Fried Geuter

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Carl Friedrich Wilhelm "Fried" Geuter (born 27th June 1892 in Darmstadt, Germany, and died on 14 February 1960 in Ravenswood, United Kingdom), was a pioneer of anthroposophical Special Needs education, the co-founder of Sunfield Children's Home and founder of the Ravenswood Village Settlement near Crowthorne in Berkshire. [1]

Darmstadt Place in Hesse, Germany

Darmstadt is a city in the state of Hesse in Germany, located in the southern part of the Rhine-Main-Area. Darmstadt had a population of around 157,437 at the end of 2016. The Darmstadt Larger Urban Zone has 430,993 inhabitants.

Ravenswood, Berkshire village in United Kingdom

Ravenswood is a modern village in the English county of Berkshire, part of the civil parish of Wokingham Without, adjoining Crowthorne.

Sunfield is an Independent special school, Children’s Home and charity on the border of Worcestershire and the West Midlands in England. It was founded in 1930 and now supports boys and girls, aged 6 – 19 years, with complex learning needs, including autism.

Contents

Biography

Fried Geuter was born to a Johann Peter Wilhelm Geuter and Bertha Victoria Ollendorff, a Frankfurt merchant family with international connections that acquainted him with England and its culture from an early age. Beyond this, nothing is known of his childhood and youth until he began studying for a career in commerce, but was at once called up for military service in World War I. Although in his youth – after he had allegedly caused a friend to lose an eye through playing around with a gun – he had sworn never to carry one again, he knew he had to do military service. In 1918 he met and married Maria Fuchs, an Austrian nursing sister based at the garrison in Meschede where he was stationed. The couple later had a son and two daughters.

Frankfurt Place in Hesse, Germany

Frankfurt is a metropolis and the largest city of the German federal state of Hesse, and its 746,878 (2017) inhabitants make it the fifth-largest city of Germany after Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, and Cologne. On the River Main, it forms a continuous conurbation with the neighbouring city of Offenbach am Main, and its urban area has a population of 2.3 million. The city is at the centre of the larger Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region, which has a population of 5.5 million and is Germany's second-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr Region. Since the enlargement of the European Union in 2013, the geographic centre of the EU is about 40 km (25 mi) to the east of Frankfurt's central business district. Like France and Franconia, the city is named after the Franks. Frankfurt is the largest city in the Rhine Franconian dialect area.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Meschede Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Meschede is a town in the Hochsauerland district, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is the capital of the district Hochsauerlandkreis.

It was in that same year that he met Herbert Hahn, also in Meschede where Hahn was engaged as translator in the garrison and had a small group that would gather to read fundamental works of Rudolf Steiner in his army hut. They got into a conversation on Christmas Eve that lasted all night – one so lively that Hahn reports that they went to the early morning service refreshed, though the candles had burnt down long before. It appears that conversations like this were part of Fried’s make-up, as if he were possessed by the “Genius of Conversation”.

'Herbert Hahn' was a German teacher and Anthroposophist

Rudolf Steiner Austrian esotericist

Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner was an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, economist and esotericist. Steiner gained initial recognition at the end of the nineteenth century as a literary critic and published philosophical works including The Philosophy of Freedom. At the beginning of the twentieth century he founded an esoteric spiritual movement, anthroposophy, with roots in German idealist philosophy and theosophy; other influences include Goethean science and Rosicrucianism.

Together the friends of Hahn’s circle began also to study the texts on Social threefolding that were being sent out from Stuttgart, hearing names like Emil Molt, Professor Wilhelm von Blume or Carl Unger for the first time. Immediately after the war, Herbert Hahn and Fried Geuter began to take on work in Stuttgart for the movement and soon afterwards Fried was engaged for the business venture “Kommenden Tag”.

Social threefolding

Social threefolding is a sociological theory suggesting the progressive independence of society's economic, political and cultural institutions. It aims to foster:

Stuttgart Place in Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Stuttgart is the capital and largest city of the German state of Baden-Württemberg. Stuttgart is located on the Neckar river in a fertile valley known locally as the "Stuttgart Cauldron". It lies an hour from the Swabian Jura and the Black Forest. Its urban area has a population of 609,219, making it the sixth largest city in Germany. 2.7 million people live in the city's administrative region and 5.3 million people in its metropolitan area, making it the fourth largest metropolitan area in Germany. The city and metropolitan area are consistently ranked among the top 20 European metropolitan areas by GDP; Mercer listed Stuttgart as 21st on its 2015 list of cities by quality of living, innovation agency 2thinknow ranked the city 24th globally out of 442 cities and the Globalization and World Cities Research Network ranked the city as a Beta-status world city in their 2014 survey.

In 1920 he toured from one city to the other in Germany, organising lecture tours for Walter Johannes Stein and Herbert Hahn when, after a short but severe illness he suddenly came to the realisation that he wanted to become an educator for Special Needs. The decision changed the course of his further life, he moved to the Sonnenhof in Arlesheim, Switzerland and worked under the guidance of Ita Wegman, who inspired him with her insights into the needs and methods adopted in caring and educating children with mental handicap. He worked there until 1929 when, encouraged by Ita Wegman, he moved to England to help establish the Special Needs work there.

Walter Johannes Stein Austrian philosopher

Walter Johannes Stein was an Austrian philosopher, Waldorf school teacher, Grail researcher, and one of the pioneers of anthroposophy.

Arlesheim Place in Basel-Landschaft, Switzerland

Arlesheim is a statistic town and a municipality in the district of Arlesheim in the canton of Basel-Country in Switzerland. Its cathedral chapter seat, bishop's residence and cathedral are listed as a heritage site of national significance.

Ita Wegman Dutch physician

Ita Wegman co-founded Anthroposophical Medicine with Rudolf Steiner. In 1921, she founded the first anthroposophical medical clinic in Arlesheim, known until 2014 as the Ita Wegman Clinic. She also developed a special form of massage therapy, called rhythmical massage, and other self-claimed therapeutic treatments.

He had got to know England well as a child due to his family’s business interests there and had complete mastery of the language. At first he worked at a children’s home in Kent connected to the work of Ita Wegman. Then he was invited by Mrs Lloyd Wilson to lecture to her anthroposophical group in Selly Oak, Birmingham. After the lecture he met her son, Michael Wilson, at the time a successful musician and conductor. The two had a conversation that led to Michael Wilson stating his wish to join him in his work. [2]

Kent County of England

Kent is a county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north-west, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south-west. The county also shares borders with Essex along the estuary of the River Thames, and with the French department of Pas-de-Calais through the Channel Tunnel. The county town is Maidstone.

Selly Oak industrial and residential area in southwest Birmingham, England

Selly Oak is an industrial and residential area in south west Birmingham, England. The area gives its name to Selly Oak ward and includes the neighbourhoods of: Bournbrook, Selly Park, and Ten Acres. The adjoining wards of Edgbaston and Harborne are to the north of the Bourn Brook, which was the former county boundary, and to the south are Weoley, and Bournville. A district committee serves the four wards of Selly Oak, Billesley, Bournville and Brandwood. The same wards form the Birmingham Selly Oak, represented by Steve McCabe (Labour). Selly Oak is connected to Birmingham by the Pershore Road (A441) and the Bristol Road (A38). The Worcester and Birmingham Canal and the Birmingham Cross-City Railway Line run across the Local District Centre.

Birmingham City in the English Midlands, 2nd highest population of UK cities

Birmingham is the second-most populous city in the United Kingdom, after London, and the most populous city in the English Midlands. It is also the most populous metropolitan district in the United Kingdom, with an estimated 1,137,123 inhabitants, and is considered the social, cultural, financial, and commercial centre of the Midlands. It is the main local government of the West Midlands conurbation, which is the third most populated urban area in the United Kingdom, with a population of 2,897,303 in 2017. The wider Birmingham metropolitan area is the second largest in the United Kingdom with a population of over 4.3 million. It is frequently referred to as the United Kingdom's "second city".

Sunfield Children's Homes

As Fried became increasingly disillusioned with the way things were done at the home in Kent, he and Michael Wilson decided to leave and founded Sunfield Children’s Home in the village of Clent. From the start, he engaged all co-workers in a communal study of Rudolf Steiner’s Philosophy of Freedom. This common struggle with the basics of human knowledge and culture gave depth and character to the whole venture and Sunfield became a centre for anthroposophical youth work in England with an enormous variety of cultural events and warm mood amongst the members of the community.

Ravenswood

In 1951 he left his wife and Sunfield homes, married for the second time to Isabel Newitt and lived for some time in Switzerland, lecturing. [3] Then, in 1953 he was requested to found and run an anthroposophically-oriented home for Special Needs children of orthodox Jewish parentage in Ravenswood by Crowthorne. He agreed on the condition that the co-workers of the institution would be permitted to run their lives in its daily and annual rhythms in the manner that corresponded to the basic requirements of the anthroposophical curative movement. On the other hand, the ritual habits and practices of the Jewish children should in no way be affected. The attitude and manner in which Fried Geuter was able to place this work in a broad cultural context received wide acclaim from official circles for the anthroposophical Special Needs work.

On 14 February 1960 Fried Geuter died of heart failure at Ravenswood.

“He had the strong conviction that if one simply permitted one’s heart to look and listen to everything that the events of daily life wish to tell us, it becomes unnecessary to worry about the future, because the ways and means will always be found to master the tasks.” [4]

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