Wednesday, 29 April 2015
Leopold Edgar was Ernst Lehrs’ real name. He was born on 30 July 1894, the son of Ernst Julius and Clara Lehrs.
He volunteered his services for World War I and became an officer. He came back from this war believing, as did many young people of his generation, that society must be fundamentally changed.
He discovered anthroposophy and became interested in the teachings of Rudolph Steiner. To his mother’s disappointment, he gave up his career as a scientist and became one of the first teachers at the Stuttgart Waldorf School in 1921. At this point he also took on his father’s name, Ernst. This worried his mother even more.
However, he remained close to his mother and together they extended their knowledge and understanding of the cultures around them.
Clara Lehrs remained sceptical about the teachings of Steiner. Yet she worked for the Anthroposophist Conference Centre in Jena for a while, and as she wanted to give that up, Ernst persuaded her to build a house with him in Stuttgart that she could run as a boarding house for children at the Waldorf School. The house was completed in 1928.
From 7 April 1933 “non-Aryans” were no longer allowed to teach. It counted for nothing that Ernst had fought for Germany in World War 1 and that he had received the Iron Cross. He was no longer allowed to be a teacher. The arguments went back and forth but Ernst was dismissed from the Waldorf School with three other teachers: Freidrich Hiebel, Alexander Strakosch and Karl Schubert.
He was now without a job and saw no future in Germany. He emigrated first to Holland and then England, in both cases continuing to work for the Steiner schools. He only came back to Germany in 1952. He worked then as a lecturer at the newly established course in anthroposophical curative education in Eckwälden, where he remained until his death on 31 December 1979. He wrote several books about anthroposophy.