Elisabeth Vreede

1879 - 1943

Elisabeth Vreede  (16 July 1879, in The Hague – 31 August 1943, in Ascona) was a Dutch mathematician, astronomer and Anthroposophist.

Her first meeting with Rudolf Steiner took place at the Theosophical Congress in London in 1903. Her parents were theosophists and she, too, was a member of the Theosophical Society. At the congress Rudolf Steiner straightaway made a great impression on her. A year later she heard Steiner’s lecture on ‘Mathematics and Occultism’ given at the Congress of the Federation of European Sections of the Theosophical Society at Amsterdam in 1904. The next European Congress was in 1906 when Steiner held a cycle of 18 lectures there.

During the War years 1916/17 Elisabeth Vreede broke off from her residence in Dornach to work in Berlin as a coworker of Elisabeth Rotten, caring for prisoners of war.

After the War, Rudolf Steiner developed his idea of the threefold social order. Vreede had an intense interest in this initiative and work and she was the first to bring this idea to England. Around 1918 she began to construct the library and archive at the Goetheanum, using her own means to purchase the expensive lecture transcripts as soon as they were typed from the stenogram. Occasionally friends contributed to her efforts to build an archive.

In 1920 Vreede moved to Arlesheim where she had built a small house of her own. It was the second dwelling-house for which Rudolf Steiner himself had given the model in 1919. There, in Arlesheim, Ita Wegman founded the first anthroposophical medical clinic in 1921.

When the separation within the Anthroposophical Society took place in 1935 Vreede was expelled from the Vorstand and her Section passed into other hands. This resulted after internal discussions in the Anthroposophical Society. On her exclusion from the Vorstand along with Ita Wegman, Vreede was cut off from the observatory and archives that she herself helped assemble.

The last years of her life became more lonely. She was cut off from her friends abroad by the War. The death of Ita Wegman at the beginning of March, 1943, was a great shock for her. At the internal commemoration in the clinic she spoke words at her eulogy. It was the first time she faced her former colleagues on the Vorstand.”