The Biodynamic Movement during the Nazi Regime

USA. Steffen Schneider and Will Bratton presented a workshop at the 2023 North American Biodynamic Conference in Westminster, Colorado, to look at different aspects of biodynamic practice during the Nazi regime.

A workshop with the same theme, held during the 2023 International Biodynamic Conference in Dornach, Switzerland, inspired us to bring this topic to Colorado. Thanks to cooperation with and support from biodynamic friends in Germany, archival materials were available, which made this workshop a unique learning opportunity. A special thanks to Michael Olbrich-Majer for helping to make this possible. At some point during the latter half of 2024, a comprehensive study on this subject will be published in Germany.

Our workshop began with a review of the timeline stretching from Steiner’s birth in 1861 to the publication of the Agriculture Lectures in 1963. We felt it was important to describe the socio-political and historical context within which Rudolf Steiner presented his lectures on agriculture and how those conditions led to the National Socialists coming to power in Germany. We then focused on the relationship between biodynamics and biodynamic practitioners and functionaries during the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945. The development of the relationship can be divided into three periods, which we described as Euphoria, Appeasement, and Reckoning.

Capture of the presentation. The timeline of events of biodynamics before, during and after the Third Reich. Image by Will Bratton

During the workshop, we formed small break-out groups that read and discussed the various archival texts. We offered leading questions along the lines of, “How does this strike you?”, “What surprised you?”, “Can you imagine putting yourself in the shoes of those individuals, and how might you have acted?” The workshop was scheduled for 90 minutes, which clearly isn’t enough time to cover this complex subject. Nevertheless, offering uncommon access to source materials helped to elucidate at least some corners of this shadowy history. It is hoped that with more sessions such as these and the open conversations that surround them, a greater understanding of biodynamics and the humans practicing at that time and place might be had. Additionally, of course, are the reflections we might each have about our actions while practicing biodynamics in our own time and place.

Those who want to read the full report can email

Header photo Xue Li

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