"A bullet between the eyes"

Gerry Armstrong, former high-ranking member of Scientology, reports of death threats made against him.

Vienna, Austria
May 30, 2001
Die Presse, p. 16

Vienna. (red). "Power and money are the real motivations behind Scientology. That really has nothing to do with religion." Canadian Gerry Armstrong, who spoke from his decades of experience with the obscure "private religion" of sect founder L. Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986, spoke at a meeting of the Federal Center for Sect Issues to warn against categorizing Scientology as a religion. A religion that persecuted former members in an effort to silence them or - as happened to him in the mid 1980s - threatened to put a "bullet between his eyes," was certainly not a religion, Armstrong believed.

Armstrong was a sect member from 1969 to 1981 and responsible for legal matters, among other things. In researching a biography for the sect founder, he discovered that Scientology had been built on a foundation of lies. He said he spent over two years in the organization's "concentration camp." After he left the sect he was persecuted: physical threats, lawsuits, libel and breaking into his house were a daily routine.

The "apostate" is not allowed to speak about Scientology in the USA because of a court order. Armstrong emphasized the sect's influence on the USA's justice and administrative systems, an influence which became increasing apparent in the 1990s. Since that time, the freedom of religion guaranteed by the US Constitution has been more or less used to enact a prohibition against criticism of religion and as a license for groups to suppress their members, Armstrong said.

The number of Scientologists in Austria cannot be determined exactly. The operating manager of the Federal Center for Sect Issues, German Mueller, reckoned it at under 5,000. Worldwide they say there are about eight million members.

Yesterday, Tuesday, about 40 members of Scientology Austria demonstrated in front of the French Embassy on Schwarzenbergplatz against a proposed law to regulate religious communities in France. The law will give the president and the administration the power to ban religious groups that pose a danger to public order.

      From: ARS-CC Vienna (wdne)
Newsgroups: de.soc.weltanschauung.scientology
   Subject: ORG-Watch: Bericht vom Lokalaugenschein
      Date: 20 Apr 2001 

In the past few weeks, the staff of ARS-CC Vienna have personally been scrutinizing both of the two Scientology establishments in Vienna.

There is not much to add about the condition of the Org (Scientology Kirche Österreich), Schottenfeldgasse 13-15, 1070 Vienna; the building looks just as dilapidated as it did the last time. The exterior walls were sopping wet through with water after a rain and the mortar was falling out. Conclusion of our personal examination: no improvement, possibly even worse that the last time. http://www.parishioner.org/orgs/vienna.html

At the Celebrity Centre Scientology Kirche (a.k.a. Scientology Church Vienna-South) at 11 Senefeldergasse, at the corner of Victor Adler Market, 1100 Vienna, there was no improvement from the last time either - the deterioration here was more than obvious, especially if you were standing downwind. Right in front of the building which holds the Celebrity Centre are 28 (twenty-eight!) large dumpsters, two of them the extra-large size, about 16 x 8 feet, filled to the brims with garbage. Apparently OSA in Vienna has established a new training center in front of the Celebrity Centre; our staff could not explain the many trash containers otherwise.

(Photos will hopefully be webbed in the next few days at http://www.parishioner.org/orgs/vienna.html )

Some of the foul smelling trash, rotten garbage, cardboard cartons and plastic bags had fallen into the street and the doves were poking around in it. One could only imagine how the trash would smell in the summer heat, not to mention the plague of rats at night! Our staff did not believe their eyes, but the count was conducted two times by two different people. Behind the 28 trash containers lives a panhandler. Our staff assumed that he was probably a Scientologist who had slowly gone bankrupt and no longer had a place to live. Unfortunately they did not have time to talk to the gentleman since they had an appointment - the traditional Easter Egg Hunt for the ARS-CC youth group. The ARS-CC in very involved in youth work and loves to train the upcoming generation in the powers of observation: those who can find Easter eggs easily now will be able to find those sensitive documents more quickly when they grow up (although we are almost convinced that the next generation will not have any more work to do, we're taking care of them anyway.)

We will continue to reconnoiter and file reports here. Currently we are regularly receiving interesting reports from our new infiltrator.

ARS-CC Vienna (WDNE) PR & ORG-Watch I/C

Here is the Celebrity Centre. Both Photos = same location. It is also a dumpster diving training site. http://news.scientology.org/address.htm
Senefeldergasse 11/5 1100 Wien

Note in the top floor the windows have the letters which spell "Scientology" taped on them."Wiener Testzentrum" means Vienna Test Center.
Under that says "Dianetics Center, Scientology Mission, Vienna"

      From: ARS-CC Vienna 
Newsgroups: de.soc.weltanschauung.scientology
   Subject: Der Philharmonikerball 2001
      Date: 21 Jan 2001 06:43:51 -0800

Where everything whirls in three-quarters time ...

The 2001 Viennese Ball season has opened. ARS-CC Vienna will also be shaking a leg for the next two months at many traditional balls and society events (all in the line of duty, naturally).

Prior to their going to Kitzbuehel for the 2001 61st Hahnenkamm races, the staff of ARS-CC Vienna went to the traditional Philharmonic ball at the large music hall in Vienna on January 18, 2001.

There was an information stand in the foyer and several staff members from ARS-CC Vienna, as always, mingled with the high-class guests from the worlds of art, culture, business and politics in letting people know about the machinations of the Scientology sect. Sir Simon Rattle conducted the world-renowned orchestra of the Viennese Philharmonic, this heavenly music, it was, like every year, a sheer pleasure to listen to - unsurpassed!

It was even attended by Mr. Federal Chancellor, along with everyone in Viennese Society.

Since attendance at this social happening every year is by invitation from the orchestra of the Viennese Philharmonic only, it was a great honor for us to accept this again this year.

ARS-CC Vienna (WDNE) Dance & PR I/C

      From: ARS-CC Vienna 
Newsgroups: de.soc.weltanschauung.scientology
   Subject: Re: Der Philharmonikerball 2001
      Date: 22 Jan 2001 

On Sun, 21 Jan 2001 23:53:20 +0100, Thomas Gandow schrieb:

>> in letting people know about the machinations of the
>> Scientology sect. Sir Simon Rattle conducted the
>> world-renowned orchestra of the Viennese Philharmonic,
>> this heavenly music, it was, like every year, a sheer
>> pleasure to listen to - unsurpassed!
>Why wasn't Chick Corea there?

The invitations are sent out every year by the Orchestra of the Viennese Philharmonic themselves, the selection criteria are very strict and attention is given to quality.

>Wasn't he discriminated against by the Viennese?
>Is he boycotting Austria?

We're not sure about that yet.

>Or did ARSCC Vienna secretly have a hand in that?

Well, there is perhaps a glimmer of truth in that, as ARS-CC Vienna (WDNE) is everywhere and knows everything, even the scandalous deeds of the Scientologists cannot escape us.

>(Or was it the state churches?)

No it wasn't them!

But while we're on the subject, may we mention that ARS-CC Vienna (WDNE) would like to increase its cooperation with people in the individual states in order to achieve a Scientology-free Austria.

We decided that this "Clearing" by people we don't know is not something we agree with any more and are now endeavoring to become the first country in Europe to successfully free itself of the spiritual plague of Scientology! The slogan for 2001 is: CLEAR AUSTRIA OF SCIENTOLOGY!

ARS-CC Vienna (WDNE) Dance & PR I/C

p.s. We're everywhere, we're everywhere!

      From: ARS-CC Vienna Entertainment & PR 
Newsgroups: de.soc.weltanschauung.scientology
   Subject: ARS-CC Vienna Terminkalender für 2001
      Date: 7 Jan 2001

ARS-CC Vienna Calendar for 2001

We just received reservation confirmation for our loge at the Viennese Opera Ball on 22 February 2001.

Amid the international and Viennese Society people we will, as we do every year, use this social occasion to inform people about Scientology. And this year, for the first time we have a TV interview scheduled.

Once more many artists, politicians and people from the business world are expected, as are other glamorous personalities from around the globe. In the same letter we also learned that, for this year's Opera Ball it is expected that L. Ron Hubbard will drive up in a 1965 pink Cadillac. As is known, Adolf Hitler drove up last year in a white Rolls Royce. He was immediately arrested.

Other important dates for ARS-CC Vienna Entertainment & PR:
[dates are in European notation]

18.1.2001 Ball with the Viennese Philharmonic in the famous
19.1. - 21.1.2001 Hahnenkamm races in Kitzbnhl
29.1. - 10.2.2001 Alpine Ski-WM in St. Anton
15.2. - 17.2.2001 Villacher Fasching
11.5. - 17.6.2001 Viennese Festival Week
12.5.2001 Life Ball, ein Society spektakel for dazzling Party celebrities in the Viennese town hall
13.5.2001 Austrian Grand-Prix at the A1-Ring in Spielberg
22.6. - 24.6.2001 Viennese Donau Island Fest with Music, Bier and fireworks
30.6. - 31.8.2001 Musikfilmfestival at the Viennese Rathausplatz
7.7.2001 Love Parade in Vienna
21.7. - 31.8.2001 Salzburger Festspiele

Other ARS-CC Vienna dates will be reported as they come up. Or maybe not all of them, there will also be surprises.

ARS-CC Vienna (WDNE) Entertainment & PR


On 7 Jan 2001, ARS-CC Vienna Entertainment & PR wrote:

> We just received reservation confirmation for our loge at 
> the Viennese Opera Ball on 22 February 2001.
> Amid the international and Viennese Society people we will, 
> as we do every year, use this social occasion to inform people 
> about Scientology.  And this year, for the first time we have 
> a TV interview scheduled.

Please use the opportunity to inform "Moertel" and his "Mausi" 
about Scientology.

[anonymized] informed reader


Amazing!  You're even up-to-date on the Viennese scene!
Regards  ;-)

[anonymized] flabbergasted reader


Thanks <g>  The both of them are well known ... Anyway "Moertel" has
a certain unpleasant association to Scientology, somewhere on
El Awadalla's pages there are pictures.

[anonymized] informed reader


yes, right here, she reported that back in 1999:

http://www.awadalla.at/el/aktuelles-00.1.html siehe unter Opernball 

[anonymized] another informed reader

on http://www.awadalla.at/el/lugner-advance.html there is a picture of Mr. Lugner dancing with Scientology's Jive Aces.

at http://www.awadalla.at/el/aktuelles-99.3.html it says:

29.9.1999: Lugner dances for Scientology
Just in time for the Austrian national assembly elections (3.10.99) Scientology sent out "Advance! The Magazine of the Advanced Organization and Saint Hill Europe", edition 136. On page 27 there is the report on the "What is Scientology? Crusade" with a picture of Richard Lugner dancing in his Viennese Lugner-City sales center with the Jive Aces Scientology Band on stage. In front of the stage is a poster board with "Was ist Scientology" clearly visible.

The gathering in Lugner-City served as recruitment for the "What is Scientology" exhibition in the Viennese Hotel Intercontinental from 5 to 9 April 1999.

Lugner is the founder of the political party "The Independents" with whom he appears at the election; in 1998 he was campaigned in the presidential election. He's had prior contact with Scientology.

from http://www.awadalla.at/el/aktuelles-00.1.html

3.3.2000: Opera ball
Construction contractor, presidential candiate and Opera Ball visitor Richard Lugner tried in vain to decorate his loge with prominent stars for the current political situation. He had to scrape the bottom of the barrel which is how he came up with Mark Janicello, Scientologist and Elvis-imitator [from the USA] (whose next appearance is at the end of March in the Arbeiterkammer Theater, "so that Mausi has a man to make her entrance with." Mausi is Lugner's wife. Lugner has showed his lack of distance to Scientology in 1999 in ways including a little dance (see photo). Janicello uses his appearance to lend a serious tinge to his Scientology recruitment in that he presents himself, "You know me from the theater, I've played Elvis, now help me in" etc.; that's the way he did it at a Scientology event in 1998 in Vienna.

      From: Ilse Hruby
Newsgroups: de.soc.weltanschauung.scientology
   Subject: Inquisitöre sind cool!
      Date: Tue, 14 Nov 2000 

Reflections on the 7th "East Elbian" professional training seminar on the theme of sects, youth religions and occultism by the Dialog Zentrum Berlin, otherwise known as the "Inquisitors' summit meeting" (This was the designation handed down by an independent Scientology committee).

Before I left Vienna I had seen the poster drawn by Gerhard Foerster, an ex-Scientologist who had gotten out of the Scientology sect back in the early '80s. It was super well-done, I could barely contain myself.

After a long trip of short duration to Berlin, we landed in a local place where they have good Capuccino, then on to one of Tilman Hausherr's hang-outs in Schoeneberg. Afterwards we visited the bear exhibit "Unter den Linden" (thousands of plastic bears, each with a human hand and with a bear paw).

At the 7th "East Elbian" professional training seminar on the theme of sects, youth religions and occultism by the Dialog Zentrum Berlin we were able to meet some interesting people, like Representative Mrs. Renate Rennebach and Mrs. Solveig Prass, for example, and also Mr. Ruediger Hauth (has some fascinating anecdotes), Ingolf Christiansen, Kurt Kreibohm and Gunar Werner, an ex-Mormon (www.mormonen.de) who has taken a leading role in people leaving the Mormons.

Towards the end of my book presentation which took place on the evening of November 10th, Thomas Gandow grabbed Tilman Hausherr's Xenu cap and told the story of Xenu (I thought I would fall off my chair). I had a capable assistant who helped out and removed minor catastrophes. I was especially happy to see Natascha Kobitzsch, who works to communicate a very extensive knowledge about Scientology and who even went through a situation similar to mine. Gerhard Foerster made poignant and very pointed comments, impressing OSA with how certain Hubbard quotes roll off the tongue, e.g., "We would rather have you dead than incapable."

The cold buffet turned out to be hot gourd soup, warm onion cakes (mmmmh!), Austrian wine and nuts from my garden (that would be those the squirrels didn't get).

That was the way the Austrian section of the audience wanted to express their appreciation for the outstanding cooperation in an aggression-free atmosphere by the organizers, the Dialog Zentrum Berlin and Reverend Thomas Gandow.

The problems on the theme at hand were worked out and came together through the efforts of the participants of this professional training seminar, not to mention the experiences of individual work groups who are confronted with that sort of thing daily, and were heard eagerly in a new light. This trans-national exchange of thoughts and experience was very important for our little group.

On our way back home though, we heard the sad news of the overhead cable cars in Kaprun; I used to use that lift a lot when I drove up to ski at the Kitzsteinhorn. Our little traveling Austrian group was strongly affected by this news.

Ilse Hruby

"Meine Ehe mit einem Scientologen":

Interview anläßlich der Bucherscheinung:

U.S. Congress Committee on International Relations unanimously passes resolution against discrimination of religious minorities in Austria.
President Clinton to speak with leading government representatives.

Vienna, Austria
October 5, 2000

Vienna - The U.S. Congress' Committee on International Relations has unanimously passed a clearly worded resolution that calls for President Clinton to take up violations of religious freedom with representatives of the Austrian federal government. Besides Austria, France, Germany and Belgium were also among those who have to face reproach for their politics of discrimination against religious minorities.

Resolution number 588 more clearly than every before reflects the distinct position of the U.S. committee members that drastic measures will be required in response to the violation of religious freedom and to the violation of the ban on discrimination in several western European states.

The main points of criticism on Austria's dealing with Scientologists are the discriminatory measures on the civil, political and economical levels, the "Federal Law on religious denominations" which is meant to prevent acknowledgment of various religions, as well as the "Federal Center for Sect Issues" which was established by Families Minister Martin Bartenstein and which "disseminates official propaganda on religious groups not recognized by the government," as the resolution says literally.

"More than anybody else, the OeVP party, which has been been most diligent in the work of establishing this religious politic of discrimination, should finally break the hold of the state churches and go the path of equal treatment and of dialogue. There has not been any room on the international stage for measures of systematic persecution against people who think differently for a long time," Scientology spokesman Andreas Boeck commented on the resolution.

The resolution names a a broad palette of measures in France, Germany, Austria and Belgium which discriminate against Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Scientologists, charismatics, Jehova's Witnesses, Moslems, Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints) and other communities.

For further info:    Andreas Boeck     [numbers given]
                     Angelika Thonauer 


This is related to
the original charges
the charges were dropped
and the news report, 1st person report and translation of flyer handed out at concert

       From: ARS-CC Vienna PR 
 Newsgroups: de.soc.weltanschauung.scientology
    Subject: Arbeit des ARS-CC Vienna gewürdigt
       Date: 6 Sep 2000 08:58:05 -0700
 Message-ID: <8p5pid$1cbi@drn.newsguy.com>

Good News

Thanks to the diligent efforts of ARS-CC Vienna against the machinations of Mark Janicello, our work has now also been mentioned in the "State Department report on religious freedom"!


A number of recent incidents indicate that sensitivity to Scientology in the country remains high. In November 1999 and June 2000, a U.S. singer experienced harassment by an anti-Scientology group at two of his performances. The American previously had supported the Church of Scientology at events; however since 1998 he no longer publicly has supported the organization. Police authorities fined the demonstrators and offered police protection for the singer's next appearances.

It's just that the claim about the fine is untrue, along with the statement that "harassment" was practiced. But that the State Department heard about that action at all is a strong indication that Janicello is a "new Helnwein."

arscc at a-topmail.at

Documentation in German is at http://www.awadalla.at/el/anzeige.html

Sufi Music for 29 students

New Islamic high school unique for Vienna and Europe

Vienna, Austria
November 23, 1999
Der Standard

Vienna - According to School Director Ludwig Sommer, it is not only the first school project of its kind in Vienna, but also for all of Europe: the Islamic High School of Vienna ["Islamische Gymnasium Wien" (IGW)] in Ruldofsheim-Fuenfhaus. Since the beginning of this semester, nine girls and 20 boys have been going to the first and thus far only class of the new denominational private school on Rauchfangkehrer Alley. The school was festively dedicated on Monday with recitations from the Koran and with Sufi music (comment: Sufis are adherents of the mystic tradition of Islam).

The students are primarily from Turkish families which have immigrated and whose parents want them to experience their Islamic heritage through the school community. Classes are taught in German, Islamic Religion is on the class schedule for two hours a week and in the afternoons, language classes in Arabic and Turkish are offered. Sommer explicitly stated that "Girls who want to wear head cloths may do that, but there is no obligation."

The school sponsor is the "Solmit" Association ("Solidarisches Miteinander" / Solidarity with one another). Tuition per month per child is 2,000 Austrian shillings (145.3 Euro). That also includes lunches which have been made in accordance with rules of Islamic food preparation. For the next school year, two first and two second classes are planned, along with construction of an extension to the building. By then the school should also be a public corporation.

Islam is the third largest recognized religious denomination in Austria; in the 1991 census, 160,000 people said they were Moslems. Over one third of those, 62,305 to be exact, live in Vienna. In Austria, more than 20 churches and religious communities are acknowledged. Nine of those were added since the "Federal law for religious denominations" - "sect law" for short - came into effect in 1998.

The newly recognized religious denominations include the Jehovahs Witnesses and the Alliance of Baptist Communities. Scientology had withdrawn its application for recognition and the Sahaja Yoga group was turned down. (APA/red)


Vienna, Austria
July 1, 1999

The Swiss Federal Court has dismissed an objection by Scientology Church against a new Basel criminal code. It forbids deceptive or unfair methods of advertising on public ground. According to the Federal Court, this is not a violation of Basic Law.

No sympathy in other Austrian states for Upper Austria's proposal

Vienna, Austria
April 28, 1999

Exclusion of Scientologists

Vienna - Franz Hiesl, Upper Austria's state personnel director, has not found a sympathetic ear among the other Austrian states. The VP politician has proposed - following the Bavarian model - a written statement signed by state applicants that they are not members of Scientology, and that they do not identify with its goals. The reason given is that membership in an anti-democratic sect is said to be inconsistent with the oath of office. Those who do not keep to their statement of guarantee could be dismissed.

Hiesl does not state that there is currently a real reason to believe that Scientologists are among the applicants to state service. Neither is it known if adherents have already infiltrated the state apparatus. The statement is meant to be a preventive measure.

Protecting Basic Rights

"We maintain now, as we always have, that everybody has a basic right to a private life," was the reply from the office of the Styrian state personnel director, Gerhard Hirschmann (VP). Shutting out Scientology members from state service in Styria is "not a theme," he said. "There have never been any kind of problems relating to this." According to the Federal Agency for Sect Issues in Vienna, Scientology states that it has between 5,000 and 10,000 members in Austria.

In the meantime, an advertising campaign by Scientology caused an uproar in Vienna. The Gewista Advertising Agency is said to have laid out their posters. According to the company's management, however, it was some other outside advertising firm. Matters of conscience are not a topic of discussion at the municipal personnel office in Vienna.

Something of the sort was very probably planned in Innsbruck in 1997. Municipal workers were to have their "state compatibility" reviewed. That ended up in an agreement that the form for the oath concerning the federal Constitution would be "heavily emphasized," said Lothar Mueller, who was an SP city council member at the time. In the state of Tyrol a career ban on Scientologists is not presently under consideration.

That contradicts the principle of religious freedom, said Joerg Haider, from the office of the Kaerntner state director, in charge of personnel. "Job bans will not regulate anything," said VP representative Manfred Doerler from Vorarlberg. The personnel department also sees "no need for handling anything." Department Chairman Helgar Wurzer said, "The problem of sect membership has not yet come up." New hires are not asked about it. The question of religious affiliation is part of the usual personnel form. (red)

From: "Kurier"
September 8, 1998

SP Representative Erwin Niederwieser accused the Ministry of Families of being tardy in the establishment of a federal sect center. "Apparently neither the premises nor the leading personnel have been assigned for this sect center," he said.

However, the assignment would have had to happen immediately to be able to select the appropriate person and to recruit the individuals qualified from which the selection could be made. If Bartenstein does not do something about it soon, then the suspicion is roused "that Parliament would be misused for a dispute between Bartenstein and Scientology."

The Minister of Families reported in his answer to a letter, "Of course the operations director will be assigned pursuant to regulation."

The reason no action has yet been taken and that the assignment was not made earlier is that the law only came into effect on September 1. The assertion that a place has not even been selected yet is repudiated.

This issue is already being resolved. At the moment the negotiation of the rental contract for the property in downtown Vienna is being completed. Of course the amount of the rent plays a a deciding role in the economic application of tax money.

Scientology Not a Religion

From: "Salzburger Nachrichten"
July 11, 1998

Jehova's Witnesses officially a religious denomination

Eight religious denominations may now officially call themselves such. Scientology withdrew.

Vienna (SN-job). The cult office has made their decision regarding the first applications from religious minorities received after the new religion law. Accordingly, eight categories may now officially refer to themselves as "religious denominational communities." They include the Jehova's Witnesses, the Bahai, the Adventists and the Pentecostal communities.

This "lesser recognition" relates to the law on religious denominational communities which was passed on December 10, 1997. The gist of this law is that religious minorities can apply for "legal entity" as a "religious denominational community." The cult office can refuse the application within a six month time frame if the teachings contradict the "interests of public security, the public order, health or morals" or "violate the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."

That means that the new status for the eight recognized "denominational communities" is a sort of official approval. There are no misgivings that they might prevent the psychological development of their members or that they promote illicit behavior.

However, this "lesser recognition" does not include privileges such as tax exemption or the conducting of their religious education in public schools. Those privileges are reserved for the twelve religions that were recognized as churches by the "greater recognition law" of 1874.

The Jehova's Witnesses, who are striving for "greater recognition," must now wait 10 years as an "observation interval." Besides that, they must obtain a membership of 15,000 members.

Worthy of note, Scientology withdrew its application for the status of "religious denominational community." It is possible that that group wishes to avoid review of it books, which would be required for application. Scientology is under surveillance by domestic intelligence in Germany and is embroiled in commercial controversy as a psycho-cult.

The Hindu Mandir society also prematurely withdrew its application.

The application of Sahaja Yoga (Vishwa Nirmala Dharma Austria) was refused by the cult office because of reservations they had about the meditation techniques.


"Psycho-market" Warning

From: "Kleine Zeitung"
June 4, 1998

Scientology threatens Bartenstein. Sects and Consumer Protection.

Alarming facts about the activities of sects and psycho-cults were noted yesterday during an in camera Parliamentary inquiry. The German expert, Jurgen Keltsch, reported that Scientology maintains a camp for the re-education of members in the vicinity of Copenhagen. Yesterday Scientology announced a campaign against Families Minister Martin Bartenstein, who has consistently been warning about the dangers of this group that disguises itself as a religious community.

Yesterday Bartenstein granted an interview with the "Kleine Zeitung" in which he described the known pattern with which Scientology threatens its opponents. The fact that the sect is now being so aggressive only serves to prove that previous warnings were justified.

After the summer break, the Parliament will discuss a law about nationwide [throughout Austria] sect advisory boards. That is one of the results of yesterday's inquiry, to which all five parliamentary parties were invited. They stood under the leadership of OeVP Representative Josef Hochtl. Besides sects, the constantly expanding psycho-market will have to be kept under observation in the future, said Hochtl. That is a theme for consumer protection, because tens of billions (Austrian shillings) flow into this area.

Hans Winkler

Gullible Dilettantes

The Austrian branch of Scientology is hardly a threat to the state, but it's probably a different story with its own members

Vienna, Austria
July 28, 1997
Austrian Profil magazine Nbr. 31

by Bert Ehgartner and Claudia Hefner

"Everyone knew about us being members of Scientology. It's humanly very disappointing, to see how our own political party is behaving." Alfred Szczepanski, pharmacist, VP local assemblyman and city treasurer in Oberpullendorf, Burgenland [1], is getting tired of his fellow party members' discussion about him. Last Thursday at three o'clock in the morning he spontaneously went on vacation with his wife, Mia-Thes, and his three children.

In the meantime the employees of his "Apotheke zum Mohren" are continuing to sell pills with the "Cal-Mag Formula." This obscure mixture of mineral salts, vitamins and vinegar was developed by Scientology grandfather L. Ron Hubbard himself, and is supposed to have beneficial effects and protect those who have suffered lethal radiation from atom bombs, among other things. "It is recommend as detoxification for all members," recalls ex-Scientologist Gerhard Foerster, "A dreadful experience in taste."

"The drink has less of a medicinal effect than it does a cult status," explained Viennese cult expert and book author El Awadalla, "because either you first buy the Scientology philosophy and then the brew, or vice versa."

In fact the bitter medicine is apparently selling as little in Austria as is Scientology itself. For many years its membership has stalled at about 5,000. In the Viennese Center and in the mission of Salzburg, Wolfsberg and, since last year, also Graz, barely 50 staff are employed.

The local people would never go for people with names like Tom Cruise, Chick Corea or John Travolta. The only one that really got their attention was shock painter Gottfried Helnwein [2], who cofounded the Viennese center in the early 1970s. Fashion original, LIF expellee Pepi Wagner and practicing physician Thomas Kroiss are the exceptions. And even they do not publicly profess to Scientology like Tom Cruise, but try to play down their connections.

"We were always a downright gullible lot of dilettantes," admits ex-disciple Foerster, "and even today, essentially nothing has changed." He does not think that Scientology is a threat to the state, but to its own members. "We believed that Hubbard would make us into the only true professionals of the psyche. Instead of that we could not even calculate the effects of our non-professional therapy sessions." Foerster bitterly recalls the case of a young woman who committed suicide shortly after a recruitment meeting. "I am still asking myself whether I share the responsibility for that."

He said he was one of the "doers" who worked on staff to recruit new members. Their wages were reset every week by headquarters based on "productivity." "Once we'd get 100 shillings, the next time 2,000 shillings," recalls graphic artist Foerster, who worked as a staff member in the inner circle of the cult. The Field Staff Members (FSMs) proselytize in Scientology's field service, and they get a commission of about ten percent of what they sign up their recruits for. Most sales come from the personality course. The courses sold as enticements may only cost 1,000 shillings, but fees rapidly increase to over 15,000 shillings per day of auditing to learn about Hubbard's findings. The rules are strict, and only a fraction of the take stays in Austria. The rest is skimmed off by the centers in Copenhagen and Los Angeles. The "Sea Org" is an elite organization estimated to have over a thousand members; it takes care of things like finance and its members have the highest degree of training; they fly into the provinces to handle problems and commandeer respect with their improvised uniforms. "The Sea Org missionaires would pull off a big one when they came to visit," Foerster recalls.

Austria, the money drop-off point

"Random pieces of scenery" from the Scientology empire are collected by the Green Party cult expert, Karl Oellinger: on the one hand the donor lists of the Austrian branches show that Austrians are relatively well-to-do in an international comparison. On the other hand, it is known that Scientology Germany attempted to open bank accounts in the Austria Tyrol after the German Postbank closed the organization's accounts following a court decision. Oellinger ponders what the self-proclaimed religion could have used the accounts for: "They could have been money drop-off points," he speculates. "Or the income from covert activities by Scientology in Austria, such as the direct distribution business, could have been deposited there."

The Greens Party representative is convinced that it has been and still is simple for Scientology to target specified professional groups in Austria, especially in management or business consulting fields, which have been the traditional domains for the so-called religion.

"In no case were we supposed to tell anyone about the contents of the course, nor even show them the course documents," former "Tele Control" employee Susanne Seidel* recalled from a peculiar seminar. In May 1995, the daughter firm, specializing in computer systems, of a US corporation, approached its staff about a "Success through Communication" seminar, which was offered by a company called "Business Success." Soon the approximately 20 seminar participants began having doubts about the intentions of the two people giving the presentation: "They acted very unprofessionally." In response to the question of what the seminar documents were based on, they received a terse answer that these were the findings of an American psychologist. It was not until the last day of the seminar that Seidel discovered the copyright by L. Ron Hubbard on the documents. "We exercise absolutely no manipulation or pressure on our customers in regards to Scientology," reported Franz Wagner, operations manager of Business Success. Wagner himself, of course, is a top-drawer Scientologist.

In reality, as far as is known, nobody who has ever taken the Communication Course Seminar has become a Scientologist as a result. Apparently the attempts of Viennese practicing physician Thomas Kroiss were more successful: "Even in his surgery room there were Scientology utensils," relates a former member. In 1988, Kroiss may have succeeded, according to the "Wirtschafts-Woche," in getting the manager of the "Laenderbank" interested in Scientology's ideas. But when his connection to Scientology was revealed in 1992, the man had to give the personnel chief his word of honor that he would leave Scientology - but he still lost his key position.

Since the early 1990s, the organization, which is structured totalitarianistically, has been broadening its field of operation, accord to expert El Awadalla. The new target groups of David Miscavige, the present Scientology boss, are children and teenagers. Scientologists around the world are encouraged to distribute Hubbardist teachings in kindergartens and schools. In Vienna a "Kreativ College" has been in existence for Scientology children, but Scientology's brochures are also being found in diverse popular hot spots - mostly on "special interest themes," like drug programs from Scientology.

In response to the strong discussion this past week, Scientology Austria has reacted with hectic public information work: in Vienna, free copies of "Freedom" magazine were handed out. Headlines: "Religious Freedom in Danger." And in an open letter to the federal president and chancellor, signed by 31 "normal citizens who maintain Scientology as a belief" (including Business Success operations manager Wagner), people are advised about things becoming the way they are in Germany. Up there the rage against Scientology is said to have become the people's cynical sport. In many places, membership in Scientology is viewed as incompatible with posts in public service. The decision is strongly criticized, especially by US human rights organizations.

Scientology spokesman Andreas Boeck never gets tired of mentioning US support [3]. "We are only being demonized this way in Germany and Austria. It is truly absurd that a Catholic sect spokesman thinks that we are dangerous. That is so if Billa [4] can be called a corner grocery."

Scientology is making political party secretaries uneasy. Press spokesman Boeck stated to "profil" magazine that, besides Szczepanski, there were still nine other Scientologists who held posts in political parties. El Awadalla gives a tip for political party domestic detectives: "They can look in any communities where there are a rather large number of Scientologists, that would be in Wolfsberg, Kittsee and in Marchtrenk."

*Name changed by the publishers

[1] The Austrian state of Burgenland borders Hungary,
from http://www.burgenland.at
Area 3.966 km² - population (1991) 270,880
Source: ÖSTAT, Amt der Bgld. Landesregierung (as of 1.1.1999)

[2] For an entire book about Scientology's Austrian godfather Gottfried Helnwein, read Peter Reichelt's book on Helnwein.

[3] This is true. On October 5, 2000, Austrian Scientology press spokesman Boeck even went a little overboard in his enthusiasm for saying how much the US congress supported Scientology. He reported that HRES 588 was passed UNANIMOUSLY by the US House Committee on International Relations

[4] http://www.billa.at, Austrian supermarket chain. New stores in Salzburg and Voralburg. The Vienna store has online shopping with home delivery of over 5,000 items.