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Sources and accuracy

In an effort to prove Steiner’s anti-Semitism, Peter Staudenmaier offered a quote from volume 92 of Rudolf Steiner‘s complete works (called GA92). There is only one slight problem. These words are not Rudolf Steiner. True, they are printed in GA 92, but if you read the title page, it makes clear that these are listener’s notes of the lectures, and not a stenographic reproduction. This particular lecture is reconstructed from the notes of two participants: Walter Vegelahn and Eugenie von Bredow (this is stated on page 181). It was first put into coherent form and published in the 1930’s, almost 30 years after the fact. From these notes, what Steiner might have said was reconstructed and put into a coherent form, edited for this edition by Helmuth von Wartburg at the Steiner Archive, and only published in 1999. What Steiner’s actual, carefully-formulated exact words on the subject we can only guess. He obviously spoke about the topic of Wagner’s racial views. Whether actually uttered the words “Wagner… cannot possibly be an anti-Semite” simply cannot be known. Certainly at least one of his listeners came away with the impression that he said something to this effect when they later sat down to write their notes, and then much later when the lecture was reconstructed the sentence was written. But we cannot know how much the issue is contaminated with the personality of either Walter or Eugenie. Nor can we correlate this to any other statements of Steiner’s on the same theme, as this is the only place the issue is mentioned. Further I must not that even as these words stand, it is hard to call them an endorsement of Wagner’s anti-Semitic statements. They are a description of Wagner’s views and an explanation of their origin, not praise thereof.
Peter Staudenmaier appears not to have actually read the book that he is relying on to make his statement. If he had read the whole book, he would not go running around claiming these to be Steiner’s actual words. He has thus demonstrated an incredible carelessness with historical sources for someone claiming to be working as a historian, and shown once again why he is not qualified to call himself a Steiner scholar. There is really no excuse for such sloppiness.

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