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Karl König Archive Series

The Spirit of Camphill

Birth of a Movement

July 2018
More details
  • Publisher
  • Published
    27th July 2018
  • ISBN 9781782504979
  • Language German
  • Pages 272 pp.
  • Size 5.4" x 8.5"

Fleeing from Nazi Europe in the late 1930s, Austrian-born Karl König and his colleagues founded the first Camphill community, for children with special needs, outside Aberdeen in the north of Scotland. The seven essays by König in this book explain the principles behind what would grow to become a worldwide movement.

The insights in this book reveal the inner motivations that drove König and his team to persevere with their social project, and help modern-day readers to understand how they succeeded in building a network that now numbers over one hundred communities in twenty countries around the world.

Includes extensive diary excerpts, documents and photographs from the Karl König Archive.

C O N T E N T S:

Introduction, by Richard Steel

Outcasts in Scotland: Pioneers in an Old Manse
The Candle on the Hill
Three Stars, Pillars and Essentials, by Richard Steel

  • The Three Stars of the Camphill Movement
  • The three Pillars of the Camphill Movement
  • The Three Essentials of Camphill

The Birth of a Movement
Modern Community Building
Address to the Tutzinger Stern


  • Fragments from the Story of Camphill 1939–1940, by Anke Weihs
  • W. F. Macmillan and the Beginnings of Camphill
  • Karl König’s Star Chart Drawing, by Alan Thewless
  • Notes of a Lecture in Sheffield
  • Letter to Carlo Pietzner
  • The Spirit like a Dove: The Logo of Camphill, by Richard Steel

Notes and Sources

Karl König

Karl König (1902–1966) was born in Vienna, in Austria-Hungary, the only son of a Jewish shoemaker. He studied medicine at the University of Vienna and graduated in 1927, with a special interest in embryology. After graduating, he was invited by Ita Wegman to work in her Klinisch-Therapeutisches Institut, a clinic in Arlesheim, Switzerland for people with special needs. He married Mathilde Maasberg in 1929. Dr. König was appointed paediatrician at the Rudolf Steiner-inspired Schloß Pilgrimshain institute in Strzegom, where he worked until 1936, when he returned to Vienna and established a successful medical practice. Owing to Hitler's invasion of Austria, he was forced to flee Vienna to Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1938. Dr. König was interned briefly at the beginning of World War II, but on his release in 1940 he set up the first Camphill Community for Children in Need of Special Care at Camphill on the outskirts of Aberdeen. From the mid-1950s, König began more communities, including one in North Yorkshire, the first to care for those beyond school age with special needs. In 1964, König moved to Brachenreuthe near Überlingen on Lake Constance, Germany, where he set up another community, where he died in 1966.