Rudolf Steiner’s birthday on the 27th of February, 1861 – Günter Aschoff
NEW DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE
In connection with the research on the burning of the first Goetheanum, (‘Goetheanum’ Nr. 42/2005, 3/2007), Guenther Aschoff had a look through many documents in the Rudolf Steiner Archives. During this process he could see in various publications, that the question concerning time of Rudolf Steiner’s birth had become unclear. Therefore, commissioned by The Dornach Work- Community concerning Archives and History, he gathered together all he could find concerning Steiner’s birth date and birthplace. The result of this research enquiry was that Steiner’s birthday occurred on the 27th of February and not the 25th of February.
Rudolf Steiner, Weimar 1896
Contrary to previous publications, Rudolf Steiner’s father, Johann Baptiste Steiner was not born in Geras on the 23rd of June, 1. [This information stands also in The Course of my Life, GA (Complete Works) 28, Page 8], but in Trabenreith, a small village not far away. (1) Rudolf Steiner’s father was a forest ranger. After his parents had moved to Geras, Johann Baptiste Steiner went to High School. He then assisted Count Hoyos as official ranger, and later lived and worked in Horn. There Johann Baptiste Steiner met the seamstress, Franciska Blie, who was born on the 8th of May, 1834. In 1858, they decided to marry. First he had to ask permission from the Count. (2). He wasn’t allowed to marry because the Count wanted only single rangers for his service. For that reason, Steiner’s father decided to work on the new south railroad to be built, the first railway to Vienna. He was then trained for a position as telegrapher. In May of 1859 he began his work on the south railroad to Prestranek, by St Peter, today called Pivka, about 30 kilometres east of Triest. Prestranek is a small, undistinguished place with a castle, where the great ‘Lipizzan’ horse breeding for the Viennese royal horseback riding school took place.
The marriage of his parents
On the 14th of January, 1860, Johann Baptiste Steiner was given permission to marry from the district office in Geras. On the 20th of March, the betrothed couple had the so-called ‘bride’s examination’ in the Catholic priest’s office in Horn. At that time their papers were checked as well as their religious knowledge. After that, the betrothed young man returned to his work in Prestranek, where he also resided. Apparently the marriage had to take place at the groom’s village of residence. It also stands in the wedding book of Horn, under the 8th of May, 1860, that the marriage took place in the parish of Slavina, appropriate for Prestranek. Previously it has not possible to ascertain exactly when the wedding was held. For the wedding, Franziska Blie had to walk to Vienna by foot to catch the south railway line to Prestranek. There the two lived until perhaps New Years of 1860-1861, when Johann Baptiste Steiner was transferred to Kraljevec; there the couple lived in house # 24. Steiner’s father was always on duty for three consecutive days and nights at the railway station.
The birth in the train station of Kraljevec
Now the arrival of the child was approaching. The birth extended from the 26th to the 27th of February, 1861. One must assume that the father, Johann Baptiste had asked Franziska to come to him in the station for the birth, so she wouldn’t be alone at home. In the station of Kraljevec, there was a small bedroom and a workroom for the duties of the railroad officer, as well as a waiting room.(3) Thus Rudolf Steiner was born on the 27th of February at about 23.15, in the railroad station at Kraljevec. Rudolf Steiner named this birth-hour later, either during the Munich Conference, 1907, or during the conference in Budapest in 1909. The astrologer Alan Leo gave a lecture at both conferences on the Astrology concerning this question. So it was that Rudolf Steiner’s birth-time first became known. (4)
At the birth, those present were the mother and father, also the stationmaster, Laurentius Diem and his wife Frau Josefa Jakl, the godmother, as well as a midwife. The midwife applied bandaging to the navel after the birth. For some reason, perhaps a poorly bound bandage, there was a great loss of blood; so the parents decided to call for an emergency baptism. To carry this out, a baptised Catholic must speak, ‘I baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’ It was already midnight or shortly thereafter, and those present didn’t want the newly born infant to die without being baptised.
On the next day, or the day thereafter, the baptism was repeated at a church in Draskovec. The priest on duty, Gabriel Mestritz, registered the birth and baptism as taking place on the 27th of February, 1861, under the name ‘Adolphus Laurentius Josephus Steiner’. As the place of residence he gave ‘Kraljevec 24’. At the end he wrote ‘Gabriel Mestritz’ for the name of the authorised priest attending to the baptism.
Why was there a false name in the baptism registry? The answer is unknown. But in the first volume of letters that appeared in 1948, as is particularly noted in the autobiographical lecture of 1913, one sees that the baptism in church carries the name Rudolf Joseph Laurenz.(5) The notations from this autobiographical lecture were done by from Carlo Septimus Picht. After the death of Rudolf Steiner, on the 30th of March, 1925, Picht had contacted Steiner’s sister, Leopoldine Steiner in Horn and had had a conversation with her. On the grounds of this conversation, in which the date of birth was certainly brought up, a short sentence has resulted: ‘The birth day of Rudolf Steiner had extended from the 26th to the 27th of February, 1861, necessitating the emergency baptism. The baptism in church followed at the Catholic parish of Draskovec, near Kraljevec, under the name of Rudolf Lorenz Steiner. (The laying of the Foundation Stone for the St. John-Edifice in Munich had also been expected to be held on the 27th of February.) (6)
During the Threefold Commonwealth time, Rudolf Steiner was often verbally abused; at that time he began bearing witness to his Catholic baptism, at which time he showed his record of baptism to others. In the lecture of the 8th of June, 1920 for example, he said at the end, ‘I had as a child good Christian Catholic parents, and was baptised in Kraljevec on the 27th of February, 1861.’(7) This, at least indirectly refers to the emergency baptism.
Thus, the date of the 27th of February was the only authenticated birth date used by Rudolf Steiner and his parents. At the time he finished High School in Vienna’s Newtown, his parents gave, in the record book, the birth date, the 27th of February, 1861.
On finishing High School, Rudolf Steiner went to Vienna to attend Technical College. He needed a certificate. The church was the definitive authority, there being at that time, no civil authority as we know today. How important the church’s authority was in those days…. Steiner’s sister, Leopoldine, born in Pottschach, tried to get a certificate of baptism, but could never obtain one, because the priest had forgotten to enter her name in the baptism registry. Thus she had to remain without any identity papers until her death on the 1st of November, 1927. (8)
Rudolf Steiner’s certificate of baptism had to be obtained from the parish of Draskovec, which was appropriate for Kraljevec. One can understand how irritating it may have been for his parents having received the document in Neudoerfl, only to discover the incorrect first name written, as well as the incorrect birthplace. There it was written ‘Kraljevec 24’ instead of ‘the railroad station’ as well as the office and the name of ‘Gabriel Mestritz’. The parents then went to the priest Johann Widder in Neudoerfll and pleaded with him to prepare a new copy of the baptism certificate; and that Record of Baptism was received and has remained.
The Two Photographs of the Baptism Certificate
There exist two photographs of this newly prepared and corrected baptism certificate: One comes from the1st of February, 1914, when Rudolf Steiner asked Max Benzinger to photograph it; the second comes from the years 1918 to 1920, from the so called Threefold Commonwealth time, when Rudolf Steiner was beset and confronted with desolate abusive suspicions. At that time, the certificate of baptism was again photographed by Benzinger. From that photograph, there were even copies given to those members who attended the Threefold Commonwealth lectures. So they had at hand a proof of Rudolf Steiner’s place of origin and Catholic education. (9)
On the photograph of the 1st of February, 1914, almost everything was successfully deciphered, except for a couple of places with small additions which are approximately deciphered. From this photograph, one can clearly see that the parents had the first name Adolphus changed to Rudolf, and the birthplace changed to ‘Railroad Station Kraljevec’, carried out by the priest in Neudoerfl. To the godparents ‘Lorenz Diem and Josefa Jakl’ they also added ‘Stationmaster’. And after the names of the baptising priest and the office, one can distinguish that there stands, ‘Baptism witnessed’ that is, both parents and godparents attested that an emergency baptism was needed and they carried it out.
The second photograph from 1918 /20 shows that the baptism certificate as being so illegible that the decisive spots where birth and baptism should stand are not distinguishable, unless one has knowledge of what could possibly be written there. But in the next gap one can clearly see a‘25’. As one can infer from the photo of 1914, this number refers to the birth in the year 1861. From the photo from 1918/20, of which copies were passed out, one could come to the misunderstanding that according to the baptism certificate, the birth took place on the 25th. There are two letters from Eugenie Bredow to Rudolf Steiner, which come from the year 1921, in which she refers to the birth date of the 25th of February, 1861. (10) One must therefore assume that this date ‘25th’ was spoken about amongst various people.
This is Rudolf Steiner’s newly made, baptism certificate from 1879: the first photograph from Max Benzinger (from the 1st of February, 1914 (above) and the second photo from Max Benzinger (?) from 1918/1920 (underneath), kept in the Rudolf Steiner Archives – (almost completely deciphered): a copy of the newly prepared baptism certificate from 1879, by Guenther Aschoff.
Now Rudolf Steiner himself may have also become somewhat uncertain, because he knew from his parents that he had been baptised in church – and, this could not have taken place on the day of his birth. Therefore he believed for some time that his birthday must have been on the 25th. This problem had became clarified at the latest by the 3rd of October 1923 , when Steiner went for the last time to visit his sister Leopoldine in Horn, also to speak about his birth and to clear up some questions. At this time Rudolf Steiner had begun to write his autobiography, The Course of My Life. On the following draft for the beginning of his autobiography, probably before 1923, there is written on a piece of paper, ‘My birth falls on the 25th of February, 1861. Two days later I was baptised.’ (11) From this one can suppose that Rudolf Steiner knew that he was baptised two days after his birth. This paper, kept in Rudolf Steiner’s Archives, is the only place where the 25th of February, 1861 is in Steiner’s handwriting. This paper was never used anywhere or made public in any connection. Instead, on the 9th of December, 1923, in ‘Das Goetheanum’ (‘The Goetheanum’) issue # 18, there appears for the first time printed: ‘I was born in Kraljevec on the 27th of February, 1861’ – almost exactly as it appears in the autobiographical lecture of the 4th of February, 1913, where Steiner had to defend himself against untruths. (12)
Thus one cannot say that Rudolf Steiner had concealed his true birth date, particularly because there was nothing so important for him in his whole life as honesty. Concerning esoteric students – as well as, for members of the FM (the Mystica Aeterna) – one knows that they were given the most stringent requirements in relation to truthfulness. So one can hardly assume that someone who had such requirements to fulfil would have given a false date on purpose.
So it makes sense to suppose that Rudolf Steiner was born on the 27th of February, 1861. On all the other documents – concerning the Technical College in Vienna, or the Archives in Weimar, or those relating to his time in Berlin – as well as on all the registration forms he had to fill out when visiting his parents in Horn, there always stands the 27th of February, 1861 as his birth date.
The Connections to World History
What thoughts come to one about this date the 27th of February? Here it can only be briefly mentioned, in what great connection the birth of Rudolf Steiner stands. On the 27th of February, 1784, the Count of St, Germain died in Eckernfoerde. 11 times 7 years later Rudolf Steiner was born. The meaning of this number is spoken about in Rudolf Steiner’s cycle about The Gospel of St. Matthew. Rudolf Steiner describes in the lectures from 4th and 16th December, 1904, that the Count of St. Germain was an incarnation of Christian Rosenkreutz. (12) His connection to this individuality has been thoroughly and often described, also how closely connected this individuality waswith Steiner and with what he had to do in his life.
Karl Koenig pointed out more unusual information in (‘The Correspondence’) ‘Mitteilungen’ of 1955, rising out of the German Anthroposophical Work, (Easter, 1955, p. 64) published under the title, ‘The Year – 1860 Before and – 1860 After The Mysteryof Golgotha’. There he mentions a lecture from the 6th of February, 1920; (13) where Steiner explains that the knowledge of reincarnation had ‘died out’ after the year 1860 BC- before The Mystery of Golgotha. After that time, one had intimations or feelings about it, but, the knowledge of reincarnation was no longer existent. It was a service of Karl Koenig to make this fact about reincarnation known. Now, it is remarkable, that in the year 1860 after the turning point of time, Rudolf Steiner’s parents decided to marry, and that Rudolf Steiner was then born, as the one who was able to bring the new knowledge about reincarnation in all its relationships. This period of time before 1860, encompassed 100 moon-nodes (from the 1st of January, 0001, after Golgotha, until the 20th of December 1859). One could therefore say, as Karl Koenig does in his essay, that the year 1860 belongs to the important dates of Rudolf Steiner’s biography. And so one can understand the riddle of why his parents decided to marry under such adverse conditions.
The next important date, the year 1897, in which Steiner left Nordoerfl to attend the Technical College in Vienna, is also the time in which the new certificate of baptism was recorded, and the Age of Michael began. Other important dates concerning human history come into connection with Rudolf Steiner’s life. They are: the year 1899, the end of the Age of Darkness or ‘Kali Yuga’; and the year 1909, The Beginning of the Perception of the Etheric Christ, as well as 1910, the year in which for the first time Rudolf Steiner speaks about this Perception of the Etheric Christ on the 12th of January, in Stockholm. It is also noteworthy that on the 22nd of January, 1910 Rudolf Steiner’s father died, during the above period of time. From these signs one can see in what meaningful connections to World History, the birth of Rudolf Steiner occurred.
All of this, and indeed, that which Rudolf Steiner said in his lectures, brings evidence to bear, that the 27th of February, 1861 was his date of birth.
1. Found in the letter from Marco Baldini, Vienna to Guenther Wachsmuth, from the 3rd of September, 1962, Goetheanum Archives. Confirmation from the copy “Registry of Births’.
From Trabenreith, and ‘Weddings’ from Horn on the 20th of March 1860.
2.See Christoph Lindenberg: Rudolf Steiner – Eine Chronik, (Rudolf Steiner- A Chronicle), Stuttgart, 1988, P 25.
3. At that time the House number #96, in the year 1961, # 7, See Hildegard Gerbert: Kraljevec, in Newsletter from the 10th of October, 1965.
4. See Alan Leo: How to Judge a Nativity, London, 1909, p. 247; There the Ephemeris was reckoned for the only time 23:15.
5. See Rudolf Steiner: Briefe 1, (Letters –1), Dornach, 1948, p.241 f. Only appears in the issue from 1948/1955!
6. See Christoph Lindenberg: Rudolf Steiner- A Chronicle, Stuttgart, 1988.
7. See Rudolf Steiner: Die Anthroposophie und ihre Gegner, (Anthroposophy and its Counterforces)1919 –1921 (GA 225b) p.255.
8. As recorded by Leopoldine Steiner from her last year of life 1927. Probably written by Margaret Karner, who cared for her before her death. The copy is found in the Goetheanum Archives.
9. As described in GA 255b), p.459.
10. Printed in: (Thoughts for Rudolf Steiner’s 50thDeath-day) ‘Zum Gedanken des 50. Todestags Rudolf Steiner’s’. Contributions to Rudolf Steiner Gesamt Ausgabe (Rudolf Steiner’s Complete Works. #49-50/1975, p.5.
11. See Rudolf Steiner: (Testimonials) Selbstzeugnisse Dornach, 2007, p.73. Perhaps Rudolf Steiner wanted to bring the exoteric and the esoteric together in this first outline. Indeed he later decided to add certain things to it (Notations) Anmerkungen, in the way it is expressed in the letter to Marie Steiner on the 13th of December, 1923. (In Rudolf Steiner/ Marie von Sivers: (Letters and Documents), Briefwechsel und Documente 1901- 1925, (GA 262))
12. Siehe Footnotes 11, p. 14.
13. See lecture from the 5th of September, 1910 (GA 123).
14. See Rudolf Steiner: (The Temple Legend and the Golden Legend) DieTemplelegende und die Goldene Legende (GA 93).
15. Rudolf Steiner: (Spiritual andSocial Transformations in the Evolution of Mankind) Geistige und Sozial Wandlungen in der Menschheitsentwickelung GA 196).
Recorded by Michaela Spaar.
Translated by Katherine Rudolph at the request of The Anthroposophical Society in Australia (Victorian Branch), 2011.
From Das Goetheanum Nr 9 09