Ingo Heinemann: Criticism of Scientology

Helnwein and Scientology
Helnwein capitulates. Hammer attack on Reporter

The name of Gottfried Helnwein, the painter, has been used for more than 20 years by the Scientology Organization for advertisement. Helnwein was the most important, German-speaking recruitment tool.

to Ingo Heinemann's Homepage

Address of the original German-language url:
last updated 2.4.2000

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  • The name of Gottfried Helnwein, the painter, has been used for more than 20 years by the Scientology Organization for advertisement. Helnwein was the most important, German-speaking recruitment tool. So far as is known, Helnwein has never filed a complaint against the Scientology Organization on that account. Helnwein was initially presented as testimony for the alleged effectiveness of Scientology. Then, however, he served only as testimony for the alleged persecution of Scientologists in Germany. As of January 1999 Scientology was still asserting that Helnwein is a Scientologist in this connection. In any case, it is correct to say that Helnwein has been criminally prosecuted in Germany.

    About the Constitutional complaint: Helnwein had sued the VITEM association for a few statements they had made. The State Court granted his application. The Superior State Court rejected his application. That is what the Constitutional complaint was directed at. The trial is also about the relatively coincidental issues of whether Helnwein is or was an "auditor" and what class [of auditor], and whether one may therefore describe him as a Scientology "clergyman."
    (On the question of membership, also see Scientology-Vereine haben keine Mitglieder. Nur Kunden. [German-language link: Scientology does not have members, only customers. und  The Scientology "Church" is a worldwide business ...) [also a German-language link]

    The Legal Proceedings - The Capitulation

    The Frankfurt Superior State Court had set the date at February 17, 2000.
    An SWR team investigated on February 1, 2000 in Clearwater, USA.
    In front of Helnwein's house, the camera man was attacked with a hammer.
    On the next day SWR obtained a capitulation statement.

    The following press release was sent on February 2, 2000 from attorney Dr. Karsten Rock from the Office of Gram and Weber in Bielefeld to SWR (Southwest Broadcasting).

    Press Release
    Since 1994, Gottfried Helnwein has pursued legal proceedings to enforce a cease-and-desist order against the "Verein fuer die Interessen tyrannisierter Mitmenschen, e.V." and the "Verein fuer Friedenserziehung im Saarland e.V." for alleged false statements of fact. Mr. Helnwein triumphed in the first round before the Frankfurt State Court, by judgment of the 3rd civil chamber on 24 May 1995.

    On appeal by the accused, the judgment of the first specification was confirmed by Frankfurt Superior State Court, but the other three specifications were overturned and withdrawn. To Mr. Helnwein's Constitutional grievance which he filed against this decision, the first Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court, with a decision on 10 Nov 1998, case number: 1 8 VR 1531/98, overturned the decision of the Frankfurt Superior State Court based on transgression of basic rights and referred it back for a new hearing.

    Since Mr. Helnwein has not lived in Germany since the end of 1997 and lives with his family and works alternately between Ireland, New York and Italy, the nearly 6 year old proceeding has since lost meaning and purpose for him. He is now dedicating himself exclusively to his artistic work and is preparing several international museum exhibits which require his entire concentration and work ability.

    He has not publicly taken a position on the theme since 1998 and since he no longer lives in Germany, he has not been involved with the topic of the proceedings anymore, either. Further discussion about the case material in the proceedings before the Frankfurt Superior Court is no longer possible for him. He is lacking the time as well as the motivation to continue the dispute.

    Mr. Helnwein has repeatedly sought an out of court settlement. Because the opponents in the proceedings have not responded to an offer for out of court settlement, Mr. Helnwein has instructed his representative in the matter to now end the case. Mr. Helnwein's trial representative will now accordingly withdraw his accusations. By withdrawing the accusations, however, it is not conceded that the assertions of fact by the opposing sides are true. The withdrawal of the accusations is serving exclusively to end proceedings for the complainant in which he has lost any legal interest.

    The Hammer Attack

    Clearwater, the most important Scientology Center. Reporters Hans Michael Kassel and Peter Reichelt and their American camera man, Mark Bunker, were taking pictures in front of Helnwein's villa. A man stormed out of the villa and attacked the camera man with a hammer. The cameras continued to run. The camera man was hurt.

    Scientology secret service chief Michael Rinder, in an interview with reporter Mark Douglas from U.S. television broadcaster NBC Channel 8, disputed that Richard Bernard, the hammer attacker, was a member of the Scientology Organization. However, it has been alleged that a man by this name was listed as a participant of a Scientology drug therapy course.

    On the question of membership, see

    The Trial - the Continuation

    On April 29, 1999 Helnwein submitted another written statement to the Frankfurt Superior State Court.
    It stated, among other things:

    "As of the end of 1991, the complainant has publicly and in clear form distanced himself from the 'Scientology Church.' This is clearly seen from the large number of press releases of any time.
    Evidence: press articles, copies of which included as Attachment K"

    It is stated in a subsequent paragraph that Scientology continued to describe him as a Scientologist. In the meantime, however, a "rectification" ensues.

    A couple of pages later it is confirmed:

    "The complainant ... as of the end of 1991 has clearly and credibly distanced himself from the 'Scientology Church'."

    Then on page 11:

    "The complainant has, namely, seriously and enduringly distanced himself from 'Scientology'.
    He has successfully defended himself in a large number of legal proceedings against the statements imputing him with "Scientology membership.
    1) Decision of the Koblenz State Court of 11.14.1991 [mo.da.year]- 1 O 558/91
    2) Decision of the Koblenz State Court of 11.19.1991 - 2 O 502791
    3) Decision of the Cologne State Court of 12.3.1991 - 28 O 550/91
    4) Decision of the Koblenz State Court of 11.7.1991 - 1 O 341/91
    5) Decision of the Cologne State Court of 12.6.1991 - 28 O 554/91
    6) Decision of the Heilbronn State Court of 11.15.1993 - 5 O 2193/93
    copies of proceedings, et al., appended as attachment K8

    From the dates it can be seen that Helnwein apparently began his lawsuits before he distanced himself from Scientology.

    It can be expected that this trial will turn up new problems for Helnwein.

    Helnwein's Appointment Calendar

    Shortly have this statement was submitted, copies of Helnwein's appointment calendar from 1992, 1993 and 1994 were distributed by e-mail and over the internet. The 4 page list contains names and dates which lend it a high degree of credibility. One could compile a list of witnesses from it without problem.
    According to the calendar, Helnwein had countless appointments until 1994 which had actual connection with Scientology, e.g., contact "to OSA."
    OSA is the Scientology secret service.
    English translation of calendar 990623h.htm
    For OSA see Verfassungsschutz Hamburg: Der Geheimdienst der Scientology-Organisation [in German or Scientology's Intelligence Agency in English].

    The Book on Helnwein and Scientology

    Reichelt, Peter: Helnwein and Scientology - Lies and Treason - an organization and its secret service.
    published by Verlag Brockmann & Reichelt Mannheim 1997
    ISBN 3-923801-93-9
    English translation (not complete as of 2/7/00) on internet (with permission):

    Helnwein applied for a temporary restraining order against numerous statements in this book on July 7, 1997 in Berlin State Court (16 O 407/97). On July 14, 1997, he withdrew his application. Upon that the court cancelled the date set for August 21, 1997 and set the value of the dispute at 100,000 marks in a decision of July 17, 1997.

    A review of the book by Tilman Hausherr from Berlin on October 17, 1998, taken from the book distributer

    Very detailed
    On almost 500 pages are told the story of a man who has lied so much over the years that courts are bursting at the seams. Still he came through it all and has recruited supporters from the press, television and politics who have helped present him as the poor man persecuted by the fanatical sect hunters. No matter what evidence the critics bring forward, he simply discounts it. Documents are called counterfeits, names on Scientology lists are discounted. For Helnwein, two plus two, in time of need, can be five, or even three. He got away with it for some time because none of the critics had the overall picture; then everything fell apart when he lost a legal process against two critics. Despite that he discounts everything, and his willing assistants are helping him do that. An entire stack of evidence against him had already appeared on the internet, but now it can be found published in a *single* book. This evidence does not only consist of publications from Scientology itself, but also of rather many letters in Helnwein's own handwriting.

    What's missing, unfortunately, is an index.

    Commentary: Is Helnwein to be taken seriously

    On December 30, 1998, some of the press made reports as if Helnwein had won down the whole line, as if the Federal Constitutional Court had forbidden anyone from describing him as a Scientologist.
    That was not the case.
    The Federal Constitutional Court decided upon the issue of the burden of proof, not upon the proof itself. Look at the last sentence of the decision.
    The Federal Constitutional Court concerned itself only with Constitutional issues.
    Therefore the Federal Constitutional court had indeed mentioned the evidence at hand (e.g., the Scientology letter to DPA on January 14, 1997, published on p. 433 in Reichelt's book), but had not considered it.
    The Federal Constitutional Court made no assessment of proof.
    The case was referred back to the previous hearing for that purposes.
    Result: the trial continues.

    On the current situation:
    There is no legal judgment in force, therefore nothing has been forbidden.
    The accused association, VITEM, Inc., may therefore continue making its assertion.
    The proceedings have now gone back to the Frankfurt Superior State Court.
    There, not only Helnwein's evidence will be reviewed, but also the counter-evidence of those he had sued.

    According to the Federal Constitutional Court, the Superior State Court will now have to consider that the lead complainant, supported by statements of the Scientology Church Germany, contests having been trained as an auditor and to have fulfilled that kind of function. The court will also have to concern itself with their credibility in regard to the asserted distancing from Scientology. (page 22).

    That will now be reviewed.

    Ingo Heinemann December 30, 1998

    I found the following Scientology text on January 4, 1999 on the Internet at Address Ingo Heinemann

    Discrimination Against Individual Scientologists:

          The German government makes the blunt statement that “the Scientologists’ repeated allegations that artists belonging to Scientology are being discriminated against in Germany is false.” The concluding “punch line” of the position paper is that Chick Corea performed at the famous Burghausen jazz festival last March.

          This statement is more than disingenuous. It is an outrageous falsehood which is belied by cold, hard facts. Indeed, it is so outrageous a lie that it eloquently shows how far German officials must reach to try to reach the truth.

          The German statement says that Mr. Corea performed at Burghausen in March 1996 to a sellout crowd. That is correct. What the German government does not state is that directly afterwards, in April, Mr. Corea was banned by the Minister of Culture from all future performances at Burghausen because he is a Scientologist. This ban was ordered by the Minister-President of Bavaria, Edmund Stoiber.

          It was the latest in a long line of discriminatory actions directed at Mr. Corea, beginning in 1993 when a concert he was scheduled to give at a state-sponsored event was cancelled by the government of Baden-Wuerttemberg because of Mr. Corea’s religion. A state government representative wrote that the reason for the cancellation was that “we found out that you are a known member” of the Church of Scientology.

          The German government’s recounting of March’s events while deliberately failing to mention April’s events is as clear an indication of the dishonesty of the entire statement as there could possibly be. The German position paper also omits to mention negates that last August, the youth faction of Germany’s ruling party, the Christian Democratic Union, called for a boycott of the movie Mission: Impossible simply because the lead actor, Tom Cruise, happens to be a Scientologist. Not a single senior CDU official condemned this action, which resulted in international press criticizing Germany for its discriminatory practices and turned what had been the German government’s “dirty little secret” into an international scandal.

          Federal Member of Parliament Renate Rennebach and other German politicians then tried to block distribution of the movie Phenomenon because it stars John Travolta, also a Scientologist. The CDU’s media spokesperson also urged the German cinema’s self-regulating committee to ban the film. It was also announced that the German Ministry for Family Affairs would closely “scrutinize” the film for references to Scientology—which do not exist as noted by the film’s screenwriter, Gerald Dipego, who has no connection to Scientology and wrote the screenplay well before Mr. Travolta was cast in the film.

          A concert by the American band Golden Bough which was due to take place in April 1996 was cancelled on March 12 by the organizers because the members of the band are Scientologists. Golden Bough have been blacklisted by a prominent German folk music magazine because of their religion. Like Mr. Corea, the band used to perform regularly in Germany. In 1991, the group enjoyed 12 appearances while in Germany. By 1994, the number of play dates dropped to two. During one Golden Bough concert in Germany, members of the CDU youth faction actually mounted the stage with banners protesting the group members’ religion, forcing the concert to a halt.

          Not only musicians but painters and writers have been targetted. The very fine German artist, Gottfried Helnwein, whose covers have adorned the front pages of Time many times as well as other major media, suffered pillorying in the media and the cancellation and denial of exhibition facilities because he is a Scientologist. Artist friends of his were given the option of giving up their friendships or losing commissions. The exhibition of the paintings of another painter, Carl Roehrig, which was scheduled to run through July 1996, was terminated by the organizers after a politician demanded that they “disassociate” themselves from Mr. Roehrig because he is a Scientologist. Discrimination against German artists who are Scientologists has reached such a fever pitch of official censorship that artists such as Mr. Roehrig have been forced to move their families out of Germany and seek asylum elsewhere.

          Because of their prominence, when discrimination occurs against well known Scientologists it makes good copy. However, unknown and unheard of, discrimination occurs against Scientologists every day.


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    Helnwein criminally prosecuted

    From the following document, it can be seen that legally binding criminal findings of Koblenz District Court of Jan. 7, 1998 are outstanding against the accused [Helnwein].
    (case nr.: 2105 js 58678/97-C110 VRs 2254 / 98) Punishment
    has been handed down

    State Attorney's Office Heilbronn
    15 Js 20803/97
    [Note: this will be a bit garbled. A better rendering of the image below will be provided when it becomes available.]
    Order of 14.08.1998

    In the charges
    against Gottfried Helnwein
    for false affirmation under oath
    will, in accordance with PP. 154 Abs. 1 StPO of the prosecution
    since the punishment which can lead to prosecution besides the punishment, which
    against the accused through legally binding findings of punishment of the
    District Court of Koblenz of Jan 7, 1998
    (case nr.: 2105 js 58678/97-C110 VRs 2254 / 98) have been imposed, fall not
    into consideration.
    Thereby it is also considered that with the legally binding conviction
    a new entire judgment will have to be formed.
    State Attorney