Three years has passed since the beginning of the First World War, that came to cost the lives of 10 million people, when a revolution breaks out in March in Petrograd (now Petersburg).
    Russian troops have been demoralized by military setbacks in the war with Germany and social poverty and corruption puts a heavy burden on the people of Russia. A provisionary government made up of Liberals and Social democrats takes power for some months. The most radical form soviets; councils of workers and soldiers that agitate for a thorough revolution and immediate peace.  
    In that difficult situation, count Lerchenfelt, member of the State Council of Bayern (in Germany) and with a deep interest in anthroposophy, turns to Steiner and asks for his advice.
    Steiner listens intensively and the following day returns with a first outline of a social threefolding of the disintegrating states in Europe. He suggests the formation of autonomous structures and organs for a liberal cultural life, a legal life based on equality and an economical life based on self administration.  
    During several weeks of intense work, he thereafter prepares a Memorandum, that Lerchenfelt brings to leading, interested circles in Germany. To those interested belong Prince Max of Baden. An Austrian count and former Secretary of Cabinet; Polzer-Hoditz, brings about a similar contact to the leading circles around the Emperor Charles I of Austria-Hungary.  


During late autumn 1917, the German Foreign Minister; Kühlemann, brings the Memorandum with Steiner´s suggestion for a new formation of the social order based on cultural freedom, democratic equality and an economy based on self administration of the co-workers at the factories to the peace negotiations in Bretsk-Litovsk.
    Some weeks earlier, Lenin, after having been smuggled into Russia with the help of circles in Germany, together with Trotsky initiated the decision to make a revolution in Russia on the basis of dialectical materialism, and the parliamentarian democracy has collapsed.  
    But Kühlemann does not take up Steiner's suggestions for a differentiated new social order on a factual basis, and in February 1918 the negotiations collapse.
    6 months later; in August, Prince Max of Baden, who has just been appointed Reichschansellor, is given the task to form the first parliamentarian government in Germany.
    He seeks contact with President Woodrow Wilson to make peace with the allied, but Wilson refuses, as he understands the Prince as a representative for the disintegrating imperial power.
    The Prince sticks to old solutions and his government falls after three months in the beginning of November 1918.   
    With the end of the war, the development enters a new phase. The old leading circles have not been able to contribute to a new formation of society in accordance with the demands of the time.  


Parallel to the "negotiations" in Versailles, that continue during all of the first part of 1919, the year of the German revolution, Steiner writes a book: "The basic issues of the social question"
    (Towards Social Renewal - basic issues of the social question) (in German), that is printed in 20 000 copies and later in 20 000 more copies. It is rapidly and widely circulated and according to Daily News is read by everyone who "is someone", among them the English Foreign Minister Simmons and the Czech Foreign Minister Benesh.
    A petition by Steiner, with suggestions for an organizing threefolding of society is spread in 500 000 copies and published in many daily papers. A movement for social threefolding arises, centred in Stuttgart in the south of Germany and an Association for social threefolding is founded.  
    As a consequence, the workers at several big factories ask for his support, which he does with lectures and suggestions, when they want to form councils of workers. Other contacts lead to the founding of a bank and the creation of a form of money in Würtemberg, based on Steiner´s thoughts and suggestions for economy.
    The fruits of this work have just begun to show, when resistance from people in the industry who think that the people active in the movement for social threefolding are too bolchevist, in co-operation with radical communists and representatives for different religious confessions and bourgeois liberals, make further work impossible.  


During the "negotiations" in Versailles, that take place at the same time, the representatives for the other three victorious powers in the war don't believe in Wilson's program for peace in 14 points.  
    The idea of social threefolding is based on the possibility and right of every individual to participate freely in the legal, cultural and economical activities in the country in which he or she happens to live, independently of to which ethnic group he or she belongs and in practice constitutes an ordered disintegration of the national state as the basic unity for more than the legal life of its citizens.
    Instead of such a social structure, based on the self determining, human individual, the program of Woodrow Wilson's program for peace in Europe is based on the formation of new, self determining, centrally ruled states, based upon the ethnic groups, to which people happen to belong to, the now long since outdated concept that today once more is popping up around the world leading to disastrous "ethnic cleansing" to make it possible to realize.
    The representatives of the European victorious powers consider his thought unlucky and unrealistic, but also don' t succeed to distance themselves from their own picture of Germany as the sole villain and guilty of having initiated the war. With their badly prepared and immature demands for revenge and an at first not fixed and later at an astronomical level fixed compensation claim on Germany, they contribute to continued social chaos, that comes to be the soil out of which Hitler appears and one more World War.
    In the peace treaty, that came to be disastrous for everyone involved, the ground was also laid for that which on the suggestion by Wilson came to be the League of Nations.


During the year it also turns out that the movement for social threefolding does not get support by the necessary number of free and self determining workers, and in November 1919 Steiner considers the movement to have failed and takes no more initiatives for its further development. Instead he concentrates his efforts on laying the ground for a cultural life, free from influences of the state and economical interests.
    On the initiative of Emil Molt, the owner of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart, a school is founded for the children of the workers, officials and other employees at the factory. The founding comes to be the start for the Waldorf school movement, with the goal of educating and supporting the development of the free, self determining individuals that development had showed the need for.
    There now exist about 600 Waldorf schools in over 32 countries serving approximately 120,000 students.

Go back to main page of this section