(excerpt from "Scientology: Labyrinth of Illusion"
by Martina Mueller, Christoph Minhoff
(c) 1997 by ECON Verlag)
Once again, it was the over-diligent Scientologists who unleashed a wave of public dispute as had not been seen in Germany up to this time. Those mainly concerned with the clarification of Scientology had been church worldview appointees, parents initiatives, consumer protection agencies and journalists, but by the beginning of the 1990's, political representatives had started to recognize the problem of Scientology. By the mid 1980's, Scientology had already been reported upon under the misleading term of "youth sect," and brochures on the network were distributed by public offices. Information and explanation were the central focus of this effort, but it was soon apparent that this alone would not be enough to get a handle on Scientology's dubious operations. Due to efforts by the Hamburg Senate and the great personal involvement of former SPD Peoples Representative Ursula Caberta y Diaz, this situation was soon to change.
By the end of the 1980's, the activities of the Hamburg Scientology organization increased considerably. The Hamburg "Org" apparently was struggling to reach the goal of attaining the status of a Scientology "Advanced Organization." The result of obtaining this status would have been that the higher Scientology course levels could have also been sold and delivered in Hamburg without having to make the bothersome trip to England or the USA. The most important provision of obtaining this status was the winning of the "LRH Birthday Game," which meant expansion by a factor of 5.4 times the present production statistics.
At that point a Hamburg real estate agent who had made it known that he supported Scientology, was an FDP member, and stood out by means of his shady business practices, went into business. In the Hamburg city district of Eppendorf, concerned citizens united as a result of this and brought attention to the methods being used by the Scientology brokers and buyers in regards to their apartment buildings. When the matter was elevated to a debate amongst the Hamburg townspeople, the Hamburg Senate was requested to not rent public buildings to Scientology, to do no real estate business with them, and to check into further proceedings against Scientology.
The Scientologists immediately brought the matter before the Constitutional Court, but it was dismissed by the Federal Constitutional Court in August 1992. In September 1992, the Hamburg Senate assigned the Office of the Interior of the Hanseatic city to manage the issues in connection with Scientology. An important step had been taken. For the first time, it was not a "Cult Ministry" or a "Family Ministry" that was involved with Scientology, but the agency which has jurisdiction over internal defense.
The "Work Group on Scientology of the Office of the Interior" began operations on February 1, 1992. The director of the work group was Ursula Caberta. The state then started gathering and evaluating information on Scientology, the practices, influences and spread of the group. Its internal instructions were painstakingly gathered and evaluated, a list of preventive measures was worked out, other agencies were coordinated with and a new information offensive was started.
That is how Scientology became a publicly discussed theme in the Federal Republic of Germany, and a flood of press releases followed in the press, radio and television. For the first time, the extent of Scientology's influence in commerce and business was published. Companies managed by Scientology were uncovered by the score, their methods of operation was analyzed and the, until then, unimpeded expansion of Scientology in Germany was slowed down. The Hamburg authorities began to systematically exhaust the legal options against Scientology.
Back in 1984 the district office of Central Hamburg - where the Hanseatic City's Scientology Center is located - had required the registered association which was then known as the "College for Applied Philosophy" (since re-named the "Scientology Church Hamburg") to report for business purposes. Scientology sued, and the judgment of the Hamburg Administrative Court confirmed the stance taken by the District Office on December 11, 1990. Scientology appealed again and got into another mess - which was again due to the extensive evidence gathered by the Work Group on Scientology.
On July 6, 1993, the Hamburg Superior Administrative Court (OVG) decided to dismiss the Scientologists' suit. The OVG press release stated, "In determining whether the Scientology Church needs to report as a business, it is immaterial whether it is recognized as a religious or worldview congregation. A religious congregation can also be obligated to state its profits if it carries out profit-making intention over a period of time by selling goods and services without associated religious references. ... Profit-making intentions by the sale of books and courses are demonstrated particularly by the goal set by the Scientology Church of having its members buy more and more books and primarily by having them constantly take increasingly more expensive courses. The statements of the Scientology Church and the testimonies of these named witnesses about alleged losses have not been able to convince the court. The court has more of an impression that the Scientology Church has been attempting to conceal its income..."
An appeal of the judgment was not granted. The open complaint of the Scientologists was rejected by the Federal Administrative Court. By that the decision of the Hamburg Superior Administrative Court took on the power of law. In Hamburg, Scientology had to report as a business.
It was becoming increasingly uncomfortable for the Scientologists in Germany. The consistent dealings by the state was cause for disruption in the US Scientology management and also for the formation of a special "German Reserve Unit." On May 4, 1994, OSA International wrote a letter of agitation to all "Departments for Special Affairs" (responsible for countering action by the opposition) worldwide:
"Your help is urgently needed for to counter neo-Nazi governmental attacks on Scientology organizations and members in Germany. This is so important that a special unit, which will be involved with the situation in Germany, will shortly be formed at OSA Int. ... We have compiled extensive and detailed documentation of the events which have been occurring in the past few months. But we will turn this around. We will use all our power to motivate Scientologists all over the world to act. They should stand up and take measures now so that we can put a stop to this matter which is clearly the beginning of a new Holocaust."
"We can prove beyond any doubt that this here is the same model which was used to put the hate campaign against the Jews in motion in 1935. ... It is required that you send a letter to Chancellor Helmut Kohl and to other German administrative officials in which you demand that he stop the religious intolerance which he has cooperated in against Scientologists and other religious minorities. These letters must be addressed to: ... [The addresses of Helmut Kohl, Manfred Kanther, Angela Merkel, Klaus Kinkel were given.] The faster we act as an international group, the faster we will protect Germany and the rest of the planet from the rise of the neo-Nazis. For this reason a short proposal is enclosed which should help you in the measures which are needed to put huge amounts of letters in route to Germany. Together we can mobilize an international group which can and will rid humanity of this cancerous sore."
Scientology had worked out a new strategy. Today's Germany was to be made an example of internationally by equating it to Nazi Germany and by defamation. Action soon followed the threat (from the Interim Report of the Work Group on Scientology on the activities of the Scientology organization, townspeople of the free and Hanseatic city of Hamburg - 15th term of election, publication 15/4059 of 26 Sep 1995):
"So the [Scientology] organization managed to be admitted at the OSCE review conference which took place from October 10 to December 2, 1994, in Hungary as a "non governmental organization" in the "human dimension" work group and voice their assertions there that the Federal Republic of Germany was denying members of Scientology religious freedom and discriminated against its members. However, these endeavors were not met with success of any sort. The German delegation successfully contradicted them with the findings of the [Hamburg Interior agency's] work group, and the presentations and demands of the organization were not entered in the closing document of the conference."
That, however, was not the end of it. In December 1994, a report from a special correspondent of the United Nations Human Rights Commission was published which listed, without comment, apparent complaints of German Scientologists under the heading of "Germany": "Scientology has used this publication in a campaign which alleges that the UNO had officially determined that religious rights of Scientology members were being violated in Germany." (ibid.) The Scientologists introduced this UN report later in an important judicial proceeding before the Federal Labor Court, but the supreme German labor court was not very impressed: "This (UN) report cannot have an effect on the judgment, since the correspondent did not consider the circumstances concluded by the Senate in his written presentation. Moreover, this is a personal expression of opinion by the correspondent." (ibid.)
Nevertheless, the federal administration took the trouble to review the subject. The results illuminated, once more, the Scientology method of procedure, and mainly, what their opinion of the truth was:
1. "The cases of alleged discrimination presented by the Scientology organization are only partially identifiable, some have neither the names of the persons involved nor the place or time of the event described. A position is not possible because further investigation could not be conducted. Since the majority of the cases of alleged discrimination are in this sort of vague form, it casts doubt upon the reliability of the entire list."
2. "The lists contain events which, for the most part, took place between private individuals. These cases are fundamentally unsuited to prove alleged discrimination by the state."
3. "The lists do not contain a single case in which all legal options were used and exhausted on a national level. The national legal route, which is open in all cases to Scientologists affected by alleged discriminatory measures, was taken in only one of the asserted cases, but by no means was it exhausted."
-- Opinion of the Federal Republic of Germany in the complaints in accordance with ECOSOC decision Nr. 1503 concerning alleged discrimination by members of the "Church of Scientology" in the Federal Republic of Germany of April 22, 1994.
Scientology still did not relax. In full-page advertisements of reputable American daily newspapers they attempted to equate the present day fate of the Scientologists in Germany today with that of the Jews during the National Socialist regime. Ignaz Bubis, the Chairman of the Central Committee of Jews in Germany, was not the only one who protested this monstrous defamation of the German legal state and the associated downplay of the Holocaust. Scientology distributed a booklet worldwide to support its contentions. Its title: "Hate and Propaganda." It took up the fight against Scientology critics in Germany and portrayed them as neo-Nazis.
In 1996, the advertisement campaign was repeated in the US newspapers - without further success. The legal state and the democratically elected representatives of the people did not let themselves be intimidated by the Scientology propaganda. On the contrary: the campaign of mass defamation of the German people aroused more critical attention by the people against Scientology.