Birgitta Dagnell

Former head of the Church of Scientology’s
Office of Special Affairs (OSA) for Europe

"My story about Scientology"

Part 1

It all started in the autumn of 1970 when I was out for a walk with my baby girl. A man came by and asked me to take a personality test in order to finding out more about myself. Later the same day I went into the Church of Scientology facility in Írebro, Sweden to do the test. I had never heard of this church before.

I found the people in the church to be very friendly and interested in me. After I finished the test I was introduced to the book "Dianetics" and told that it was about a brand new science that was just discovered. I didn’t really believe that so I declined to buy a copy. Then I was asked to take a "communication course", and said no to that also as I didn’t think I had any problems with communication. I had been singing in public since the age of six and was used to talking and singing without being nervous. And my public seemed to like me. I was told that those facts had nothing to do with it - the comm. course was entirely different. Anyway - I said no thanks and went away as this church thing made me a bit suspicious about what it really was about. I didn’t want to believe in or join some kind of organized new religion.

In March 1971, I received a letter from the Church of Scientology, saying that they wanted me to come to them; some important person was about to hold a lecture. Upon arriving in the evening I saw a man in uniform walking around, and the others told me whispering "this is Captain Bill - Ron’s closest man", and I understood that he must be something special, but I wondered about the uniform. He showed a movie about the Scientology’s Sea Organization and it started very dramatically with the music "Also spracht Zarathustra" which made an impression upon me. So I finally signed finally up for the comm course and started the next day.

The years passed by with many courses and lots of auditing and in December 1979, I joined Scientology’s staff and started to work as a Class IV auditor in the Malmoe Organization (Org.). All the training was paid for by myself. In March/April 1980 the Malmoe Org was raided 3 times by the police, and the org wanted me to handle bad press and public relations. So I had to join the Guardian’s Office (GO) and I was surprised to see that the GO always knew some ten minuts in advance that the police were on their way to the org and also that the GO knew what the Treasury Secretary (bookkeeper) told the police when he was arrested. I was sent to East Grinstead in England for a comprehensive PR-training. I remember I read "Public Relations" by Cutlip and Center, "A Spy and His Master" and "The Art of War" plus tons of issues (books, etc.) by L Ron Hubbard.

I had to understand "Operation Snow White" and other secret operations and programmes.

Back in Malmoe I started to work with PR and actually did good at this.

In 1982 many rumours and internal upheavals were going on. We learned that the mission holders and the whole present management and most people in the Guardians Offices over the world were declared a "suppressive person." "Supressive" or "SP" as it is called in Scientology basically means that you are insubordinate, and members who are publicly "declared supressive" within Scientology are then ostracised and subject to various forms of dicipline; fines; punishment including expulsion. In January 1983 the Guardian (head) of Malmoe received an order from RTC to send all reserves money to Luxembourg, which was complied with. Shortly after that I found myself upgraded to Assistant Guardian, Malmoe, as the former AG and the other GO staff had been ripped off. The AG hadn’t sent enought money. So there were two people left in the GO: me and AG SOCO (head). In February I was called to come over to Flag Operations Liaison Officer in Denmark for a briefing. I went over and met with the person in charge, Allan Hubbert from Special Unit in Los Angeles. He smiled and told me nicely that I had to do a little "spring cleaning programme" called DPF (Deck Project Force). I had never heard about it, but he showed me a Flag Order written by Lafayette Ron Hubbard (LRH). I was told that all remaining staff from the GO’s in Europe should show up on the DPF. The reason was that we were the cause of why the churches didn’t expand and that we were enemies of the Church. The GO’s were to be closed down and be replaced by "Department of Special Affairs". Only very clean, especially choosen, non-Guardian staff should be appointed to this Department. We, the enemies and traitors would be put onto the DPF as rehabilitation.

I found that I had to start on the DPF right away. There was no time to go back home to change clothes, bring more clothes or even to make a phone call to my husband and children. In order to make phone calls one had to write a dispatch, asking for permission and telling the purpose of the call and so on. It took me around one month to get permission for my first call home. So there I was in my black long trousers, black jumper and my mink coat. I learned to use my mink coat as my pillow as well. I had to wear those clothes for more than one month. I was one of the first in the place, of the 82 of us who soon were collected from all over Europe.

The "rehabilitation" consisted of lots of work, mainly cleaning, and started at 8 AM with roll-call. We had to say "Ay Sir" when called upon or spoken to. We were not permitted to talk to people outside the DPF and later on not to DPF members from other countries. In that way we became isolated. The first night we were only 2 people in a normal 2-bed room. The next night and the following, there were 18 people in it. We happened to get breakfast sometimes, but that was not usual. I remember one morning when the 82 of us got 16 slices of bread to share and one man took 6 of them. It was near civil war that got started. The meals were eaten in a cellar where we shared the space with lots of pidgeons. It was very dirty, filled with bird shit. On one occasion I had to fight with the pidgeons to get my meal. The food was never enought for all of us and consisted of rice and beans - no plates, no cutlery and no pots. Once we got soup, and I was lucky to possess a small plastic mug so I could drink it. We used to feel like "the poor man with no spoon when the sky is raining semolina."

The work consisted of mainly cleaning toilets, corridors and hotel rooms or some painting and construction work. Supplies for cleaning were very poor, like brushes with almost no brush left, only cold water, and no

washing detergent. I was mainly doing cleaning at the Scientology facility called Hotel Nordland, and the small Scientology hotel opposite of Nordland. On one occasion I cleaned bathrooms and a long hallway in the other hotel when I had a very bad high fever, the floor in the hallway was very dirty. I had to do the cleaning with a toothbrush, crawling on my knees, because I was so sick I wasn’t able to stand up. The next day I couldn’t get out of my bed; I was too sick with pneumonia. Guards came and tried to get me up anyway, but I couldn’t. The day after, I had to get back to work again. The working hours went to 11 PM but we were often woken up in the night to do more work. Sometimes we worked until 5 in the morning with only two breaks of 30 minutes each during all those hours. We were never allowed to walk or sit down - always running or crawling on our knees.

Some work was pure evil:

1. One of us was assigned to paint the reception area at FOLO and 3 others of us did the preparatory work. The girl who did the painting thought she did quite a nice job and it looked nice and clean when she had finished painting. But after 5 days the paint hadn’t dried and we found out that the paint had been mixed without the drying agent in it. The girl had to scrape the whole reception of this wet paint, for which she was publicly declared an SP, and after that she left Scientology.

2. Some others had to "wash scrap papers." There were 5 of us, standing outside in the yard at FOLO, taking documents from sacks, putting them into ice cold water, keeping them under the water until they were soaking wet, and then pressing out all of the water and making small balls of the documents. Then we would return them to the sack. Our hands ached because we were outside in winter in Denmark, and it was below freezing outside. The purpose of this ridiculous task was to enable more paper to fit into the sacks because the air had been pressed out.

After a couple of weeks, we were told that we would start doing "ethics" excercises in the evenings. We were pleased because it would give us a possibility of sitting down on chairs. We soon found out that it was not the kind of "ethics" exercises we were used to. First one had to write up all bad actions done in this lifetime and past lives. (In Scientology terms "bad actions" are called "overts"); (in Christian terms "bad actions" means "sins" real or imagined.) Then each one of us was put before an auditor (confessee) with an E-meter (name for the Scientological version of a lie detector; used as a "religious tool" in Scientology. On each side of the auditor a missionaire was standing (Mike Sutter and Isa-Bella Ferrer) The auditor (confessee), whose name was Des, read up the overt (read the person’s confession aloud, while the confessor was attached to the lie detector), checked the movement of the needle on the Meter and the missionaires started to yell at the person: "This is not what you have done, you have HUGE overts, you are the most evil one on earth, we want your real overts …. " In Scientology, this is called gang-bang sec (security) checking. This screaming harassment of the person being sec-checked would go on for an hour or more until the person "recognized" that he or she really was that bad and evil. Many in my group couldn’t stand it. One night an Italian man started to cry and broke down and admitted to be that evil and became very thankful to the missionaires who had revealed the truth about him to himself. He went down on the floor, crawled on his knees to missionaire Mike Sutter, and kissed his shoes. Mike looked at him scornfully and said "you are declared suppressive; get out of here!" The Italian man had no money and didn’t really know how to get back to his country. Later I heard that he had found a cargo ship in the harbor that gave him a free ride to Italy.

Another lady I remember was from Belgium. She got about the same treatment as I described above, but she gave them the wrong "cognition" (admission or realization of something whether or not it is true). In the session she told them that she finally understood how much she had neglected her husband and children because of Scientology. After the above treatment she tried to escape but failed. The following week after this incident, she didn’t speak with anybody. She snuck around in the yard, sometimes laughing hysterically to herself. I was told that she went mad. Then suddenly she was gone. I don’t know what happened to her, but I have been thinking about her a lot.

After a month of this treatment, I got permission to go home and see my children over the weekend. I called my elder daughter, who was 13, and told her that I would come home on Saturday. She became so very happy and said she would make a nice dinner to welcome me. We were both in tears of happiness when talking about it.

When Saturday came, I was told that my permission was cancelled because they thought I wouldn’t come back or that I would tell people about what’s going on in Denmark. I spent half of the day trying to convince them that I had to go home to see my children, that they were expecting me and so on. Nothing that I said helped. It was no. As I couldn’t stand the thought of my little girl being so happy, making dinner for me, I decided to escape in the evening. So, late in the evening I snuck out from Nordland, walked my way to the ferries and went to Malmoe. I arrived to my home around midnight and woke up my family. We were all so happy to meet again until my husband told me that I had to go back in the morning (he also was a Scientologist). I said no, no way! I’ll never go there again. But he persuaded me by saying that I had to go to the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) or that we had to divorce if I didn’t. So I went back.

On my way to Nordland I met Barbara Schwartz from Germany. The two of us were roommates and friends as I helped her one night when she was gone (she had snuck away), and they (Scientology staff) asked me if she had been in her bed during the night. I didn’t really know if she was, as I was sleeping, but I told them that she was there the whole night. Now, I met her and she told me that she had to report my going away and that I would be sent to the RPF (about the same, but usually is a longer "cycle" or period of punishment, often with harsher conditions). I convinced her to not report me and she finally agreed, as I had helped her once.

So I was back on the Deck again. One night all of us were yelled at by the missionaries. After the yelling, one of them asked if we had any questions. I had a question and stretched my hand. As they thought it to be very impudent of me having a question, and they decided to make an example of me to the group and ordered me to come forward. I was put into a chair and faced the other 80 people. They told the others to regard me as the real suppressive personality in the room. The three missionares yelled at me and derided me for two hours in front of the others. Finally my comrades were told to go and I was left alone with the Scientology missionaires. I sat sitting on the chair for three more hours with them yelling at me, telling me that I had never done anything good in my life. Mike Sutter worked up such an anger that he spit into my face, threw chairs around and threw a table so it hit my stomach. Mike told me I should be expelled from Scientology forever. There was nothing in life I was so afraid of as to listen to those words. I remember I was thinking "expelled, but I’m still alive". After those three hours, I started to cry and told them that I always had been trying to do alright and that I had been following Lafayette Ron Hubbard’s policies all the time on staff.

That became the turning point. I was told that this setup was a test to see if I could keep my position. Now I was their first product! And I was a their star! I would become the first officer in the new Department of Special Affairs! I felt very happy and very, very strong as I wasn’t broken.

End of Part One

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