The Anthroposophical Society is, according to its self-understanding, "a community of people who are convinced that the tasks posed by the present and the future can only be solved through a spiritual deepening of life". The foundation for this is the anthroposophy founded by Rudolf Steiner.
The General Anthroposophical Society (German: Allgemeine Anthroposophische Gesellschaft, AAG) - which is not identical with the Anthroposophical Society founded at the Christmas Conference in 1923, but is a transformation of the original "Bauverein" - with its headquarters at the Goetheanum in Dornach, is active worldwide. It is organised decentrally in local branches, regional centres and national societies, which are economically autonomous, organising their activities independently. It is also the sponsor of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum.
"The Anthroposophical Society is a thoroughly public one. Its membership is open to anyone, without distinction of nation, class, religion, scientific or artistic conviction, who sees something justified in the existence of such an institution as the Goetheanum in Dornach as a School of Spiritual Science."
(Statutes of the Anthroposophical Society 1923, Article 4)
The aim of this School is "research in the spiritual field", the aim of the Society is to make such research possible and to nurture the spiritual life in the individual and in the community on the basis of this research. On the basis of its Statutes, the Society attempts to fulfil its task by making anthroposophical spiritual science with its results for brotherhood in human coexistence, for moral and religious as well as artistic and general spiritual life in the human being the focus of its efforts.
The first Anthroposophical Society was founded in Cologne on 28 December 1912 by Michael Bauer, Marie von Sivers and Carl Unger, at first still unofficially; it emerged from the Theosophical Society after serious differences arose between Rudolf Steiner and Annie Besant over the interpretation of Christianity and the Christ. Steiner firmly refused to see the Indian boy Krishnamurti as the re-embodied Christ. The formal founding of the Anthroposophical Society (AG) finally took place at the 1st General Assembly of 2 and 3 February 1913 in Berlin, its future headquarters, with the German section of the Adyar-TG renaming itself AG and henceforth severing all relations with Annie Besant. On 7 March 1913 Besant withdrew Steiner's foundation charter of the Adyar-TG and expelled him and his followers from the Theosophical Society.
The Goetheanum, designed by Rudolf Steiner and supervised by him down to the last detail during its construction, was built as a centre and destroyed by fire on 31 December 1922 before its final completion.
At the end of 1923 the Society was re-established under the name Anthroposophical Society with Rudolf Steiner as Chairman. In 1924 the foundation stone was laid for the Second Geotheanum.
After Steiner's death in 1925, Albert Steffen took over the presidency of the General Anthroposophical Society, which, however, was not identical with the Anthroposophical Society of the Christmas Conference, but had emerged on 8 February 1925 from the Goetheanum Association, which was the legal asset holder of the Goetheanum and had considerable assets through the insurance sum of over 3 million francs paid out for the Goetheanum fire. This Goetheanum Society could not simply be incorporated into the General Anthroposophical Society, which had yet to be entered in the commercial register, as this would have entailed too high administrative costs. Also, the statutes adopted at the Christmas meeting were found by the authorities to be unsuitable for entry in the commercial register. So the Goetheanum Society was renamed the General Anthroposophical Society and entered in the Commercial Register with appropriately modified statutes, whereby the statutes adopted at the Christmas Conference "were then later, according to Dr Guenther Wachsmuth, 'at Dr Steiner's express indication, given the designation <Principles>' (Nachrichtenblatt 1935, No. 20)." (Lit.:GA 260a, p. 20)
After the ban of the Society in the German "mother country" and the discord with the important national Societies in Holland and England brought about by the decisions of 1935, the influence of the Dornach Centre was already largely confined to Switzerland, before with the outbreak of the war in 1939 it also fell as a nation into an all-round isolated insular position. In 1939 the Goetheanum (main building) had to be closed for financial reasons. In terms of personnel, Marie Steiner was gradually sidelined in the now still three-member Executive Council, and in 1942 there was open conflict between her and Albert Steffen, or rather between the respective supporters in the membership. Marie Steiner, who had been designated by Rudolf Steiner's will as his sole heir, now formally asserted these rights by founding an "Estate Society" (German: „Nachlassverein“) which was to publish Rudolf Steiner's works separately from the Anthroposophical Society even after her death.
- Uwe Werner: Anthroposophen in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus (1933-1945), Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag 1999, ISBN 978-3486563627
- Martins, Ansgar (Hrsg.), Hans Büchenbacher: Hans Büchenbacher. Erinnerungen 1933 - 1949: Zugleich eine Studie zur Geschichte der Anthroposophie im Nationalsozialismus, Mit Kommentaren und fünf Anhängen herausgegeben von Ansgar Martins, Info3-Verlag, 2014, ISBN 3957790077, Rezension
- Lorenzo Ravagli: Selbsterkenntnis in der Geschichte - Anthroposophische Gesellschaft und Bewegung im 20. Jahrhundert. Band 1: Von den Anfängen bis zur zweiten großen Sezession 1875–1952. glomer.com 2020, ISBN 978-3-9821354-3-4
- Rudolf Steiner: Die Konstitution der Allgemeinen Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft und der Freien Hochschule für Geisteswissenschaft. Der Wiederaufbau des Goetheanum, GA 260a (1987), ISBN 3-7274-2606-3 English: rsarchive.org German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub archive.org
References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: email@example.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English (by Steiner Online Library).
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.