Germany, Theosophy in
The formation of the Theosophical Society (TS) in Germany is closely connected with the name of a native of Hamburg, Dr. Wilhelm Hubbe-Schleiden. He founded the first German Lodge “Germania” — from which subsequently the German TS emerged — on January 27, 1884, in the house of the GEBHARDS in Elberfeld, in the presence of Henry Steel OLCOTT. Among the members was also the famous German nature-researcher, Ernst HAECKEL. While Helena P. BLAVATSKY lived in Wurzburg, Ludwigstr. 6, in the years 1885-86, she worked on The Secret Doctrine. She attracted many friends from foreign countries who came to visit her and the number of members in Germany grew considerably during that time. The Theosophical Publishing House in Leipzig under Dr. Hugo Vollrath published in 1899 The Secret Doctrine in German, translated by Dr. Robert Froebe.
Dr. Hubbe-Schleiden founded the German Section of the TS with Headquarters in Adyar in 1902. It was carried on by Rudolf STEINER as General Secretary in Berlin. During Steiner’s period a sharp disagreement on policy occurred between Steiner followers and the TS Executive Council which eventually resulted in the cancellation of the German Section’s charter. After the departure of Dr. Steiner from the TS in 1913 the majority of the former German members joined the Anthroposophical Society which was founded by him.
After the Steiner division, it was Dr. Hubbe-Schleiden who initiated the revival of the German Section. His successor in 1917 was J. L. Leuweriks who expanded the Ring-Verlag from Ernst Piper in Dusseldorf and published numerous theosophical books. Afterwards, the German Section was carried on by Axel von Fielitz-Coniar until 1928. He was succeeded by Prof. J. M. Verweyen whose special field was parapsychology in the University of Bonn. When the TS had just grown strong again under his management it was dissolved and prohibited by the dictator Adolf Hitler. Verweyen was arrested and sent to the concentration Camp Bergen-Belsen where he died in 1945 as a martyr for his convictions. During the Nazi regime other members were arrested and books and documents were destroyed. After the arrest of Prof. Verweyen the management of the TS was taken over by Eignolf von Roeder from 1934 to 1937 but in 1937 the TS was strictly forbidden. The following letter was sent to all members of the Section:
- Theosophical Society, “Branch Dresden”
- Dresden, July 31, 1937
- Theosophical Society, “Branch Dresden”
We regret having to inform you that from this day on the Theosophical Society, Branch Dresden, has been dissolved by the Secret State Police (Gestapo), Berlin. This decree concurrently affects other similar associations as well. The planned excursion on August 1 can’t therefore take place.
All books which were lent from the Library must be rendered to me immediately. (Dr. A., Schnorrstr, 27 Eg.) The property of the TS, Branch Dresden, will be confiscated in order to serve other charitable purposes. We also have to make you aware of it, that every attempt being made to continue with the Organization in one way or the other, respectively trying to establish a new organization, is liable to prosecution.
Thanks to all members for their collaboration, best wishes and theosophical greetings.
- (signed) Liesel Wehlitz, Secretary
After the end of the Second World War former members began again to build up the German Section of the TS under great difficulties. It succeeded with the help of the European Federation under the chairmanship of J. E. van Dissel, Netherlands. At that time it had been decided to name the German Section “Die Theosophische Gesellschaft Adyar in Deutschland e.V.” to distinguish it from other Theosophical Societies in Germany and to emphasize its internationality.
The first post-war organizer was Axel von Fielitz-Coniar and he was followed by the General Secretaries Martin Boyken, Hamburg, until 1950; M. Elmenhorst, from 1950-51; again Martin Boyken from 1951-1960; Ingeborg von Massenbach, Gerlinden, 1960-61; followed by Heinrich Nagel, Hamburg, 1961-65; Anneliese Stephan, Hamburg, 1966-75; Siegfried Kuska, Nordhorn, 1975-78; Gerda Hofer, Bremen, 1978-84; Eva Maas from 1984 until today. Since the German Section does not own a building, its address is always that of the current General Secretary and changes therefore with each General Secretary.
Under the General Secretary Martin Boyken annual one-week conventions in summer (Summer Schools) were established, first in Rendsburg, then in Husted (Lünenburger Heide) in Arnsburg, Schotten, St. Martin and Hann Mnden. On the occasion of the Centenary of the TS in 1975 all the various Theosophical Societies in Germany came together for the first time since 1945 in Bad Homburg. There the “Homburg Declaration” originated as a sign of future co-operation. A commemorative plate was attached on the house Lüdwigstrade 6, in Würzburg on May 1, 1976, in memory of the stay of H. P. Blavatsky in Würzburg in 1885-86 with the following inscription:
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
- born von Hahn
- Founder of The Theosophical Society 1875
- worked here 1885/86 on
- the Secret Doctrine.
The house on Ludwigstrasse 6, was completely destroyed in World War II but was rebuilt on the same location. It is now used by Institutes of the University of Würzburg.
Study weekend meetings in North and South Germany take place in the German Section each spring and autumn with lectures and discussions. For interested members since 1985, there has been held a five-day “German-speaking School of Theosophy” The aim of the school is to offer the knowledge of group work, lecturing, administration and intensive whole-day study especially of The Secret Doctrine.
Since 1989 a loose union between all German TS and groups took place as a “Theosophical Forum.” The participating societies have the opportunity to get to know each other and offer people interested in theosophy with lectures and discussions. The first convention was held in 1990 in Frankfurt/Main.
The magazine Adyar is published three times a year for the German speaking countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) in Europe. It contains German articles as well as translations from international theosophical journals and books. Adyar gives comments on present world events and informs about events within the international Theosophical Movement. It is a purely theosophical journal for members, but can also be subscribed to by the public. Dr. Norbert Lauppert, the founder and manager of the Adyar Publishing House in Graz, Austria, retired in 1989 for health reasons and the T.P.H. in Graz was closed. In order to supply the German speaking areas with theosophical books a new Adyar T.P.H. was established in Kassel, “Die Adyar Theosophische Verlags-gesellschaft mbH”.