Spiritual movement may explain low vaccination in Germany and Austria – International

Spiritual movement may explain low vaccination in Germany and Austria - International
Restaurant in Dortmund, Germany offers free beer to vaccinated (Photo: Ina Fassbender / AFP)

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

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

Anthropology was founded in the early 20th century by Austrian Rudolf Steiner and emerged in the 1960s, when he mixed Christian and Hindu beliefs, combining “karma” with “the universe” and the New Age.

It currently recognizes that disease is a necessary challenge and must be overcome naturally.

“Everything in the world is good and has meaning”, including diseases, explained AFP Ansar Martins, professor of philosophy of religion at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, which would explain a certain reluctance to vaccinate.

“It’s considered useful to go through them, especially so-called ‘pediatrics’, such as measles”, Martins said.

The Steiner-Waldorf schools, which have about 1,000 establishments around the world, including 200 in Germany, “have often been the starting point for the measles epidemic,” emphasizes the professor.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not escaped this belief: in south-western Germany, schools in the network have become places of major outbreaks of the virus since 2020.

One of these schools in Freiburg recently tried to exempt students and teachers from wearing masks, contrary to recommendations from health officials.

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However, in October 2020, the school network’s direction diverged from the anti-mask stream.

AFP Michael Bloom, religious expert and commissioner of the anti-Semitic struggle in the region, said: “Many adherents of anthropology still believe in the law of karma, according to which diseases make it possible to cure diseases of past lives and promote spiritual growth. ” Beyond Baden. Ratemberg.

“Unfortunately, this is why some Steiner-Waldorf schools have many skeptics,” he says.

– Cosmetics and organic foods –

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

The regions most affected, from the Alps to the Kingdom of Saxony, correspond exactly where this movement of thought developed, which he described as “a branch of Romanticism of nature, a critique of authority and science”.

Germany, with 83 million inhabitants, would have about 12,000 “anthropologists”. However, the impact of the movement is far more widespread in society.

The philosophical and esoteric flow is thanks, in part, to the Weleda Cosmetics Group, also created by Austrian Steiner, and the organic food chain Alnatura.

Some doctors following the movement, who did not respond to AFP’s questions, publicly expressed doubts about the reality of the pandemic or the effectiveness of vaccines.

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

However, the Union of Anthroposophical Doctors denies allegations that link them to the German antivaccine.

“We admired vaccination from the very beginning to fight the pandemic,” one of its members, Stefan Schmidt-Troschke, of the ZDF network, said this week.

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About the author: Muhammad Wayne

Wayne is a reporter who covers everything from oil trading to China's biggest conglomerates and technology companies. Originally from Chicago, he is a graduate of New York University's business and economic reporting program.

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