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STL 14 MAY 95 / Germany Calling


GERMANY is at war with 'the giant octopus of Scientology', according to
Chancellor Helmut Kohl's close friend and colleague, the employment minister
Norbert Blum. In a hard-hitting attack, Mr Blum says that the fringe
religious sect is conspiring to take over Germany by infiltrating its
economy and converting managers in key sectors such as property, publishing
and computer software.

Members of the organisation should not be trusted with money or trade
secrets, Mr Blum adds, because their loyalty is to Scientology rather than
to their employers. According to him, the sect is 'an organisation which
will stop at nothing in its desire to spread its purblind ideology
world-wide under the guise of religion'.

The similarity of such attacks to the sort of thing which used to be said
about the German Jews has not been lost on the Scientologists. They strongly
deny Mr Blum's charges and point out that they enjoy charitable status,
celebrity backers and a measure of respectability in the US They
particularly enraged Mr Blum by taking out 26 full-page advertisements in
the American press, comparing their treatment to the fate of the Jews. In
the New York Times of January 11, for example, they claimed that present-day
Germany is frighteningly similar to the Germany of the Thirties and Forties,
when the world shut its eyes as the Holocaust was being prepared.
This is preposterously unfair and has annoyed the Jews as well as the
Germans. No one knows how many Scientologists there are in Germany -
estimates range between 30,000 and 300,000 - but Mr Blum says it would be
counter-productive to outlaw them.

AND yet, to British ears, his outburst does sound somewhat hysterical. Can
the Scientologists, founded in 1954 by an American science-fiction writer,
L. Ron Hubbard, really be as dangerous as all that? In Britain we tend,
sometimes with mistaken complacency to deal with people who say they are
going to take over the world by ridiculing them. In Germany, which is said
to be the second strongest centre of Scientology outside the United States,
the subject is taken more seriously. After sales of beer were affected, the
country's largest private brewery, Warsteiner, launched an advertising
campaign to quash rumours that it had been infiltrated by the

Die Woche, the newspaper which published Mr Blum's attack, describes how the
sect can work its way into a person's confidence by the most insidious
methods. A garage proprietor in Hamburg paid more than 7,000 marks (pounds
3,000) for four weekend seminars before realising he had fallen into the
hands of the Scientologists.

He found the seminars 'extremely positive and enjoyable', but became
suspicious when participants were encouraged to reveal details of their
private lives and the trainer started to demand information about his
business. New recruits can find themselves under psychological domination
paying vast sums for evening and weekend courses.

There is said to be one good way of finding out whether the management
consultant or personal counsellor who offers you help is a Scientologist.
These people may be prepared to hide their membership of the sect, but are
not prepared to renounce L. Ron Hubbard himself. Apparently their signature
to a written declaration that their working practices will not be regulated
according to Hubbardian principles should usually see one safe.

The Sunday Telegraph

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