The Night Watch at the Goetheanum

A jewel, set in warmth and imbued with life – this is how the Goetheanum appeared with 52 spotlights, 12 fire bowls, and 2,000 visitors on the 100th New Year’s Eve after the burning down of the first Goetheanum.


The commemoration of the night that the first Goetheanum burnt down came in three steps. At the preceding Christmas Conference, we had raised the question of what future could be envisaged for the building. The commemoration with community and cantonal representatives then followed and Remo Ankli, member of the cantonal government of Solothurn, used the image of the phoenix rising from the ashes to emphasize that the fire was also a beginning. Samuel Rutishauser, the former cantonal monument conservator, described Rudolf Steiner’s unique architectural signature. Daniel Urech, president of the municipality of Dornach, recalled the community’s commitment to a new building: a movement of such importance, the municipal council had said at the time, must have the right to design its central headquarters in a way that corresponds to its way of thinking. As representatives of the Goetheanum, Ueli Hurter and Stefan Hasler paid tribute to Switzerland’s contribution to anthroposophy. On New Year’s Eve, Peter Selg placed the fire in the context of the 20th century: «The world was on fire!» Using the fate of Jakob Ott, who was probably unjustifiably accused and who also died in the fire, he drew a connection to individual human beings.

Then for the final act: 52 spotlights, as many as there are weeks of the year, let the Goetheanum become a gem in the night in a warm, white glow. Twelve fire bowls, as many as there are months of the year, took hold of the jewel, and 2,000 visitors gave life to it. Light, warmth, and life! Christiane Haid, co-organizer of the celebrations, described the atmosphere on this New Year’s Eve as cheerful and thoughtful. In doing so, she felt she was taking part in a historic moment – a look back also becomes a look ahead. The events ranged from reading eyewitness accounts, to exhibitions, concerts, lectures, and the view from in the observatory to Mars. The eurythmy at midnight to Rudolf Steiner’s foundational chant in the Great Hall gathered the energy. In the morning, the commemoration ended with Gerald Häfner’s image of new communal life.


Translation Monika Werner
Image Detail of the Goetheanum in the New Year’s night 2022-2023. Photo: Xue Li

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