Karl König

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Karl König
Born 25 September 1902
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Died 27 March 1966
Brachenreuthe near Überlingen, West Germany
Residence Vienna
Nationality Austrian
Fields Paediatrics/Learning disability
Institutions Camphill communities
Alma mater University of Vienna
Known for Founder of the Camphill Movement

Karl König (25 September 1902 – 27 March 1966) was an Austrian paediatrician who founded the Camphill Movement, an international movement of therapeutic intentional communities for those with special needs or disabilities.


König was born in Vienna, Austria-Hungary on 25 September 1902, the only son of a Jewish shoemaker. He studied Medicine at the University of Vienna and graduated in 1927 with a special interest in Embryology. After graduating, he met Ita Wegman, an anthroposophical physician who invited him to work in her institute for people with special needs in Arlesheim, Switzerland. He married Mathilde Maasberg in 1929.

Following his work in Arlesheim, König was appointed pediatrician at the Rudolf Steiner-inspired Schloß Pilgrimshain institute in Strzegom, where he worked until 1936 when he returned to Vienna and set up a successful medical practice. He was forced to flee Vienna to Aberdeen, Scotland in 1938 due to Hitler's invasion of Austria.

He was briefly interned due to the outbreak of World War II, but on his release in 1940, he set up the first Camphill Community for Children in Need of Special Care at Camphill, by Milltimber, on the outskirts of Aberdeen. From the mid-1950s, König set up more communities, including the first to care for those with special needs beyond school age in North Yorkshire.

In 1964, König moved to Brachenreuthe, near Überlingen on Lake Constance, Germany, where he set up a community. He died there in 1966.

See also


  • Berger, Manfred: Karl König - Sein Leben und Wirken, In: heilpaedagogik.de, 18 2003/H. 3, S. 21-24
  • Jackson, Robin: Holistic Special Education: Camphill Principles and Practice. Edinburgh : Floris Books. 2006. ISBN 0-86315-547-2.
  • Jackson, Robin: The Camphill Movement: the vision of Karl Konig. Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice, 19(3), 45-48. 2006
  • Müller-Wiedemann, Hans: Karl König: e. mitteleuropäische Biographie im 20. Jahrhundert. Stuttgart : Verl. Freies Geistesleben, 1992. ISBN 3-7725-1153-8
  • Schmalenbach, Bernhard: König, Karl. In: Plato, Bodo von (Hrsg.): Anthroposophie im 20. Jahrhundert : ein Kulturimpuls in biografischen Porträts. Dornach : Verlag am Goetheanum, 2003. ISBN 3-7235-1199-6
  • Selg, Peter: Anfänge anthroposophischer Heilkunst. Ita Wegman, Friedrich Husemann, Eugen Kolisko, Frederik Willem Zeylmans van Emmichoven, Karl König, Gerhard Kienle. (Pioniere der Anthroposophie; Band 18). Dornach: Philosophisch-Anthroposophischer Verlag am Goetheanum, 2000. ISBN 3-7235-1088-4
  • Selg, Peter: (Ed.) Karl König’s Path into Anthroposophy. Reflections from his Diaries. Floris Books, Edinburgh 2008
  • Selg, Peter: (Ed.) Ita Wegman and Karl König. Letters and Documents, Floris Books, Edinburgh 2008.
  • Selg, Peter: (Ed.) Karl König: My Task: Autobiography and Biographies, Floris Books, Edinburgh 2008.
  • Selg, Peter: (Ed.) Karl König: The Child with Special Needs: Letters and Essays on Curative Education, Floris Books, Edinburgh 2009.
  • Karl König: Die ersten drei Jahre des Kindes, Verlag Freies Geistesleben, Stuttgart, Zeist 1977, ISBN 90 6038 078 9,