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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.

This volume is a translation from German of Maria Krehbiel-Darmstädter: Von Gurs nach Auschwitz, Der innere Weg (Verlag des Ita Wegman Instituts, Stuttgart, 2010).

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

Peter Selg studied medicine in Witten-Herdecke, Zurich, and Berlin and, until 2000, worked as the head physician of the juvenile psychiatry department of Herdecke Hospital in Germany. Dr. Selg is director of the Ita Wegman Institute for Basic Research into Anthroposophy (Arlesheim, Switzerland), professor of medicine at the Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences (Germany), and co-leader of the General Anthroposophical Section at the Goetheanum. He is the author of numerous books on Rudolf Steiner, anthroposophy, medical ethics, and the development of culture and consciousness.