We are approaching the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War. 2014 will see much commemoration of this in Europe. I am currently engaged in writing a book that deals with what could be called the mystical backdrop to the two world wars. The work of Rudolf Steiner is of considerable importance to the themes I am developing so here is a brief passage from him to give a sense of the feeling with which I am approaching this vast topic. It is taken from a November 1919 lecture series on The Mission of the Archangel Michael.
‘One had to wonder how to account for an event that broke like a storm over European humanity, stemming from causes impossible to assess in the ordinary way of judging historical events. Anyone who is aware that scarcely more than thirty or forty people in all of Europe were involved in the decisive events of 1914, and is aware too of the state of mind of those few individuals, faces a really significant problem. For strange as it may sound today, most of those individuals were in a state of dimmed, darkened consciousness. Indeed, in recent years a great deal has happened as the result of just such a condition of dimmed consciousness. We see the most important decisions issuing from positions of authority at the end of July and the beginning of August, 1914— decisions taken by individuals in a state of beclouded consciousness.’