However, Steiner also pointed out to the doctors that in areas where the population is definitely afraid of infection, “educational measures” in this direction were pointless. “You just have to vaccinate there. There is nothing else you can do,” Steiner emphasised. For “fanatically opposing these things is what I would not recommend at all, not for medical but for general anthroposophical reasons,” he added. It was “completely absurd” to proceed with such fanaticism in specific instances. During the First World War, Steiner was confronted with the smallpox epidemic in Berlin – also in his immediate environment. As Marie Steiner reports, Steiner had made the large art room of his flat in Motzstrasse and its adjoining rooms available for a children’s nursery, and he himself lived in rooms in the back of the house during his stays in Berlin. At that time, Steiner commuted between Dornach and Berlin. With the outbreak of smallpox in Berlin, the question now arose of how to protect children and residents. Schools and kindergartens in Berlin were already vaccinating at that time. Hedda Hummel reports on this: “Dr. Steiner ordered that the children in our nursery be vaccinated as well, and also the people who went in and out of the nursery.” Steiner himself and his wife had also had themselves vaccinated, the stenographer continues. Steiner had suffered from the side effects of the vaccination – just like all the other vaccinated people, mostly women. They often rubbed their aching arms, which had been affected by the smallpox vaccination, which Steiner also did. Thus a joke had circulated in Motzstrasse that Dr Steiner was “joining in the women’s movement”.
Against the background of these reports, we can ask ourselves where Steiner’s place would be today, at the time of the coronavirus pandemic. Certainly not with the anti-vaxxers and coronavirus deniers, for as stated above, he spoke out against a “fanatical approach”. He would look at the new vaccination technologies – mRNA and vector-based – with great interest, as they serve medical progress, but he would reject compulsory vaccination. And as to whether he would have himself vaccinated or trust in his own resilience to COVID-19? Here, too, one can draw one’s conclusions with a look at Steiner’s biography: as a young tutor in Vienna in the 1880s, Steiner – then still under 30 years old – relied on his own resilience. In wartime Berlin, in his mid-50s, he preferred to rely on the smallpox vaccination, which also protected the children in the Waldorf nursery. Thus in the current controversy about vaccination and corona measures it is basically only the pragmatists who can invoke Rudolf Steiner. More ...