Rudolf Steiner in the Waldorf School
Address at the foundation-stone laying of the Waldorf School’s new building
26 December 1921, Stuttgart
To you, my dear friend Emil Molt, 1A night bombing in 1943 damaged this building extensively, filling in but not completely destroying the first floor, which served as the basis for the school’s reconstruction in 1945. The foundation stone containing the verse was well protected under the main entry. The original building, which had been acquired and remodeled by Emil Molt, was not damaged.who first conceived the idea of this school, founded it, and have been involved with it ever since its founding; to you, dear Herr Weippert, who have placed your architectural skills in the service of this building; to you, my dear friends on the faculty, who decided at the very beginning to devote yourselves to working here in this school; to all of you from the Waldorf School Association and the Board of Directors of the Kommenden Tag 2Magazine, The Coming Day. who have pledged your care, collaboration and guidance to this place which is dedicated to the salvation of humanity; to you members of the Bund fiir Dreigliederung des sozialen Organismus [Association for Social Threefolding] who have accepted the task of protecting the seed of a free spiritual life here in this school; and to you, my dear children, pupils of this school, who have been privileged to enjoy its first lessons and its education toward humanity, so to speak; to all of you I turn in this moment when, with hearts that are grateful to destiny, we gather to lay the foundation stone for this school building that has come about, through the concern of all involved, for our children and the student body. In laying this foundation stone, we send with it these words, which according to age-old custom are inscribed on the document that will be buried in it:
May there prevail in young human beings
what spirit power can furnish in love,
May there work in them
what spirit light can furnish in goodness,
Out of certainty of heart
and firmness of soul
For the body’s ability to work,
For the soul’s inwardness,
For the spirit’s brightness.
To this end let this place be dedicated.
May young sensibilities find here
a human caring endowed with strength,
devoted to light.
Those who place this stone
Are mindful in their hearts
Of the spirit that is to prevail here,
That this spirit may secure the foundation on which
strengthening spirit power,
and the manifest spiritual life
Shall live, reign, and work.
To this there would bear witness
in Christ’s name,
in pure intent,
and in good will: 3No copy exists of the version of the verse that was sealed up in the foundation stone. It is reproduced here according to the stenographic record of what Rudolf Steiner read at the ceremony. An apparently earlier version, different in minor details, has been found in a notebook of Rudolf Steiner’s. See Wahrspruchworte — Richtspruchworte, second edition, Dornach, 1953. [Translator’s note: Neither version is included in Arvia MacKaye Ege’s translation of selections from the Wakrspruchworte, ( Truth-Wiought-Words).]
(signatures of Emil Molt, Herr Weippert, Rudolf Steiner, Marie Steiner, and members of the faculty, the Waldorf School Association, the Board of Directors of the Kommenden Tag, and Association for Social Threefolding.)
We place this document in the pentagonal dodecahedron, which is the symbol of the active power of the human heart and spirit, of the power that we will apply with all our strength to what is to come about in this school. Let us now place the pentagonal dodecahedron with this document into the ground.
My dear friends, dear children, dear students of the Independent Waldorf School!
The Waldorf School was born out of the spirit of our times into a time of great trouble. A great misfortune broke in on humanity in the form of a terrible, catastrophic war, and after this catastrophe had subsided outwardly, it brought on times in which we had to consider how to begin to prepare a future for humanity in which forces of further evolution, of progress, of ascent out of great need and out of humanity’s decline, could be nurtured. The school is among the things that can be most effective in carrying the forces of the present — which may in fact be able to do little good at present — over into a future in which they will be able to have a greater effect. And in these difficult times, when humanity had to turn to such thoughts of the future above all else, the idea came to our dear friend Emil Molt to take the initiative to let the Waldorf School come about. Today, on the day when this building that will expand the Waldorf School receives its foundation stone, let us recall this fruitful idea most heartily and most thankfully. At the time when our friend Emil Molt set about founding this school and conceived this idea, such an idea encompassed all the great issues of the present. There will come a time when it may be possible to see the founding of this school in a more objective light than is possible at the present moment with all the incredibly complicated and confusing circumstances that are still confounding humanity and preventing it from seeing in all clarity that such a place for young people, which proceeds from an independent cultural life, is above all else an absolute necessity for our times. That Emil Molt was able to conceive this idea out of his feeling for these great issues of our times will never be forgotten and will always be given due recognition wherever people have any understanding of such needs of humanity and of the great impulses of human evolution in general.
In order to inscribe it on your hearts, dear children, dear students, I must also recall the people who have decided to form this school’s first faculty. You, dear children, who were the first to enjoy being taught in this school, should inscribe this on your hearts and souls: In the face of the immense great tasks that human beings have been given with regard to education for the sake of our human future and goals, becoming a teacher in this school was a great and significant decision. We must keep in mind, however, that for now the school has gained the confidence of people in the widest circles, we might even say throughout the world. If you look at what is happening, you know that there are human souls all over the world who not only know that there is a Waldorf school in Stuttgart, but are also actively interested in the question of what we are trying to accomplish with something like this. You, my dear children, should be mindful that you are the first to be taught in a school that is being looked at by people all over the world, and for good reason. Above all, you and all the rest of us should be aware with sincere gratitude that a momentous decision was needed to bring about this school’s faculty, which is the first to subject itself to such world-wide scrutiny. But this body of teachers is also imbued with the idea and the impulses from which this school took its start. These teachers know that they are working, although within a limited context, for something that ultimately concerns human evolution as a whole. They have demonstrated their ability to apply their full strength, to continue to apply their full strength, for the sake of what must happen for this school as a result of this attitude and these impulses. We have already seen many flowers as this school unfolds. This will not be forgotten by those who have dedicated themselves to cultivating what is meant to be nurtured here in this school in an all-encompassing sense. And when, as I have often done, I ask you children who are to be educated here in this school if you love your teachers, and you answer in the affirmative, then the whole relationship between students and faculty tells me that you are in the process of allowing this spirit to gradually enter the school.
Now I am going to ask you once again, so that you can answer from your hearts, how it stands with your relationship to your teachers. Once again, dear students, dear boys and girls, I am going to ask you, “Do you love your teachers, and are you grateful for what they are doing?” If so, then say “Yes!” [“Yes!” shout all the children.]
Dear students, dear boys and girls, this is what you should always feel. If you do, then the right spirit will be present in the school. Only in the light of this spirit can we bring about what must happen here.
This school, whose foundation-stone laying we are celebrating today, must also consider a second thing. In a certain respect, the school stands here as an example of how children should be taught today. As a single school, however, it cannot be more than a model. People look at this model in the way I described before. When I was in Norway giving lectures a short time ago, I could see that even at this distance there were numerous people who were watching this school and intimately participating in it. What has been founded here is seen as a model school. What is still lacking, however, is the more widespread insight that founding a model school is not enough. It is not enough unless an insight into the necessity of founding such schools spreads throughout the whole world. It is not enough unless hundreds and hundreds of people join together in an international school association to found schools like this everywhere. Otherwise, the most that can happen will be that this small student body will carry out into the world what humanity needs to see fostered for the sake of its evolution. 4In the summer of 1920 Rudolf Steiner assumed that the founding of an International School Association was imminent. This Association was to awaken a feeling for independent spiritual life in the broadest possible circles and to create as quickly as possible the means for establishing schools independent of the state, wherever this was still possible under national laws. When people later set out to make the Association a reality, Rudolf Steiner said that the time in which an independent spiritual life could have been initiated was over.
However, we have not yet been able to find this second thing out there in the world. My dear friends, if we were in a position to found schools modeled on the Waldorf School in many places, if we were to receive the means to do so out of a clear blue sky, these schools would be filled all over the world. Not one of these schools, paid for with money from out of the blue, would stand empty. But what is lacking in the world today is the sense for social sacrifice. The impulse is strong enough to want to found schools like this everywhere, but it does not manage to move from outwardly acknowledging an idea that is necessary for our times in the strongest sense of the word, to actually summoning the will to accomplish what these times require. And the idea of the Waldorf School will not accomplish its task until this impulse is fulfilled in the world.
To accomplish this task requires many people who approach it with understanding. If it were possible for us today — we can only do it through thoughts — to establish inwardly as well as outwardly through this deep inner foundation we are laying in burying the foundation stone for this school building, to lay a foundation stone in the hearts of many people as a seed of what we hold necessary for humanity’s evolution and ultimate goal, then a lot would have been done.
Dear boys and girls of the Waldorf School, I speak to you all out of a heart and soul that are inwardly moved, so that in this solemn moment we can direct the forces in our hearts to what has just been described as necessary for humanity, to what has been indicated in the idea of the Waldorf School. When what is meant to live in human hearts actually is alive in them, they do possess a certain strength.
My dear friends, dear children, dear boys and girls of the Waldorf School! When people in ancient times prepared to lay the foundation for a building, they buried something living in the earth along with the document which stated the goal and purpose of the building and the names of those involved in its construction. This idea became more and more spiritualized. Today we exercise our sacred freedom in burying in the earth a symbol of the spirit, the pentagon dodecahedron that contains our promise, given in the name of Christ out of our pure intentions and our active working strength — however we may apply it. Today we place this symbol in the earth like a seed, having directed toward it the most beautiful thoughts of which we are capable.
And just as the forces of the world bring forth a living tree from a seed buried in the earth, let there come forth from what we have buried in the earth — steeped in our heartfelt wishes that the reason for this building’s construction may flourish, steeped in our inmost hopes and expectations for the future — let the flower of what we have buried in the earth, of the thoughts and feelings and impulses of will whose symbol is our foundation stone, be what we must again and again call the goal and impulse of the Waldorf School — that it may be a place in which to nurture everything humanity needs for new moments in its progress, its civilization and its culture. May this flower spring up from the spiritually living seed that we are burying in the earth today.
You, dear children, dear boys and girls of the Waldorf School, are to be the first to unite your feeling and good will and good intentions with what has been said to you on this festive occasion. It is the true foundation stone of the Waldorf School, of what is meant to grow and bloom here on this site and to evolve on behalf of the well-being and goal of humanity.