Karl Schubert was born on 25 November 1889 in Vienna (in the “House of the Green Snake,” Josefstädter Strasse 11). Of Jewish origin on his mother's side, he was baptized Catholic and maintained a close relationship with the Catholic Church until the end of his life. He studied philosophy, literature, and history in Vienna, with semesters abroad in Paris and London. In 1915 he joined the war as part of the Polish regiment, learned Polish, and was taken prisoner in Russia, where he was employed as an interpreter.
In 1920 he applied for a job as an interpreter at the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory. He was hired—not as an interpreter, however, but as a teacher of English and French at the newly founded Waldorf School. Rudolf Steiner soon placed him in charge of the newly established "remedial class." In this class, students in need of soul care who were integrated into the regular class groups were taught for two hours a day.
Karl Schubert was a born special needs teacher. He possessed an extraordinarily sensitive, compassionate perception of the goings-on inside others. With an incredible amount of personal warmth, he strove to awaken his students "at their core."
In May 1934 he had to leave the Waldorf School because of his Jewish descent—but was granted permission to conduct private "remedial instruction." When the Waldorf School was banned in 1938, this auxiliary class was overlooked because it was no longer officially part of the school. Karl Schubert therefore continued to teach his students. This was a dangerous undertaking both for him and for the students, who were considered "unworthy." As often as circumstances permitted, they were taken by their parents to "school" in a private apartment provided by friends. Karl Schubert brought the necessary items for the lessons with him in his backpack. In this atmosphere of unwavering hope and love, Karl Schubert was able to continue educating his special students. It is said of Karl Schubert that he carried Waldorf education through the war in his backpack.
Karl Schubert died on 3 February 1949 in Stuttgart.