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Johannes Perthel – September 9th, 1888 – July 20th, 1944

Die Gruender der Christengemeinschaft: Ein Schicksalsnetz
By Rudolf F. Gaedeke
Translated by Gail Ritscher

September 9th, 1888 Leukersdorf/Erzgebirge – July 20th, 1944 Friedrichshafen/Lake Constance

According to all his friends, Johannes Perthel was taken far too early from his life and work for The Christian Community. In a strange twist of fate, he lost his life in a bombing raid on Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance, where he had traveled for a vacation.

Despite a kind of cloud hanging over his destiny, those in his circle, particularly his colleagues, treasured the radiant humanness that he had wrested from his life.

The way he himself described it, ever since childhood he had always experienced himself if not quite like an outsider, then still as different, and he therefore kept to himself.

Born on September 6, I888, in Leukersdorf/Erzgebirge, he grew up in a very strict and traditional parish house. He disliked school and had no friends there. Already in elementary school, he wrote in an essay about wanting to become a pastor, and after graduating high school he studied liberal theology. He literally had to wrangle permission from this traditional father to spend the semester in “liberal” Marburg.

During semester breaks at home, he and his father quarreled constantly. His mother said nothing. Johannes became increasingly withdrawn. New forces needed to be extracted from family tradition.

Although he became a member of the national, anti-Semitic “German Student Association,” at 22 he wrote a positive review of a lecture by the Jewish Social Democrat Bernstein for the association’s magazine. Once again, he had shocked his friends.

Johannes Perthel passed his theology exam before the First World War and he fulfilled his one- year mandatory military service. During that time, however, an inner struggle caused him to withdraw from an officer candidate’s course after the first 6 months. Once again, he was totally misunderstood.

After the war began, an inner sense of duty—he had just become a pastor—made him encourage his colleagues in Saxony to take up arms for the fatherland. His best friend answered this call and fell shortly thereafter. Johannes Perthel himself was not called up and was used as a field chaplain only for the last year and a half of the war. He found this task extremely difficult both inwardly and outwardly, but he gained a great deal of important insight into the destinies of soldiers.

In May 1915, Johannes Perthel married Mechthild Grohmann, the sister of the famous Goethean botanist Gerbert Grohmann. The couple had three children.

In typical Perthel style, after his time as auxiliary pastor he chose a pastorate that required a pioneer spirit. The small Saxon mining town of Oberwürschnitz, between Zwickau and Chemnitz, had just become an independent parish. There was neither church, nor community room, nor parish house, nor congregation. Perthel reported humorously about how he managed to acquire a parish house and community room. The congregation, however, just would not coalesce. The locals were largely taciturn, hard-working miners.

Johannes Perthel now attempted to bridge the gulf between his work-world and the church. He became a member of the Social Democratic Party, again shocking his colleagues, friends, and family. Even harder to swallow, however, was the realization that the gap between workers and church was not bridgeable, even though the Saxon workers now often invited the Social Democratic pastor to give lectures.

The most valuable experience in all this was the complete inner freedom from all previous obligations, for in his social class, a Social Democratic pastor was treated like a leper.

It was under these circumstances that a friend introduced him to a young man from the youth movement, presenting him as the representative of a new world view (Weltanschauung). It was the spring of 1920, the same time that the very first request went to Rudolf Steiner for a new religious practice.

Johannes Perthel and his wife purchased Rudolf Steiner’s “Basic Issues of the Social Question” and “How to Know Higher Worlds.” Understanding what was written there came only gradually, but it was inspirational. Later, Johannes Perthel would suffer a severe shock to the system from this first introduction to anthroposophy, but for now the first step had been made. He met Rudolf Steiner in Chemnitz and learned about the preparations for religious renewal.

From this moment on, Johannes Perthel knew that he wanted to join in the work. It was soon very obvious to him that the renewals Rudolf Steiner had proposed to the founder circle would find no place in the existing church. He wished to set to work establishing independent congregations in the Ore Mountains. This became clear to him during an inner struggle in the fall of 1921, when he was attending the theological course in Dornach. According to his own account, it was thanks to his wife, who was with him in Dornach, and to the construction of the first Goetheanum that he was able to overcome “the intellect man” (Kopfmensch), as he called it. The sense impression of the large columns of the Goetheanum hall, each different and yet emerging from and connected with one another, was a decisive help.

Perthel gave up his parish in 1922 and was present in Breitbrunn. During the actual founding deeds in 1922, Rudolf Steiner had himself suggested a lenker position for Perthel. And so, on September 16, 1922, he was ordained as a priest by Friedrich Rittelmeyer during the first Act of Consecration of the Human Being.

He then established the congregation in Leipzig with Rudolf Frieling, and from there he supervised as lenker the founding of congregations in Saxony, Thüringen, and Silesia. He worked in Breslau from 1926 through the 30s, and up until the ban of The Christian Community in 1941. He was part of The Circle of Seven from the very beginning and, as such, he played a significant role in building up and initially forming The Christian Community until it was banned.

On June 9, 1941, as the ban was coming into effect, Perthel participated in the lenker meeting in Erlangen. His two daughters in Breslau came under intense pressure from the Gestapo. They were forbidden to inform their brother in the field. Perthel lived through the time of the ban as a bookkeeper for the company of a Breslau congregation member.

Although Perthel is not known for writing anything of great length, from year one of the magazine first called “Tatchristentum” his articles and reports appeared every year, as well as in the “messages” for the member, which he issued as of 1936.

Perthel worked as a lecturer, particularly during the large conferences that took place then throughout Germany, often several times a year. But it was primarily his humanity, won through much suffering, that earned him great respect and gratitude in the priest circle and among all members.

In the summer of 1944, Johannes Perthel was staying in Oberstaufen in the Allgäu visiting Elfriede Straub, the renowned community helper from first Breslau then Stuttgart. From there, he went to visit his sister-in-law, the wife of Gerbert Grohmann, as well as Marta Heimeran in Horn on Lake Constance. As the train pulled into the station at Friedrichshafen on July 20, 1944, there was an air raid alarm. All the passengers were forced to exit the train for a nearby above ground air raid shelter. It received a direct hit. There were no survivors. Days later, Elfriede Straub searched for her missing guest in Friedrichshafen. She found Perthel’s passport, riddled with holes, in a laundry basket at the police station. His memorial stone is located in a large communal burial site. He was ripped from his life not knowing that his son had preceded him, falling in the field in Russia on July 13.


Oberwürschnitz, February 21, 1922

It seems clear to me from recent experiences that bringing about religious renewal in the church in the sense we mean will be impossible. To remain viable in the present, and faced with inner emptiness, the church is forced to shift more and more into outer forms. In the process, it must enclose itself in a protective shell that will render it impenetrable to all new impulses coming from outside. Furthermore, the people we need to reach today are not to be found in church. On the contrary, one gets the impression that we are not benefitting the people who come to church today if we let the new spiritual impulse flow into the sermon. As people who still somehow draw strength from the past, they also want to be uplifted by the past. So, in the long run, we ultimately do ourselves and them no favors by chaining ourselves together.

Once we have recognized this, the moment must come sooner or later when the inner impossibility becomes an outer impossibility, and if the kind of religious activity we intend is still to have any value, it must take place outside the church in the formation of independent congregations.

Because of the enormous responsibility involved, it will no doubt be tempting to postpone this decision and to wait for stronger outer relationships and greater inner readiness, but the decision must nevertheless be made at some point. Therefore, because there will have to be a decision and because the times require something, it would be good for this decision to be made today.

I thus declare myself ready to give up my parish when the time is right and help form independent congregations. My only request is that I be allowed to bring everything to some kind of conclusion by Easter.

When I think about where to work, I think I should be able to work my way into the local mining community from neighboring Oelnitz, the center of the local suburbs. These people are finished with the past and do not yet have anything new. It would just be a matter of shaking them out of their apathy. They might be able to trust someone whom they just recently knew as a pastor.

I would be most grateful if Dr. Steiner could make the effort to unite us once again for an immediate introductory course.

Johannes Perthel





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Hugo Schuster—Priest July 2, 1876 – April 1, 1925

Die Gruender der Christengemeinschaft: Ein Schicksalsnetz
By Rudolf F. Gaedeke
Translated by Gail Ritscher

A few months after Hugo Schuster’s death, when recalling how anthroposophical work in Switzerland had developed, Marie Steiner wrote, “The late Hugo Schuster was there at the very beginning, with his drive, his charm, and his lively initiative. He died as a priest of the Old Catholic Church, prefiguring, in a way, what was destined to appear later in The Christian Community.”1 From the age of 28, Hugo Schuster was a pioneer of anthroposophy, and he served it with full awareness and great devotion. As fate would have it, after turning 42 he also became a pioneer of The Christian Community, unintentionally and for him almost unconsciously.

He was born on February 7, 1876, in St. Gallen, the fourth in a gaggle of six siblings, all brothers except for one younger sister. His father was a successful carpet dealer, a business Hugo was initially meant to join, and to that end he went through business management training in Vevey, Bradford, Stuttgart, and Basel. This line of work, however, was not at all to his liking.

Already as a child, it was clear that his life lay in an entirely different direction. As his sister wrote after his death, his life was marked by certain special characteristics: “Despite the sunny home in Schönbühl, Hugo was a delicate little boy requiring unusual care and concern. Extremely sensitive in both body and soul, he happily avoided loud games, preferring to spend his time with books and paints while his siblings roughhoused outside. […] His propensity toward the mystical showed up early in his games. His deep religious feeling and his yearning to be of service was revealed in his burning desire to be a missionary, one who could carry light into the heathen world. Unfortunately, his physical frailty dashed any hopes of fulfilling this desire.”2

When Schuster returned to St. Gallen at around 27, he joined a small theosophical working group that had already been meeting for many years under the leadership of Otto Rietmann. At that time, insufficient notice had been taken of the fresh new wind beginning to blow through the Theosophical Society because of the work of the German Section. Schuster now put maximum effort into forming connections with this section, which had just been founded (1902) by Rudolf Steiner and was being led by him. He turned first to Marie Steiner (then still von Sievers), with the goal of inviting Rudolf Steiner to lecture in Switzerland. This finally came about on September 8 and 9, 1905, in St. Gallen, where Rudolf Steiner gave two talks, one public (Tasks for the Present—the Message of Theosophy) and one to a more intimate circle (About our Planetary System). On September 9, Schuster became a member of the German Section of the Theosophical Society, and this started a process in St. Gallen that led relatively quickly to the founding of the Ekkehard Branch on January 1, 1906 (still under the leadership of Otto Rietmann). Schuster was similarly active in Basel and Bern, where branches were also established. In Basel, he was among the founding members of the Paracelsus Branch, along with Rudolf and Elisabeth Geering-Christ, with whom he formed a lifelong friendship. He lived with them for many years—at least from 1909 to 1913—in their house named “Im Wiesengrund” (In the Valley Meadow). It is noteworthy that Rudolf Steiner’s reflections on the gospels, which had begun in Germany with the Gospel of John, continued in these new branches in Switzerland: In Basel in 1909 and 1912 with the Gospels of Luke and Mark, respectively, and in Bern in 1910 with the Gospel of Mathew. Schuster was no doubt present for these cycles, as well as many other lectures by Rudolf Steiner during these years in Switzerland. Where possible, he also helped to initiate and, at least in Basel, to lay the groundwork for them.

1913 saw a major shift in his life. He was 37 years old and was standing in the second moon node of his biography. He quit his job and, relatively late in life, decided to study theology. In the winter semester of 1913, he began his studies in the Christian Catholic Department of the University of Bern and sat for his theological exam in 1918. On July 23, 1918, he was ordained as a priest and spent a year as a vicar in Basel.

At this juncture, it is necessary to make a comment about the Old Catholic Church—in Switzerland, the Christian Catholic Church. It had broken away from the Roman Catholic Church in reaction to the First Vatican Council of 1869/70, during which the doctrine of papal infallibility was declared as dogma. It preserved the ritual, but in conjunction with great freedom, including on questions of faith. From the outset, the ritual was celebrated in the vernacular. Rudolf Steiner, at 21, once talked about this church to his friend Albrecht Löger, saying, “I have to admit, a short while ago when you talked about Old Catholicism and were working so hard on its behalf, I couldn’t see anything appropriate about it. Now everything is clear to me. I realize just as clearly why this precise religious form alone is appropriate for our folk.”3 When the “Catholic” ritual stream unites with the “Protestant” impulse for freedom, a new “religious form” is created which carries the future in it, “prefiguring, in a way, what was destined to appear later in The Christian Community” (Marie Steiner).

It was still during his time as vicar in Basel that Schuster was asked by Rudolf Hahn, the stenographer for many of Rudolf Steiner’s lectures, to perform the funeral rite for his wife, Marie. Hahn did not belong to the Christian Catholic church, nor had his wife, but, as an anthroposophist, he had asked Rudolf Steiner to speak at Marie’s funeral. Steiner had agreed, but on the condition that his words precede a religious funeral ceremony. Hahn thus turned to fellow anthroposophist Hugo Schuster, who performed the funeral—two months after his priest ordination—on September 22, 1918, in the presence of Rudolf Steiner. Hahn later reported that Steiner found the Christian Catholic ritual “rather too meager” after all; something brand new ought to be created. A few weeks later, an anthroposophist named Marie Leyh passed away. Schuster was again asked to perform the funeral, and it took place on January 14, 1919, in Arlesheim. This time, however, Schuster—as a Christian Catholic priest— used a completely new ritual imparted to him by Rudolf Steiner. In terms of humanity’s spiritual life, this was a vitally important moment. First, a portal was opened through which a stream of new and appropriate rituals began to flow. Although The Christian Community was founded only in 1922, Rudolf Steiner later said that the funeral rite shared in 1919 already “conformed with our Christian Community.”4 Second, this funeral rite addressed the human spirit—which enters the “light of spirit land” after death—as fully valid again for the first time since its nullification over 1,000 years prior. According to Rudolf Steiner, the 8th Ecumenical Council of 869 abolished the spirit as an independent member of the human being. Hugo Schuster is thus the first, before Herbert Hahn and Friedrich Rittelmeyer, to actively step into this new ritual stream in extremely tight collaboration with Rudolf Steiner and without discernable intention of his own. An unwitting pioneer! Steiner worked with Schuster two more times in a similar fashion for the funerals of Johanna Peelen on May 12 and Caroline Wilhelm on October 27, 1920. It is conceivable that Schuster held additional funerals within his community using the new ritual, but we have no further exact information. One thing of which we can be sure, incidentally, is that Schuster’s community was unaware of his anthroposophical background.

Somewhere around the time of the new funeral rite came Schuster’s request to Rudolf Steiner for a new translation of the mass. Steiner acquiesced and, on April 20, 1919, sent him the first part of the translation (gospel and offertory). He translated the additional parts (transubstantiation and communion) between June and October, 1921. This was by no means a full translation of the mass, but rather a translation of “the essence,” along with the explanation that the being of the mass was fourfold. It is pretty safe to conclude that Schuster did not use this rendering when he celebrated the mass. After all, compared to normal practice, it was incomplete. It is more likely that Schuster would have found the translation meaningful for his inner life. Philologically, it is far from always exact and it reveals new things, which makes it an important connector between the traditional mass and the Act of Consecration of the Human Being.

After completing his vicarship in Basel, Schuster received his own provisional pastorate in Magden, Aargau Canton. On August 31, 1919, he was voted in as acting priest. His style was impressive, full of deep sentiment (Gemüt), will forces, and missionary zeal. In a village that basically survived off of cherry orchards and liquor distilleries, he started a campaign against alcoholism with the support of the communist village teacher. The campaign was successful (thus ending the community’s custom of offering free beer to students after school outings!), even earning acknowledgment and support from some alcoholics. Naturally, however, there was also great opposition, and this created a deep rift in the community that persisted far beyond Schuster’s own active involvement. Even his opponents granted, however, that he was particularly good at dealing with children and young people, an area in which he achieved much, inaugurating practices that outlasted him.

Throughout his sojourn in Magden, despite being physically distant and extremely busy, Schuster stayed in touch with work at the Goetheanum by collaborating with Rudolf Steiner on, for example, the aforementioned funerals of anthroposophists. He also participated in the second theology course (“Autumn Course”) in Dornach, from September 26 to October 10.
Here, he encountered not only Rudolf Steiner’s completed translation of the four basic mass sections, with which he was already familiar, but also the truly new “mass text” of the Act of Consecration of the Human Being. What that meant to him, we do not know. However, when some of the 100 plus participants who were fully vested in getting involved with the movement for religious renewal signed a declaration of commitment, Schuster’s name was not among the 69 signatures. At that point, his tuberculosis forced him to go on vacation at a health resort in Davos from October, 1921, to the end of February, 1922 (according to the Christian Catholic Synod minutes). Work became difficult for him after his return. His temporary replacement had apparently been more tolerant in many areas and had given very good sermons, which was not Schuster’s forte. When the final vote for priest (Schuster had only been acting priest until then) was held on July 9, 1922, he lost reelection by one vote. Amazingly, the matter did not end there. Because Schuster also had many strong personal ties in his community, the Aargau Canton Synod on August 21 decided to schedule a second and final vote for October 1.

Parallel to these dramatic proceedings in Magden, the founding of The Christian Community took place in Dornach from September 6 to 22, and Schuster was asked if he would like to participate. At the beginning of September, 1922, he wrote to Rittelmeyer saying that he could not commit to that. He actually wrote this letter after July 9, when he was voted out of office, and before the revote on October 1. When the revote then took place, the result of July 9 was validated. “This blow broke the priest’s heart,” wrote Schuster’s anthroposophical friend and colleague, New Testament professor Ernst Gaugler. “Whoever saw him in those days could only admire the way he spoke about his community. The full depth of his love was now truly revealed. He was like a father losing his family. In his pain and sorrow, he said repeatedly, ‘How I have loved them!’ He had given himself completely and could not entirely disengage. Anyone who cared for the church with him during the days of severe illness that followed knows how faithful he was to his church.”5


Schuster never served as a community priest again. He sought to regain his health in Arosa and then for nearly a year in Lucarno. His sister writes about his time there, “He was still to experience bright joy. In Frieda Kuenzle, he found a faithful, loving companion, whom he married in May 1924 and who was ready to accompany him through the most difficult time of his life.” When Schuster had sent Rudolf Steiner his application to the “FM” (ritual department of the Esoteric School) on March 19, 1906, he had written in the cover letter, among other things: “…at this moment, I also imagine, of course, a loving wife and a few sweet children. That would also be so nice.” This was not granted to him until now, a few months before his death. For Pentecost, on June 8, 1924, he celebrated the mass in Magden for the last time. At the end of the year, he relocated to Davos, where he died on January 4, 1925, at the age of 48. He was laid to rest in St. Gallen on January 7 with a Christian Catholic ritual, which was “rather too meager” for Rudolf Steiner, as Hahn reported it. Hugo Schuster had received the new ritual from Rudolf Steiner and was the first to hold it for others, thus placing himself in the future stream of the ritual. The fact that he himself was not led across the threshold by this ritual could be an indication of what his sister described as his “enigmatic complexity.” When Rudolf Steiner learned about Schuster’s death from Elisabeth Geering-Christ, he wrote her back on January 14, 1925, two months before his own death, “I was deeply shaken by the departure from the physical plane of our dear friend Hugo Schuster. You may be certain that I will be with him in my thoughts. He was a true anthroposophist, and the beginnings of the movement in Switzerland are in large part, in very large part, due to him.”

Michael Debus
From: Die Christengemeinschaft 12/2002


1 “Was in der Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft vorgeht” (Happenings in the Anthroposophical Society), News for the members, Nr. 47, 22 November 1925.
2 “Der Katholik,” Nr. 4/1925, 24 January 1925.

3GA 38, p 150

4 GA 236, 27 June 1924.

5 “Christian Catholic Internal Diary” 1926.

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Herman Groh – 11 June 1894, Berlin – 14 December 1957

Herman Groh was a man of the world who broadened his education throughout his life. He spoke many languages and understood several more. Outwardly, Groh’s life took him first to Russia, Siberia, and Vladivostok during the First World War, and then (1928) to California for 6 months. In other words, he traveled from East to West before settling in the center, where he focused his energies. This also seems to correspond to the major inward gesture of his life.

Born into a Berlin merchant family in Berlin-Charlottenburg on 11 June 1894, Groh attended a grammar school in Cologne from Easter 1901 until his graduation at Easter 1912, receiving a comprehensive education with an emphasis on classical languages. Already at this age, he read philosophical books and Shakespeare during class. He exercised his lanky body with iron discipline and became the top athlete in his class. He went on long hikes with his comrades, becoming well-acquainted with the environs of Berlin and the Brandenburg region. Given the number of kilometers covered, they were really more like marches than hikes. His gym teacher, Döhring, not only took his boys out into nature, but in the evenings after the hikes also enthusiastically introduced them to the world of idealistic philosophy and classical literature.

Groh reportedly nearly drowned around this time while swimming in the Müggelsee (a lake outside Berlin). He saw his entire life up to that moment pass before him in full detail. During the same timeframe, while playing ice hockey on a frozen lake, he once saved the life of someone who had broken through the ice.

He passed his high school graduation exams at 18 and a half, later explaining that this was thanks to his A in gymnastics. Before the First World War broke out, he completed a voluntary one-year tour with the cavalry in Schleswig and began his studies in Freiburg/Breisgau, studying philosophy and political economics. He became particularly engrossed with Hegel.

Drafted at the outset of the war, he was a 21-year-old junior cavalry officer in Russia when he was captured in 1915 during a patrol in Courland. It was not until January 1921 that he returned home (via China) after a long Russian captivity.

His time as a prisoner-of-war in Siberia, and then ultimately as an able-bodied citizen under the “Reds” brought him many “opportunities”—for example as a lumberjack or as a librarian in Minussinsk—a calmer phase in a compound in Krasnoyarsk. He was able to continue his Hegel studies there, and this brought him into contact with the epistemological writings of Carl Unger and books by Rudolf Steiner. (The books had been sent to a comrade by a friend from Vienna). The book How to Know Higher Worlds impressed him the most, and it was after reading it that Groh decided to return to Germany to meet Rudolf Steiner, although he had actually intended to remain in Russia.

Even before this calmer chapter during the turmoil of revolutionary Russia, Groh had faced death a second time: Having escaped from a camp with a friend and walked 2,000 kms through Manchuria, he was captured in the last town before the Chinese border and imprisoned. The “Reds” released him shortly before he was shot: just before his execution the news of the tsar’s assassination arrived. Following his release from captivity in Vladivostok and his return to Europe by steamship, Groh met a group of students from Tübingen travelling for the anthroposophical First Class course in Stuttgart in 1921. Among them was Gerhard Klein, who later became his brother-in-law. His first question to them was reportedly about whether there was a real community here. He became one of the participants in the so-called Autumn Course, the second major round of teaching for the founding circle, to which Rudolf Steiner had invited people to Dornach.

Without finishing his studies or professional training, Groh committed himself to this common goal. In 1922, he reportedly made most of the journey from Berlin to Breitbrunn on foot, as simply driving to such an important event was out of the question. Unfortunately, he is missing from the Breitbrunn group picture. He then drove with the others to Dornach and was ordained by Emil Bock in the first Goetheanum on 16 September 1922 as the 21st member of the circle.

Herman Groh founded his first congregation in Essen-Mülheim. He chose this city because there were hardly any anthroposophists, thus also no branch of the Anthroposophical Society. He then worked in Vienna starting in 1929, setting up a small chapel in his home in Grinzing. During this time, he heard Dr. Roman Boos make serious attacks on The Christian Community, which shocked him deeply. Finally, as of 1935, he worked in the Dresden congregation for his third sending.

After participating in Rudolf Steiner’s last major lecture in Dornach in September 1924, he was married there on 26 September to his colleague Gerhard Klein’s sister Lilli. Alfred Heidenreich celebrated the marriage sacrament in the White Hall of the first Goetheanum. Gottfried Husemann and Marta Heimeran were witnesses and five other colleagues were present. The couple had six children.

In 1939 in Dresden, before The Christian Community was banned, Groh was drafted into the Wehrmacht at the beginning of the Second World War, even though he was already 45. Due to his excellent language skills, he was transferred on the recommendation of his brother-in-law Gerhard Klein from a veterinary hospital for horses to the large prison camp Mühlberg/Elbe as an interpreter for Russian, English, and French. He cultivated extensive connections with the captured Russians and Frenchmen. Instead of carrying a revolver for his personal security, he carried his sandwich with him when he had to accompany the prisoners. A prison chaplain later called him a “true Christian”; that is what he proved to be there. Johannes Lenz wrote about this time in more detail in the journal Die Christengemeinschaft, 2004, p. 579ff. When a typhus epidemic broke out in the camp and all the Germans decamped, he remained steadfastly at his post until he caught the disease himself.

As the person responsible for all church services in the camp, he worked closely with clergy of all denominations from a multitude of countries. With the help of a Russian clergyman who had been captured by the Germans while serving as a French soldier, Groh translated the Consecration of the Human Being into Russian.

After his recovery from typhus, he was released from service in 1944—again based on a recommendation—when his father fell seriously ill. Then he was obliged to manage his father’s chain of stores “Groh Brothers Milk and Cheese,” with all its products and dairies. While thus occupied, he experienced the collapse of the Third Reich in Berlin. The war had barely ended when Groh began to celebrate the Consecration of the Human Being again in the center of Berlin, where he lived on Brüderstraße in the Nikolai-Lessing House along with Anna Samweber. He brought his will to bear with particular intensity when celebrating. On long walks through the destroyed city, he regathered the members of his congregation. But as early as 1947, the leadership of The Christian Community suspended him from his parish duties because of his rigid attitude toward social and cultic matters, so from then on he no longer celebrated the sacraments. In 1952, Groh moved to his family in Gur Husum near Jever in East Frisia.

Herman Groh’s unconditional devotion to the absolute, to the spirit in thought and will, which he had learned from Hegel, had something exclusive, even one-sided about it. He was radical in this and used to demanding everything from himself and others. It testifies to his spiritual energy that he would read the entire Gospel of Mark standing up every day during Holy Week. He had divided it into 96 sections and he recited the Lord’s Prayer after each section. He remarked laconically that it only takes about four hours if done without stopping.

In addition to serious, faithful pastoral care, training his spiritual capabilities was important to him. He studied anthroposophy just as seriously. He vigorously and repeatedly worked through Rudolf Steiner’s four basic books according to the seasons of the year. He read the Old Testament in the original Hebrew. It is certainly a missed opportunity that he was not tasked with retranslating at least certain parts of it.

Although he burned whole stacks of manuscripts with translations, some things were saved. Groh’s life’s work can be seen in his work on the rhythms of the Old and New Testaments. He explored these rhythms in his daily polyglot studies. He always studied the Greek, Latin, English, French, and German texts in parallel, and in the case of the Old Testament he added the Hebrew text. He indicated his findings on the composition and rhythm of the texts with markings in his edition of the Bible; many people today use them as a study guide.

Groh studied the quality of time in general. He was convinced that one should be able to distinguish a Wednesday from a Thursday “atmospherically” at any time, even in a dark dungeon. Another leitmotif was the study of the Holy Scriptures over the course of the year. Additionally, he researched English and American literature for the occurrence of occult events. And finally, he always read as many international newspapers as possible.

He had thus been going along tirelessly engaged in learning until, after 63 active years, 12 of which he was forced to spend as a soldier and prisoner, a short, serious illness ended his life. This man of the world, who had come to know, understand, and love this earth and its peoples so fully, the priest, who had worked on himself so assiduously and was always available for people to talk to: now he was entering the world to which, after all his studying, praying, and meditating, he felt he belonged.


At this moment in time, I believe that those of us who experienced the new Christianity imparted to us last autumn through the rituals and the breviary by our teacher Dr. Rudolf Steiner should, considering the present situation, feel obligated to help establish this Christianity right now as an active and influential force. Furthermore, those of us who are willing and able to devote all our energy to this task alone and are ready to act immediately, should start making intensive preparations together. Forming such a community strikes me as the necessary step now, as only this kind of community would be able to grasp the impulses imparted by the spiritual leader of a movement for the renewal of religious life.

This prospective community must hold in its consciousness that the focal point of future congregational life must be communal prayer in accordance with Christian rituals. The community must be an open one, trusting that the performance of these rituals will be made possible through a new connection to the spiritual stream that began with the deed of Christ and continues with the living Christ, a new beginning that will be given to people in due time.

This community can become strong through a life in Christ.

This community will work out of the power of Christ to reorganize of all areas of life and to create new forms of living in community with a view toward the work in future congregations.

Many questions have arisen among us since the Dornach course. Many practical details are still missing, and much of what we do have needs further elaboration. We must ask Dr. Steiner to help us continue our preparations.

I am resolved and prepared to join forces with those who see their life’s task as spreading the new Christianity. I will leave all past commitments behind and am ready to start work immediately. I request to shoulder the karma of the community, and I hope my own is not too heavy for the community to bear.

Berlin, March 4, 1922 Hermann Groh