Reinhold Köhler

Immediately beside the Institute was the Weimar library. In this resided as chief librarian a man of a childlike temperament and unlimited scholarship, Reinhold Köhler. The collaborators at the Institute often had occasion to resort there. For what they had in the Institute as literary aid to their work was here greatly augmented. Reinhold Köhler had roved around with unique comprehensiveness in the myths, fairy-tales, and sagas; his knowledge in the field of linguistic scholarship was of the most admirable universality. He knew where to turn for the most out-of-the-way literary material. His modesty was most touching, and he received one with great cordiality. He never permitted anyone to bring the books he needed from their resting-places into the work-room of the archives where we did our work. 

I came in once and asked for a book that Goethe used in connection with his studies in botany, in order to look into it. Reinhold Köhler went to get the old book which had rested somewhere on the topmost shelves unused for decades. He did not come back for a long time. Someone went to see where he was. He had fallen from the ladder on which he had to climb to attend to the books. He had broken his thigh. The noble and lovable person never recovered from the effect of the accident. After a lingering illness this widely known man died. I grieved over the painful thought that his misfortune had happened while he was attending to a book for me.

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

Reinhold_Koehler

 

Reinhold Köhler (1830 – 1892)

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 July 5, 2016

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: GA 28 – Chapter 14