From Gurs to Auschwitz: The Inner Journey of Maria Krehbiel-Darmstädter
“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 Holocaust 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:
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
About the Author
Peter Selg was born in 1963 in Stuttgart and studied medicine in Witten-Herdecke, Zurich, and Berlin. Until 2000, he worked as the head physician of the juvenile psychiatry department of Herdecke hospital in Germany. Dr. Selg is now director of the Ita Wegman Institute for Basic Research into Anthroposophy (Arlesheim, Switzerland) and professor of medicine at the Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences (Germany). He lectures extensively and is the author of numerous books, many of which have been published in English.