Spiritual movement could explain the drop in vaccination in Germany and Austria – International

A restaurant in Dortmund, Germany, offers free beer to those vaccinated (Photo: Ina FASSBENDER / AFP)

Can anthropology explain the low vaccination rate against COVID-19 in Germany, Switzerland and Austria? Born more than a century ago, behind the Steiner-Waldorf school network, this philosophical and esoteric current espoused anti-vaccination theories. German-speaking countries and German-speaking regions of Switzerland are facing a new wave of COVID-19 infections with vaccination rates below average in Western European countries.

For some specialists, one of the explanations for this phenomenon can be the strong presence of the anthropological current in these countries.

Anthropology was founded in the early twentieth century by Austrian Rudolf Steiner and found its zenith in the 1960s, when he blended Christian and Hindu beliefs, combining “karma” with “cosmos” and the New Age.

This current believes that diseases are a necessary challenge and must be overcome naturally.

“Everything in the world is good and has meaning,” including diseases, explained Ansgar Martins, professor of the philosophy of religions at Goethe University in Frankfurt, which explains a certain reluctance to vaccinate.

“It should be helpful to go through it, especially so-called ‘children’s diseases,’ like measles,” Martins added.

The professor stresses that the Steiner Waldorf Schools, which have about 1,000 institutions worldwide, including 200 in Germany, “have often been the starting points for measles epidemics.”

The covid-19 pandemic has not escaped this belief: in southwestern Germany, schools in the network have become places of massive outbreaks of the virus from 2020 onwards.

One of these schools, located in the city of Freiburg, recently tried to exempt students and teachers from wearing a mask, contrary to the recommendations of health authorities.

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However, in October 2020, the school network trend diverged from the anti-mask tide.

“Many anthropologists still believe in the law of karma, according to which diseases make it possible to atone for diseases of past lives and promote spiritual development,” said Michael Bloom, a religious expert and commissioner on combating anti-Semitism in the region. Beyond Baden.

“Unfortunately, there are a lot of skeptics in some of the Steiner Waldorf schools,” he adds.

– Cosmetics and organic food –

Bloom also points to a geographical component to explain the success of these esoteric ideas.

The hardest-hit regions, from the Alps to Saxony, dovetail perfectly with where this intellectual movement developed, which he described as “a branch of the Romanticism of nature, a critique of power and science.”

Germany, with a population of 83 million, would have about 12,000 “anthropologists”. However, the influence of the movement is more pervasive in society.

The philosophical and esoteric current spread, in part, to the Weleda cosmetics group, also created by the Austrian Steiner, and the Alnatura organic food chain.

Some doctors affiliated with this movement, who did not respond to AFP’s questions, openly expressed doubts about the reality of the epidemic or the effectiveness of vaccines.

Others have promoted alternative treatments such as ginger compresses or meteoric iron to combat COVID-19.

However, the Union of Anthropological Physicians rejects accusations linking them to German vaccines.

“We have praised vaccination to combat the epidemic from the start,” one of its members, Stefan Schmidt-Troschke, told ZDF Network this week.

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