Johannes Tautz

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Johannes Tautz (30 September 1914 in Koblenz am Rhein to 13 March 2008 in Dortmund, was a Historian, Religious scholar, Anthroposophist, Author and Waldorf teacher. He concerned himself with a better understanding of National Socialism and with questions of education in the twentieth century. [1]

Koblenz Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Koblenz, spelled Coblenz before 1926, is a German city situated on both banks of the Rhine where it is joined by the Moselle.

Dortmund Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Dortmund is, with a population of 586,600 (2017), the third largest city of Germany's most populous federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia after Cologne and Düsseldorf, and Germany's eighth largest city. It is the largest city of the Ruhr, Germany's largest urban area with some 5.1 million (2011) inhabitants, as well as the largest city of Westphalia. On the Emscher and Ruhr rivers, it lies in the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region and is considered the administrative, commercial and cultural centre of the eastern Ruhr.

Historian person who studies and writes about the past

A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past, and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is concerned with events preceding written history, the individual is a historian of prehistory. Some historians are recognized by publications or training and experience. "Historian" became a professional occupation in the late nineteenth century as research universities were emerging in Germany and elsewhere.


Childhood and Studies

Johannes Tautz and his younger sister grew up with their father, who ran his own business, and their mother, a librarian in Koblenz and attended the Realschule, where a teacher, Gerhard Schnell, introduced him to Anthroposophy. Schnell ran a private study group on Steiner's The Riddles of Philosophy. Through him Tautz was able to hear a first lecture by Hans Büchenbacher at the Cusanus-Branch of the Anthroposophical Society.

Anthroposophical Society

The General Anthroposophical Society is an "association of people whose will it is to nurture the life of the soul, both in the individual and in human society, on the basis of a true knowledge of the spiritual world." As an organization, it is dedicated to supporting the community of those interested in the inner path of schooling known as anthroposophy, developed by Rudolf Steiner.

Tautz took up Oriental studies, Religious studies and the History of Philosophy as "the National Socialist demon had not taken these over yet." In Hebrew, Ancient Greek and Sanskrit he began to read the ancient spiritual texts in their original form.

Oriental studies academic field focus on Asian cultures

Oriental studies is the academic field of study that embraces Near Eastern and Far Eastern societies and cultures, languages, peoples, history and archaeology; in recent years the subject has often been turned into the newer terms of Middle Eastern studies and Asian studies. Traditional Oriental studies in Europe is today generally focused on the discipline of Islamic studies, while the study of China, especially traditional China, is often called Sinology. The study of East Asia in general, especially in the United States, is often called East Asian studies, while the study of Israel and Jews are called Israel studies and Jewish studies respectively, although they are often considered the same field.

Religious studies multi-disciplinary academic field devoted to research into religious beliefs, behaviors, and institutions

Religious studies, alternately known as the study of religion, is an academic field devoted to research into religious beliefs, behaviors, and institutions. It describes, compares, interprets, and explains religion, emphasizing systematic, historically based, and cross-cultural perspectives.

Ancient Greek Version of the Greek language used from roughly the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE

The Ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period. It is antedated in the second millennium BCE by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by medieval Greek.

At a summer conference in Dornach he met Marie Steiner in the audience during a performance of Albert Steffen's play The Death Experience of Manes, experienced Günther Schubert and Erich Schwebsch lecturing and saw the first Mystery Play of Rudolf Steiner. In 1936 he attended a conference in the exhibition hall of Cologne carried by the leading priests of the Christian Community where he heard Friedrich Rittelmeyer and Emil Bock for the first time.

Dornach Place in Solothurn, Switzerland

Dornach is a municipality in the district of Dorneck in the canton of Solothurn in Switzerland.

Rudolf Steiner Austrian esotericist

Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner was an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, 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.

Friedrich Rittelmeyer was a Protestant German minister, theologian and co-founder and driving force of The Christian Community.

He moved from Bonn to the University of Berlin where, thanks to a regular change of rooms, he was able to evade the pursuit of the Party, for he was categorised as "politically unreliable" and could obtain only a provisional study permit. Here he was able to hear the lectures of Nicolai Hartmann, Romano Guardini and Eduard Spranger. On Easter 1937 he participated in a conference in Dornach where the first part of Goethe's Faust was being performed and where he heard and had a personal conversation with Friedrich Rittelmeyer. In the academic year 1938/1939 he continued his studies in Tübingen.

Bonn Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

The Federal City of Bonn is a city on the banks of the Rhine in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, with a population of over 300,000. About 24 km (15 mi) south-southeast of Cologne, Bonn is in the southernmost part of the Rhine-Ruhr region, Germany's largest metropolitan area, with over 11 million inhabitants. It is famously known as the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven in 1770. Beethoven spent his childhood and teenage years in Bonn.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

Nicolai Hartmann was a Baltic German philosopher. He is regarded as a key representative of critical realism and as one of the most important twentieth century metaphysicians.

At the start of the war, Tautz was called up, only to be dismissed once again on account of the studies he had not yet completed. His was occupied with the later philosophy of Schelling and submitted his dissertation on "Schelling's philosophical anthropology." In it he used two citations of Rudolf Steiner, which led to an official policy statement by Alfred Baeumler, director of the Advanced School of the NSDAP to Prof Hauer, both of whom had been central to evaluating the Anthroposophical work in Germany that led to its prohibition. After a considerable time, Baeumler wrote the following:

Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling German philosopher (idealism)

Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, later von Schelling, was a German philosopher. Standard histories of philosophy make him the midpoint in the development of German idealism, situating him between Johann Gottlieb Fichte, his mentor in his early years, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, his former university roommate, early friend, and later rival. Interpreting Schelling's philosophy is regarded as difficult because of its evolving nature.

Alfred Baeumler, was an Austrian-born pedagogue and prominent Nazi ideologue. From 1924 he taught at the Technische Universität Dresden, at first as an unsalaried lecturer Privatdozent. Bäumler was made associate professor (Extraordinarius) in 1928 and full professor (Ordinarius) a year later. From 1933 he taught philosophy and political education in Berlin as the director of the Institute for Political Pedagogy.

The Advanced School of the NSDAP was a project by the chief ideologist of the Nazi Party Alfred Rosenberg to create an elite Nazi university, a kind of academy for party officials. A monumental central university building was to be built on the shores of Lake Chiemsee, based on the architectural plans of Hermann Giesler.

"In these two footnotes it is not a matter of drawing on an author in the manner customary in scientific works but rather of a confession to the "reality of Schelling's view on Nature and Spirit" in the sense of Rudolf Steiner and a confession to a dark "source" that can only mean Anthroposophy. The ingenuous attempt of Mr Tautz shows how important it is right at the moment to be wakeful. The Germany universities are not there to support an attempt to block the living development of German idealism by means of a Schelling-Steiner dogmantism." [2]

The war years and the rebuilding of the Waldorf schools

Tautz experienced the years of war as a nightmare and decided on a vocation as educator. "In living and suffering through the events of the time it became clear to me that Europe would become a question of education after the war which would prepare the foundations for a society based on human dignity," is what he wrote in his autobiographical sketch. So he went on to complete his teacher's certificate in Marburg.

After the war had turned into a world war with the entry of the United States, he was conscripted once again, was declared to be "not usable for war" and assigned clerical duties in the transport division in Cologne. Here he experienced the carpet bombing attacks and resulting conflagrations. In 1943 he was transferred to Lemberg in the Ukraine, where he joined his superior officer, an anthroposophist, in studying Rudolf Steiner's book on self-education How to Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds. During the retreat he felt secure without any weapon.

After the German capitulation, Tautz was imprisoned variously by the Czechs, Americans and Russians but managed to escape in the summer of 1945 back to his family in Bad Boll. He was soon approached by Erich Gabert in Stuttgart to join the Waldorf School that was about to be opened as its German and History teacher. On 1 November 1945 he stood before his first 9th grade at the Free Waldorf School, Uhlandshöhe. Shortly thereafter he met his future wife, who had also completed her PhD. Together they raised three sons.

Meeting with Walter Johannes Stein

Soon Johannes Tautz decided to look up his "predecessor", the first history teacher at the Waldorf School, Walter Johannes Stein. In the introduction to his biography of Stein, Tautz writes, "In August 1951 the first meeting took place in London. Stein, who held close to three hundred lectures per year, had made several days available for our discussions and readily answered my questions." During the period of his meeting Stein in London, he also met with the previous Royal Air Force officer who had commanded that attack on Cologne. [3]

The conversations with Stein provided an orientation and inspiration for all of his further work as a teacher, lecturer and writer; in his lecturing work at national and international conferences and in the "Hague Circle", a coordinating international group of Waldorf teachers. He likewise received particular guidance from Emil Bock regarding a Christological view of world history and from Jürgen von Grone about the destiny of Germany and in particular to the figure of Helmuth von Moltke.

After a heart attack in 1974, Tautz had to end his activities as a teacher. From then on he devoted himself to publishing, counselling and work in adult education.

Researching National Socialism, Education and Helmuth von Moltke

In 1966 Tautz held three lectures about the spiritual background to National Socialism, which later appeared in print under the title Attack of the Enemy - The Occult Inspiration Behind Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in 1976. In it he looks at a number of personalities connected with questionable occult practices with whom leading Nazis had been close during the time of the movement's growth. In 1979 he edited a collection of biographical portraits together with Gisbert Husemann of the circle of founding Waldorf teachers around Rudolf Steiner.

Together with a young friend, Thomas Meyer, he visited the daughter of Walter Johannes Stein, Clarissa Johanna Muller, in Ireland where she was living in order to look through her father's literary estate. They found the typscript of Stein's dissertation annotated by Rudolf Steiner, letters and meditations of Steiner for Stein, his mother and for his brother, who fell in a mysterious manner in World War I. Letters and notes of Ludwig Polzer-Hoditz, Eliza von Moltke, Ita Wegman, D.N Dunlop and many other personalities were discovered and formed the basis of Tautz's biography of Stein in 1989

In 1993 he initiated the editing of a collection of documents that up to this time had been privately circulated and were only partially known: Rudolf Steiner's letters and notes to Eliza von Moltke together with the post mortem communications and the letters of Helmuth von Moltke himself. The decision to publish these was to prevent or anticipate a partial publication without an appropriate commentary on the subject that had been announced. A previous instance of this content being used had been in the book The Spear of Destiny by Trevor Ravenscroft which, in the opinion of Tautz had been written "without the necessary protection of background knowledge for the deeply-penetrant and difficult to understand material."

His last publication Lehrerbewusstsein im 20. Jahrhundert – Erlebtes und Erkanntes, (The consciousness of the teacher in the twentieth century - Experiences and insights) appeared in 1995. Besides an autobiographic sketch it outlined a reflection of the entire past of the schools movement from 1919 onwards with short portraits of its leading personalities. Finally it elaborates on the three challenges facing every educator who works in the sense of the new understanding of the human being: Wakeful awareness of the spirit of the time; Responsibility towards one's historical conscience and the deepening of anthroposophical knowledge through meditative practice.

Selected works

Further reading

Helmuth von Moltke/ Rudolf Steiner : LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM, FORWORD [sic] TO THE FIRST ENGLISH EDITION Thomas Meyer

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  1. Nachruf auf Johannes Tautz von Thomas Meyer
  2. Anthroposophen in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus (1933 - 1945) Uwe Werner, R. Oldenbourg Verlag, München 1999 ISBN   3486563629 P. 302
  3. Lehrerbewußtsein im 20. Jahrhundert, Vlg. am Goetheanum, Dornach 1995 ISBN   978-3723507476