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From Gurs to Auschwitz

The Inner Journey of Maria Krehbiel-Darmstädter

Peter Selg
Translated by Matthew Barton
August 2013
More details
  • Publisher
  • Published
    28th August 2013
  • ISBN 9781621480426
  • Language English
  • Pages 376 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"

“It is this we have to learn in our times: to live with pure trust, without any existential certainty, trusting in the ever-present help of the world of spirit. Truly, there is no other way.” —Rudolf Steiner

Maria Krehbiel-Darmstädter (1892–1943), who was murdered at Auschwitz, was a highly gifted pupil of Rudolf Steiner and a member of The Christian Community. Born into a Jewish family in Mannheim, she was deported to Gurs camp in the Pyrénées on October 22, 1940, where she survived harsh conditions and helped many of her fellow inmates. Following temporary sick-leave (under police supervision) in Limonest near Lyon, and a failed attempt to flee to Switzerland, she was brought to Drancy transit camp near Paris before being taken to Auschwitz.

This book offers unique testimony of an individual rooted in esoteric Christianity and Spiritual Science who found sources of inner resistance during one of history’s darkest periods. As the portrait of a highly ethical and sorely tried woman amid catastrophic conditions, it describes her existential efforts to summon powers of concentration, meditation, and dedication to others, showing how these continued to inform her outlook and actions to the very end.

Polish Jews in Drancy referred to Maria Krehbiel-Darmstädter as Mère Maria. They experienced her distinctive spirituality and personal qualities and a profound religiosity that retained an inner connection with the Christian sacramental world, even in the most desolate circumstances.

“Egoism grows ever less; the joy of humbling oneself to help others kindles the heart and broadens one’s mind to infinity. Even the simple life, the landscape—the routine—the isolation, even the severity: these are useful. I, at least, attempt to take everything that happens as a tool for learning.
—And the time spent here: I see it on a grand scale. A most earnest consecration.”
(Maria Krehbiel-Darmstädter: Gurs, March 24, 1941)

From Gurs to Auschwitwitz adds an important voice to literature on the Holocost and shines a light on the nature of spiritual, inner resistance during the dark years of World War II in Europe.

C O N T E N T S:

Translator’s preface

I. “Living in Dignity to the End” 

Gurs Internment Camp
Drancy and Auschwitz

II. “No Separation where Love of Being and Truth in Christ Prevail”

Excerpts from letters by Maria Krehbiel Darmstädter, 1940–1943

Notes and references
Picture credits

Peter Selg

Born 1963, Stuttgart.

1986–1993 Study of human medicine at the University of Witten/Herdecke, in Berlin and Zurich. Doctoral thesis: "Attempt to systematize Rudolf Steiner's human physiological ideas. An analysis of the entire lecture and written work (Witten/Herdecke 1995).

1993–2000 Further training as a specialist in child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy. Senior physician in the psychiatric department for adolescents and young adults at the Herdecke Community Hospital.

2000–2002 Research associate at the Institute for Applied Epistemology and Medical Methodology (Freiburg).

2002–2006 Head physician at the Ita Wegman Clinic Arlesheim (adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy); since 2006 establishment and management of the Ita Wegman Institute for Basic Anthroposophical Research

Since 2007 professorship for medical anthropology and ethics at the Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences (Alfter near Bonn); teaching in the Studium fundamentale and in the accompanying studies in anthroposophic medicine at the University/Witten-Herdecke

Since 2020, Co-leader of the General Anthroposophical Section of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland