Karl König Leading Thoughts


Extract from Karl König’s address on May 7th 1964 at the opening ceremony of the Camphill School Föhrenbühl at the Lake of Constance.

“We need to join together again in communities, but such communities that are not governed by bonds bonds of heritage, but by spiritual principles that incite us to strive together and work for each other. There a mood can be set where adults and children can live in unison; important and not so important people, able and not so able but nonetheless in reciprocal appreciation of the dignity of the individual. Only when a new style of community is formed in this way will it become possible for children and young people to reach an expression of their true being out of which their individual contribution can ensue.”


This is the title of an article for Christmas 1965, written by Karl König only some months before his death. In the article he describes the history and origin of curative education against the background of growing materialism and the chaos of war. After desribing this development from the 18th Century up to Hans Asperger and the post war years, he describes something that has to do essentially and in depth with all his work:

A so-called welfare society which starts to forget human values - a human race which denies racial problems and has invented at the same time means of mass destruction that can kill millions in a few minutes - a social order which forgot the divine order and searches for new ethics that can not be found any more because of the loss of belief in God - this generates a new array of tasks: to help the frail, disabled, lame and sick persons, and those who have become defenceless and depressed to gain once more their human dignity.

Is it not a great miracle? Mankind on the brink of self-destruction creates something new that grows like a new seed within a sinking society. A holistic curative education resembles the developing seed in a rotting fruit. We only need to understand the idea of curative education in its widest sense, then we will be able to perceive its true mission...it has the potential to become a worldwide force that can meet the “threat to the individual” that now prevails.

The “curative educational approach” should express itself in every field of social work, in spiritual welfare, in the care for the elderly, in the rehabilitation of the mental patients as well as the disabled, in the guidance of orphans and refugees, of suicide candidates and the desperate; but also in overseas aid, in the international Peace Corps and similar attempts. If we truly still want to consider ourselves to be human, then this is the only possible answer we can give today while mankind dances close to the abys:

Only the help from person to person - the encounter of ego to ego, the realisation of the other person's individuality without judging his confession, beliefs, world view and political standing - simply the direct and one to one encounter of two personalities - is able to create this kind of curative education that is able to meet the threat to the inner human being in a healing manner.

However, this will only be possible on the basis of a thorough and heart-felt wisdom.

“Camphill Letter”, Föhrenbühl and Saint Prex, 1965; Printed in: Karl König the Child with Special Needs, Floris Books 2009

More Leading Thoughts


The following is from "The Three Foundations of Curative Education" an essay Karl König wrote in 1948 for the Newsletter of "Weleda" but first published now in the volume "The Child with Special Needs" Karl König's Collected Works, Floris Books, 2009

At the end of the nineteenth century the decline of human society began. The social order which until then had determined the attitude of the individual began to collapse. The family, the village community, the guilds, the state itself […] Does it really come as a surprise that there are more and more children who are no longer capable of being 'normal'? [...]

If these children are to receive help the first basic condition for curative education is to bring these children back into a truly social environment. [...] For this reason we have distributed the children here in Camphill into as many houses as possible where each child is 'at home.' […] Every adult, however, who lives and works with the children and educates them needs to develop parental feelings for these children; these adults need to understand that nowadays it is necessary to create new families which are not based solely on blood relationship and heredity but on the intention to help and love these children [...]

To give the assistants and teachers, nurses and carers the strength required for this task a community of all those who work in these institutes and schools needs to be formed. This community, however, can only be a spiritual community [...] is the basis for the new family which forms the social backbone for these children.

The closing remarks by Karl König at the “Village Conferences”, 1964 (“Seeds for Social Renewal”, Floris Books, 2009):

“....that the social experiment of the Village impulse, this little seed of the threefold social order, may gradually grow and spread healing into the illness of our time.”