Emil Molt

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Emil Molt (born April 14, 1876 in Schwäbisch Gmünd ; † June 16, 1936 in Stuttgart ) was a German entrepreneur, social reformer , theosophist and anthroposophist . He was the founder of the first Waldorf school .

life and work

Personal history

Cigarettes from the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory

Emil Molt was born in Schwäbisch Gmünd in 1876 as the only "viable" child - at least two died shortly after birth - to Conrad Jacob Molt and Marie Friedericke Göller. The father was a baker and confectioner as well as the owner of a grocery store . After her father's death in 1883, the mother sold the business and moved to live with her brother Gustav in his parsonage in Alfdorf and some time later to Stuttgart, where she opened a small grocery store. When his mother died in 1889, Molt came under the guardianship of his uncle, who made it possible for him to attend the Reallyzeum (today Hermann Hesse-Gymnasium) in Calw . In 1894 he met Berta Heldmaier (1876–1939), whom he married in 1899. Their son Walter was born in 1906, and they also took in a foster son.

Professional background

After finishing school, he completed a three-year commercial apprenticeship at a Calw trading company. After another year as a commercial clerk in Calw and completing military service, he accepted a position at a Greek trading company in Patras in 1896 . In 1899 he returned to Germany and worked for a cigarette dealer in Stuttgart. It was here that he had the idea of ​​starting his own business in this branch. With two partners he founded the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart and Hamburg in 1906 . The company grew rapidly and in 1919 employed around 1,000 people. After 1925 the company got into increasing difficulties with its outdated production facilities, and in 1929 Molt had to surrender the majority of the shares to a competitor - Neuerburg - who immediately liquidated the factory. The loss of the company probably also drained his health: at the age of 61 he died of a heart condition in Stuttgart.

Encounter with theosophy

Molt came into contact with modern theosophy as early as 1900 and later met Rudolf Steiner , then General Secretary of the German Section of the Theosophical Society (DSdTG), an offshoot of the Adyar Theosophical Society (Adyar-TG). In 1906 Molt and his wife became a member of the DSdTG; Both took an active part in theosophy - in the Stuttgart branch they met the two leading members Adolf Arenson and Carl Unger - and attended a series of Steiner's lectures, in whose esoteric school they were accepted in 1908. After the founding of the Anthroposophical Society , they followed Steiner's direction and became anthroposophists.

Foundation of the first Waldorf school

In November 1918, Molt had a conversation with one of his workers. His talented son was able to attend a higher school - unusual for a working class child of the time - and hope for better professional opportunities through the education he received there. This gave Molt the idea of ​​setting up a school for the children of the workers he employed. On April 23, 1919, at Molt's invitation, Steiner gave a lecture on this subject in front of the workers at the Waldorf-Astoria factory in Stuttgart. Molt then asked him whether such an educational institution could be founded, whereupon Steiner and some helpers put together the teaching staff in the following months, trained them and organized the school.

Molt bought a building in Stuttgart from his private funds and equipped the school with 100,000 marks of initial capital. On September 7, 1919, the first Waldorf school was opened, initially with eight classes. There were 256 pupils in total, 191 of them working class children - the factory paid their school fees - and 65 children from better-off, anthroposophical families.

Molt supported the school all his life and after the sale of his company continued to personally pay the school fees of "his" working class children. After the National Socialist seizure of power , he fought with all his might against the threatening ban on Waldorf schools, which was implemented in March 1938.


  • Emil Molt: Draft of my biography . With a documentary appendix. Free Spiritual Life, Stuttgart 1972, ISBN 3-7725-0620-8 .


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