The last months in the life of Rudolf Steiner (2 of 2)

On March 20, 1925 (ten days before his death) Steiner wrote to Marie:

My health is improving, only slowly. I hope that in time, I will be able to work on the building model (design for the second Goetheanum) in order to avoid delays.

On March 27, 1925 (three days before his death) Steiner wrote to J.C. Träxler, a tradesman who had taken the brother and sister of Steiner into his own house in Horn.

Dear Mr Träxler,

I was saddened to hear of my sister’s eye condition. (She had an eye disease and, around 1925, became completely blind). Unfortunately, I am so sick myself that I cannot think of visiting her, but I would not want my sister to become worried by the news of my illness. I am so very grateful to you, honourable Mr. Träxler, for taking such loving care of my brother and sister. I think that Mrs Barth, who I know well, was a good choice. (She was a distant relative who cared for Steiner’s brother and sister until the autumn of 1926).

Will you give the good woman my cordial greetings? Mrs. Barth’s fee will, as usual, be settled on my behalf by my friend Count Polzer. I must leave it to our friend, Dr. Glass, to decide whether an examination of the left eye will be necessary. He will write me with his opinion, once he has been to Horn. I will also write to him.

Thanks again,

Yours sincerely,

Rudolf Steiner

Source (German): GA 262 (letter 235, page 458) en GA 39 (letter 651, page 482)

Anonymous translator



Rudolf Steiner monument in Schweizergarten, a park in Vienna

Previously posted on March 30, 2018

The last months in the life of Rudolf Steiner (1 0f 2)

During the last six months of his life, a serious intestine illness confined Rudolf Steiner to bed. Little is known about this illness and Steiner neither talked nor wrote about it, except occasionally in letters sent to his wife Marie von Sivers.

Here are excerpts from those letters.

On October 6, 1924 he wrote to Marie:  

I had to bite the bullet myself today and sent the Berliners this telegram: “My physical condition makes it absolutely impossible to travel in the coming months. This is the reason why, much to my regret, you will not be able to count on my presence.”

You can not imagine how bitter I feel, but I foresee that nursing and absolute tranquility may alone bring some comfort in the coming weeks. Therefore, do not worry. The symptoms are not life threatening. They are however persistent and will not go away quickly. This haemorrhoid illness seems completely harmless, but to me, is the worst, because it forces me to lie down almost motionless, as I have been since you departed.

On October 11, 1924 he wrote to Marie

The daily haemorrhoid  therapies are terribly painful and far from pleasant, but have really brought about a significant improvement. It is just that things cannot be hurried. Do not worry about me, all that can be done is being done, and the care I am receiving is second to none. It is just that the therapy is unpleasant and the treatment painful. It is never an agreeable moment when the two doctors (Ita Wegman and Ludwig Noll) must begin the haemorrhoid treatments. But all in all, things are still moving well ahead.

To be continued

Source (German): GA 262 (letter 202, page 413) en GA 262 (letter 207, page 420)

Anonymous translator



Rudolf Steiner monument in Schweizergarten, a park in Vienna

Previously posted on March 29, 2018

Steiner about the suicide of Bernhard Suphan

From 1890-1897 Steiner worked at the Goethe-Archive at Weimar. Director was there Bernhard Suphan (1845-1911). In The Story of My Life Steiner writes about him:

When I came to Weimar, and entered into a close relationship with Bernhard Suphan, he was a man sorely tried in his personal life. His first and second wives, who were sisters, he had seen buried at an early age. He lived now with his two children in Weimar, grieving over those who had left him, and not feeling any happiness in life. His sole satisfaction lay in the good will which the Grand-duchess Sophie, his profoundly honoured lady, bore to him. In this respect for her there was nothing servile: Suphan loved and admired the Grand-duchess in an entirely personal way.

In loyal dependence was Suphan devoted to Herman Grimm. He had previously been honoured as a member of the household of Grimm in Berlin, and had breathed with satisfaction the spiritual atmosphere of that home. But there was something in him which prevented him from getting adjusted to life. One could speak freely with him about the highest spiritual matters, yet something bitter would easily come into the conversation, something arising from his experiences. Most of all did this melancholy dominate in his own mind; then he would help himself past these experiences by means of a dry humour. So one could not feel warm in his company. He could in a moment grasp some great idea quite sympathetically, and then, without any transition, fall immediately into the petty and trivial. He always showed good will toward me. In the spiritual interests vital within my own soul he could take no part, and at times treated them from the view-point of his dry humour; but in the direction of my work in the Goethe Institute and in my personal life he felt the warmest interest. 

I cannot deny that I was often painfully disturbed by what Suphan did, the way in which he conducted himself in the management of the Institute, and the direction of the editing of Goethe; I never made any secret of this fact. Yet, when I look back upon the years which I passed with him, this is outweighed by a strong inner interest in the fate and the personality of the sorely tried man. He suffered in his life, and he suffered in himself. I saw how in a certain way, with all the good aspects of his character and all his capacities, he sank more and more into a bottomless brooding which rose up in his soul. When the Goethe and Schiller archives were moved to the new building erected in Ilm, Suphan said that he looked upon himself in relation to the opening of this building like one of those human victims who in primitive times were walled up before the doors of sacred buildings to sanctify the thing. He had really come gradually to fancy himself altogether in the role of one sacrificed on behalf of something with which he did not feel that he was wholly united. He felt that he was a beast of burden working at this Goethe task with which others with higher intellectual gifts might have been occupied. In this mood I always found him later whenever I met him after I had left Weimar. He ended his life by suicide in a mood of depression.

Source: Rudolf Steiner –  GA 28 – The Story of my life – Chapter 14

Previously posted on March 25, 2018


Bernhard Suphan

Rudolf Steiner about the suicide of his friend Rudolf Ronsperger

To this time (1882) belongs still another youthful friendship very significant for me. This was with a young man who was in every way the opposite of the fair-haired youth. He felt that he was a poet. With him, too, I spent a great deal of time in stimulating talk. He was very sensitive to everything poetic. At an early age he undertook important productions. When we became acquainted, he had already written a tragedy, Hannibal, and much lyric verse.

I was with both these friends in the “practice in oral and written lectures” which Schröer conducted in the Hochschule. From this course we three, and many others, received the greatest inspiration. We young people could discuss what we had arrived at in our minds and Schröer talked over everything with us and elevated our souls by his dominant idealism and his noble capacity for imparting inspiration.

My friend often accompanied me when I had the privilege of visiting Schröer. There he always grew animated, whereas elsewhere a note of burden was manifest in his life. Because of a certain discord he was not ready to face life. No calling was so attractive to him that he would gladly have entered upon it. He was altogether taken up with his poetic interest, and apart from this he found no satisfying relation with existence. At last he had to take a position quite unattractive to him. With him also I continued my connection by means of letters. The fact that even in his poetry he could not find real satisfaction preyed upon his spirit. Life for him was not filled with anything possessing worth. I had to observe to my sorrow, how little by little in his letters and also in his conversation the belief grew upon him that he was suffering from an incurable disease. Nothing sufficed to dispel this groundless obsession. So one day I had to receive the distressing news that the young man who was very near to me had made an end of himself.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 28 – The Story of My Life – Chapter IV

Previously posted on March 23, 2018


Why people reject what they hear through Spiritual Science?  

In all cases where people reject what they hear through Spiritual Science, an instinct of self-preservation is at work; they know that they are incapable of doing the necessary exercises — that is, of practising asceticism in the true sense. A person prompted by the instinct for self-preservation will then say to himself: If these things were to permeate my spiritual life, they would confuse it; I could make nothing of them and therefore I reject them. So it is with a materialistic outlook which refuses to go a step beyond the doctrines of a science it believes to be firmly founded on facts.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 58 – Metamorphoses of the Soul, Vol 1: Lecture 6: Asceticism and Illness – Berlin, 11th November 1909

Translated by Charles Davy and Christian von Arnim

Previously posted on March 14, 2018