Rudolf von Koschützki

Die Gruender der Christengemeinschaft: Ein Schicksalsnetz
By Rudolf F. Gaedeke published by Urach Haus
Translated by Rev. Cindy Hindes
Images sourced therefrom

Rudolf von Koschützki
April 8, 1866, Tarnowitz/Silesia – March 16, 1954, Stuttgart

In Rudolf von Koschützki, an unmistakable figure of special maturity and humanity entered the founding circle of The Christian Community. At the time of the founding, the “old gray horse,” as his colleagues amicably called him, had already reached an almost patriarchal age of fifty-six. Nevertheless, he was allowed to serve the movement for thirty-two years until he died in Stuttgart in 1954 at eighty-eight.

He has recorded his life story in the book Fahrt ins Erdenland (Journey to the Land of Earth) in a masterly manner, with rich individual descriptions and fine humor. It belongs to the important components in the fate of the founding circle because there a person without any theological education, from his own deep devotion to nature, found the way to spiritual science and, through it to the renewal of the Christian religion.

Rudolf von Koschützki’s ancestors lived in Silesia as owners or administrators of large estates for more than half a millennium. His great-grandfather owned a whole demesne, Auras, which consisted of twelve knight’s estates. But the course of history brought alternating possession and poverty again and again. Koschützki’s father had only slowly worked his way up again to prosperity, favored by the winning of the Prussian wars.

Into the now irretrievably submerged world of the large, rich eastern estates that had come into being with the Christianization of the so-called Slavs and had been run patriarchally since then, Rudolf von Koschützki was born in Tarnowitz on April 8, 1866. He spent his childhood with a younger sister on the estates that his father managed, located in Upper Silesia, where, in addition to agriculture, mining had grown to great importance. Rudolf von Koschützki’s childhood was filled with life in the great outdoors, with the plants and animals of the estates and forests. For him, school was a cross; he felt the schoolwork was a ‘constant deprivation of freedom.’ All this is uniquely written in his autobiography, supplemented by the descriptions of the book Sun on Earth. Of course, he went through an agricultural apprenticeship as well as a period of training on various estates. One day he was supposed to own and run one himself. In Mecklenburg, during a year of practical training, he met the young sister of his principal at the Ruhhof, Martha Cordua, who, significantly, had been given the nickname Titania, abbreviated ‘Titen’ by her siblings. A sporting race later sealed the feeling of togetherness between the two when Rudolf met Titen again at the Ruhhof on his way to a two-year course of studies in Munich. Then it was considered a foregone conclusion that they would spend their lives together.

But even before the wedding, something happened near Kohlfurt in Lower Silesia on October 18, 1891, which forced a complete change of life. From Breslau, Rudolf von Koschützki followed his fiancé to Berlin by night train. He had chosen a different connection than had been planned and also a different compartment from the one he had first boarded. The train sped through the night; suddenly, there was a terrible jolt, a deafening crash, the brief calm of shock, and then the wild screams of the injured and dying rang out. Rudolf von Koschützki was pinned down with all his limbs, unable to move. It took hours before he was rescued from the wreckage, half dead, the only survivor from his car. He had not only looked death in the eye but had spent hours with it, and in the process, had experienced a review of his twenty-five years of life up to that point.

Then, in 1892, ‘Titen’ and Rudolf von Koschützki married; two daughters, Eva and Irmingard, were born of this marriage. A lease of their own was to become the basis for life, but recurring bouts of weakness ruined the plans. “Something had come unglued between soul and body.”

A recuperative trip to Italy and Rome had little success. A nine-week cure with absolute rest in Breslau, followed by a three-year ‘professional ban’ by the doctor, also did not create the hoped-for stability. Three attempts to build up an existence failed, with his parents, in Munich and in South Tyrol, where Titen, suffering from homesickness, finally became deathly ill. An uncle in Munich had the saving idea: Rudolf could become a writer after all – he came to this idea on the basis of the reports in his detailed letters. The family moved to Habelschwert in the Glatzer Bergland in Silesia. The vivid description of these circumstances in the book Fahrt ins Erdenland belies the fact that a great deal that one would like to know is passed over. Apart from the descriptions of some incidents in Habelschwert and the great journey in the summer of 1900 deep into Russia to Prince Dondukoff at his Romanov Castle, nothing else is passed down for 14 years until we find the von Koschützki family in Potsdam in 1914. From there, Rudolf von Koschützki moved to Russia as a war correspondent.

In 1916 he was back in Berlin. There he was made aware of Friedrich Rittelmeyer’s sermons in the New Church. He got to know Friedrich Rittelmeyer personally and, through him, was made aware of Rudolf Steiner. In the spring of 1917, he heard a lecture by Steiner for the first time and thought, “This is either complete madness or the greatest thing that has been experienced for two millennia.” After the railroad accident in 1891, Rudolf von Koschützki had stipulated as compensation from the Reichsbahn that he would be paid throughout his life as much money as a student councilor would have earned. Thus even after inflation and as a pastor, he always lived independently and in adequate circumstances.

After the end of the war and the collapse of the German Reich, he tried once again to establish a small settlement in Liebenburg in the Harz Mountains, after the plan to found a teaching institute for officers who had been wounded in the war in Pomerania had not been realized.

In the early summer of 1921, an anthroposophical conference was announced in Stuttgart. Rudolf von Koschützki was about to finish his book Lebensbilder bedeutender Landwirte. But suddenly he thought he absolutely had to travel to Stuttgart for this conference. He reached his destination by rail, fourth class in passenger trains.

When he arrived, he learned of a meeting of young theologians, up on Kanonenweg, now Haußmannstraße, in the Waldorf School. There the participants of the June course were allowed to use a classroom for further meetings. Once they also met up at the Gänsheide, in the park area of the clinic.

Although Rudolf von Koschützki took part in a meeting of this circle, he thought he had nothing to do with it. When he left, the young Emil Bock put his hand on his shoulder from behind and asked him if he didn’t want to stay because he belonged to it. So it happened that Rudolf von Koschützki also went to Dornach in September for the Autumn Course. There he finally decided that he did not belong. But a dream held him, which he knew for sure concerned his situation. He dreamt he was sitting in the front rows of a theater. A speaker was standing on the stage with his back to him, facing the audience at the back of the stage. He walked backward step by step and finally fell into the orchestra pit. There below, hurrying after the fallen, Koschützki heard the words: ‘Whoever retreats falls into the abyss.’ “There was such a sure and certain guidance in this dream experience that no difficulty of the coming times could mislead me in my decision.”

The first difficulty arose in the coming spring, when a deep disgruntlement threatened to break the circle of the founders. Outwardly, it was the question of whether to start sooner rather later and better prepared. The Berlin group around Friedrich Rittelmeyer felt pressured by Hermann Heisler and a group around him. Rudolf Steiner himself mastered this critical moment when they threatened to quarrel. He energetically took Hermann Heisler’s side. They had to begin; otherwise, it would be too late. He asked each individual to which city he intended to go in order to prepare the church planting … For Rudolf von Koschützki, the situation in the coming months was not easy, especially because his wife could not inwardly say yes to the new things her husband was doing. He had so often started something new in life, and now he wanted to become a priest! After the meeting in Breitbrunn, during the days of the ordinations in Dornach, he decided to accompany the founding of The Christian Community in Breslau.

One of the initially planned collaborators had dropped out at short notice, and so the threesome – the ‘Troika’ – Rudolf von Koschützki, Rudolf Meyer, and Kurt von Wistinghausen, came into being.

Very soon in Silesia, it was possible to celebrate the first Act of Consecration. This was possible at Koberwitz Castle, which was administered by Carl Count von Keyserlingk, who had donated a significant sum of money for the foundation of the movement, even before Rector Moritz Bartsch in Breslau was able to arrange for school rooms, in which a lively congregational life soon developed.

The following year Rudolf von Koschützki was one of the very few priests who attended the Christmas Conference in Dornach for the founding of the General Anthroposophical Society. He was the official representative of Friedrich Rittelmeyer and The Christian Community. His colleagues had to work in their communities, and not even Friedrich Rittelmeyer could be present to give the lecture to which Rudolf Steiner had invited him.

Rudolf von Koschützki was able to witness the next high point in the development of anthroposophy when Rudolf Steiner came to Koberwitz in the Pentecost season of 1924 at the energetic urging of Count Keyserlingk and there laid the foundations for a therapeutic approach to the earth by holding the so-called Agricultural Course. Rudolf von Koschützki became a member of the First Class of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum on the occasion of these events.

The trained farmer had become a writer. An important book on agriculture, Die Praxis der Landmanns (The Countryman’s Practice), was about to be completed. Then he became a co-founder of The Christian Community, and now he was allowed to become a priestly godfather in the founding of the anthroposophically oriented agricultural movement. This is how it was felt by him and others.

After more than seven years of parish work in Breslau, Rudolf von Koschützki moved to Sieglindestraße in Berlin, where he and his wife founded a small center for the distribution of donated goods to those in need, especially in the parish. He was the “compensation man” who was able to help many people and mediate help.

His descriptions of the journey to Palestine in 1934 complement Emil Bock’s travel

diaries. Bock had asked Rudolf von Koschützki to travel with the group – which also

included Herbert Hahn, the co-founder of the Waldorf School – that brought back so many valuable impressions from the Holy Land for their respective work.

He himself reported on the seizure of power in 1933, the beginning of the war in 1939, and the ban on The Christian Community in 1941. After a three-hour interrogation by the Gestapo in June 1941, Koschützki was allowed to go home again. He was spared imprisonment, but two years later, their apartment burned completely. Once again, he and his family were homeless. In Osterburg an der Biese, in the Altmark, the elderly couple found shelter with their daughter, who was married there. The occupation by the Americans, the British and finally the Russians, all the misery of the looting after the collapse, renewed expulsion, hunger and cold in the post-war period had to be endured until Titen’s strength left her in 1947. She died with the words that had never been spoken before: “I love you very much, that’s what I wanted to tell you at the end.”

Now it was arranged that Rudolf von Koschützki, who was eighty-one years old, would resettle in the western zones. In the summer of 1947, he spent weeks in Leuchtenburg near Bremen as a guest of the Bosse family, who later moved to Güldenholm in Schleswig-Holstein to create a rural center for The Christian Community. In Leuchtenburg, members of the Bremen congregation and the Bremen Youth Circle met repeatedly around Rudolf von Koschützki. One heard from him the story of his life, the story of the founding of The Christian Community and his encounters with Rudolf Steiner.

It was like that again in the summer of 1953 in Stuttgart. Emil Bock had brought him there for the last seven years of his long, great life. The youth conference in the Straßenbahner-Waldheim in the Degerlocher Forest was held under the theme: “Eh’ das Jahrhundert schließt.” (Before the century closes). One thousand six hundred young people led a community life for several days to take up the ideas of anthroposophy and the task of The Christian Community. Rudolf von Koschützki celebrated the Act of Consecration with them. In the evening, casually lifted onto the stage in a wicker chair, he whimsically told of his life, of his encounter with Rudolf Steiner, and of the founding events in the first Goetheanum building. A few months later, on March 16, 1954, he died in Stuttgart. He wanted people to rejoice when he crossed the threshold, and he wanted to report joyfully ‘above’ what was now being done on earth for religious renewal. Like August Pauli and Heinrich Rittelmeyer, he was also a bearer of the Archpriest’s Ring, as a sign of the special recognition he enjoyed among the priests.

1 reply
  1. Joanna B Bergmann
    Joanna B Bergmann says:

    Fascinating story; much hardship AND joy! Thank you for putting together and to Cindy for translating ♥ I look forward to reading all of the others.


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