For a small number of anti-Scientologists, there is no difference between Scientology and 1) Renate Hartwig, and/or 2) Willis Carto, and/or 3) Bob Minton. For a separate and possibly larger number of anti-Scientologists, there is no difference between the harmful PR methods of this small group and the harmful PR methods of Scientology in identifying critics as Scientologists.
German Scientology News was a free English-language information distribution service covering every Internet accessible German-language news article containing the word "Scientology" during a certain period of time. Popular sentiment about German Scientology News, when it was in operation, was that it was providing up-to-date coverage of the impending collapse of Scientology in Germany. Scientology, however, has not collapsed in Germany. What GSNews ended up documenting was something else entirely. This change of focus became evident after a smear campaign against a private citizen for having aided Scientology.
The "Henry Randmark" saga resulted in a public character assassination of a con man for having collaborated with Scientology. No matter how justified this public exposé was, it helped bring the US component of German Scientology News to a realization. Its prior distribution of current events in Germany had not recorded Scientology's long-awaited demise in Germany after all. The smear campaign against Henry Randmark was an indication of the extremes to which domestic intelligence agencies had to resort to counteract Scientology in Germany, Hamburg in particular. This change of focus was previously summarized at http://www.lermanet2.com/cisar/usa/minton.htm. From a related file http://www.lermanet2.com/cisar/usa/hartwig.htm, it is evident that information from Renate Hartwig, previously weeded out as too controversial for trans-Atlantic comfort, was being taken under more serious consideration than it previously had been.
Lermanet has taken a closer look at Hartwig's previously neglected material. The files from which Hartwig's material was weeded out contained, besides the usual Internet-accessible html, magazines from Hartwig's "Robin Direkt" association. For more information on Hartwig's view of how the Germans were handling Scientology, in spring 2005 Lermanet ordered and received Hartwig's most popular anti-Scientology book, "Ich klage an." The reasons why Scientology is still in Germany, according to Hartwig, are many and varied, but have one thing in common: they are related more to bureaucratic incompetence and personal ambition than they are to any major obstacle attributable to Scientology.
Some samples of Hartwig's criticisms of Germany's dealings with the Scientologists follow. While it is fine that German anti-Scientology officials are being subsidized to spend so many hours a day collecting information on Scientologists and Scientology, it is a waste of taxpayer money if this information is never used, but squirreled away in someone's file cabinets. Then there are the reports on the cult that are dutifully typed and signed, but that no one reads. There is also the seeming arbitrariness about what goes into these reports. In general, Hartwig's concern for Scientology includes things that every citizen should be concerned about: what sort of information is being collected on the people, how is it collected, who has access to it and what is it being used for?
Hartwig eventually came to her own conclusion. No matter what else a person thought Scientology was, one fact remained: Scientologists are human beings like everyone else. While this may sound like common sense, this sort of realization can have a serious backlash for certain critics, Hartwig included. This backlash occurs if the realization is accompanied by insult and reprimand from one's own supposed comrades-in-arms, i.e., fellow anti-Scientologists. As a result of being push too hard, the person with the new awareness may over-generalize against all critics of Scientology. As documented in one of Hartwig's book's, the insults against Hartwig from Ursula Caberta amounted to libel. In another case of an associate with whom she had formerly closely dealt, Hartwig viewed the taunts of Tilman Hausherr as similar to those of the East German secret police. Oddly enough this analogy, libelous in Germany, gains more substance the closer one examines the relationship between Caberta and her unofficial volunteers. In substance, Hartwig has asserted that she was pushed into further collaboration with Scientology by superficially antagonistic anti-Scientologists.
As reminder, Hartwig is a successful writer. She has widely broadcast her findings in Germany. One of the consequences of this has been a lessening in public support for the German government's stance on Scientology. The elimination of Hartwig's supporters from the ranks of government-approved anti-Scientology critics was not the first time the government of Germany segregated critics from themselves. Former Scientologists are also in a special category. With few exceptions, this important group has been silenced in Germany through a working relationship between Scientology and the German intelligence agencies. A brief explanation follows.
While the German authorities support ex-members in getting their money back from Scientology, in order for this to happen, ex-members have to sign papers in effect waiving their right to public criticism of the cult. The state can, depending on certain conditions, have published what it considers to be really important cases. In this way the state effectively weeds out any potential criticism of self while having a tightly controlled number of former insiders provide consultation and/or informational services at taxpayer expense. Martin Ottmann falls into this category.
In some unfathomable way, a branch of government in Stuttgart, Germany got the idea that it could use ex-Scientologist Martin Ottmann's testimony to abolish Scientology in that southwest section of Germany. The result turned out as expected: no different than if a critic had tried to eradicate McDonalds, WalMart or Dunkin' Donuts. The judge's main objection was simple: the appearance of bias in the testimony of someone who puts himself forth as unbiased is not acceptable in court. This is especially true in the case of a lone witness. Another technicality was the fact that the testimony concerned jurisdictions far outside those of Stuttgart. All the material submitted in that biased, isolated and irrelevant case, no matter how valuable it may have been before, is on the record as having been rejected in a court of law. This was not worthwhile for any group except Scientology, unless one takes into account Hartwig's theories about personal and political ambitions. This view is validated by the fact of Ursula Caberta's running for office. More on this later.
Finally, there is another group, perhaps what could be called the silent majority, who would hesitate to take the government's side against Scientology. Those are the Germans who resist Big Brother in government. The question Hartwig has for this group is which is the most important problem: Big Brother in Scientology or Big Brother in government?
Hartwig's explanations may help explain why Scientology has not disappeared in Germany. The group of people who effectively oppose the cult may be backed by the government and thus have status, but their number has been noiceably trimmed. No matter how brave, skillful and heroic this minority are, they are bound to spend the rest of their days coming to the same conclusion Hartwig did -- that, with their differences, Scientologists and non-Scientologists still share common concerns. Trying to eradicate Scientology by using Hubbardesque smear campaigns against Scientologists is a waste, and against non-Scientologists, such as Henry Randmark, is counter-productive.
An end note is that there is more than one irony in Ursula Caberta leaving her directorship of Hamburg's Working Group on Scientology to run for office.
According to Hartwig, the big motivation in Germany for the fight against Scientology was not so much a desire to stop a potentially destructive cult as it was political ambition. Hartwig asserted repeatedly that speaking out against Scientology was a requisite to gaining votes in Germany - fighting the cult was a "vote-getter."
The context in which Hartwig drew this conclusion occurred in the early 1990s, during the "Hoisdorf initiative." Hoisdorf is a village where Scientology had bought property, but the residents signed a petition to keep the cult out. The anti-Scientology movement gained sympathy, and 50 or 60 thousand people all over the country signed similar petitions, in solidarity with the brave Hoisdorfers. Because this made being anti-Scientology popular, it was an opportunity for politicians to snag votes. The first problem in politics, of course, is getting rid of competition.
Thus, according to Hartwig, the Hamburg Working Group on Scientology was created, with Ursula Caberta as director. Caberta was to later show political interest during the Alternate Charlemagne Award in her public association with prominent German politicians. Elections in Germany for 2005 were September 18th. ...
18 Sep 05 Preliminary election report (http://www.netzeitung.de/spezial/neuwahl2005/358455.html): Angela Merkel says she is willing to work with any political party, except for the one Caberta happens to be in. ("Merkel: Gespräche mit allen - außer Linkspartei").
19 Sep 05. Old communists celebrated new heights of popularity for the PDS made possible by Hamburg's anti-American candidate Paech and anti-Scientology candidate Caberta. In plainer terms, they lost again. According to the Hamburger Abendblatt ("Linke: Ein tolles Gefühl")Caberta happily commented, "So I'll survive Scientology a while longer."