The case of Rudolf Hess raises the question of what constitutes an Anthroposophist. A broad definition might define as an Anthroposophist as anyone who finds value in Steiner’s work. This definition is overly broad, as it would include many people who might disagree with Steiner despite finding his work valuable in one or another aspect in the world. Defining as an Anthroposophist anyone who is a consumer of the practical results of Rudolf Steiner‘s spiritual insights is also overly broad, as it includes anyone who regularly buys Demeter or Waleda or Dr. Hauschka, as well as all Waldorf parents and anyone who happens to be treated in an anthroposophical clinic. Even if their patronage of these practical results borders on fanatical, as in the case of Rudolf Hess, I don’t feel that this is sufficient to consider them an Anthroposophist. To me an Anthroposophist is, at the very least, someone who studies Steiner’s work actively. But even this is not a full definition, for a number of very hostile critics arguably also fit this description. Whether or not a person is an Anthroposophist is very much a question of inner attitude towards the work of Steiner’s as they actively study it. If they feel a sort of warm enthusiasm, then they are part of the way to meeting my definition.
Another way of approaching the question would be to ask, Who would Anthroposophists recognizes their own? Those who qualify would be those who in general accept the greater portion of Rudolf Steiner‘s teachings, or at least are among those who don’t actively reject significant portions of it. This disqualifies those who pick and choose and make their own philosophy of racial superiority out of bits and pieces of Rudolf Steiner‘s work, for in doing this they reject Steiner’s central principles. This also disqualifies those who go through a shorter or longer phase of their life in which they are enthusiastic supporters of Anthroposophy only to reject it later, either from neglect or by actively turning against it. These can be said to have had an anthroposophical phase in their life, but the description ‘Anthroposophist’ cannot be applied to describe their life as a whole. This excludes Max Seiling and Gregor Schwartz-Bostunitsch, among others.
If we limit our definition to those people who have exhibited a lifelong enthusiastic support for Anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner‘s teaching, in whole and not just portions thereof, then the list of historically tainted personalities becomes much shorter. Ernst Uhli still qualifies under this definition, and I have to examine the case against him more closely. Finally, if we focus only on those personalities who are guilty of the historical sin of supporting aspects of national Socialism during their lifetimes, and neglect to look at the anthroposophical movement as a whole during that time period, then we will build a distorted picture, for the great majority of Anthroposophists deplored the developments in Germany under Hitler’s regime.