Does that explain for you much of the animosity?

Yes. Casual talk about the bodhisattva leads to an enormously intense reaction that keeps many from reading even one line of Tomberg. And he is for that reason being defamed to an inconceivable extent.


That strikingly contradicts the advice of Rudolf Steiner first to crawl inside the mind of another person and try making his or her thoughts one's own in order to understand them. Only then has one the right to confront and evaluate them. That, however, isn't happening here at all.

No, reading them is not permitted. One example: in 1983, the Achamoth Press published one of Tomberg's works The Four Sacrifices of Christ and the Appearance of Christ in the Etheric. Two years previously, the press had been founded to publish Tomberg's works. And in 1982--before Tomberg's first book had been published at all--the social-science section at the Goetheanum…

…whose leader is Manfred Schmidt-Brabant…

…held a conference--"An Introduction to Anthroposophical Books"--and one of the issues on the agenda was "Handling Problematical Publications" and it was there that the Achamoth Press was disqualified. Anthroposophical bookstores were requested not to stock its works. Anthroposophical journals were requested not to publish its ads. And the first book by Tomberg hadn't even been published. The trend is unequivocal: whoever even begins to read Tomberg could become convinced through the power of his words, the depth and truth of his expositions, and his fidelity to Rudolf Steiner; such a reader could then conclude, "That Tomberg failed because of anthroposophists' rejection and mistrust and for that reason later defected to the Catholic Church would be a dire symptom of the condition of the Anthroposophical Society of that time." In order to avoid that, every possible thing is being done so that people don't even begin to become aware of Tomberg's works. While I am of the opinion that, in a free life of the spirit, one should leave to the judgment of the individual whether a thing will or won't be read.

Professor Kriele, I'd like to come back to the letter and the memorandum that Marie Steiner wrote concerning Tomberg in 1936, which clearly indicate a desire that everything appearing in the anthroposophical world first be cleared with the Goetheanum…

Yes, precensorship was worse than it ever was in the Catholic Church. Tomberg assessed the situation and eventually withdrew.

Emotional and Unfair

I'd like to come back to the letter and the memorandum not just from historic interest but because both documents, which are published in the book "Marie Steiner: Letters and Documents" (Rudolf Steiner Press), play a major role today in the knee-jerk condemnation of Tomberg; above all, in the form of copies being circulated in the Anthroposophical Society.

Ms. Steiner writes there with such emotion and injustice. Myself, I believe that, from the spiritual world, she has long since understood what an injustice she did to Tomberg but, among those overseeing her literary estate today, there is apparently none who asks whether she would want such wicked slander published. There are incredible things there whose untruth one can recognize through careful study. She says, for example, that Tomberg denies the life-enhancing effect of Steiner's wisdom…

…or that his ambition and conceit have opened the gates to the enemies of the soul…

…while he did nothing but--following his inner mission--bestow valuable knowledge about the Old Testament on us. That's the crime that he committed. It's so monstrous. And the impulse was present even then not to let it be read at all.

In Marie Steiner's expositions of 1936 can probably still be heard the clamor of the battles that she fought since Rudolf Steiner's death against others' real or imagined lust for power and that led in April of 1935 to the Great Dornach Massacre--the ejection of Vorstand members Ita Wegman and Elisabeth Vreede, as well as several other well known anthroposophists and groups in Holland, England, and Germany.

Yes, at that time, Marie Steiner endured serious crises. She suffered many attacks and took part in some of her own. Everyone was then in such a state of attack and defense that they were incapable of appreciating what a very quiet, humble, and upright seeker for the truth in Estonia had to say about the preparation of the Christ impulse in the Old Testament. That was the farthest thing from their minds. Their only question was how Rudolf Steiner's uniqueness could be protected. Marie Steiner wasn't the only one making attacks: after circulation of Tomberg's first study on the Old Testament in 1933, there appeared immediately--in the same year--an article against Tomberg by Roman Boos, a vehement assault--and he had read only the introduction!--to the effect that one should read Rudolf Steiner and nothing else. That was the central thought around which everything turned. To someone like Tomberg, the only choice was to leave the society. And I don't have the impression that he would be treated fairly today or welcomed with open arms. I don't publish his work in hopes of effecting an essential change in the condition of the Anthroposophical Society but because I still can't abandon my hope that Rudolf Steiner's expectations for the end of the century will still be fulfilled despite everything. My point of departure is quite modest: there are many sincere young people who are seeking Valentin Tomberg's work and for whom it is certainly meant. I want to make it available for them. I would like it to be accessible for them, because the young aren't responsible for what the prior generation did; nor for what the present generation is doing. My advice to those young people is for the time being not be let yourself be drawn into these conflicts. I only get involved myself to the extent that I am obliged. Otherwise, I just leave these things to themselves; for one's efforts toward spiritual advancement are largely undone when one gets involved in such an atmosphere of wicked gossip, suspicion, and mutual attack.

If one wants the condition of deep silence from which can arise the calm needed for the work…

…as when, on a mirror-smooth lake, the starry heavens are reflected serenely as long as not even the slightest wind disturbs the surface, so can one permit no emotion, wish, judgment, authority, or antipathy to cloud one's preparedness to receive the truth. The spiritual world then can speak, and that capacity is the capacity of the consciousness soul. It is one of the capacities of the consciousness soul and, with that, of course, it isn't exhaustively characterized. Self consciousness also belongs to it and "thinking about thinking". But it is essential for the consciousness soul that the spiritual world express itself. And it can only express itself when one is internally so quiet and still that one simply absorbs truth and the whole of one's former view of the world dissolves.

In fact, Rudolf Steiner says that the development of the consciousness soul is only beginning and will continue into the fourth millennium, that we will therefore have to exert ourselves to absorb it through the entire next thousand years. In my life, however, I knew, one man in whom the consciousness soul was fully ripe and fully developed. That was Valentin Tomberg!

How then do you explain the fact that he became a target of ill will, mistrust, foul slander, and recommendations of censorship?

It's difficult to understand. So much wisdom and goodness speaks from Tomberg's works. He works toward effecting so much peace and reconciliation. So much warmth of heart and morality, so much respect for human beings and their freedom emanates from him that it is really very difficult to understand. I'd rather not attribute everything to the opposing powers when human weaknesses that could be overcome through self discipline are intimately involved. But one thing is clear--that the opposing powers would like to prevent Tomberg's work from appearing anew. And, second, if it does reappear, then a wall of mistrust should become so impassable that no one will occupy oneself with this work any more at all. This tendency can be felt everywhere. You can feel it in the article from Garvelmann in this issue of "Info 3".

And you can feel it in the anticatholicism that is quite unanthroposophical, in the resurfacing of suspicions and innuendoes from that time that now circulate again. Once someone like Tomberg is attacked, mob psychology takes effect. But I've also had the opposite experience; namely, there are those who ask themselves when they observe such an uproar, "What does the other side say?" That's a natural inclination toward justice. They sense that irrational means are being used to convince them. And they're not letting themselves be misled--in relation to neither their sense of justice nor their need for freedom. I think that those are the ones who will further the impulse that Rudolf Steiner established, those who attempt to be fair to Valentin Tomberg, whether they can then appreciate him or not.

It would in fact be remarkable if sales of his works were stimulated by the campaign against him.

Yes, Hegel calls that "the ruse of reason".

Occult Traditions

Let's speak briefly about the books by Valentin Tomberg that are presently available to interested readers. There's the small one that you already mentioned--The Four Sacrifices of Christ and Christ's Reappearance in the Etheric from the Achamoth Press. That's another anthroposophical writing. Then, there's Lazarus, Come Forth from the Herder Press, a collection of three writings from his time as a Catholic. And, currently, there also comes the four-volume work Meditations on the Tarot [the English translation, one volume] that admittedly is under not his name but the pseudonym "Anonymous d'outre tombe"--that is, "the anonymous one from beyond the grave"--appearing through the Herder Press.

That book is written not for anthroposophists at all but for French Hermeticists. In other words, its audience is a completely different one. By the way, that's a point that's crucial to much that one must consider if one wants to understand why Tomberg refers to so many authors who are not of Rudolf Steiner's stature…

…Eliphas Levi, for example, about whom Rudolf Steiner speaks in his karma lectures of 1924…

…Levi, Papus, who both stand on a level below Rudolf Steiner. That's the literature that's understood and cherished by French Hermeticists. He refers to what they know best, like Paul in the Areopagus as he spoke to the Greeks.

Whom do you understand the French Hermeticists to be?

It's a great tradition of esotericists and occultists partly Christian, partly Jewish, that worked both within and without the church. They have fertilized the very heart of French spiritual life.

It goes back to the founder of the wisdom teachings of ancient Egypt, Hermes Trismegistus, who was himself one of the two pupils of Zarathustra. Rosicrucianism, however, is also active there. Consider, for example, the Count of St. Germain.

You previously spoke about the possibility of publishing other works by Tomberg. Of which ones were you thinking?

At the Achamoth Press, the anthroposophical works from the years 1933-1938 are now appearing.

Those are the studies on the Old and the New Testament and the Apocalypse of Saint John…

…also the work on the Foundation-Stone Meditation of Rudolf Steiner, as well as a cycle of seven lectures on the inner development of man. And there's then a whole row of smaller articles on various subjects--lectures, meditations, and esoteric indications and the course on the Lord's Prayer, which I'm not sure should be published. That depends on receptivity and who's out there to read it. In any case, it's important for me to say that it will appear in a small edition from a small publishing house and for a small circle of readers who are interested in deepening anthroposophy in this way. It's not trying to dazzle its way into the Anthroposophical Society in order to propagandize, to seek a wider circle of readers, to split the society, to convert it to Catholicism, or whatever other speculation is circulating.

Does that mean that the Achamoth Press won't again try to place ads in anthroposophical journals?

Of course, it will try again. But it apparently will be refused again.

Have you ever thought about writing a comprehensive biography of Valentin Tomberg?

In fact, the chairman of the Anthroposophical Society Schmidt-Brabant has just suggested to me that I write such a comprehensive biography. To that end, I would need access to the archives in Dornach among others. I would need to access and publication rights to letters exchanged between Tomberg and leading anthroposophists and other documents. But I don't know whether they will be forthcoming.

In the postscript to Anthroposophical Studies on the Old Testament, I've included a short biography that above all shows Tomberg's inner way. That book will be published by the Achamoth Press in the summer.

Professor Kriele, hearty thanks for this chat.

(by) Eberhard Mannigel

Publications by Professor Martin Kriele

Criteria of Justice, 1963

The Theory of Winning Rights, Second Edition, 1976

Hobbes and English Jurists, 1970

An Introduction to Civics, Second Edition, 1981

Authority Problems of the Federal Republic, 1977

Human Rights between East and West, Second Edition, 1979

Law and Practical Reason, 1979

Liberation and Political Understanding--a Defense of Human Worth, Second Edition, 1986

Nicaragua--America's Open Wound, a Report, Fourth Edition, 1986

The Global Revolution for Democracy--Why Freedom Will Prevail, Second Edition, 1988

Freedom and Liberation--Has Humanity a Hierarchy?, 1968