KZs und Biologisch-dynamisch | Die Egoisten
Biologisch- dynamische Landwirtschaft in Konzentrationslagern
von Peter Staudenmaier

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Links und weiterführende Literatur bereit gestellt von der Redaktion


I wanted to follow up on the history of SS-sponsored bio-dynamic plantations at various concentration camps. Perhaps an overview of this history will help spur a more attentive anthroposophical engagement with this chapter of anthroposophy’s past. Part of my archival research over the last several months has involved working through the records of these bio-dynamic installations at Dachau and elsewhere, but for purposes of this post I will largely stick to published sources.

The basic parameters of the SS biodynamic program have been publicly known for a long time, though anthroposophists seem to have taken virtually no notice of this. The scholarly literature on the topic extends back to the 1960s. Here is a brief list of some of the readily available publications that examine the network of biodynamic enterprises within the concentration camp system:

Enno Georg, Die wirtschaftlichen Unternehmungen der SS (Stuttgart 1963), for decades the standard historical work on the SS network of economic enterprises, discusses the SS’s biodynamic agriculture sites at the concentration camps on pp. 62-66, with special attention to the Dachau operation.

Walter Wuttke-Groneberg, “Von Heidelberg nach Dachau” in Gerhard Baader and Ulirch Schultz, eds, Medizin und Nationalsozialismus (Berlin 1980), pp. 113-138; see esp. the section “Die Heilkräuterplantage im KZ Dachau” 116-120.

Walter Wuttke-Groneberg, “Nationalsozialistische Medizin: Volks- und Naturheilkunde auf “neuen Wegen”” in Heinz Abholz, ed, Alternative Medizin (Berlin 1983), pp. 27-50 (which also contains very useful information on the role of anthroposophical medicine in the Third Reich) examines the SS biodynamic plantations on 43-44.

Bernhard Strebel, Das KZ Ravensbrück: Geschichte eines Lagerkomplexes (Paderborn 2003), pp. 212-213 on the biodynamic farm at the Ravensbrück concentration camp; a quick peek at this should dispel Frank’s confusion about its location.

Hermann Kaienburg, Die Wirtschaft der SS (Berlin 2003) describes the SS biodynamic enterprises at length at several points in the book; the chief relevant sections are pp. 771-855; for especially important material see 797-804.

Wolfgang Jacobeit and Christoph Kopke, Die Biologisch-dynamische Wirtschaftsweise im KZ (Berlin 1999), an entire 135 page book on the biodynamic tracts at concentration camps.

This is, in other words, a well-studied topic, and there is no meaningful reason for continued anthroposophical ignorance about it. Here, then, is a summary of this episode in the complex interaction between anthroposophy and Nazism.

Of all the branches of the anthroposophical milieu in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, the one that displayed the most consistently enthusiastic attitude toward Nazi endeavors, and the one that received the most consistently positive attention from various Nazi officials, was thebiodynamic agriculture movement. A number of prominent Nazis were actively involved in the biodynamic movement; one telling example is Albert Friehe, after 1933 a local functionary of the biodynamic farmers league, who was a Reichstag candidate for the Nazi party in 1932. Another example is Nazi Reichstag member Hermann Schneider, who continued to promote biodynamics well into the war (see e.g. Hermann Schneider, Schicksalsgemeinschaft Europa: Leben und Nahrung aus der europäischen Scholle, Breslau 1941, esp. pp. 89-102).

Other high-level Nazis were supporters of biodynamics, including at the very top of the Nazi hierarchy Robert Ley, Rudolf Hess, and the Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick. Even figures like Alfred Rosenberg were positively disposed toward biodynamics and visited the estate of leading anthroposophist Erhard Bartsch, the head of the biodynamic movement. One of the chief successes of anthroposophists and biodynamic advocates in the course of the Third Reich was winning the active support of the Minister of Agriculture, Darré, who had initially been skeptical toward biodynamic farming but became a vocal proponent of biodynamics by 1940. Even well before that point, however, several influential members of Darre’s staff were strong supporters of biodynamics, including Hermann Reischle, Hans Merkel, and Georg Halbe; the latter two were also members of the Anthroposophical Society.

A further source of active encouragement of biodynamics, and indeed of practical application of biodynamic methods under Nazi auspices, was the coterie of “landscape advocates” who worked under Nazi minister Fritz Todt. This group was lead by Nazi party member Alwin Seifert, a long-time practitioner and advocate of biodynamics, and the group included a number of active anthroposophists as well, most prominently Max Karl Schwarz, a major figure in the biodynamic movement.

Beyond these extensive personal and political connections, the biodynamic movement was also firmly integrated into the constellation of Nazi institutions. Soon after the Nazis came to power in 1933, the association of biodynamic growers organized itself into a new grouping, the Reich League for Bio-Dynamic Cultivation (Reichsverband für Biologisch-Dynamische Wirtschaftsweise). In 1935 the Reich League for Bio-Dynamic Cultivation officially joined the Nazi organization Deutsche Gesellschaft für Lebensreform, a collection of ‘alternative’ cultural groups dedicated to alternative health, nutrition, farming, and so forth, with an explicitly and fervently Nazi commitment.

The eventual establishment of a series of biodynamic estates at various concentration camps, however, was the result of intensive ongoing contacts between the biodynamic movement and the SS. One of the crucial figures in this regard was Carl Grund, an anthroposophist and a leading activist in the biodynamic movement since the 1920s, who joined the Nazi party and the SA in 1933; in 1942 he was made a commissioned officer in the SS. Grund was hardly an isolated case; Harald Kabisch, for example, an official of the Reich League for Bio-Dynamic Cultivation, joined the Nazi party in 1941, and Hans Merkel was an SS officer as well. Probably the best known case is that of anthroposophist and biodynamic pioneer Franz Lippert, who joined the SS in 1941 and oversaw the biodynamic plantation at Dachau.

A number of very high ranking SS officers were supporters of biodynamic agriculture and played a central role in the creation of biodynamic installations as part of the concentration camp system. Aside from Otto Ohlendorf, the most famous instance of an SS leader who was sympathetic to anthroposophy, the two chief figures here were Günther Pancke and Oswald Pohl. Pancke was Darré’s successor as head of the SS Race and Settlement Main Office and one of Erhard Bartsch’s many Nazi admirers. In 1940 Pancke tried to have Bartsch appointed an SS officer, but was obstructed by Reinhard Heydrich, an opponent of anthroposophy who had Bartsch temporarily imprisoned in 1941. Pancke nevertheless drew on Bartsch’s assistance in planning a biodynamic component to the Nazi settlement of ethnically cleansed territories in Eastern Europe. In the first years of WWII Bartsch devoted significant attention to the question of how to re-shape conquered
lands in Poland, now under German control, along biodynamic lines.

Oswald Pohl was the administrator of the concentration camp system. Pohl, a friend of Seifert’s, took a special interest in biodynamics and had his own estate in Comthurey farmed biodynamically; he also sent biodynamic texts to
Himmler, and was yet another high-ranking Nazi guest at Bartsch’s biodynamic estate. In January 1939 Himmler created a new SS undertaking, the Deutsche Versuchsanstalt für Ernährung und Verpflegung (German Research Facility for Food and Nutrition), known as the DVA (1) for short. The DVA was subordinate to Pohl and existed from 1939 until the very end in 1945. A large part of its operations consisted of agricultural plantations located at several concentration camps, including Auschwitz, Dachau, and Ravensbrück, as well as other places in both Germany proper and in occupied Eastern Europe. Most of these agricultural projects were biodynamic plantations.

Ravensbrück was the first DVA estate to be converted to biodynamic cultivation, in May 1940. Eventually the majority of the DVA’s plantations were run biodynamically; Himmler also ordered biodynamic experiments to be carried out at Auschwitz. The SS sent its personnel to attend courses provided by the Reich League for Bio-Dynamic Cultivation. The DVA also marketed Demeter products and cooperated with Weleda. The head of the DVA’s agricultural section was SS officer Heinrich Vogel, who was also on good terms with Bartsch. The centerpiece of the DVA biodynamic operations was the sizeable plantation at Dachau.

The Dachau plantation was overseen by anthroposophist Franz Lippert (2), who had been head gardener at Weleda for many years. Under Lippert’s biodynamic supervision, the Dachau plantation made a considerable profit for the SS.
Lippert also published two books for the SS publishing house in 1942 and 1943 based in part on his work at the Dachau plantation. The labor at the Dachau plantation, as at all of the DVA biodynamic estates, was performed by concentration camp inmates. The SS commitment to biodynamics continued until the camps were liberated in 1945.


Peter Staudenmaier

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(1) „Im Zentrum ihrer Arbeit steht die 1939 gegründete SS-Organisation Deutsche Versuchsanstalt für Ernährung und Verpflegung (DVA), deren Versuchsgüter unter anderem an die Konzentrationslager Ravensbrück, Dachau und Auschwitz angegliedert waren. Die Autoren arbeiten heraus, daß der DVA eine spezifische Stellung in der nationalsozialistischen Landwirtschaftspolitik zukam. Diese war ideologisch zwar weitgehend auf die "Blut und Boden"-Mythologie zugeschnitten, doch in der Praxis der "Erzeugungsschlacht" setzten die staatlichen Stellen weiterhin auf die industrielle Modernisierung der Landwirtschaft. Die SS verfolgte mit der Gründung der DVA das Ziel, die Weichen für eine grundlegende Umgestaltung hin zu einer "natürlichen" Landwirtschafts- und Ernährungspolitik zu stellen. Eine solche sollte aber erst nach einem erfolgreichen Abschluß des Krieges in Angriff genommen werden. Die entsprechenden Versuche orientierten sich praktisch an der von Rudolf Steiner begründeten "biologisch-dynamischen" Anbauweise, nach deren Richtlinien im Jahr der DVA-Gründung bereits 2000 landwirtschaftliche bzw. gärtnerische Betriebe bewirtschaftet wurden. Diese Anbaumethode lehnt die Anwendung von Kunstdünger und synthetischen Pflanzenschutzmitteln kategorisch ab und forciert statt dessen die natürliche Düngung mit hofeigenem Stallmist, der durch die Beigabe von heilmedizinischen Präparaten zur nachhaltigen Gesundung des Ackerbodens verwendet werden soll..

Der biologisch-dynamische Landbau, der heute unter dem Label Demeter vermarktet wird, stellt innerhalb der Anthroposophie nur einen praktischen Teilbereich im Versuch der Umsetzung ihres kosmischen Weltbildes dar. Insofern standen die Förderer dieser Anbauform - unter ihnen Himmler, Heß und Darré - vor dem Problem, sie von ihren zahlreichen anthroposophischen Versatzstücken reinigen zu müssen, damit sie nicht in Konflikt mit der NS-Ideologie geriet. Die Allgemeine Anthroposophische Gesellschaft war bereits 1935 wie die meisten Waldorfschulen verboten worden. Mit Hilfe eines Teils der NS-Eliten konnte sich der von Erhard Bartsch geführte Reichsverband für biologisch-dynamische Wirtschaftsweise bis 1941 gegen die Angriffe aus chemischer Industrie und Landwirtschaftsverwaltung verteidigen, nach Heß' Englandflug kam aber schließlich das Verbot, trotz der bis zu diesem Zeitpunkt intensiven Kooperation mit der DVA. Die Versuche der DVA wurden unter dem Label "lebensgesetzliche Anbauweise" jedoch auch nach 1941 fortgesetzt, mangels Fachkräften verliefen die Experimente aber im wesentlichen erfolglos. Erfolgreich arbeiteten lediglich die Gewürz- und Heilkräuterplantagen des KZ Dachau, was "zum einen mit dem Tod von hunderten ausgebeuteter Häftlinge, zum anderen durch eine fachmännische Anleitung durch nationalsozialistische Ernährungswissenschaftler erreicht" ( S. 124) werden konnten. Letztere führten darüber hinaus im Auftrag der DVA Ernährungsversuche an KZ-Häftlingen durch. Einerseits mit dem Ziel, deren Arbeitskraft länger ausbeuten zu können, andererseits aber auch, um die Truppenverpflegung qualitativ zu verbessern..“ Weblink

(2) Zum Thema „Weleda“ bei Wikipedia: „Franz Lippert Leiter des Heilpflanzenanbaus
Der ehemalige Leiter des Heilpflanzenanbaus bei der Weleda AG in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Franz Lippert, war für die Heilkräuterversuchsanlage der SS beim Konzentrationslager Dachau verantwortlich.[2] Lippert hatte die Stelle bei der Weleda AG im Herbst 1940 aufgegeben und trat im September 1941 seine Stelle in Dachau an, wo er bis zum März 1945 blieb. In seiner 1999 erschienenen Untersuchung zur Rolle der Anthroposophen in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus zieht der Historiker Uwe Werner zur Ehrenrettung Lipperts eine Reihe von Aussagen ehemaliger KZ-Häftlinge heran, die von Lipperts Tochter gesammelt wurden und seinen humanen Umgang mit den ihm unterstellten Häftlingen belegen. Ein nach Kriegsende gegen Lippert eingeleitetes Verfahren wurde eingestellt.“

Siehe auch folgende Studie bei Anthromedia: „Studie zum Verhältnis von Vertretern der Biologischdynamischen Wirtschaftsweise zum Nationalsozialismus“

„Creme für KZ: Weleda bedauert“ bei Aktion Kinder des Holocaust