Tag Archives: Anne Weise

Esoteric Christianity and friendship in the Holocaust. AEWCH 184 with Anne Weise.

8 Apr

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In the midst of 2022, so many of us are seeking peace and meaning. So here’s my series on one meaning-rich tradition and religious stream: Christianity.

But this will be a different sort of Christianity: occult and esoteric Christianity. Some of it might look familiar. Some might seem absolutely bizarre. All of it, I hope will stir a feeling of warmth and depth of meaning for you, whether you feel any affinity with Christianity or the occult. The first episode in the series is AEWCH 181, featuring Rev. Patrick Kennedy from the Christian Community – a religious tradition informed by occultism. The second, AEWCH 182, was on with writer and spiritual teacher Lisa Romero. And the third is AEWCH 183 on Christ and technology with tech worker-turned-spiritual-philosopher Andrew Linnell.

For this episode, I turn to the value of esoteric christianity and friendship and its opposite: Nazism.

I’m joined by scholar and author Anne Weise, using her absolutely stunning, heartbreaking, and inspiring book, Alfred Bergel: Sketches of a Forgotten Life—from Vienna to Auschwitz as the foundation for our talk.

Alfred Bergel was a painter murdered in Auschwitz – a wonderful artist, actually, whose work might be largely disappeared by his murders had Anne and a few others done the work of reconstructing his presence here.

Anne did this via research at the Karl König Institute since Bergel was close friends with König, the Jewish anthroposophist who started – through his guidance, encounters, and inspiration from Rudolf Steiner – Camphhill Communities, where people with what many of us would call “disabilities” live around the world. Camphill Communities are among esoteric christianity’s most beautiful offerings to the world. Follow links below for more information.

Through König’s archives and Anne’s work, Bergel’s life can be reconstructed and revitalized in part. Anne found mentions of him in Konig’s letters and family diaries, in poems and stories. She found other holocaust survivors and the notes of others who had died in the holocaust about Bergel. She also, on the journey (and in her book) in revealed instances of others in the camps comforted by esoteric christianity and anthroposophy (indeed some of the people in the camps were put they because they were anthroposophists).

This is an episode rooted in history, relevant for today, in both its picture of friendship and Christ, as well as its revelation of the inverse and how evil works.


I was moved and disturbed by Peter Tradowsky’s short book, Christ and Antichrist: Understanding the Events of Our Time and Recognizing Our Tasks. It’s a portrait of the presence of evil in the second World War, as well as the challenges that face us in our moment. I only ask that you keep yourself in a feeling of protection and love before you read it; it’s intense. There are some points of contention between Tradowsky and what Anne says on this episode; I find them helpful to think about.

I did an episode of the show with my best friend, Jeb Havens: AEWCH 161 and I’d say that’s the best outline of a spiritual friendship I can offer. 

Camphill Communities – developed by Alfred Bergel’s friend, Karl König, with guidance and inspiration from Rudolf Steiner – are among the most beautiful contributions of esoteric christianity to our world today. The idea of Camphill is that people with “disabilities” are whole people. To put it in the words of Rudolf Steiner in 1924: “The only possible grounds we can have for speaking of the normality or abnormality of the child’s life of soul, or indeed the life of soul of any human being, is that we have in mind something that is normal in the sense of being average. At present there is really no other criterion. That is why the conclusions people come to are so very confused. When they have in this way ascertained the existence of ‘abnormality,’ they begin to do – heaven knows what – believing they are thereby helping to get rid of the abnormality, while all the time they are driving out a fragment of genius.”

Anne works at the Karl König Institute, and their site is a great way to look into Karl’s efforts. She’s also written the book Marianne Brandt: Wegbereiterin des Produktdesigns A good article – pre-English Alfred Bergel… translation – by Anne on Bergel and the art forgery committed by the Nazis, “Alfred Bergel Opens a New Chapter on Holocaust Art: Spiritual Sustenance and Forced Forgery” is here.

Until next time, friends,