Thomas Weihs

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Thomas Weihs (born 30 April 1914 Vienna (then the Austro-Hungarian Empire), died 19 June 1983 Aberdeen, Scotland) was a doctor, farmer and special needs educator, one of the founders and leading co-workers of the Camphill Movement and a pioneer of Anthroposophical curative education.[1] [2]

Biography[edit]

Thomas Johannes Weihs was the second child of Gertrude and Richard Weiss (spelling later changed), who had settled in Vienna from Brody in the Ukraine. During his studies in Medicine at the University of Vienna, he met Dr Karl König and became part of a youth group whose members formed the core of what was to become Camphill in Scotland.

Being of Jewish origin, he fled Austria together with his first wife, Helene Stoll, completed his doctor’s degree in Basel, after which, at the outbreak of World War II he joined Dr König and the others in Scotland. Near Aberdeen, on Camphill estate, they founded the work in curative education for those they called “children in need of special care,” which was to occupy him for the rest of his life. He had a number of children with Helene, one of whom, Christine Polyblank, founded the Ringwood Waldorf School.

As Camphill grew, so his responsibilities increased, ranging from farming and general handyman to doctor, educator, lecturer and writer. In 1957 he was appointed Superintendent of the Camphill work by Dr König. He had, by this time, also established a thriving practice as a doctor, including working at Dr. König’s own London practice. At the same time he travelled widely, lecturing at Camphill centres throughout the world as well as to the general public. It was in this manner that he met BBC film director Jonathan Stedall, then 28 and taking a year off to study at Emerson College. Their collaboration led to the numerous films for British television that Stedall made on Camphill such as “Candle on the Hill”.

Weihs’ best-known work, the book Children in Need of Special Care, was published in 1971 and has since been reprinted on several occasions and translated into 14 languages.

His final work, “Embryogenesis in Myth and Science”, was completed on his deathbed and published posthumously.

Besides this, his work as sculptor led to a considerable number of pieces set up all over the various farms and public buildings of Camphill.

Films of Jonathan Stedall on Camphill[edit]

1967–68 In Need of Special Care (BBC2 2 × 60'):

  • 1. Camphill School, Aberdeen – for children with special needs. (Awarded British Film Academy ‘Robert Flaherty Award’ for best documentary in 1968, and nominated for ‘United Nations Award’.)
  • 2. Botton Village, Yorkshire – a Camphill Community for adults with special needs. (Also nominated for British Film Academy ‘United Nations Award’.)

1973

  • In Defence of the Stork (BBC1 30') – connections between embryology and the story of creation in the book of Genesis, with Camphill’s Dr Thomas Weihs.

1990

  • Candle on the Hill (BBC2 3 × 50') – celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Camphill movement and its work for children and adults with special needs.

Published works[edit]

  • Thomas J. Weihs ‘’Children in Need of Special Care’’ A Condor book Human Horizons series. Editors: Anthea M. Hailey, Michael J. Hailey, N. M. Blitz Souvenir Press Limited, 2000 ISBN 0285635697, 9780285635692
  • Thomas J. Weihs ‘’Embryogenesis in Myth and Science’’ Floris Books, 2008 ISBN 0863156711, 9780863156717
  • Thomas J. Weihs and Wain Farrants ‘’The Farm as an Individuality’’ Editor Baruch Luke Urieli Camphill Villages Trust, 1965

Books[edit]

  • ‘’Thomas J. Weihs’’ Edited by Johannes M. Surkamp Camphill Books, 1999 ISBN 1897839154, 9781897839157

References[edit]

  1. ^ ‘’The Builders of Camphill: Lives and Destinies of the Founders’’ Edited by Friedwart Bock, Article by Christine Polyblank, Floris Books, 2004 ISBN 0863154425, 9780863154423
  2. ^ http://biographien.kulturimpuls.org/detail.php?&id=759 ‘’Thomas Weihs’’ - Biographischer Eintrag in der Online-Dokumentation der anthroposophischen Forschungsstelle Kulturimpuls]