precisely this realization that gives gratification. Many duties do not directly bring satisfaction through their content; their purpose is to perform something in the service of humanity. If you later acquire some savings with this occupation, you will indeed find an opportunity to find something that suits you. In these challenging times, it does not seem right to me to prepare for the future with borrowed money. I hope you will forgive me for saying this so bluntly. It seems to me that your father’s feelings about the matter are accurate. I can speak from my own experience. I had to stand on my own two feet early on and have done so for a long time as a private teacher. I can say that your current position would not have been less pleasant to me at the time than the job I had, whereby, after all, the concern remains whether one finds something again in due course. I must travel now; therefore, I can summarize my judgment only in these few lines.   

With warm regards,

Dr Rudolf Steiner

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 39 – BRIEFE BAND II 1890-1925 – number 631 (page 465-466)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger