Erhard Bartsch

7 January 1895 in Breslau; † 5. September 1960 in Klagenfurt

Camphill Correspondence April 1978

ADDRESS TO THE LAND GROUP
Given by Dr. Karl König at Brachenreuthe

WE HAVE GATHERED TONIGHT in order to remember our friend Erhardt Bartsch. Tomorrow, four years will have passed since he crossed the threshold of death, filled with new intentions and new impulses. It has not been possible for him to carry out these decisions any more; yet he has planted seeds in the hearts of many people and a few of these seeds have begun to germinate.

We who have gathered here today know that a kind of destiny has made it possible that the ideas of Erhardt Bartsch have been able to meet the impulses of the Camphill Movement and that through this meeting this germination could start. The two intentions, which are so much related to each other, met and were able to recognise that they have a common path.

What is all this about? If we search for the original impulses which work in this matter, then we shall find first and foremost the Agricultural Course, which was held at Whitsun forty years ago by our teacher Rudolf Steiner. In these lectures as well as in the events that then took place at Koberwitz, the following was intended: The awakening of a new agricultural thinking and acting ; the renewal of a modern spiritual peasantry through whose work a gradual healing of the soil and the entire kingdom of the plants can become possible . These are three steps:

  • The Awakening of Thinking and Action.
  • The Renewal of Peasantry
  • The Healing of Soil and Plant

From Koberwitz Rudolf Steiner travelled to Jena ; there he opened the Lauenstein as the first curative home and immediately after this he held at Dornach the Curative Course . This is the second fountain- head which can be found . Through this course the possibility was given to change in future much destiny which had been misunderstood thousands of times. Because at that time – forty years ago – Curative Education was still a modest chapter in the social co-operation of man. Today it has become a great social question. Millions of children are unable to follow their rightly designed way of incarnation. The deviations become more and more manifold, intricate and numerous. These children are the victims of the human catastrophe of today, within which we already live. To make it possible that these children can unfold their soul-spirit-being despite their handicaps, for this aim a way has been opened for the future through the Curative Course at Dornach.

From the meeting of these two streams, coming from the renewed agriculture and from the embracing curative education, there developed the Village Impulse as a third new stream. And it is very interesting to see that at any place where the attempt is made to lead stranded, rejected, stunted human existence back into holy humanity – there develop, so to speak instinctively – Villages. These impulses are very well meant, yet very seldom are they real villages. They become settlements and therefore they forego the healing power and the healing stream of the motherly earth power. But on this everything depends. Because only where the new agricultural impulse unites itself with the renewal of humanity for all the outcasts, will there develop what Erhardt Bartsch has worked for and waited for.

These will be villages where the farmer will be responsible for the land, the animals, the plants. Around him will gather craftsmen, artists and artisans in order to work and create out of new spiritual joy. Schools shall be built in these villages, wherein a renewed way of education shall come to life. And the new Christianity shall find there its foundation and ground in order to lead the parents in such a way that their children may grow into men who will become in a declining civilization the carriers of a new culture: preparers of the sixth epoch.

The first steps towards this distant goal shall be attempted from now onwards in this place. The group of farmers and gardeners shall unite under this aspect in order to take on responsibility in mutual understanding and common striving. Then something good may arise from it.

Bartsch, heralded here by a Jewish refugee, is not an uncontroversial figure. When one trawls the net for the question of how anthroposophy and BD managed to navigate the third Reich, Erhardt Bartsch’s name comes up most often in relation to appeasement and even enthusiastic cooperation. For those interested I can point you to these blogs and papers which suggest a poor collision and others which put distance between BD and the national socialism.