Those who were there to hear about Mr. F. were disappointed
Former Scientologist Norbert Potthoff from Krefeld spoke in the "Alten Gasometer" - no news about the local activities of the psycho-concern
October 21, 2001
Freie Presse Zwickau
by Torsten Kohlschein
Seldom has the "Alte Gasometer" been as packed as it was last Friday evening: between 250 and 300 interested people took up the invitation by the DGB district association to a union meeting at Zwickau, to discuss, as DGB district chief Werner Schuh put it, the "favorite theme" of Schumann's city: Scientology.
The guest speaker was former Scientologist Norbert Potthoff from Krefeld, who started by undertaking the attempt to outline the world image of the Scientology organization. This image, according to Potthoff, came from the social-Darwinistic thesis of British research theorist Herbert Spencer (1820 - 1903), who saw it as the special right of the strong to exploit the weak, thereby forming an asocial human image. Spencer was said to not only have created an intellectual model for National Socialism, but also to have laid out the fundamentals for Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics teachings. According to those teachings, people are regarded as programmable machines.
Potthoff then described his path through the grist mills of the psycho-business. He said it began with the problem of inadequate self-awareness and the resulting diminished capacity to operate while he was working for an ad agency owner about 1981. An acquaintance, who apparently had "made it," told him for the first time about the "applied philosophy with which one could solve the problems of life and thought." Encouraged by the success of introductory courses, driven on mainly by the stress-oriented exercises, equivalent to "programming," Potthoff said he was led deeper and deeper into the training and dependency thickets of Scientology. One reason for that was the increased overestimation of self which accompanies exercises prescribed by Hubbard's technology. Customers withdrew from Potthoff when he had wanted to exert Scientology's influence upon their businesses, too. He finally got fed up with dealing with all the "poor crazies," as the Scientologists regard non-Scientologists, and he quit the ad agency and joined the cult business. In 1984 he signed a contract to serve "for a billion years." But it turned out to be only four years: after two ruined marriages, a growing mountain of debt and finally the overwhelming realization that he had landed in a system that only pretended to help people, he departed.
In the meantime, those who had come to hear more about the local activities of Scientology and Mr. F. in particular walked away disappointed. Outside of a bold comparison Norbert Potthoff made in drawing a parallel between Kurt Fliegerbauer's reconstruction of buildings and Hitler's construction of highways, he limited his general statements to the methods of operation in Scientology-managed businesses. And even those he mentioned might also apply just as well, upon closer inspection, to the era of of globalization in business.
Nevertheless his answers to the numerous questions posed of him were revealing. Would Scientology show Fliegerbauer favor in legal proceedings concerning outstanding payment of fees? Potthoff: "Most likely not. But if it would serve their good image, I can imagine that they would go easy on him so that business doesn't collapse." We'll see.
And even those [methods of cult operation] he mentioned might also apply just as well, upon closer inspection, to the era of of globalization in business.
What company can resist the idea of "Make money, make more money"? when it coming to boosting those end-of-quarter statistics? Scientology and other similar groups respond to this drive by offering little pieces of exploitative technology at monstrous prices, calling it "business consulting." It's not cash-and-carry, either. Merely using the cult method is subject to licensing and fees. Naturally, businesses are not told they are being sold Scientology.
Ex-Scientologist to tell his story next week
October 12, 2001
Freie Presse Chemnitz
by Rainer Räch
"Scientology - from the internal life of a cult. A former member tells his story," an announcement at the Zwickau "Kreisverband des Deutschen Gewerkschaftsbundes(DGB)" invites people next Friday at 7 p.m. in the Gasometer, 3 Kleine Biergasse. Admission is free. There is to be a discussion following the presentation.
As a former member of Scientology, Norbert Potthoff will talk about his own experiences as well as give some insight into the methods of the cult and its dealings with members and critics. "We are delighted that we were able to get Potthoff here in Zwickau for the presentation," said DGB district chairman Werner Schuh. "That's because mainly what they've been talking about in the city is Scientology." Through Potthoff's presentation, the SPD city council faction VIP hopes to raise awareness about the internal structures and machinations of the cult. He is betting that the Gasometer will have a full house next Friday.
The DGB chief knows only too well that Scientology is a red-hot topic in Zwickau. Currently the professed Scientologist and chief of "Schloss Osterstein Verwaltungs GmbH," Kurt Fliegerbauer, continues to spend time in the city restoring buildings. After he finally started renovation of the "Kraeutergewoelbe," he is the current manager for the renovation of the former "Milchbar" on "Hauptmarkt," as well as for the construction of a residential and business complex on Magazin Strasse.
The Saxon state office for the Protection of the Constitution also mentioned Scientology in its 2000 annual report. On five pages the Constitutional Security agents deal with the teachings, the recruitment strategy and the thrusts of the organization. Scientology, founded by L. Ron Hubbard in the USA in 1954, opened its first establishment in Germany in 1970, and there are currently about 6,000 members here. "Several dozen" are in Saxony, as determined by the state office, and it came to the conclusion that the cult was, indeed, "limited, but nonetheless permanently operational in the Commonwealth."
Constitutional Security reported that the political and business goals of Scientology were closely connected. By marketing its courses and publications, as well as by skimming the profits of companies managed by Hubbard's regulations, the organization creates the basis for its economic expansion. Scientology corporations can be found in Saxony, according to the state office, particularly in the real estate and construction fields. It says about Fliegerbauer, "Since 1994 there has been operating in Zwickau a real estate firm with a high-ranking Scientologist as business manager. He is developing a network of companies that exerts influence upon the Zwickau real estate market to a considerable degree."
City foregoes Scientology Information Office
City council reject voluntary solution as too half-hearted
December 16, 2000
Freie Presse Chemitz
Zwickau. Almost exactly a year after Zwickau city council made a decision to establish an information office on the activities of the Scientology psycho-sect, their plan has fizzled. The city council had to get involved anew with the theme in its Thursday session because the consultant's position, as first planed, could not be arranged with an independent contractor. The church community which the city had in mind last summer for the task was no longer available after the state church office called it off. So the city wanted to decide at least on creating a volunteer position. But most of the city council people thought that was too half-hearted. They turned the application down.
Scientology has been a hot topic in Zwickau for years. And not just because it was revealed that the Munich real estate tycoon Kurt Fliegerbauer, who has renovated about 250 buildings in Zwickau since 1992, is a member of the sect. He's not the only one. The chief of the Osterstein Castle Management Co. is also among the highest nomenclatura of the rigidly hierarchical psycho-business. Without his name being mentioned, in the most recent Constitutional Security report in the section on Fliegerbauer, it was stated that in 1999 he was still making significant donations to the organization and had taken a few of their courses.
In February Fliegerbauer officially announced his resignation and his intention to withdraw personally and professionally from Zwickau. As he made the announcement, his "Osterstein Castle" signs were being dramatically taken down from his properties. However, people are still waiting to see him leave.
The information office would have been a face-saving gesture for Zwickau executive mayor Rainer Eichhorn (CDU). He was accused more than once of not keeping his distance from the Scientologist. For instance, he publicly asserted that he was not making things any easier for Fliegerbauer, but shortly thereafterward he was faced with a letter he wrote in deeply devoted overtones to the real estate czar.
Fliegerbauer himself, at least for the time being, appears ironically aloof to the ruckus over him in Zwickau. When the subject of the consultant position first came up, he applied to the city for the post himself. He said that nobody in Zwickau "knew more about Scientology" than he did. And he said that his wife, the city's second Scientologist, would help him in his surveillance.
The theme of "Scientology" came up on Thursday again in the city council at the session which began 3:30 p.m. in the council hall in the administrative center. It had to do with the establishment of an information office and the creation of a volunteer position concerning the problems of Scientology.
As came out of the proceedings, the position will be temporary, ending 31 December 2002. Shortly before that time the city council is supposed to decide whether their appointee is going to continue the operation at that point in time or be terminated. The basis of the decision will be the report which the appointee will turn in to the council in November.
The information office was originally supposed to have been established in the Christophorus Church congregation. But the plan did not permit having the Evangelical-Lutheran state church office as an oversight agency.
As a result of activities in Zwickau by Scientologist and construction tycoon Kurt Fliegerbauer, the city council made the case for an initial position meant for those who wanted information about the sect or felt harmed by it.
New commotion about the Scientology Information Office
November 1, 2000
Freie Presse Lokales
Again there is a flurry of commotion about the planned Scientology Information Office in Zwickau: Executive Mayor Rainer Eichhorn (CDU) "means to use "threadbare arguments to deter information on Scientology," claims Frieder Badstuebner of the national Greens party, referring to a letter from the mayor to the city council factions.
Since the state church office vetoed that sort of help center for the Christophorus community of Eckersbach, Rainer Eichhorn says the need for an official position should be reconsidered and that possibly it could be filled on a volunteer basis instead. "There is no perceptible need to counsel citizens in the problems of Scientology," the Mayor wrote to the factions. He said he was not aware of there ever having been inquiries along those lines. He said that while there had been civil disputes between construction companies and contractors, that was not something the city government could interfere with. At the same time the lead city official pointed out that "the legislature has not created or permitted any kind of instrument for research or other administrative activities." Therefore, he continued, there was no specific method of procedure for dealing with the psycho-sect.
In Frieder Badstuebner's eyes these arguments are putting the cart in front of the horse. "How can it be decided there is an inadequate need for an office when there never has been anyone for people to talk to?" he asks and referred back to the council decision of December of the past year: the vast majority of the committee wanted to set up the office as a clear sign that those in office were not forming a dependency upon the Scientology organization. Besides that, there was intention to help the people of the city with factual, expert information.
Since such an information bureau only be established by the city government or, alternatively, on the basis of the council decision, the mayor has added a personnel position in the proposed personnel plan for next year as a precautionary measure. "The city council can cut the position out of its budget decision at any time, according to the council chief.
In the meantime, the Zwickau city administration has already submitted an advertisement for the office post. Construction businessman and Scientologist Kurt Fliegerbauer expressed his interest in the position after the council decision, thereby attempting to make the decision into the ludicrous.
After almost four weeks, Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (SPD) has finally answered a letter from the city administration in which the city council had asked for help in dealing with the Scientology sect. The core of the answer from Berlin, authored by a department director, ran: Schroeder saw no possibility of exerting influence in the Zwickau proceedings since it was dealing with a community matter. The Federal Chancellory justified its long response time in answering the letter from Zwickau with "personnel shortages associated with illness and vacation." (raech)
Zwickau contesting planned Scientology Counseling Center
April 28, 2000
Zwickau (ddp-lsc) This city of Zwickau is contesting the planned Scientology Counseling Center. An application for a temporary establishment of such an office was rejected on Thursday after lively controversy in the city council's executive and administration committee. City council found that it would have to get more deeply involved with the topic
The fundamental decision of the city council "to defend against the dangers which emanate from the Scientology Organization (SO)" had been made in December 1999. The administration had until the end of the first quarter to submit a concept for supporting and financing a Scientology office. In the most recent Constitutional Security report of the Free State, Zwickau was named as the only location of basic SO activities. Without interfering with the interests of state security, the office is supposed to serve to be able to answer inquiries from citizens who are uncertain as to whether their residence is secure, for example, or would like to be able to get business operating information about companies with whom they deal.
The administration had suggested that the counseling be offered in conjunction with the already existing Contact and Information Office of an Evangelical Church congregation. To that end it was proposed that 87,000 marks be set aside for a new voluntary mission of the city until the end of 2001. This proposal did not find a majority; neither did the modified proposal submitted by city councilman Frieder Badstuebner (Buendnis 90/Greens) that the office should unconditionally be part of the city itself and should be secured until at least 2002.
The Retreat of the Thetan
A Scientologist makes trouble in Zwickau and moves on
February 15, 2000
by Bernhard Honnigfort (Zwickau)
Like a warm spring wind, the joyous message wafted through Zwickau. Into the old auto manufacturing city in West Sachsen, known as the birthplace of composer Robert Schumann, joy came once more. "I am experiencing relief," said CDU chief mayor Rainer Eichhorn, who was laying at home in bed with a cold when he heard what happened. "A good day for Zwickau," was heard in the council hall. "A victory for democracy," said one city councilman. A load seemed to have lifted from everybody's shoulders. The villain was driven off. A construction tycoon known city-wide had packed his bags last Thursday and left the community forever. Back then, Kurt Fliegerbauer, the real estate businessman from Munich, had quickly called a press conference together and announced in a few short words: his staff were removing all brass nameplates from the buildings and construction sites owned by the company. His business, which he said had invested about 500 million marks in capital in Zwickau in the past few years and had renovated 200 to 250 buildings, would transfer to Munich. All business activity in Zwickau was ended as of immediately. Fliegerbauer gave the reason for his step, which was a surprise to all, as the lapse of tax advantages for renovation of dated structures. "The withdrawal has nothing to do with Scientology," said the smart businessman with his distinguished bald head as he pressed his finger tips together and smiled in pleasure at the rows of journalists.
"He who believes it becomes blissful," could be read the day after in a Zwickau newspaper. Fliegerbauer's departure actually marks the end of a bitter dispute between the city and the professed Scientologist. They had been getting along together for some time. Very well at first. Later, sort of great. His membership in the Scientology sect, which has been under observation by Constitutional Security since 1997, has been known for two years. The businessman outed himself. And appeared again as Maecenas, donated a conductor's stand to the theater and bought pictures for the museum from expressionist and "bridge" painter Max Pechstein. He renovated beautiful old structures in Zwickau. Among the buyers of his real estate are Hessian Interior Minister Volker Bouffier, Justice Minister Christean Wagner and Hessian CDU faction chief Norbert Kartmann, who, however, did not learn with whom they were dealing under after their contracts were signed.
If finally came to an open rift in the beginning of January. The city decided on the application of a Buendnis/Green to establish an information office about Scientology in the council building to distribute information about the machinations of the psychosect. Fliegerbauer, who says he is an Operating Thetan (OT) of the fourth and fifth salvation steps, wryly put in an application for the position. Justification: who would be better qualified than he?
The real estate agent scolded his critics, like CDU city councilman Frank Seidel, as demagogues, fascists and the "Julius Streicher of Zwickau." Suppositions about Scientology's influence have also spread in the Zwickau trade union. "There's a powerful stink here," said a construction businesswoman who said she was "100 percent" convinced that other people in Zwickau belonged to the Scientology sect. In their need, several trade workers even traveled to Hamburg Scientology expert Ursula Caberta to get advice from her. Caberta appeared in Zwickau and recommended chief mayor Eichhorn resign his post immediately because things had been out of hand for too long. She said that Fliegerbauer was not just one of Germany's Scientologists, but was one of the "top heads" and was one of the top "50 hard-core people." Eichhorn, who was in over his head in need, wrote Minister President Kurt Biedenkopf and Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in January and asked them both for advice. At that point the entire city council had long decided that Zwickau would no longer do any business with Fliegerbauer and would not sell him any more property. Besides that, the community would give the money back that Fliegerbauer had donated for celebrations, to a kindergarten and for the purchase of pictures.
The little world of Zwickau had come completely apart at the seams. Television was reporting on the peculiar events, reports flooded in one after another in the local newspapers. One paper accused the chief mayor of having lied. It said that Eichhorn had not distanced himself from Fliegerbauer, but chummed up to him in a confidential letter. The politician defended himself. He said he had been falsely quoted and the decisive paragraph had been ignored, in which he indicated that the end of cooperation with the Scientologist had been advised. It went back and forth.
Now Fliegerbauer is gone, but some Zwickau residents do not trust the peace. In leaving Fliegerbauer had assert that he himself, his wife and a business partner had been the only Scientologists in Zwickau. Yet there are suppositions that more Scientologists are at work, countered a local newspaper. Despite Fliegerbauer's departure, the city will still establish the information office about the Scientology sect. "One never knows," was heard in the council building. The members of the Zwickau theater orchestra are even willing to do without a portion of their fee so that the office can be financed.
January 1, 2000
Zwickau Because of the long, on-going problems the city has had with the Scientology Organization, Zwickau has sought words of elucidation from the Federal Chancellor. It is not appropriate for municipal politicians to deal with matter of Constitutional organs of the Federal Republic of Germany, said a letter sent out yesterday evening from city council.
Scientology debate intensifies
January 22, 2000
Freie Presse Chemnitz
(FE). "Resign, Mr. Eichhorn." This comment was directed to the Zwickau CDU chief mayor by Ursula Caberta on Thursday evening in the Sachsenring club building. The woman from Hamburg is regarded as an expert on the Scientology sect. She sees his resignation as the only possible consequence that the city's lead official can reap from his dealings with the organization. Zwickau is regarded as a stronghold of the sect, which is under surveillance by Constitutional Security.
However, Rainer Eichhorn held out in front of about 300 visitors at the informational gathering. His pitch: he says he has done everything possible within the realm of the law. "But that wasn't good enough," said Ursula Caberta. The Hamburg resident energetically sided with CDU city council member Frank Seidel. The politician is fighting against rising sect influence in Zwickau and views himself beset by slander. Kurt Fliegerbauer, professed Scientologist, has described him as a fascist and a demagogue. "That is Scientology's usual method of procedure," Ursula Caberta remarked and stated, in comparison, that the American former mayor of the the sect stronghold of Clearwater has also been accused of being a Nazi. "You are in good company, Mr. Seidel," said the woman from Hamburg. She called the idea of giving the proposed position of sect commissioner to the churches a "crazy notion": "that his that state's mission."
Birgit Fazekas, a construction contract manager from Zwickau, took the opportunity to say her piece, "The facades in Zwickau are beautiful. But the kind of things which are going on behind them!" The business woman sees herself losing money as a result of Scientology business practices. Angry and upset, she said, "there is a spirit hovering over this city. But nobody wants to see it."
Zwickau's head mayor dismisses accusations
No support for Scientology
January 8, 2000
Zwickau. - Zwickau's chief mayor Rainer Eichhorn (CDU) dismissed accusations by "Kennzeichen D," the ZDF magazine which said that the city had been cooperating with real estate dealer Kurt Fliegerbauer and the Scientologists. "The city administration is aware of the problems of Scientology as well as of the dangers emanating from the sect," said Eichhorn at a press conference on Friday. He said that the city explicitly distances itself from persons who belong to the Scientology organization.
Kurt Fliegerbauer, who has said that he is a Scientologist, and his Osterstein Castle Management, Inc., have been buying up real estate in the city for years and renovating it. According to an advertising sign, Fliegerbauer says he has redone about 250 apartments, particularly in Zwickau city's northern suburbs. In Plauen he bought a building on Mendelsohn Place and redid it.
Constitutional Security says there are many indications that Fliegerbauer is a high-ranking Scientologist. It cannot be proved, however, that he runs his real estate business in the name of Scientology, said Reinhard Boos, President of Sachsen Constitutional Security.
Critics, among them Ursula Caberta of the Work Group on Scientology in Hamburg's Interior Senate, fear that Fliegerbauer and the Scientologists will infiltrate the city and the economy in this way. Caberta has stated on ZDF broadcasting that Fliegerbauer has implemented ideas hostile to the Constitution as prescribed by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology.
In 1997, Fliegerbauer received the city's architecture award in Zwickau. In addition, Osterstein Castle, Inc. donated the conductor's podium to the theater. Fliegerbauer, for whom it has been suggested that he receive the title of honorary citizen at a citizens' assembly, applied at the end of last year for a position in the city's planned sect office, Eichhorn confirmed a report by the "Chemnitzer Morgenpost" newspaper.
"The city has very consciously maintained its guard," said Eichhorn. For instance, the city will basically not sell any municipal real estate to people who are suspected of being members of sects hostile to the constitution. Eichhorn thereby denied reports of the city having sold many lots to Fliegerbauer or to his company. He interjected that the city has isolated buildings, parts of which are very probably owned by Fliegerbauer.
There can be no talk about "ignorance or naivete of municipal politicians" as accused by ZDF, said Eichhorn. The city council has clearly distanced itself from Scientology.
(approx.) March 12, 1996
The sect has expanded into the field of real estate agent and brokerage business. Now they have spread to eastern Germany - an expert spoke of "Scientology acquiring a huge amount of land."
A letter tore Wolfgang Moeller from Muenchehoft near Berlin, 45, out of his dream world.
He believed that he had wangled the business deal of a lifetime - a real estate sale of over 66 million marks with a million in commission for him. But now he got a simple letter from the residential planning association, "since we cannot afford to be brought into association with this sect, we will have to terminate our business relationship without notice."
"This sect" meant Scientology, for Minister Norbert Bluem, a "criminal money-laundering organization." Moeller, a resident of Brandenburg, fell into their clutches without ever having suspected a thing when he answered a small advertisement: "Become a partner in the Kempe real estate firm with a concept of success." In January 1995, he signed a franchise contract with the Duesseldorf broker Klaus Kempe. Moeller: "Everything looked professional." Millionaire Kempe, 47, is one of the top Scientologists in Germany. The alert broker, as "Patron," had paid at least $40,000 into the sect coffers and, for many thousands of dollars more, had achieved "Operating Thetan" Level VI - member of the elite of the "universe." When Moeller had to fill out a personality test at his first seminar in Duesseldorf, he was not aware that such tests were used by Scientology to attract new disciples. Neither did Moeller become stubborn when he read that he was being trained in the "management series by L. Ron Hubbard." The American Hubbard was the founder and long-term chief of Scientology. Now Moeller wants his money back because he feels he was deceived by von Kempe. With fellow sufferers, he founded an interest group and dissolved his contract with the "real estate market." Kempe sent him the "Freiheit" magazine of the Central Scientology organ and a letter which complained about the "persecution of those who think differently." Here new people were recruited for Scientology through a franchise program," warned Ursula Caberta, Scientology expert of the Hamburg Senate; she said the sect only wanted to "fish for money and people." Kempe is not the only top Scientologist who does business in eastern Germany. The sect's people are primarily active in the greater areas of Berlin and Sachsen. According to estimates by the renters' association, companies connected with Hamburg "Patron" Goetz Brase have acquired about 50 large old building in barely two years, and are converting many rental apartments into condominiums. Since then, Scientologists have about 30 percent of the conversion market, estimates Berlin rental consultant Ursula Dyckhoff. "Even the apartment buyers are being recruited by the sect." Scientology has spread so much into Sachsen that Berlin sect expert Thomas Gandow has spoken of "Scientology acquiring a huge amount of land." In 1991, Heinz Guenther from Offenbach still referred proudly to his "association with Duesseldorf professional broker" Klaus Kempe. Guenther, 44, manages the G+G company association in Obertshausen near Frankfurt am Main. It includes real estate companies which have been operating for three years in places including Leipzig. For instance, Guenther and Kempe founded the GGK Exclusive Real Estate GmbH in 1992, which developed the project management and architecture of the "Gutenberg Galerie," which is one of the largest projects in the city with 300 million marks volume. Real estate deals in grand style also employ the Guema Project Development GmbH, which Guenther has been managing since 1993 together with Scientologist Mario Herold. Today, however, Guenther distances himself from Scientology and "from Kempe and Herold." Mario Herold, a heavy-set man in his mid forties who got Kempe the broker into the sect in 1980, has bought more than 40 buildings in and around Leipzig to date. And until 1994, he was managing a real estate firm in Zwickau in partnership with Munich native Kurt Fliegerbauer, who has been honored as a "potent investor" in the city. An ex-business partner, construction businessman Mirko Schulz from Altenburg, calls Fliegerbauer an "absolute ruler type, tough as nails." The 43-year-old businessman is an "Operating Thetan" (OT) level VIII and "lifetime member" of the Scientology group association, IAS. As early as 1986, he was "chairman" of an OT committee in Munich responsible for the sect's advance into Bavaria. Fliegerbauer appeared in Sachsen in 1991. In the small city of Oelsnitz near Plauen, he offered to renovate the dilapidated Voightsberg castle and to build Spanish style villas on its land. When he did not pull it off, he went to Zwickau. There, in late 1993, he acquired the crumbling Osterstein castle for four million marks, financed by the Dresden Bank. But instead of building it up, Fliegerbauer had the cellblock which once held Karl May torn down - and disposed of the historic ensemble one year later.
At the same time he was buying up old buildings in Zwickau with his Osterstein Castle Management, Inc.: 120 to date. He founded a company with Munich man Guenther von Jan in December 1995, which acquired several old buildings in Goertitz. When research by the "Stern" magazine brought the Scientology connection to light, Fliegerbauer told the local press that there was "no connection" between his co. and the sect. Yet it can be proved that he uses portions of the Hubbard technology in his operation, and he even subjected himself in April 1995 to the decision of a Scientology "court" in regard to a "business matter." Zwickau's city administration reacted with shock to Fliegerbauer's Scientology connections. No more municipal property is to be sold to him from here on in.
Liane von Billerbeck / Frank Nordhausen
Their god is called money
(approx) February 16, 1996
by Liane v. Billerbeck / Frank Nordhausen
The psycho-sect is steadily moving into the real estate business. Scientologists are buying up entire sections of downtown in eastern German cities cheap to make a profit with renovations. That is how it started in Zwickau; will that be how it goes in Goerlitz?
He likes to wear clothing made of fine material and he loves shock effects. His secretary's office is adorned with pictures of pale women spattered with blood. A graph shows rapidly rising statistics - the firm is expanding. Yet Kurt Fliegerbauer, whom some call the "godfather of Zwickau," is nervous. He has become a topic of discussion; behind the eccentric investor is said to be concealed a dangerous sect: Scientology.
Many Zwickau residents are afraid of this uncanny power. "They have bought up half the old town," said one. At the end of 1995 the town council pulled the emergency brake and stopped the sale of municipal land to Fliegerbauer's "Osterstein Castle Management, Inc."
Osterstein Castle, a structure from the 13th century which towered over Zwickau's center, was in a state of decay. The smartly dressed resident of Munich, who appeared in Zwickau in summer 1992, wanted to change that. Kurt Fliegerbauer introduced himself through his attorney as an investor who wanted, "to keep Osterstein Castle from collapsing in ruin at the last minute." A hotel was to arise from the historic cell blocks where Karl May and August Bebel languished. The town fathers were enthusiastic. "He could wrap people around his finger," said Joerg Thole, a local editor. Fliegerbauer acquired the city landmark at a discount price of four million marks. Financed by the Dresden Bank. In the general feeling of goodwill, hardly anybody asked whether the whole thing added up - the renovation was going to cost up to 150 million marks. In April 1994, excavating equipment was brought in and work was started. But they did not just demolish the east wing of the Karl May prison, but also destroyed the rest of the main building.
In December 1994, Fliegerbauer sold Osterstein to the "Holzmindener Fertigbau, GmbH." "People started asking us questions when financial difficulties arose," said business manager Uwe Sprenger, who then also wanted to tear down the west wing of the castle. The city agreed with a heavy heart. "Now we are only taking commercial considerations into account," complained Steffi Haupt, monument caretaker.
Only Fliegerbauer had no reason complain: he had become well-known, had credit and, in spite of the debacle, was regarded in Zwickau as trustworthy. "I am and will stay a businessman," he stated in January 1995. Actually he was then in the process of putting his mark on the Sachsen metropolis. However, it was not the mark people had been anticipated - the alert Bavarian man had changed tack. Fliegerbauer had begun to buy historical buildings. Most of them cost about 300,000 marks, but were often worth over one million after having been renovated. While Osterstein Castle was being ruined, "Osterstein Castle Management, Inc." was blooming. By the end of 1994, it already owned thirty renovation properties, by winter of 1995 about 120 buildings. 500 men were employed at the construction sites.
All the same, more and more rumors were making their rounds in Zwickau. Competitors were wondering how the man from Munich was so easily getting the addresses of the owners of the historical buildings. Something peculiar: when Stasi-reviews were being held in the city administration in September 1994, Werner B., city real estate office employee, quit his job and joined Fliegerbauer. There was talk of peculiar goings-on in the Fliegerbauer firm. Staff member Regine Meier (name changed by editorial staff) told of enormous pressure on the 26 employees: "we had to work many hours of overtime for which we were not paid." A so-called "Org Board" hung on the wall, a chart which contained absurd sentences like "Communication delivered quickly and accepted without condition."
"Statistics meetings" took place on a regular basis. Everyone had to read their "work statistics" out loud. Regina Meier: "mail received, mail sent out, telephone calls." Not many people thought that was funny. When a rumor that Fliegerbauer had something to do with a sect came up, local correspondent Joerg Thole looked into it, "I asked him about Scientology. His answer: 'People who are active are subject to constant criticism'."
Nevertheless, Ursula Caberta, Scientology expert of the Hamburg Senate, regards Fliegerbauer's practices as "the implementation of Ron Hubbard's so-called management technology." The founder of Scientology recommended pressure on the job, the Org Board and the principle of the "rising statistic" for the total control of a business. Tom Voltz said that Kurt Fliegerbauer was a "100 proof Scientologist." "At the time he had ordered WISE material from me, too."
WISE, the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises, is the business branch of the sect. The Los Angeles headquarters takes up to 15 percent off the top of sales - money which Scientology uses to finance its obscure world plans of power. As "chairman" of an "OT committee," 43-year-old Fliegerbauer had been spreading Hubbard's concepts as early as 1986. By 1989, he had "donated" a six-digit sum in order to become an "Operating Thetan" (OT) class VII - allegedly immortal, invulnerable and master over space, time, matter and energy. His wife, Veronika, director of "division 7 building" Osterstein Castle, Inc., and "lifetime member" of Scientology, as is he, has paid at least 5,000 dollars into the sect's "war chest" as a sponsor.
Apparently the Fliegerbauers have an entire group of sect people employed in Zwickau. Fliegerbauer founded his Osterstein Association with Munich Scientologist Guenther von Jan, who leads an attorney's office on well-to-do Prinzregentenplatz. A fax from July 195 shows that the attorney even has connections with the "Office of Special Affairs" (OSA), the Scientology secret service.
Scientologists are also employed in the operations of Fliegerbauer's buildings. Sometimes they are even sold within the sect. That is how Reinhard Danne from Augsburg acquired the building on 50 Maritz Street. When he was not satisfied with the renovation, an court process internal to the sect took place in Goeppingen on April 22, 1995, directed by Scientology big-time donor Silvio Markus Vogel. According to "invoice nr. 0009 W1/95" of April 24, 1995, the one hour of "counselling in the business matter of Danne and Fliegerbauer" cost 2,156 marks.
Very few firms survive the payments to the sect
Nevertheless, the activities in Zwickau are only a part of the Scientology operation in the new German states. As early as September 9, 1990, Scientology's Association of Employed Managers ["Verband Engagierter Manager"] (VEM) held an international conference in Duesseldorf, where 100 of the most important German Scientologists from corporate boards and management met. Former member Voltz said, "Numerous informal meetings took place on the fringes of the event." Was that where the agreements about the real estate market in the east were made? Well-known participants later surfaced in Leipzig, Dresden, Zwickau and Chemnitz. Besides Fliegerbauer and von Jan were also manager trainer Axel Fehling from Munich; Heinz Guenther, the real estate broker from Offenbach; Klaus Koller from Nuernburg; as well as Duesseldorf broker and VEM President Klaus Kempe. Three years later, in October 1993, Ulrich Schulz from Altenburg read an advertisement, "Multi-family building sought. Will pay in cash." Schulz, who was learning the ropes as a real estate broker, named a price and was almost ruined. Mario Herold from Wuppertal, who ran a business consulting firm in Leipzig, wanted to do business and deal in real estate. Herold, a huge man in his mid forties, introduced Schulz to his business partners, who gave the impression of established wealth. These kind of "friends," learned Schulz' son Mirko, were active all over Sachsen: Fliegerbauer, for example, who managed a real estate company in Zwickau with Herold. Herold's group wanted to build a large business complex in downtown Leipzig, the "Gutenberg Galerie." By 1994, according to statements from staff members, Herold's company had acquired about forty pieces of real estate in and around Leipzig.
Ulrich and Mirko Schulz founded a construction company in which Herold had a part. Schulz junior did indeed wonder about the "odd language" and the "piercing look" of the gentleman, but he chalked it up to whim. Then at the end of 1994, Herold's consultant, Axel Fehling, pressed a book into Mirko's hand which the consultant said would solve all problems, "What is Scientology?" Schulz: "Then I finally knew what was wrong."
Herold's employees in Leipzig also began to notice where their chief got his direction from. "A lot of mail came from Scientology which they did not want us to open," said Marin Boettcher. Herold also tried to recruit his employees. Boettcher said, "Almost everybody took the personality test" - the way disciples were currently being roped in.
Herold and Fehling belonged to a web of companies aligned with Scientology which bought buildings in the Leipzig area to dispose of them profitably after renovation - a "Mafia with very strict rules," as Boettcher said. Herold had paid many thousands of dollars to Scientology to operate as a "Thetan." Adlatus Axel Fehling is also a member of WISE. The gentlemen value, as capital assets, the pictures of painter Gottfried Helnwein, who even appeared personally in Leipzig. "Herold had bought certain paintings from him for a quarter million." Millionaire Scientologist Klaus Kempe is also another Helnwein fan. Until recently, he was the business partner of graduate engineer Heinz Klaus Guenther from Mainhausen, whom Herold staff member Boettcher described as "a kind of head guru."
Since 1992, Guenther has run the "Gewerbegalerie Obertshausen" near Frankfurt am Main, from where he directs the G+G company association. In 1993, with Herold, he founded the Guema Project Development Association, which bought anything from which a profit could be made - from a castle mill in Naunhof to an apartment house in Leipzig
With WISE manager Klaus Kempe, Guenther founded two real estate companies, including the GGK Exclusive Real Estate GmbH, which developed the project direction and architecture in Leipzig for the Gutenberg Galerie, a 300 million mark project of the Cologne Fundus Group. In the book "Real Estate Professionals," Guenther stated that his personal goal was "to create more quality and a really high level of survival" - pure Hubbard-speak. Today he has distanced himself from Scientology and says, "I have kept away from Kempe and Herold."
While Herold and Fehling are at work in the Leipzig vicinity, and a company from the fold of Hamburg "Patron" Goetz Brase have founded a branch in Altenburg, Thueringen, Scientologists from Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg have designs on Dresden. Construction manager Klaus Koller, "OT VIII," offers renovated historical buildings in Dresden-Laubegast with his "efko" real estate, Inc. Karl Paar, Level V "Thetan," and chief of Allhaus, Inc., resides in Dresden-Plauen. He addresses business problems with his Munich lawyer, Guenther von Jan. Attorney von Jan openly functions as a control point in the Scientology world. "We got together with von Jan and Fliegerbauer through Herold," said Mirko Schulz, "then we noticed: there is nothing but Scientologists around us!" Today, Ulrich Schulz perceives himself as the victim of evil machinations.
For instance, when Schulz, who was renovating Fliegerbauer's Villa and two other buildings in Zwickau, got somewhat behind in the summer of 1995, "potent investors" stopped paying bills. Schulz called in his attorney, von Jan. The Scientologist dictated a letter for him on July 27, 1995, which meekly requested 60,000, not the 92,000, marks outstanding. But at the same time, von Jan was the attorney for Fliegerbauer, and a shareholder of the Osterstein Management company. "That kind of behavior could fulfill the conditions of betrayal of trust," said attorney Ralf Burmester, who represents Schulz today.
In the meantime, other bills were running up. In fall 1995, Schulz was owed over 230,000 marks and indicated that he would appeal to the media. At that point Fliegerbauer intervened and paid 161,100 marks. When Schulz said something about that, the man from Munich got tough: he put Schulz "on probation" and warned him, "extortion will be punished with up to 5 (five!) years." Attorney Burmester calls that "a threat with coercive character." When "Stern" magazine wanted to ask Fliegerbauer about that, he cancelled three confirmed interview appointments. The failed knight of Osterstein Castle is not afraid of news just because of his Scientology connections, but also because he could be put under pressure financially. His construction business in the east is not running as well anymore, and his empire has been erected on credit. Fliegerbauer's Co. is undercapitalized and his Starnberg steel reinforcement company has been in liquidation since the end of 1995. Very few companies can survive the enormous payments to the sect in the long term. When Osterstein Castle Management Inc. begins to crumble, then all the workers are at risk - Juergen Schneider bids them welcome.
As Schneider, Fliegerbauer is also subject to excessive gestures. In late summer of 1995, he tried to gain some sympathy by offering to establish a "Museum of Modern Art" for the city. In doing that, the name was dropped again and again of painter Helnwein, whose pictures hang in Fliegerbauer's company, and whom Scientologists regard as the most important artist of the present time. At the museum's opening, he was allegedly supposed to have shot through one of the paintings with a pistol. A shock effect for which Fliegerbauer loves him.
Since then, Zwickau's city fathers have become distrustful, so that Fliegerbauer has been looking in different areas of operation for a couple of months now. Even though Goerlitz does not have a castle which needs to be saved, many modern style buildings in the historical section of town can be had for little money. Several of the historical structures there are already said to belong to Osterstein Castle Management, Inc. ...
The Scientologists and their great deals.