Is Scientology breaking the law?

Allegations of threats by Scientology

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Martin Ottman describes three cases in which German critics of Scientology had their lives threatened

From: [email protected] (Anonymous)
Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology
Subject: Murder threats against Scientology-critics in Germany - a documentation by Martin Ottmann
Date: 11 Jul 1996 21:09:59 +0200


There were several incidents in Germany when people received anonymous threats or calls, while they had either left the Scientology Church and/or had made critical statements about Scientology. Few of these cases went before court and in three of these court-cases a correlation between the threats/calls and a Scientologist got established.

1) Constanze Elsner, Munich 1973

„Der Spiegel“, No. 1/1973, p. 46 (Document 1):

„Munich 53 12 71

With telephone-terror, informers and legal threats the American Scientology cult tries to intimidate its critics in Munich.

For four weeks the Munich radio-journalist Constanze Elsner, 23, made a research. She wanted to know what the Scientology cult did in Munich. The cultists, allergic against critisism, soon suspected that the manuscript could contain unpleasant details.

First they tried to prevent the Elsner-transmission in the ‘Bavarian Radio’ with the threat of ‘legal steps’. When the radio producers didn’t react, journalist Constanze Elsner couldn’t get any rest from then on.

Her telephone started to ring again and again after midnight. Unknown male voices assured the subscriber of being ‘killed tomorrow’.

The threatened let her telephone being monitored by the post office and had a tracing-device being installed. The ‘Westfälische Rundschau’ (another newspaper) reported about the outcome last November and also named the supposed murder-threater from Munich: ‘Hermann Brendel, 22, spokesman of the ‘Scientology Church’ and chief editor of the cult-organ ‘Freedom’’.

As Brendel had already been in England then, the Scientologists obviously got the idea of a journalist-bluff. Brendel-successor Martin Ostertag, 23, wrote an official denial for ‘all German newspapers and all public relation offices’.

Contents: Because Brendel was evidently in England, the ‘alleged murder threats’ were one of the ‘most disgraceful lies about our church’, and ‘Constanze Elsner had to be held responsible for inevitably’.

Brendel indeed had not called, as the people from the newspapers had made a mistake. The Telecommunications Office 4 of Munich hadn’t registered the caller but the connection. It had delivered that in writing together with the bill for the tracing-device (52 Mark) under the signature Ufe 74100: ‘ instance of yours following call was detected: call number 531271, owner Hermann Brendel, Munich 2, Lindwurmstraße 29’.

As Ostertag didn’t know about that post office-notification, he unsuspectingly named the same address and the same telephone number for ‘further information’: Lindwurmstraße 29, telephone 53 12 71. It is still used by the ‘press information bureau’ of the ‘Scientology Church Germany’.

There also is the established central-office of the German Scientology-section in a spacious bureau-storey...“

Note: The Scientology-Church applied for an injunction and revocation of four allegations Constanze Elsner had made during the transmission of the 22 October 1972.

The Superior Court of Munich ruled out the allegation in its judgement from 4 April 1974, that „a journalist was held awake for several nights by the constant ringing of a telephone of the Scientology-Church“, although „it was indisputable the subscriber’s line of the plaintiff, which additionally was licensed to the Scientologist Brendel.“ (Case No. 11 O 345/73)

2) Uwe Birnstein-Warnecke, Hamburg 1992

„Stuttgarter Nachrichten“, 9 October 1993, p. 10 (Document 2):

„Cult spokeswoman convicted for intimidation

Hamburg (AP) - The District Court Hamburg has sentenced the Hamburg spokeswoman of the Scientology cult, Gisela Hackenjos, for defamation and attempted intimidation to a fine of 9,600 (D-)Mark. The 48-year old had threatened an author of a newspaper article she was angry about: ‘Your last hour has come.’ The court considered that statement as a serious threat and not as a boory remark, like the defendant wanted to have interpreted the telephone conversation.“

The judgement of the Appeal Court (Document 3):

Gisela Hackenjos filed an appeal against that decision. The Superior Court Hamburg acquitted Hackenjos from the accusation of threat and intimidation on the 12 December 1994 (Case No: 707 Ns 201/93).

In its judgement the court desribed the circumstances which had led to the trial as follows:

„...At the beginning of July a critical article was published in (the magazine) ‘Deutsches Allgemeines Sonntagsblatt’ by the witness Birnstein-Warnecke. The witness also made that article available to (the newspaper) ‘(Hamburger) Morgenpost’ against payment. (The ‘Morgenpost’) published it in a shortened and for the reader more adequate form on 20 July 1992. The defendant read that article in the press center of the ‘Scientology Church’ on 20 July 1992. She was angry about the content of the article and felt betrayed and disappointed by the critical coverage of the witness Birnstein-Warnecke in regard of the fact that Scientology had given him information in a generous way. Therefore she spontaneously decided to call the witness Birnstein-Warnecke. She told the present witnesses Gregoric and Titzel (both staff of the Scientology-organization in Hamburg) about her intention, but didn’t mention what she intended to say to the witness Birnstein-Warnecke.

The following conversation took place:

Hackenjos: ’Your last hour has come!’

Birnstein: ’What does that mean?’

Hackenjos: ‘What do you want to tell me by ‘what does that mean’?’

Birnstein: ‘No one has ever told me somethin like that. Therefore I didn’t have the chance to think about it.’

Hackenjos: ‘It means that you are not allowed to call us here whether on behalf of the ‘taz’ (another newspaper) or someone else.’

Birnstein: ‘But that cannot be the whole meaning of ‘your last hour has come’.’

Hackenjos: ‘I persist in silence about the rest. I leave that to your blooming fantasy.’

Birnstein: ‘Do you want to tell me anything else?’

Hackenjos: ‘No.’“

The court ruled that the remarks of the defendant Hackenjos didn’t constitute an offence against Birnstein-Warnecke, although it stated that „it proceeded on the assumption that the defendant had had the intent in regard of a success of an intimidation“.

3) Christian Jung, Heidelberg 1995

„Stuttgarter Zeitung“, 5 December 1995, p. 7 (Document 4):

„Scientologist convicted for murder threat

uwi. Heidelberg. Because of a murder threat the District Court of the city Heidelberg has sentenced a Scientology adherent to a fine of 4,000 DM. The 45-year old had captured the State-Chairman of the ‘CDU-Pupil-Union’ (CDU = Christian Democratic Union) Christian Jung on his way to school. The self-employed merchant accused the high school pupil of ruining him financially and psychically, and threatened him with the words: ‘This is a real murder threat by a real Scientologist.’ Few days later he insulted Jung in a letter. The 17-year old is substantially involved in information campaigns about the cult in the region of Heidelberg. Several months earlier he already got insulted by the convicted for doing that. The (convicted) denied the act. He said he hadn’t been in Heidelberg at the aforesaid time, but instead had repaired the toy train of his son. Witnesses however couldn’t confirm that. The 45-year old announced to take an appeal. Christian Jung called the judgement an important signal. ‘We are not going to get intimidated.’, said Jung. He would inform the public about the cult further on. The ‘Junge Union Rhein-Neckar’ (Junge Union = Youth organization of the CDU) in Heidelberg would function as a kind of a landing-place for Scientology victims.“

Note: As far as I know the convicted Scientologist filed an appeal too, but the Superior Court of Heidelberg later upheld the first judgement. Due to the shortage of time I haven’t been able to obtain a copy of that decision.


Martin Ottmann

This page was last updated on May 8, 1999.