This is the immediate background to these evening lectures given in the woodworking building next to the construction site in Dornach just two months after the start of the war. Never announcing his intentions, and using the metamorphosing forms of the hand-sculpted wooden architraves resting on the columns inside the building itself as illustration, Steiner embarked on a convincing and heartfelt appreciation, even celebration, of the uniquely beautiful qualities of the various European cultures then at war.
These lectures were given at a very specific time and place, to a very specific audience, with a very clear intention--to cultivate in the midst of violence and aggression not just tolerance for other peoples and cultures, but also love and sincere appreciation. Such intentions are still needed today--thus, the continued relevance of these lectures. The Russian writer Andrei Bely was present at these talks, and later commented on them:
"In light of his words we looked at each other with new eyes, the oppressive mood was transformed; other infections broke out later but the national fever was overcome once and for all. The members of the belligerent nations lived in peace from then on."