Problems with the Scientology exhibition in the city

Sect commissioner Ursula Caberta sees deficiencies in the downtown district office. Business sector speaks up.

Hamburg, Germany
January 5, 2002
Welt am Sonntag

by Martin Kopp

The problems with Scientology's exhibit downtown are getting bigger: on Friday morning the cult opened a "What is Scientology?" exhibit in the "Café Seeterrassen in Planten un Blomen." Meeting between the downtown district office and the business manager to prevent the event had no effect (as reported by "die Welt"). Now the Interior Ministry's sect commissioner, Ursula Caberta, has accused the office of not doing enough.

"More could have and should have been done," said Caberta. If the DVU would have wanted to organize an exhibit there, people would have taken basic action against it." Caberta stated that she had already notified the downtown office on Thursday morning, after she learned about the exhibit. There was a little consultation, and, according to the Task Force on Scientology, there was enough margin in the contract to end the engagement. The contract said that the use of the cafe complex with a view of the park should not be incompatible with use of the park itself.

Legal spokesman and downtown district commissary director Georg Cramer defended his decision on Friday and said there was nothing that could have been done about the exhibit. "Mrs. Caberta is overlooking the fact that we are bound by legal matters," said Cramer. He said they appreciated the input from the Task Force on Scientology and had looked it over carefully, but had come to the conclusion that there was not enough grounds to terminate the contract. "The contract has been in effect for ten years, and you can't end that because of a single event. No court in the world would go along with that," said Cramer. But he also said that the exhibit was projecting a poor image upon the park and that they would keep their eye on the manager there.

The manager's name is Felix Thiede, and he sub-leased the "Café Seeterrassen" from his father in summer of 2000. Thiede doesn't want to stop the event: "Scientology is not a legally prohibited organization. As long as nobody is engaging in any criminal behavior here, I see no reason to stop the exhibit." Besides that the vacation season is over. Because of that, he says, the situation is "not so precarious," because there are hardly any visitors to the park. He said he possibly would have felt differently if it would have been summer.

Meanwhile the business sector has also voiced opposition to the Scientology exhibit: "It is bad that the city government couldn't react effectively," said Ulrich Moellers, business manager of the Hamburg Bode Chemie. "We'll have to show some courage on our own." "Moellers now wants to bring the topic up with the board of directors of the industry association.. The "Ring Deutscher Makler" (RDM) has also stepped in: "The district office would have had various alternatives to stop the exhibit," said Peter Landmann, chairman of the Hamburg RDM state association. "I encourage the district office director to to anything he can to close down the exhibit immediately," said Landmann. Scientology plans on holding the exhibit in Hamburg until January 11. Then they move on to Munich.

German Scientology News