The KIT Newsletter, an Activity of the KIT Information Service, a Project of The Peregrine Foundation

P.O. Box 460141 / San Francisco, CA 94146-0141 / telephone: (415) 821-2090 / fax (415) 282-2369
KIT Staff U.S.: Ramon Sender, Charles Lamar, Vince Lagano, Dave Ostrom;
U.K. : Joy Johnson MacDonald, Susan Johnson Suleski, Carol Beels Beck, Ben Cavanna, Leonard Pavitt, Joanie Pavitt Taylor, Brother Witless (in an advisory capacity); Europe: Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe. The KIT Newsletter is an open forum for fact and opinion. It encourages the expression of all views, both from within and from outside the Bruderhof. The opinions expressed in the letters we publish are those of the correspondents and do not necessarily reflects those of KIT editors or staff.
Yearly subscription rates (11 issues): $25 USA; $30 Canada; $35 International mailed f/ USA; 20 from EuroKIT to UK and Europe. KIT is staffed by volunteers, and a100% of all subscriptions/donations pay printing/mailing costs and assist ex-members.
For those of you who access the newsletter on the InterNet, we expect you to be willing to continue on a honor system and mail in your subscription regularly. Please give more or less, as you can afford. Thank you.

January 1997,Volume IX #1

-------------- "Keep In Touch" --------------

HAPPY 1997 to all KIT readers everywhere! We hope that it will bring a resolution to all these years of impasse with the Bruderhof leadership. It seems as if the Bruderhof requires a tailor-made enemy in order to keep the rank-and-file in line. Unfortunately, KIT has been demonized to the point where it fits that purpose very well. What will happen when the average brothers and sisters find out that the leadership's precept, "It doesn't matter whether we are right or wrong as long as we are in unity!" is probably not the sort of statement that could have been heard during from the early Christians in the days of the New Testament? Wake up, little Susie, and smell what's wafting from the Servants' office.

-----The Whole KIT and Kaboodle-----

-------- Table of Contents --------

Ramon Sender
Dave Maendel
Chris & Ollie Ahrens
Wilhelm Fischer
Blair & Margot Purcell
Monika Pieper
Name Withheld - '
Sam Arnold
J. Christoph Arnold on the radio
Hans Zimmermann
Bill Peters
German & Ruth Pleil
Edith L. Powell
Bette Bohlken-Zumpe
Art Rosenblum
Hayo Bohlken
Richard Weizel - Of Family, Spirituality and Power
C. Zimmermann - Letter to the Editor, N Y Times
Angela Cunningham - Image of Childhood
Susannah A. Levy - Wedding Bells? Oh No!

Ramon Sender, 12/18/96: Good News! Dave Maendel has been released on bail!! The full amount was put up by a wonderful person who deserves our sincere gratitude but prefers not to be named. Dave is, of course, extremely grateful and no longer has to put up with various trials and tribulations, including being baited and given a hard time.

"I just read my Bible at those times," he said.

God bless all who have helped Dave!

Dave Maendel, 12/3/96: I feel compelled to tell this story as it really happened -- at least as much of it as I can at the moment. At the first meeting with Christian Domer and Joe Keiderling in New Paltz, New York, I spent about two hours telling them my story. After it was all over, they asked me what I wanted. I told them $$$ -- I don't want to give a dollar amount at this time. This is the only way I could think of to get and hold the Community's attention. I had tried before this on two other occasions to get them to talk to me with no response. It will have to do for now to tell you that I have no love for money.

At the second meeting, in August, 1996, money was pushed on me by Christian Domer, and he asked me to leave them alone for six months to work out details about letting the rest of my family go. I finally agreed to these conditions. I first refused their offer for money a number of times during that meeting.

Joe Keiderling, under affirmation to tell the truth [during the court hearing] said that the Society of Brothers always had an open door policy and that I could have come up at any time to discuss my grievances. The truth is that I have been barred from the Bruderhof since about 1978.

Just to let you know -- my spirit has not been broken. My spirit was adjusted by Jesus Christ in the early Seventies. I have always been a born-again Christian.

I want to say again how much I appreciate all the prayer and the support I have received. More later,

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Chris and Ollie Ahrens, 12/96: Hi! And Happy Holiday Time, despite the egregious use of Christmas carols in the stores in the attempt to encourage a message of "spend" rather than "Peace on Earth."

What do a couple of octogenarians do to give meaning and zest to life? Here are some of the highlights from 1996: visits with son Paul and Barbara in their home in Bloomington, IL; maintaining a relationship with our grandsons who seem to grow as we watch them. Paul is challenged by his new responsibilities as a lawyer with State Farm, traveling a great deal while Barbara holds down the fort at home including delivering two super-energetic boys to such activities as soccer, football, karate, etc.

Two visits from son Glenn to us in NC this year were a treat. He's full of enthusiasm for his job traveling as front runner and office manager for an author and lecturer on network marketing. Visits to and from Vi's sisters and two trips with her to Marathon the Keys for talking, swimming, sailing and relaxing.

A week in Epps, Alabama, where with 63 others from many religious backgrounds and a wide age range, with the Washington Quaker workcamps rebuilding two black churches that had been burned. The climax was the raising of the steeple on one of them, a spiritually moving experience in a temporary community of love and work!

Gardening: still amazed at the bountiful harvest a few tiny seeds can produce. (Why do we always over-plant?) Our new Black Mountain Friends meeting has been a special blessing, an hour of mostly silence followed by sharing. Other Quaker high spots included attending Friends General Conference in Hamilton, Ontario, our Yearly Meeting and Friends Comm. on Unity with Nature.

Community Outreach: still volunteering at Warren Wilson College, Chris with a new program "Environmental Leadership Center" and Ollie with a Chinese student. We want to keep this contact so we are rooted in the NOW and not "The Good Old Days!" Also both in the United Nations Chapter for our area, World Feds. and World Affairs.

We generally enjoy good health, hang on to our sense of humanity and remember to "hallow our Diminishments." We still swim at Warren Wilson, get our kayak out on the local lakes, and with last winter's abundant snow, managed to cross-country ski around here.

Living at a retirement community has made it possible for us to be freed of such things as snow removal, etc. And given us time to pursue other interests. We've also enjoyed meeting many interesting people. Although our cottage is not large, we always have time and space for visits. We'd love to see you. We can even talk about our low point of this year, sending "Down with the UN" Jesse Helms to the Senate and "Cut the Forests" Taylor back to the House. Lots of love from us both,

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Wilhelm Fischer, 12/5/96: When October's KIT did not arrive, I thought I had been struck off the mailing list for not having sent in my subscription -- typical childhood upbringing feeling of guilt. When November's letter arrived, I was quite relieved! So let me settle my account and just hope to receive this letter in the future!

Just a few lines: I did manage Worpswede and found a lot of good old friends -- and new. What is it that binds us all through all these years?

The November letter I found a perfect selection of true life drama, poetry, ongoing search and more -- A. Harries, Hilarious, Luke, Bette, Norah, Mike Beck (hello!) -- Carol and Konrad. I like to hear of the realization of the individual and then the bottom-liners who have come to a level where they can live with themselves.

I wish I had the ability of expression and fast writing to exchange views more frequently. Instead, I get too involved in my work, and even forget to mail in my subscription. I had intended to write before to confirm our mailing address and include a phone number, so if anyone gets lost down here in the woods, here's a line: Paraguay 0644 20319. Thanks, and greetings to all,

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Blair & Margot Purcell: A new toll-free number has been established for the purpose of providing advice and information to any former Bruderhofer in need. For example, we can frequently help you find friends or relatives you may not have seen in years. Other help, within rather limited resources, can be provided on a confidential 'no-strings-attached' basis.

Recognizing that more recent departees are unlikely to have our number in their pockets, we ask that KIT readers advise their churches, social service agencies, other organizations and individuals of its existence. Those who may just need a friendly voice can thus find, during a time of difficulty, someone who has shared similar experiences.

During the day, callers will usually find an answering machine. Early evening calls (7-10:30 P.M. Eastern Time) may get a busy signal, but if it does ring through, you will get a live person.

Call 1-888-6 KINDER (1 888 654-6337) day or night. Canada or overseas:1 301 527-9791

'Kinder' is an English word describing a desirable quality of human behavior. It is a relative term.

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Monika Pieper, 9/25/96: Hello! Please forgive for not contributing toward your expenses sooner, but I hope the enclosed check for past and current dues will make up for that somewhat. Frankly, I was initially quite reluctant to become drawn into something related to my past, but after reading KIT for a while, I find myself keenly anticipating the arrival of each new issue.

Although my parting with the SOB cult occurred over 30 years ago and I have found a rewarding life since, I strongly empathize with most of your contributors for the pain of forced separation from loved ones and friends, the agony of having someone dear to you die and be buried in your absence while you struggle to make it in a 'foreign' world.

I've been there too! Now I am relieved to have cut the umbilical cord from the SOB. However, no matter how drastically abrupt or complete the separation, my time spent in the SOB and the thorough brainwashing by the cult still invade my life at many unexpected turns.

Although I was one of eight children of members of the 'privileged ruling class,' (as in Animal Farm, certain species were always more equal) I had trauma dealt to me as much as most children of the SOB. Abuse came in many shades. Much of it came subtly, as in the gradual dismantling of a child's concept of self, mainly due to the very 'Nature of the Beast' -- subservience to the group at the expense of individuality, etc. Separation from parent at an age too early for a child to comprehend had to contribute negatively to the individual's development as well. Being carted off to the 'Baby House' at the ripe age of 8 weeks, for the beginning of years of full days away from Mother and her nurturing, left the child at the mercy of whomever's whims and moods.

Less subtly, the dreaded Ausschluss which Susanna referred to in your July issue (VIII #7). Many of my friends and I were subjected to this treatment -- isolation from group with total silence enforced, the accompanying stares of disgust from the adult community as one was banished to a separate table at mealtimes, and the shunning of one's playmates. Susanna feared this punitive measure with good reason.

Much too often, however, abuse was quite blatant. My friend and I had our heads slammed together at the age of 6 by our first grade teacher after being tardy from recess from the playground. I saw stars in front of my eyes from the impact and I am sure so did she. We wobbled to our seats on unsteady legs and the room spun around me -- and her, I'm sure -- for a long time. We were nauseated from the dizziness and, by lunch time, were both vomiting.

The same teacher, Roger Allain, pitched one of our classmates head-first through the window on another occasion that same year, and in your same July issue (p. 7) his wife Norah admits openly to having "flung" her own baby "roughly on the bed." Unfortunately I did not discern even a hint of regret on her part, but rather a defensiveness, as though the blame for this fell squarely on her infant-daughter's shoulders for being so "fearfully capricious" and failing to take her liquids for "sheer cussedness." Really, now! In this day and age, SCFS would be called on the spot to relieve the mother of her "burden." And rightfully so!

Sadly, this admitting and its tone exemplifies the approach of the SOB to child-rearing and many more examples could be cited. All of us witnessed many, I'm sure -- even the sexual abuse by one of our teachers of many of the fourth grade girls in our class!

Much of me has healed since my last grueling contact with the SOB and yet, as for many of you, part of me never will. I appreciate the cathartic value of the KIT discussions -- just wish I'd had this forum 30-some years ago.

I may decide to write again on another occasion. In the meantime, I'll keep reading your comment, stories and points of view. In closing, I would like to say "hello, again!" to the friends of my childhood. Some of us were very close, and I hope to see you again in person.

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Name Withheld, 11/30/96: A Plea For Purity, Marriage, Sex and God -- this book, with a Foreword by Mother Teresa, and with a not very attractive cover, does not portray the previous attitude of the Bruderhof community. I know some people who lived in the Community who have told me that when they lived there, they were not even allowed to use words like "pregnant" or "sex." Now Arnold is saying that parents should feel free to tell their children about sex! The book is written as if it has always been that way. As I have been told, children who went to high school were not even allowed to participate in the biology class when reproduction of the human species was discussed!

Arnold quotes von Gagern about women and where they like to be touched. I have to confess I have not read von Gagern's book. However von Gagern may not have known very much about women!

Today, sex is a widely discussed theme, and a book advertised as written about sex will be attractive because people of today want to know anything and everything about it. It does not matter who has written the book, but the word 'Sex' will attract anybody's attention. The Mennonites wrote about the Bruderhof book Torches Together that it had an attractive cover. I am not even able to say that about A Plea For Purity.

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Sam Arnold, 11/17/96: The November KIT was once again rather interesting. To respond to Hilarion Braun's query about what if others have found themselves to be overworking, my answer would have to be 'yes.' I am presently on sick leave for stress, which was induced by my apparent overzealous work ethic, coupled with the much-too-slow realization that my superiors really do not give a damn about my health or the music program, as long as I continue to work. For the past three years I have done everything that I can think of to convince these arts-ignorant jock administrators that a second instrumental music teacher is essential and that I have earned the right to work in just one school. But this has not happened, so finally and reluctantly I was convinced by the teacher wellness counselor and my wife to use my 195 accumulated sick days and get away from it all. A month-and-a-half later, I can say I am glad that I did. I was very close to a nervous breakdown when I left work and am still recovering from chronic exhaustion and sleep loss. Meanwhile, my absence is having the desired effect in that the parents of the students have now picked up the gauntlet and appear to be getting more accomplished than I could while I was working. Although the program is suffering while in the hands of a young and inexperienced teacher, my actions still seems like the best medicine for the malady.

I agree with Hilarion that our workaholic tendency is Bruderhof-induced. It seems quite logical to me that they keep control by making everyone work so hard that they don't have any energy left with which to start any trouble, as most intentional communities do. When I am learning now is that hard work does not always have its rewards, unless one can tell precisely where our responsibilities end and their exploitation begins, and be able to draw the line there. In the field of teaching, it is quite difficult to find this line, but I now think that I could not see it because it was well behind my back. There are other reasons as well. All of us who left the Bruderhof had to start with absolutely nothing from the ground level, and without a safety net if we failed. Hard work was the only means by which we could pull ourselves up. As well, most of us Bruderhof sabras and former members do not have any kind of inheritance from our parents to help us, or to look forward to, so some of us want to make amends for this with our own children.

We have to work so much harder in order to even moderately succeed in the "real world." Even with success, we continue to be driven by the fear of a personal inadequacy or the fear that our western society is in for some kind of a serious economic adjustment with the poorer countries and continents. And we must also add the concern of the accumulated debts by government, which will surely affect us in some way.

Another catalyst for the work ethic is our pedestrian background while growing up on the old Bruderhof, and add to this, the enriched cultural experiences while living in a variety of countries, cultures and climates. I am sure that children who grow up in comfort and stay close to home base when they grow up are far less motivated to hard work than we are. Consider the people who lived through the Depression, or the newer immigrants from Vietnam or wherever -- they exhibit a healthy work ethic, for the most part. Anyway, I do not expect my children to inherit from me what must seem to them like such a foolish defect -- the obsession to work harder than other people do.

Not that I have been sitting on my duff lately. I have been doing all kinds of things at home that have been neglected for so long, like spending more time with my family, and paying more attention to my relatives, doing home-improvement projects, writing letters that support my efforts to improve my job when I return, and plans to indulge a little of my creative side. So many of my teaching colleagues have supported my action, saying that I should look after myself first and that my health comes first, etc. I don't recall hearing that on the Bruderhof!

Back in August, before the start of classes, the teachers at my schools had two days of professional development workshops. I attended a session on leadership, which was conducted by a retired Superintendent from our school district. One of the handouts we were given made my drowsy eyes open wide. It read as follows.

Symptoms of Group Think

1. Critical thinking is not encouraged or rewarded.

2. Members believe that the group can do no wrong.

3. Group members are too concerned about justifying their actions.

4. Members apply pressure to those who do not support the group.

5. Group members often believe that have reached a true consensus.

6. Group members are often too concerned about reinforcing the leader's beliefs.

7. Group members have shared stereotypes of outsiders.

While the above certainly also applies to the Bruderhof, an accompanying handout on "How To Reduce Group Think" would surely not see the light of day there:

1. Group leaders should encourage critical, independent thinking.

2. Group leaders should be sensitive to status differences that may affect decision making.

3. Invite someone from outside the group to evaluate the group's decision-making process.

4. Assign a group member the role of devil's advocate.

5. Have group members work in small groups or independently, and to consider potential problems with suggested solutions.

6. Formal leaders should absent themselves from the group meetings from time to time.

11/19/96: Thank you, Bette, for answering my questions about Heinz Bolk, and even more for your work and thoughtfulness in compiling the list of Singles that lived on the Bruderhof -- and the difficulties these individuals encountered as the odd-ones-out (KIT Nov '96, p. 9). I would like to add the name of Fred Camp to this list, who was the very hard-working gardener in Isla Margarita. Fred is now 82 and still gardening and living in an intentional community in Bright, Ontario, called Community Farm. He has been there for a number of years. My cousin, Annaliese Loeffler (daughter, not sister of Albert) told me that Fred is much happier these days since a split occurred in this Brethren community and the more conservative members left. She said that the remaining people are less structured and more easygoing, which would suit Fred just fine. I haven't spoken with Fred in a number of years, but I did visit him twice in at the community. He told me about his unhappy time in England following the 1960 expulsion, and his decision to move to this community in Canada. Conversations with Fred tend to be quite one-sided, but his views on life are useful and interesting. Cheers,

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J. Christoph Arnold, 12/17/96, phoning a radio talk show on the topic of Death and Dying, Northeast Public Radio, WAMK Kingston, NY, etc: Talk Show Host Susan Arbetter: Hi, we're going to go to Kingston, New York, and speak with Arnold now.

CHRISTOPH: Hi, you're doing a wonderful show! This is a topic very much on my heart. I just want to tell a little story about my uncle who died of heart failure, and he had to be on IV medication until they ran out of vein, and the doctor said, "If this man is not on IV, he will die in two hours."

So my uncle said, "So if that is God's will, I am ready." So the doctor pulled out the IV and my uncle decided to put his trust in God and he lived three more full years and even made trips to Europe! Now the book The Final Gift [previously mentioned - ed] is a tremendous book. There is even another book called I Tell You A Mystery: Life, Death & Eternity, which is also full of wonderful stories. And even Madeleine L'Engle, author of A Wrinkle In Time, she says "I wish a friend had put this beautiful book in my hand when my husband died because this book honors life, and in honoring life it also honors death."

So it is a very, very, important subject matter, and I'm so happy to the producer that you make this on line to encourage many people, because in dying we give a message to the living, and only when we live fully can we really face death.

So I just had the longing to share that and express my appreciation for your show.

SUSAN: Thank you, Arnold, I appreciate your calling.

CHRISTOPH: All right, all the best! Keep it up!

SUSAN: Bye-bye. Arnold was talking about the book I Tell You A Mystery by Johann Christoph... Arnold.

[Other callers: Matthew Domer & Dana Wiser.]

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Hans Zimmermann, 2/22/996: The November and December KIT newsletter was full of interesting and informative comments and news items to which one could add or comment further. Reading about Dave Maendel's predicament I feel rather ambivalent and find it difficult to be very sympathetic. He did, after all, engage in extortion and blackmail (against the advice of friends), something I -- and hopefully the rest of the KIT readers -- don't condone. However, I find it equally repulsive and outright nauseating the way the SOB set a trap for him. They proclaim to follow the teachings of Jesus. I remember only too well how it was drilled in to us during Bible study and at home in Primavera that Jesus said, "If someone hits you on one cheek you should not retaliate but offer the other" (not that I subscribe to that philosophy -- I'd pay back with interest). Jesus supposedly also said that: "He who lives by the sword will die by the sword". This is an old truism and no real revelation as it also extends it self to all other activities and actions. Therefore, if the SOB engages in sleazy activities, they in the long run cannot escape its consequences. I don't know how they can reconcile visiting murderers and thieves in the same jail as Dave Maendel is located, but pointedly avoid his cell.

I enjoyed the account by Leonard Pavitt about how they recovered some horses confiscated by the Paraguayan army. I still remember vividly that period of revolution and the frequent raids on the hofe by the various revolutionary factions. The horse Johnny Robinson rode was still around for a long time. It resembled to a 'T' the horse of Don Quixote de la Mancha. It was tall, mostly skin and bones, had a hanging lip, and knocked knees. The color was a pukish yellow-gray-green. The poor beast was incapable of standing straight and, when it walked or galloped its legs would flip out in a slashing motion, therefore we gave it the nickname "Saebel Bein". Nevertheless, this ungainly equine with all its physical handicaps could run like the wind, but it felt like a ride on a cart with octagonal wheels, plus the added danger that it would trip over its own legs when at full gallop. Years later I would experience this first hand.

One day when herding the dairy cattle on Piquetei in Loma Hoby, a cow broke from the herd and I went after it on Saebel Bein at a full gallop. On perfectly flat ground the horse tripped over his own legs and we went crashing to the ground. I flew over his head spread-eagled and bounced along the short grass like a stone over water. I had the wind knocked out of me, slowly staggered to my feet testing if any bones were broken. But, except for some skin burns, bruises and an aching breastbone I seemed to be OK. Old Saebel Bein was standing already and had this most boring look on his face, as if to say it's all in a day's work. I can't recall what eventually happened to Saebel Bein. One thing is for sure: he did not end up as pet food, but was most likely recycled by our large flock of resident vultures, the common fate of our working farm animals.

Edith L. Powell's 'A trip to Paraguay' is a wonderful and descriptive account and true to the time and conditions of that period. It is refreshing to read the observations of an outsider, who had an open mind, no axe to grind and reported things just the way she saw them. She captured the atmosphere and attitude of the Bruderhof and its people remarkably well. I can remember only too well how we acted to outside people, how smug and opinionated we were. I don't think it has changed very much on the Bruderhof. Can the KIT staff come up with more gems like this one? Regards and best wishes to all for the new year, 1997,

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Bill Peters, 12/17/96: My wife Liz (Maas) Peters grew up ignorant of the existence of free thought. She still has difficulty doing anything to just benefit herself. When she was 20 they asked her to leave. She didn't know any better. She just left. She didn't know where she was going. She just knew that she had to change. She cut her hair. She changed her name. She went to San Francisco and became an instant hippy. She didn't need to blow her ego. She didn't have one! Her innocence was so complete that she was raped and she didn't even understand what had happened.

Liz lived in a vacuum of information about the people she knew in the Bruderhof. She never shook the feeling that she had screwed up. I think this feeling is why you find many children of the Bruderhof in altruistic pursuits. They are still trying to compensate, to prove that they are not bad. I spent many years trying to convince my wife of her self-worth. She has been called a saint by people who know how she has raised my children and how she has helped others without ever a thought for herself.

In 1989 Ramon Sender called Liz to ask her of her memories of his daughter. You know the history of KIT. From that spark of communication, I have seen her joy increase. What a revelation it must have been to all these exiles to find each other, indeed, to even be aware of the others' existence! I have seen my wife gain strength and camaraderie and a new sense of roots through the contact that KIT has provided. I am obviously very loyal to the KIT concept and to the KIT folk. For a time the Bruderhof seemed to lighten up. Nicky and Liz's brothers wrote in a more friendly and less condemning vein. We also got a few letters from other people. It seemed to be a good trend, although some of the correspondence seemed to be boiler plate. It was disquieting to hear the same phrase used by different writers. Specifically, they wanted to know about the "nitty gritty" of our life. They started referring to me occasionally and used our last name instead of Maas.

Nick (Liz's brother) and Liz's mother visited us in '92! KIT was discussed on occasion during these years. A year later we were told by collect calls that we belonged to a hate organization and that they wanted no more to do with us. We sent our usual cookies for Christmas that year and they sent them back with nasty notes about separating them from their children. We would not have been notified at all of Nicky's passing except that we hadn't yet been purged from The Plough mailing list. We got a 'Dear Friend' letter along with an ad for Heini's book and a flyer about Mumia Abu Jamal about a month after she died. I was astonished at this cruelty. We have been tempted to write off any 'family' that lives there. We have found it difficult to dig up much forgiveness. However hope springs eternal. We have no petition for the Bruderhof. We simply wait like the Catcher in the Rye.

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German & Ruth Pleil, 11/17/96: After we had a pretty good summer in Canada, we are back here in Palm Shores in our winter time where we will stay until April, where we also found half a year's supply of KIT letters. Usually we have the KIT through Alfred in the summer, but this year he did not receive any, to our surprise. So we had to do some catching up.

We appreciated very much Susanna Alves Levy July p. 9 article. She really spoke from our hearts. We felt the same as she experienced during her baptism preparation and baptism, when we made our vow to God in the life. I guess a lot of baptized members will agree with Susanna's experience.

Now about the Wiedergutmachung [German reparations -- ed] from Bette Bohlken-Zumpe: we did receive the Wiedergutmachungin 1961 when we got to Germany. My father Arno Martin helped me to fill out the application. Of course we did not get the DM 60,000 because the SOB by law got DM 1000 from each. And as soon as we received the money, my father Arno Martin and Karl Hundhammer came and begged us for the money. At the time we decided to give them DM 3000 to cover our fare from Paraguay to Germany because, as Herman said, we didn't want to owe them anything and also did not expect any financial assistance because of our promise to expect nothing when we left the Community. Of course there was a difference: we did not leave voluntarily. We had been asked to leave, for no reason.

OK. Three weeks later my father Arno Martin and Hardi Arnold appeared again asking for the rest of the money. We decided to help them our with DM 1000, but only as a loan because the other money we needed badly. To look for other accommodations, and for Herman, another workplace. We only had a two-room accommodation without heat or hot water -- only with a kitchen stove. It got too cold. Even the walls had ice on them -- we still have photos -- and that with three little children, the youngest 1 month and a 15-month-old one and a 2-1/2 year old.

But in spite of all that suffering, we were still thankful to have a roof over our head when night fell and a place to put our heads. We took all that upon us and felt that was the price we had to pay for not following a one-man regime. And there also is a story to be told about DM 1000 we loaned them, but not this time. We hope you have enjoyed a merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to you all,

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Edith L. Powell, 11/26/96: It may be too late for the December issue of the newsletter, but perhaps you could make a short statement saying that Mr. Powell and I took our four daughters and a young friend, Mary Lou Goodwin, by automobile down the Pan-American Highway from Illinois to Uruguay in 1944-46. There were few roads (we drove trails, and many miles down river beds and often through rivers!). We were the first family ever to drive it. It had been done twice before, once by two men, one named Franks, and by a woman named Constance ____ who traveled with native guides. We were the first family to do the entire trip. That explains the mention of Ecuador and other statements in my journal.

Thank you very much for the book by Nadine Moonje Pleil and for the typed version of my notes. I have very low vision and can no longer see to type, hence I have to write by hand. Sincerely,

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Bette Bohlken-Zumpe, 12/22/96: Before this year comes to an end we do want to thank KIT staff for everything you are doing to help ex-Bruderhof members! I do know that you, Ramon, put in most of your time and energy answering phone calls, letters and faxes, and for you, Judy, this must mean a lot of understanding and patience! We do thank you for being you!

I was so glad to hear from the Schwalms that Dave Maendel is out of prison! Also, I'm lucky to receive the KIT letter early, as Gerhard Schwalm has a stamped envelope ready for me and prints out KIT as soon as it is on the Net so that I receive it about 2 days later. The December issue was good and varied. I still find it difficult that people write under "Name Withheld" as I love to put a face to the letter! I would like to thank Eunice for visiting and helping Dave Maendel, and I do hope that he and his family will have some nice Christmas days after all! I would also like to thank the angel that put up the bail sum for Dave. That really was an extraordinary sign of love and compassion -- and also trust, as these are retirement savings for future use.

Andy Harries' contributions are very much written for many of us, I think, as many of us feel the same about most things he writes about. I did not know the Le Blanc family, but it is wonderful to read about someone who managed to keep the best things the Bruderhof taught us and apply them to their future family and home life. I especially like the contribution from Leonard, as it brought back so many memories and also made me understand things about the Paraguayan revolution that I did not know because I was too young to understand. Johnny Robinson certainly was a character we children loved and adored!

This also goes for Charlie's contribution. He can bring us the results of Bruderhof education in a way we can understand. I agree that the KIT letter is an Open Forum in which we can all find each other -- in or out of the Community. But if they want to see us as a threat, this is up to them and there is little we can do about it. We have tried again and again to have a dialogue with them and they have always managed to get out of it! Why? Because they simply are afraid of us and of losing more sheep to the outside world if our dialogue is really positive and good!

I think I remember Edith Powell, a small little lady who visited us in Primavera in 1945. We children were amazed at her wearing pink slacks and a tropical helmet which we had never seen before. It was amazing to read her journal.

The coming days and weeks will be pretty busy for us. Christmas all our children and grandchildren will be home, so it needs a lot of organizing to have enough food, beds, etc. available so that each one feels welcome! December 30th Hans' father will be 92, and we intent to make this day a special one for him. The New Year we want to welcome at our holiday house and hear the sea when you go to sleep. Our daughter's birthday is on the 8th of January and her son will by 4 on the 7th, so that means a visit to Enkuizen. On the 9th I go to the hospital again for another treatment. I had a long talk with my neurologist last time and she is amazed at what I can still do considering the damage that the MS has done throughout the years. I myself get very impatient that I tire so easily and feel I want to do so much more with every new day, but I have my limitations.

One extra challenge for 1997 might be to translate or rewrite my book in German. Many people have asked for that, and Eberhard Bethge, the editor of the Dietrich Bonhoffer books will see how he can help me best. So next year will give me the direction to take.

Otherwise, Hans and I are fine. Hans still does a lot of volunteer work for the Red Cross, which he loves. Much Love and Best Wishes for 1997,

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Art Rosenblum, 12/26/96: I finally got to read the latest KIT. Two things hit me especially. The first is the health of Lee Kleiss... The other item was the case of Dave Maendel's arrest. Of course I don't know it all, but it seems to me both sides broke the law. Had Dave really wanted to trap them, he could have charged Domer with bribery. Unfortunately, he evidently wanted the money, so he's charged with extortion.

To me, the whole thing is ridiculous, totally unChristian and stupid. I do see that the B'hof started it all but that's no justification for us carrying on in the same spirit as some (not all, certainly) have done. I think Lee Kleiss took a more Christian approach, and no doubt others who've left have also.

You know, each of us who joined the community made a promise to live all our lives communally. Granted, that was more than we should have been required to do. Hardly any other successful commune requires that, so why should the B'hof? Seems a bit of a power trip but might have started out quite innocently as "total dedication" to Jesus. Monks make the same commitment, and maybe that's why they are also under hierarchical control. But they don't pretend to be "democratic".

Now my commitment to a communal life, meant a commitment to the rulership of love in my life, not just a commitment to the way of the Bruderhof (no matter how wrong it might some day go). I've tried to be true to that commitment and do intend to return to community, and I do invite others to live communally with us here. Often they do.

My question is, how many others have left the Bruderhof and kept their commitment to a communal lifestyle ? I'd love to see a list of all such folks regardless of whether they read KIT or not. I'd love to know where they are and how they live.

It was nice to see that long list of singles and where they are, and I wonder if any others were omitted besides myself? Don't know why I was left out -- could it be because I'm not a B'dhf opponent, but just one who struggles for the truth of both sides?

For those who would like to know, I'm here in Philadlelphia, having recently returned from the most communal country I've ever seen. I flew my 1958 Cessna across the sea to Cuba ! (we had life jackets just in case.) It was an amazing trip and folks can get a copy of our newsletter with a fuller report by sending an address label and some stamps to: Art Rosenblum, Aquarian Research, 5620 Morton St., Philadelphia PA 19144.

I plan to return to Cuba next year, but need help with aircraft maintenance. I'm looking for a community in Fla. so we could go to Cuba at any time. According to U.S. regulations, only full time journalists can go whenever they want, but we can solve that problem and take along whatever we like because we have our own plane. They really can't stop us. Peace and love,

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Hayo Bohlken, P J Troelstrastraat 53, 8802 RD Franeker, Netherlands: Before this year comes to and end, I do want to thank each and every one of you for your effort in filling in my questionnaire about the Bruderhof. Without your help, it would have been impossible for me to write my dissertation about what happens to the ideas of great leaders and their ideologies of faith by the time they reach the 4th generation. I am still working on it and find this study very interesting and rewarding. I never thought it would involve so many aspects of our life and how much the first impressions of childhood form our way of thinking and acting in any given situation. I will most certainly keep you informed how I am progressing, but my first task was to get an overall impression, and you helped me to sort this out so that I can now work hard to finish what I started to do!

Thank you again for your time and effort. I especially appreciated the personal letters you enclosed for me. I do wish you all a Happy Christmas and a successful 1997,

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ITEM: Excerpts from The New York Times article, "Of Family, Spirituality and Power" by Richard Weizel, published Sunday, December 8, 1996 in the Connecticut Section. It focused on the Deer Spring Bruderhof and described how "beyond the appearance of innocence, simplicity and charm lies a very different commune than the one carefully presented for public consumption, according to hundreds of former members of the Bruderhof...

"Former members described growing up in fear and say they were subjected to brainwashing and emotional abuse as well as physical and sexual abuse."

The article goes on to state that "the once austere community... was excommunicated from the worldwide Hutterian order, in large part for its increasing foray into big business."

It reports that the KIT newsletter has given a voice to those who have left -- "either on their own or through banishment --and have become increasingly outspoken about the religious sect that many of them now consider a cult...

"'I definitely view the Bruderhof as a cult,' said Mr. Sender, who says he has been cut off from his grandchildren because of the newsletter that he began publishing in 1989. Mr. Sender says his main concern is for the Bruderhof's children.

"'The Bruderhof's children's rights are not adequately protected. Instead, I believe the Bruderhof holds them to the adults' perfectionist standards of purity and self-abnegation, standards which they as adults accept voluntarily of their own free will -- but which the children have not and could not at such an early stage in life.'

The article states that many former members were forced to leave without explanation, basically cut off from family with little money and no job skills. Some were "severely punished or shunned for expressing even the mildest forms of rebellion or sexual curiosity. They also claim that the commune's public posture of equality for all its members is a facade, with different sets of rules for leaders and followers.

"They say that when they tried to set up a toll-free hot line a few years ago for former members seeking counseling, they were harassed with thousands of calls from Bruderhof members, who also distributed the number as an adult hot line number that led to hundreds of phony calls. Bruderhof leaders don't deny the charge. But they say that while they asked members not to harass the hotline, they could not control everyone.

"'They're just a bunch of religious phonies who try to control everything and everyone in the community, and if you don't fall in line, watch out,' said 18-year-old Susie Zumpe, the youngest of 11 children who has been banned from the Bruderhof... 'There's no individual expression allowed at home or in school,' she said, 'and it's ironic that they're so obsessed with sexual purity because there's all kinds of abuse that goes on.'

"Ms. Zumpe's father denies the accusations and insists that his daughter is lying and needs help. Clara Arnold, 19, a former member... said the community does a good job of presenting a positive public image -- having even hired a Manhattan public relations firm, the Weiser Walek Group, to promote its business interests and fend off negative questions about the community.

"Ms. Arnold said the Bruderhof leaders 'say young people are free to leave,' but that such leaving is undertaken at very high cost: 'losing contact with your family, and being forced into the outside world with no money or earning power.'

Bruderhof leaders strongly deny there is rampant abuse, though they acknowledge there have been instances of abuse, dealt with internally, though they refuse to say how... Not all of the Bruderhof's former members are harsh critics.

"'I just felt I didn't fit in and wanted a different life,' said 36 year-old Joseph Domer, who left the community at 16, and whose parents Richard and Lois Ann still live at the Woodcrest site. 'I still have a good relationship with my parents and can visit them anytime I want to,' said the computer programmer. 'I don't view it as a cult, but I do think both sides have legitimate points that need to be addressed.'

"'The Bruderhof says its practice of sending their teenagers to an outside high school is proof that they want them to have that kind of exposure, but it is all a sham,' said Sender. 'They know that this sudden exposure to the sex, drugs and rock culture after years of being sheltered in their own schools will have a traumatic effect, and lead the students to come running back on the rebound.'

"'Not quite,' said Mr. Meier, the Deer Spring principal. 'After the first few days in high school I came home and told my father I never wanted to go back,' he acknowledged. 'But I got through it and even learned to like public school, and I graduated four years later as my class valedictorian.'

Some former members say they were far too influenced by the commune's agendas and goals, both at home and in school.

'Their main objective is to make sure the children want to stay and that they are willing to devote their lives to the community,' said Nadine Moonje Pleil, author of 'Free From Bondage"' (Carrier Pigeon Press, San Francisco). 'They say the children have the right to make up their own minds, but that's not true,' she said. 'They try to completely stifle their individuality and, out of fear, any curiosity about sex. I wrote my book to warn young people not to be so naive about what it's really like there.'...

"Outside experts say the Bruderhof is a complex community that has developed both positive and negative patterns over more than seven decades of existence. 'Their community does a very good job for those who are willing to conform and stay, but not for those who are bright and creative,' said Julius Rubin, a professor of sociology at St. Joseph College in West Hartford, who is writing a book about the Bruderhof communities. Mr. Rubin said he finds the Bruderhof 'a fascinating paradox" somewhere between religion and cult, which through clever proselytizing attracts some very bright and well-educated people from the outside world, and yet seems to drive away its own most brilliant creative and young people who are not willing to accept the community's extremely rigid rules and values.'

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Christopher Zimmerman, Spring Valley B'hof, to The New York Times, Connecticut Section, 12/15/96: As a member of the Bruderhof, the religious community reported on in the article ("Of Family, Spirituality and Power," Dec. 8), I wish to correct several inaccuracies. I strongly doubt whether there are really "hundreds of former members" ready to talk about the ominous vagaries that supposedly lie behind our "carefully preserved" facade of "innocence, simplicity, and charm." For one thing, the number is more likely to be a dozen or so; for another, we have no time to cultivate facades. Come and see. We have nothing to hide.

The article's interpretation of our exclusion from the Hutterian Brethren shows a surprising ignorance of the real causes of the rift. As Elizabeth Royte points out in LIFE (December, 1996), "Hutterians have had problems with the Bruderhof's involvement with social issues" -- in particular our opposition to capital punishment. Certainly business enterprises have nothing to do with it; our financial stability is one of the few things members of the older, larger movement respect.

The article's attempt to describe our educational philosophy was no less offensive. Young adults who stay simply because they "feel safe" are among the first to be encouraged to leave our community and to go abroad for a period of service. This year we have youngsters in Israel, France, South Africa, India and Germany (not to mention a good dozen across the United States). Naturally there are plenty at home, too. The reporter did in fact talk to one of them but declined to report on what was said.

Instead the article quoted Ramon Sender, a disgruntled former member who lived at the Bruderhof from 1957-1959 and whose attempts to network with other ex-members since then have resulted in sporadic bursts of bad blood in a newsletter he founded. Speaking of ex-Bruderhofers, Susie Zumpe, who was quoted in the article, was not banned or disowned. My wife's younger sister, she spent the summer of 1993 with us and chose, at the end of the holidays, to move in with relatives in New England, rather than return home to her parents at another of our communities. She did this of her own free will, and no attempts have been made to coerce her to return.

The article's allegation of "rampant" child abuse is scurrilous and grossly misleading. As the article notes, our movement has long been regarded as a leader in the field of child care, and we take great pride in the hygienic, safe -- and above all, deeply loving -- care our children receive. Decades of books, articles, and records attest to this fact. More important, so can hundreds of men and women who grew up here. While inappropriate or illegal behavior could conceivably occur at the Bruderhof, as elsewhere, it would be reported to an external social or law enforcement agency immediately. The reporter was specifically apprised of this.

The preposterous assertion about "stocking of guns and attack dogs" reeks with sensationalism Yes, a handful of people enjoy buck season, and many of us have pets, including a German shepherd here and there. But you can be sure that there are no attack dogs in our communities, each of which is home to more than 100 children. I have three small boys, and I can assure you I wouldn't compromise their safety.

Finally, the article's quotation of Bruderhof "expert" and sociologist Julius Rubin on our community as "a good place for those who are willing to conform and stay, but not for those who are bright and creative" is ludicrous. How would Mr. Rubin know? He's never visited us, though we have invited him. As for creativity, I can only hope he has some himself if he is really writing a book about us.

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The Image of Childhood

Excerpt from a dissertation

by Angela Cunningham
to fulfill partial degree requirements at
The University of Sussex.

...The question that arises at this juncture is, does the Bruderhof concept of what is 'natural ' and 'true ' in the child derive not from the inherent nature of the child but from the various demands, and ideals of the communal life? It is true to say that any image of childhood derives in part from the conditions and demands of the society in which it emerges. What distinguishes the Bruderhof is its intention to create a society from a philosophy of human nature described by their founders and to maintain an environment which reflects their beliefs. It is important to bear in mind the goal and nature of this undertaking and the forces which are likely to act upon it. These issues will prove to be an integral part of this attempt to understand the experience of the Bruderhof child.

After [Eberhard] Arnold's time, the Bruderhof movement fell victim to the dominance of religious zealotry which led to the abuse of many children by the community. This development was marked by the manipulation and distortion of Arnold's view of children and the erosion of parental responsibilities, family life and all forms of self-expression. Arnold cannot be held responsible for these things, but it is suggested that he and others were insufficiently aware of the dangers of a more narrow view of the child when combined with the issues of religious and social power in community life.

In a general way, Arnold diluted the strong liberal humanism of Blumhardt's image of childhood in accommodating it to his own belief in the Utopian ideology. He also more closely defined the parental role.

The belief that the community life is one which best provides for the child's deepest needs entails the conviction that the child should be provided with the necessary guidance and discipline to accommodate to it. Of course, all children in whatever environment are socialised to conform to some extent. In community this conformity is doubled; the child must learn not only to accommodate to the family but also to become a member of the community. This necessarily leads to a more prescriptive attitude toward the child.

Parents in Arnold's view were primarily religious members of community and their role as parents was defined in the light of this spiritual love being of a higher order to 'natural' love. For Blumhardt the parent's focus of attention was the child whereas in community the parent must focus a large degree of attention toward their responsibilities as community members. The parent no longer expresses responsibility in terms of a tolerant discovery of the nature of the child as it unfolds in a spontaneous way. Now the greatest trust must be placed not in the parental instinct but specifically in religious belief, for this is now the criterion of good parenting. In this way, family intimacy is decreased to the benefit of the social sphere of group norms.

Arnold's avowed belief in family ties notwithstanding, the logic of his utopian/religious beliefs were open to distortion by those with more totalitarian attitudes. The child who from birth is so directly bound to group norms and goals is perceived less as an individual and more as a carrier of a particularly narrow culture. When the culture and community is separated from the wider society, survival depends upon maintaining a certain level of membership. The danger is that the child will come to be seen as an investment in the future of the community, not as the unique individual described by Blumhardt. Sadly these dangers were not averted in the Bruderhof. When religious zealotry was allowed to come to power, parental responsibility and family life were eroded and the child's need for intimacy, stability, protection and self-expression were in many cases completely denied.

Parents who had been discouraged by Arnold from forming sentimental ties with their children were now driven by fear to abrogate responsibility for their children to community leaders. As a result, the isolated child was confronted with the excesses and cruelties of religious zealotry and social oppression.

Chapter Three
The Bruderhof Child:
Personal Testimonies of Individuals Brought Up Within the Community

In 1989 a group of individuals who had once been Bruderhof members and who had left the community decided to publish a monthly newsletter. They thereby create a means of contact and communication for all ex-Bruderhof members who in the process of leaving the community had lost contact with lifelong friends and childhood companions. The newsletter was given the title, Keep In Touch (KIT).

To leave the Bruderhof community for the world outside is, in many ways, to cross cultures and to experience the lack of common ground and the sense of isolation that this entails.

Through KIT, individuals are able to discuss an experience and upbringing that is unknown to most people. The first newsletter received an immediate and large response. Individuals contributed accounts of childhood experiences which in many cases were finding their first means of expression. It is these testimonies of childhood which form the basis of the following part of this dissertation. For reasons of privacy it is intended to attribute these accounts by initials only.

P.D. refers to both happy and sad childhood memories and acknowledges the benefits of having many friends and of enjoying a considerable amount of freedom to 'do our own thing' without the interference of adults. However she also remembers the need to hide her feelings in a community which frowned upon displays of physical affection. She describes an incident in which fathers were ordered to beat their children for admitting to childish sexual curiosity and of parents complying despite strong personal misgivings, because of the pressure from community leaders.

On another occasion she was made to spend the night away from her family with no knowledge of the reason for this:

"Under those circumstances our little minds would work overtime desperately trying to find some 'wicked deed' that warranted such severe punishment . I don't remember ever questioning such treatment until I was much older, but these sorts of injustices leave their mark on the subconscious mind of a child into adult life"

She was taken to spend the night with a small group of children and the next day all the children were taken to another hof where they joined their parents in ausschluss (exclusion).

She also suffered from sexual abuse by a brotherhood member who "had the freedom of the hof for several years before being dealt with." However even worse than the abuse, in her view, was the fact that in some cases the abused children were themselves punished with long interrogations and exclusions.

J.P. describes the great sense of shame and confusion experienced by children who were excluded from community meetings in punishments of this kind and of their complete ignorance, in most cases, of the reason for their punishment. He believes that in his own case ,the sense of injustice that such treatment provoked created feelings of hatred toward some adults. He adds that he does not know whether other children were effected in this way, since it was forbidden for them to discuss matters relating to their punishment. Above all, he believes that punishment was harsh and excessive for children brought up in the religious life with a moral education of a high standard. He attributes this to the fact that adult members who gave such punishment had, on the whole, been brought up in the wider society with a concept of evil that the Bruderhof child is unaware of:

'Therefore when they punished us for bad deeds with their knowledge and experience of evil, it went far beyond what we could ever have conceived of in the way of bad deeds."

The continual effort to 'seek out sin ' created divisiveness amongst children and between adults and children. Teachers, parents and adults in general categorised children very sharply into the good and the bad and gave the impression:

"that the bad ones were, in many instances really evil. I sometimes got the feeling that I shouldn't play or even talk to some of them, even though they were friends of mine."

The interrogations and the insistence on public confession and apology served to divide people and did not encourage forgiveness and tolerance, The feeling that adults were not prepared to be honest if this involved disputing the decisions of the community leadership made it difficult for many children to respect their elders. Contact with friends who had left the community incurred disapproval.

Despite all these criticisms, this contributor did believe that the Bruderhof education provided him with moral values of straightforwardness and honesty. He recalls the enjoyment of people working together and reports that he lived in different communities and that some enjoyed good relationships between people.

Many accounts describe the way in which the practice of exclusion frequently had the effect of separating families. E.P describes how her mother was excluded for opposing a punishment whereby children were locked in a dark room. E.P. was sent to live with another family in a different hof where she suffered great unhappiness.

A similar fate befell R.M. who, after the departure of her parents, was herself segregated for refusing to report the misbehaviour of other children (which comprised of childish sexual talk). At a later stage her eight-year-old sister was also excluded and sent to another hof.

In the meantime when R.M. saw her youngest sister in the community, she was forbidden to speak to her and she describes the incomprehension on the little girl's face when she was ignored by R.M. in this way. When the children's mother was allowed to return, the younger children ran away from her. They no longer recognised her and had in effect come to regard R.M. as their mother.

C. considers exclusion and family breakup to be the key issue in any discussion of the Bruderhof and describes himself as having been in 'survival mode ' throughout his childhood.

H.G. describes the death of an old man in the community. He was buried unceremoniously outside the community graveyard because he had been considered for some reason out of sympathy with the community. H.G. remembers the impression this made upon her and other children who had been fond of the old man. She recalls the sudden awareness of the lack of forgiveness and harsh judgment that the community was capable of inflicting upon its members and the sense of insecurity and foreboding that this created in the children.

M.J. recalled the experience of being locked in a dark room with another child because they had been unable to finish their dinner and the long-term effect this has had upon her.

"I relive the terror of that night. We both screamed and screamed, pushed and pushed the door... we were powerless little children terrorized and abused. To this day I have a fear of being left alone in a dark room... there was always this fear of doing something wrong, always this feeling of guilt which still haunts me to this day "

She describes an hour-long interrogation during her adolescence in which she was accused of having a friendship outside of the group with a boy. As she was accused repeatedly of being 'a dirty girl, a disgrace to all,' she cried uncontrollably and wet herself. As punishment she was excluded. During this time she began to walk in her sleep. When she awoke one morning covered in coal dust, the response of those in charge of her was to accuse her of going out at night to meet a boy in the coal pile. She comments, "If it wasn't so serious I could laugh my head off."

M.A.H. was excluded for over a year as an adolescent after which she was excluded from the community altogether. She underwent several interrogations by community leaders and suffered extreme loneliness. She was punished in this way for trying to persuade another member to loan her a record, although she believes that it was more the result of personal animosity of the community Servant toward an older relation of hers. (Such scapegoating of children by disputing adults is recorded elsewhere in KIT letters.) Throughout her year of exclusion she made many attempts to find a way to regain acceptance. She was criticised for trying to draw attention to herself and conversely for being reluctant to participate. A period of illness is described as a relief from the pressure because in bed she did not have to worry about the impression she was giving to others,

"I was very depressed. I always felt that I did not feel bad enough. I felt maybe if I would feel a little worse about myself, truly, truly, badly about myself, they would take me back. But that did not happen"

Finally she was told that she would attend a final meeting with the Servant and other members and realised that she faced the ultimate disgrace of expulsion. She lay awake all night thinking of the dishonour this would bring on her parents and of how she would now be talked about by the community -

"people who were kicked out were talked about as if they were pieces of dirt." She describes her departure,

'So here I was, with my two suitcases packed. I didn't even know where I was going! ...M was to drive me. I put the two suitcases in the back seat. Nobody said good-bye to me. Not a soul. I got in and off we went."

The account of H.G. is devoted to the way in which the [No Gossip] Rule Of Sannerz affected children. Her point is that it was not invoked for children; 'plain speaking' between children and adults did not exist . Therefore any child could be discussed between adults and accused of misbehaviour. Frequently children would be unable to remember the adult in question, since most adults were known only as the parents of playmates. Sometimes children were unable to remember the incident but were not allowed to question the adults about it. The compulsory confessions and punishment which usually followed filled the child with a sense of helplessness.

"Among KIT folk I identify with the mystified child repeatedly: 'Why was I being punished?' Any society that purges itself by executing most of it's judgment on the naughtiness of children will come to naught... This is what I hear in KIT: so many of their stories are of children gasping for air, smothered by this group punishment ."

Chapter Four
Research Studies of the Effects of a Bruderhof Upbringing Upon Children and Adolescents

The images of childhood portrayed in these testimonies stand in stark contrast to the stated goals of the Bruderhof. The very children who in Bruderhof philosophy are envisaged as the inspiring and treasured heart of the community, are revealed here as it's most burdened and beleaguered members.

Karl A. Peter's paper 'The Dynamics of Hutterite Society studies the way in which individuality is suppressed in Hutterite societies. Firstly the individuals religious orientation is communal; the way to God is through community action and consensus within the community and therefore not an issue of personal conscience. Secondly, since total agreement is demanded, personal standards are regarded as out of place, 'an act of deliberation or reflection is suspect'.

Thirdly, alternative ideas are forbidden and regarded as 'unworthy, evil or undesirable '. According to Peter, the Bruderhof is the most extreme form of sect, mainly by virtue of the power given to the Servant as 'Spokesman of the Spirit.' Members of the community are constrained by the belief that to challenge the authority of their leaders is tantamount to threatening the communities link with God.

"The Utopian sect is thus committed to establishing a truly totalitarian degree of control over it's members."

The second study was carried out by Julius Rubin and entitled 'The Society Syndrome; Depressive Illness And Conversion Crisis In A Fundamentalist Sect'. The study came about as a result of the observations of a group of psychiatrists treating young adolescents from a Bruderhof community in New York in the late 1960's and early 1970's. Disorders which in many ways were typical of affective illness (with symptoms such as lethargy, sleep and eating disorders, hopelessness) came to be regarded as 'a culturally specific expression of depressive disorder'.

What was specific about the disorder was a crushing sense of sinfulness, depravity and total worthlessness with regard to parents and community members. Guilt was a very strong feature as was a 'religiously motivated form of anorexia nervosa.' The latter was found to be the result of attempts by these patients to endure extreme rituals of religious purification, including fasting.

Guilt centred upon sexual feelings and thoughts and masturbation, as well as any sense of disagreement with the traditions of the community. Patients berated themselves for being guilty of pride and selfishness in particular. They believed in a general way that their depravity and worthlessness was beyond the call of forgiveness by the community,

Rubin concluded that the signs of sexual awakening and rebelliousness regarded as a natural development toward maturity by secular psychology ad popular opinion, were forcefully suppressed within the community:

'Bruderhof evangelical pietism endeavoured to crush willful autonomy by instilling a childlike spirit'

Religious zealotry, sexual interrogations and punitive discipline had instilled feelings of unforgivable evil in people, who were then confronted with great anxiety at the prospect of having to leave the community. He describes the practice of exclusion as 'a socially administered traumatic injury.'


The abuse of Bruderhof children was the direct result of the growth of religious zealotry and the failure of the movement to grapple with the issues of sociological and theological power in the life of the community. The distortion of Arnold's teachings allowed the leaders of the community to claim that the suppression of the child's individuality was justified by the need to protect the childlike nature. In the harsh environment that followed, Arnold's belief that the adult should approach the child with reverence, the importance of family life, the need to teach by example and the moral bankruptcy of excessive punishment were ignored. Blumhardt's warning that when children suffer injustice at the hands of adults, 'something dark comes in' was completely lost.

It would be reassuring to believe that the loss of the Utopian ideals of the Bruderhof's founders could be relegated to a dark period of it's history. Visiting the Darvell Bruderhof in Sussex, the author found evidence for many of the positive features of the communal way of life and was warmly welcomed. Set amidst acres of beautiful countryside one could envisage the physical freedom of children who might safely play in the woods and explore their environment without adult supervision.

All members of the community from adolescents to the elderly worked together in different areas of the hof, from the kindergarten to the small factory. The atmosphere was one of cheerful, purposeful activity. Classrooms, workshops and playrooms were well-equipped and 'child-friendly' places .

One did not feel the isolation of individuals that exists in the wider society, including the nuclear family. All mothers and children had full contact with their peers and an active role to play for the benefit of the whole community. There was no equivalent of the isolated mother living in a tower block with young children who have no safe opportunity for play. Neither was there the vision of unemployed and directionless youth whose expectations of independence and freedom prove to be beyond realisation because of a harsh economic climate. Although there is an unequal gender relationship in the community, there is not the economic division that limits and isolates the individual in the wider society.

The views of some of the younger members of the community with regard to society are interesting and in some ways echo concerns raised by others on 'the outside'. After visiting London, these teenagers perceived society's attitudes to sexuality as obsessive and limiting. It seems to them to constitute a pressure which inhibits the opportunity for young people to develop friendship and to reduce love relationships to a sexual preoccupation. Many of them spoke of the hoardings and advertisements they had seen on the underground and elsewhere in the city.

This is a sentiment not without its adherents in the wider society, whether they be feminists, parents or others who are concerned about the effects of the plethora of media images of the most crass representations of human sexuality. In a similar vein, the triumph of materialism over spiritual values of any kind in society has been the concern of philosophers, artists and ordinary men and women for much of this century.

Not only is it possible to understand the goals of Utopianism but it is a fact that serious errors, including child abuse, occur in most human societies at some point in their history. However, the Bruderhof has refused to admit or deny the errors and abuses that occurred within the community, and this is of serious concern to all those in any way concerned with children or the Utopian ideal. It was a concern which played a prominent part in the author's conversations with ex-members and staff of 'Keep In Touch'. They expressed little faith in the idea that such practices can be relegated to recent history or in the belief that things have changed in the community.

Without a willingness on the part of the community to discuss these issues, there is a tendency to mistrust the sincerity of those who speak of the positive elements of contemporary community life and the suspicion that such members are carefully 'handpicked' or coerced or have merely been successfully 'brainwashed' by conditioning. This suspicion is not allayed by the fact that different media representations of the community do seem to feature the repeated views of the same small group of young people from the community.

Only by confronting these errors can the community hope to convince others that it is capable of understanding and controlling the destructive forces that can subvert the community or, indeed, that such forces and abuses are not still a part community life.

The effect of these forces upon the lives of children cannot be exaggerated. The child who sees little of his or her parents before the age of six years is denied the full opportunity to develop a healthy attachment to the mother. Throughout childhood the child is denied the security and stability of consistent affection, guidance, support and discipline by his or her parents. Even the physical presence of the parents is threatened by the practice of 'exclusion,' either of the parents or the child him/herself. The child is unable to perceive the parent as an autonomous individual and is aware of their complete dependence upon the community and the dictates of it's leaders. In this situation the child must 'square up' to the adult community and the punishments it imposes without the intercession of parents. Given the harsh nature of the punishments inflicted on children by powerful adults, the child is abandoned by those he loves most to a dangerous world.

Punishment which induces great feelings of shame, but offers no comprehensible way in which one can understand one's mistake, find forgiveness or become reconciled' once again with others, is punishment which induces feelings of hopelessness and suicidal thoughts.'

It is interesting to compare this quotation with the warnings of Christoph Blumhardt concerning severe and unjust punishment:

'...these children are being thoughtlessly pulled to pieces and harmed to the point of not knowing where they are'

The child has no positive role model of benign autonomy when the presiding authority figures exercise only repressive power. He or she is taught that the world beyond is a bad place and that those who choose it are regarded in a very negative way by the community. It is a place to which 'bad' members are abandoned. After such conditioning, it is unlikely that the child will feel that there is a way out of community life that can be freely chosen. Even amongst other children there is no refuge from the suspicion of immoral behaviour which condemns all signs of emerging sexuality. Even friendships are controlled and sometimes broken by community leaders.

The power of these leaders in terms of the practice of exclusion, and the breakup of families that it often entails, is the final and most brutal weapon of suppression against the security, emotional stability and individuality of children.

The price for the failure of the community to control the growth of dangerous extremism was paid by it's children. They paid with the distortion of all the natural stages of development, from mother/infant attachment to adolescent rebellion. Every step toward autonomy, most especially sexual development, was met with crushing moral condemnation and harsh punishment. Total compliance was won by the relentless instilling of fear, confusion and guilt in the child.

In this situation the inner repression of fear, anger and hopelessness are inevitable and the growth of self-esteem impossible. For such a child the journey toward maturity must involve emotional pain and mental confusion and in many cases, as we have seen, it leads to mental illness and long-term difficulties.

It is a tragic irony that this damage was done in the name of protecting the child's innocence. The end of innocence for these children lay not from the 'evil' within, but in the abusive power which they witnessed and suffered from without.

'We keep trying to do things by rules. Because the Spirit is missing we try to do things mechanically. But it does not work... if you drag the child into the Kingdom of Heaven by means of outward piety he will run out of your pious house faster than children from other homes, where they are likely to stay and be decent and well-balanced.'

Johann Blumhardt.

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Wedding Bells? Oh No!
by Susanna M. Alves Levy

It was a hot and dusty Sunday afternoon. The ground burned in the summer sunshine, trees and shrubs looked parched. The air shimmered and quivered above the blindingly shiny cobbled streets of Asuncion. Hardly a breath stirred. Nature, or what there remained of it in this sprawling Sunday city, seemed to beg for water, for cooling, quenching rain. But the skies were of that pale leaden blue that promised further unrelenting heat and lots of additional sunshine.

I was wandering through the grounds at the back of the Bruderhof House on Fulgencio Moreno street. It was the hour after Sunday lunch. Everybody had disappeared for their siesta., but I was too restless to sleep. I stood and looked up into the cloudless sky. I still missed the metal tower. There was a real void where it used to be!

It had sat squarely in the back garden of our 'Upper House', the name we gave our main base in the capital, not quite as handsome as the Eiffel Tower, but it stretched quite high into the Paraguayan city skies -- well, at least some thirty metres or so.

I now recollected my dismay and disappointment, on arriving back in Asuncion the previous year, to discover that the tower had vanished. Someone had erected a small wooden hut on that spot, in its place. What a shame! I recalled the magical hours on the tower's platform, watching the sun sink away behind the majestic Paraguay River. The pulsating city hummed and, by the time darkness fell, I counted the stars as they sprinkled the darkening expanse above me one-by-one. Up there it seemed easier to get away from all sorts of bothering thoughts and feelings. The eye had space to roam so far and wide. Even the horizon gave way to my gaze.

And now it was gone!

I was glad, though, that the circle of stone benches with the old stone-slab table still stood beneath the guava trees. This became my favourite spot when the weather was fine -- during siesta especially. The house was silent, the throb of the city reduced to a background hum. Only the house-sparrows chirped wildly, as always, chasing each other in the shrubs and trees and having almighty discussions.

The hut, this disappointing tower-substitute, was used by our resident Servant of the Word. Little meetings of all sorts were held there. It looked ideal for someone who needed an Aussprache, those tete-a-tete confessions and admonishments that served to rid ourselves of all the ballast which did not stand up to the true Community spirit. It actually resembled a Servant's Hut, I thought, just like the ones back home in Primavera, our settlement in the backwoods northeast of Asuncion.

I stepped into the small square room. It contained a table surrounded by wooden planks fixed in an L-shape to the walls, serving as benches. The walls were bare, the lighting bad. Some red-and-white chequered curtains framed the two small windows. A small set of shelves had some books standing and lying untidily on it.

I had just sat down when I heard footsteps approaching. It was Margot Petersen. "Do you mind?" she asked as she came in.

"Of course not!" I moved over, pleased at her arrival

We called her 'Birdie.' She was at college, studying to become a teacher, and only a few months younger than I. I had gotten to know her properly in Asuncion and, from getting on exceedingly well, our acquaintance developed into a very close friendship. I found it possible to discuss with her almost everything that troubled or preoccupied me. She was to be utterly trusted.

"Do you also miss the tower?" I asked Birdie now, while she began spreading out her books.

"Yes, I do," she replied.

"It was always difficult to be on one's own up there," I remarked. "Remember how the steps made a racket? The boys liked the din, they always ran up and down, shouting and laughing. It was actually quite dangerous, don't you think?"

Birdie nodded.

"Up there I smoked a cigarette properly for the first time," I babbled on. "When I drew the smoke into my lungs, I got so dizzy, I had to sit down. I really clutched the railings. You weren't there that time. I can tell you, the tower was swaying, really, weaving and bending in funny directions. Hooeee!! It was half an hour before I stood up!"

Birdie laughed.

I stopped my chitter-chatter. It was obvious that Birdie wanted to get on with her homework. While she became drawn into her books, I watched her briefly.

She was petite and quite attractive. She parted her dark-blond wavy hair neatly down the centre and usually wore it gathered in a bun at the nape of her neck. This, plus a narrow, aristocratic nose, lent her a striking profile. Her large, grey-blue eyes, outer corners slanting slightly downward, conveyed a deep earnestness. She was very intelligent -- a real intellectual. She surely must have inherited this trait from her father, a man of great learning and knowledge. Birdie collected and absorbed any and every detail and particle of information, attracted to her as if her mind was a magnet. Her quietly spoken ways and gentle gestures were utterly charming. She was able to counterbalance my own tendency to raise my voice and talk incessantly while paying only superficial attention to detail. Despite her small size and her gentle voice and manners, she was a young lady of steel and will. I cherished her friendship dearly.

I was glad that she had joined me. Something of a more serious nature than the missing tower had been bothering me, and I needed to get it off my chest.

"Say, Birdie," I began, "we are supposed to esteem all brothers and sisters equally. Isn't that so?"

"Yes," she replied, never taking her eyes off her exercise book.

"Well, let's say, a brother believes that God has directed him to marry, and this brother feels and believes that the chosen one is -- well, let's say, me -- but he is not really 'in love' with me, just, maybe, attracted to me. What then?"

"What are you trying to get at? Where do you stand in this hypothesis?"

"I stand nowhere. I haven't even noticed that this brother is interested in me."

"But what are you driving at?" Birdie sounded slightly impatient.

"What I am trying to find out is this: let's pretend one of the brothers believes he wants me for his wife. He does what is usually done. He goes to the Servant of the Word to tell him he believes I am the one, or whatever a brother will say to the Servant in such circumstances." I paused.

"Yes, go on."

"The Servant of the Word goes to the Housemother and lets her in on the interests and wishes of the brother who wants to marry. She then finds that I am the right kind of girl for that brother. So she comes to me, as is the practice, and we have a serious conversation in which she tells me of that certain person's inclinations and interests. And then she asks me to go away and think about it, and to see her later with my answer."

"Well? Yes?"

"All the while it is very obvious from the way the Housemother speaks to me and from her mannerisms that she expects me to say 'Yes' to this marriage proposal.'


"Yes, well. I don't think that's right of her."

"Well -- ?"

"Because, because -- in a way she is right, because I think, basically I ought to say 'Yes'. Are we not to love everyone equally? In theory at least? See, Birdie, if I say 'No', this will be a very unloving reaction and answer to that brother!"

"But you know that's not how it works," Birdie objected, shaking her head. "I must say, you sound pretty confused!"

"Well yes, I am. But that's not surprising," I replied. "I believe, in theory, if a Servant puts it in his head that one of us young women ought to marry a certain brother, this Servant can thread it in a way that it becomes impossible for the woman to say 'No'. Don't you think?"

"No, I don't think this could happen at all! Look -- " Birdie now sat upright, her face concentrated. She seemed to have grown a few centimetres. "As far as I know, it is all quite different. Let's say a man falls in love, that is, becomes particularly attracted to a certain woman, and the woman finds she feels especially inclined toward this man.

"They sense about each other's feelings, but they will not discuss them. They will spend time carefully examining their wishes, emotions and feelings, probing their consciences and listening to their heart's voice and, more importantly, to God's voice, to find out if their inclinations are truly God-given. After a while, if the man feels that his attraction to the woman is pure, and believes it was placed in his heart by God, he will then go to the Servant of the Word and put to him what he feels and believes, adding that it's his impression that his feelings are being reciprocated by the woman of his choice. And it's then that the Servant and the Housemother come into action."

"But what if the girl doesn't have any special loving feelings, I mean 'in-love' feelings?": I asked. "You know, that particular attraction toward that certain brother, and he mistakes her sympathy, her kindness or happy manners for something else, and begins to imagine it is love, when it is not?"

"Well, then it's bad luck for that specific young man!" Birdie smiled impishly.

"But if he still goes ahead and tells the Servant, and the process evolves as if both want it. How embarrassing for both! Can you imagine?" I pulled a face.

"Yes, but that's exactly why we have this procedure!" Birdie said with an urgency in her voice,. "You forget that we are allowed to feel compatible with our future spouse. If there is no compatibility between the two, it will just all go wrong. The girl has a right -- no, I think it is her obligation even -- to tell the Housemother that the brother is quite mistaken. And matters will remain there. Only the brother, the Servant, the Housemother and the Sister will have known, and nobody's feelings are exposed to possible embarrassment and ridicule, and therefore more hurt, as if the situation was all out in the open. You know how especially the youngsters can be quite unfeeling, quite mean."

"Hmmm," I mumbled

"Are you now satisfied?" she enquired.

"Well yes. In a way."

"Why! Still scruples?"

"Yes... yes, I confess, I still think theoretically it could happen that a man asks to marry a woman who has no real choice but to say 'Yes' to his proposals."

"No, indeed not!" Birdie laughed. "You are quite mistaken." She pulled her exercise books closer again. She had work to do.

While Birdie immersed herself once more in her studies, my thoughts remained on the subject of marriage. If Birdie was right, I was safe, I told myself. And she probably was. I didn't think any Servant and Housemother would be so cruel as to twist a marriage proposal in such a way that the woman wouldn't be able to refuse, if she didn't want to marry that particular man.

But in a tiny corner of my heart I decided to remain wary. Somehow there was still an ingredient worthy of distrust in the whole story. It didn't matter that Birdie was so cheerfully and easily reassured about it all. Basically, I felt that if I loved a brother truly as he should be loved, as a human being before God, in our Bruderhof community, I ought not to refuse him. No, indeed, I should actually feel obliged to consent to be married to him even if there was no physical attraction or any special preference for that particular man. Yes. Because the grown-ups had nurtured us on fares such as their constant warnings that emotions and feelings were to be watched with great care and to be distrusted even. Love was a delicate thing. It had to be 'given from God'. It was more like a kind of knowledge, this that was called 'Love'. True love wasn't just any old feeling. It wasn't even an emotion.

Take passion, for example. Passion was an emotion. And emotions were like horses hitched to you, the wagon. If they ran away with you and you lost the power over the reins, the affair must inevitably end in accident and disaster.

It was a strange metaphor, but somehow it impressed me greatly. Herbert Hafner, my uncle -- and in my view the most awe-inspiring Servant of the Word -- used this allegory every so often. And the way he looked! His impressive thick black beard framed his intelligent face while his fiery eyes beseeched us with a spiritual smile. He resembled Moses, I thought. It was like this that I imagined the powerful figure stepping out of the Old Testament, as narrated to us story-hungry children during Kindergarten and early school years. Well, with his Old Moses looks, his quick mind and ever-ready answers and metaphors, Herbert Hafner always sounded so very plausible and convincing. At least, there was something overwhelming and powerful about his arguments. I wouldn't risk thinking otherwise. Anyhow, Herbert Hafner always had the last word...

But would Sam dare...?

There it was! I had allowed the thought! It was out, in my mind, and I would have to deal with it now.

Sam Leimann...

I suddenly felt uneasy. ***

I was back in town, working in the Bruderhof House's office for the second year running. There was no excitement left in the job. I knew it by heart, by now. The only changes were the faces running the administrative affairs.

Raphael Hafner, my handsome cousin who had been in charge of general purchases the previous year, had returned to Primavera for reasons unknown. To me he had seemed to have been not only excellent in the job, but had a real knack in getting things done and getting them done fast.

He was replaced by Julius Hilpert.

Julius was even more handsome than Raphael, but he very different. He had an awkwardness about him in my presence, which I never understood. Also he was extremely reserved -- not unfriendly or unkind, just withdrawn. We hardly ever had a laugh together. It was not at all as it had been with Raphael.

I glanced across to where Julius sat at his desk, half turned-away from me, writing out by hand the items he had purchased and their prices, for the account books. The list was also used for the packing lists for all the boxes dispatched to Primavera regularly. Julius wrote neatly, but slowly. I sensed that he did not enjoy this particular task. As he laboured, head bowed, eyes intent on what he was writing, I watched him for a while.

I had seen him relaxed and very much at ease just the other night, during supper. That evening he had been in what I might call a cordial mood. A Flemish priest had arrived -- Mike d'Blaeker was his name. "The Bleacher," he said his name meant. A bitter man, mistrustful of all Paraguayans, calling them all liars and cheaters. "These people show you a friendly face, but the moment they have a chance, they'll stick their knife in your back!"

He began to tell us the parable of the Samaritan, adapting the story to some circumstance of his own life -- and it was obvious that he saw himself as the Samaritan. Suddenly he got up and said, "Excuse me, but I want to take my cassock off." While saying this, he pulled the garment over his head and hung it on a hook on the dining-room wall .

I froze in shock, but when I saw that he was fully clothed beneath the robe, I breathed easily again. Well-well, how novel! Priests wore normal clothes underneath their cassocks! Who would have thought it...

The padre had hardly placed his garb on the wall, when Julius turned to me and whispered: "I'm tempted to play "Verkleiden" (Disguising)..." to which Liese Frishman added with a giggle, "Oh, good! Rose needs a new school uniform -- "

It showed that Julius appreciated tomfoolery, just as we all did. He also enjoyed playfulness of other sorts. I just needed to think back to Loma Hoby, my village in Primavera. Julius worked for a while on the campo [grassland -ed] with the cattle as did quite a number of the community's young men from time to time. He had a special knack with horses, and one in particular, a bay-coloured one, Julius had broken in. This horse was particularly intelligent, and very much attuned to Julius. He taught it to do all sorts of tricks, just like a circus horse. Julius himself could do all sorts of interesting exercises and gymnastics on this horse's back, such as standing on his head, or swivelling from side to side supporting himself with one hand, and other interesting acrobatics. Quite amazing!

I suddenly remembered how the marauding soldiers who came to our settlement during the revolution some years earlier had stolen Julius' lovely bay, among many other animals. I was aghast at the time. He must have been devastated.

I looked over to him, still labouring quietly away at his list.

"Julius, you ought to learn to type! I said, trying to sound happy and bantering. "Then it will all be much faster." I didn't really mean that. I was merely trying to start a bit of conversation.

Julius stopped writing and turned slightly, but didn't look at me. He replied gravely: "I am not sure that I have the time." There was a strained look around his eyes, as if I was taxing his patience.

I continued, this time trying a slightly more teasing tone. "It's your guitar, isn't it! You've hardly enough time for that, I know..."

He looked relieved. I had unwittingly helped him find an excuse. "Oh yes," he said with an attempt at a smile. "My guitar! You have no idea how much time one needs to practice."

I didn't respond to that. It was obvious that he didn't care for small talk. He was taking me too seriously. For that matter, I thought he took his guitar playing too seriously. He probably wanted to impress Eugenia Bordas, our neighbour on Fulgencio Moreno street, I suspected. They got together quite often. He and his guitar, she and her Volkswagen minibus, her one-and-only pride.

That's not fair, Simone, a little voice inside me said. Firstly, he is very gifted and musical, and you enjoy listening when he plays and sings! Secondly, he is one of the few people in the household who speaks Spanish fluently! Do you ever give time to Eugenia when she comes? He makes visitors feel at ease. Not like you, who runs away from them when they barely ring the doorbell! Shame on you!

But I shushed the little voice.

Oh, I missed Raphael in such moments! He used to come in from his excursions into town with his cheerful "Hola!", his eyes quizzing mine for a fraction of a moment. Or he gave his whistle signature while he bounded up the narrow concrete stairs that led to the office. As far as I knew, he used this whistled code only for me. It was thrilling to have a secret like that, shared with no one else.

When Raphael finished with work, he pulled out his Eugen Roth booklet of jokes and funny prose! Raphael loved to read Eugen Roth. At times I had to confess to myself that I didn't quite get the jokes, nor did I find certain quotes funny, but to please Raphael I'd laugh just the same.

Compared with Raphael and those pleasant times, Julius was an irksome enigma. He never really lost his awkwardness with me. I couldn't understand why it had to be there in the first place. Here was this handsome young man, tall and attractive, with blue-green eyes and wavy dark-blond hair. Yes, I had to admit that he had a striking face and figure. He was pleasing to look at. but why was he always so guarded!?

But the irritation I felt towards Julius from time to time was nothing compared to my feelings when Sam Leimann came around. Sam worked at the Old House where we had the gift shop and our offices. He helped with purchases and all sorts of odd jobs. One of his tasks was to get the mail ready, stamped and delivered to the post office. It seemed a dumb job for a man who appeared to be a tight bundle of intellect. He was inquisitive, constantly puzzling over all sorts of machinery mysteries, and he loved to talk about these contraptions -- although not with me, of course.

Right from the beginning, from my earliest acquaintance with this young man, he struck me as a curiosity. He smuggled some special copper wiring into the country, carrying it tightly wound around his body. He travelled in this panzer of metal wire! He shook with laughter when he told his tale of the journey and its inconveniences, and was mightily proud of having made it through undetected, cheating all customs officers on departure and arrival.

He shared the desk with Julius, and had his living quarters just opposite the office behind a wooden screen and lots of junk and piles of old furniture. Amidst this clutter was the old black telephone, the apparatus that I loathed so much. I found it unpleasant that Sam lived just across that small corridor of junk and telephone. I was sure that he could hear everything that was going on and being said in the office, and he probably listened in all the time when he was in his room.

Sam had come from the USA to join the Bruderhof. I supposed him to be in his mid-thirties. He was lanky, a bachelor, and that didn't surprise me. His face was gaunt, his posture slightly stooped. He had pale-blue eyes framed by long eyelashes which he liked to use like a bashful innocent little boy. His attempts at growing a beard had utterly failed. There were a few unkempt curly wisps of spidery hair clinging frantically to his chin. And whenever he lowered himself into a sitting position, he crumpled and slouched. There was no uprightness at all in his body. On crossing his legs, they looked as if tied in a knot. He kind of bobbed up and down when he walked, taking huge paces with his long thin legs and enormous feet at the end of those spidery extensions. His arms swung at his side, seeming barely attached to his shoulders, hands dangling at the level office knees.

In moments of unsisterliness -- and the frequency of those moments, I confess, was lately increasing -- I noted all these physical failings and proceeded to dislike Sam heartily. Anyhow, he was odd. He didn't laugh, he whinnied. He often behaved like a teenager and it didn't suit him at all. I kept him at arm's length right from the start. I couldn't stand his ways, and tried to have as little contact with him as possible. He had a true gift for irritating me profoundly.

Unluckily, Sam was extremely sensitive, so of course he noticed my antipathy. As I showed him only a haughty exterior, he didn't dare approach me directly, and so chose to complain to Alex Forrest. Alex was also from America. He too was tall, thin and not at all handsome, but in his ways and manners he was the absolute opposite of Sam. Alex was gentle and calm, circumspect and wise, and commanded natural respect. Most of all, he behaved his age. But then, so he would. After all, he was our Servant oft Word.

Alex called me aside one Sunday morning, after breakfast at the Upper House, as I was crossing the patio.

"Simone, could I talk to you?" he said in his kind manner, leading me up the steps into the centre of the back garden to the stone benches by the guava trees, where I willingly followed. There was no way I'd refuse his invitation. Anyhow, I liked and trusted him.

"I'm afraid there's something I ought to air with you. It concerns Sam," he said after we sat down.

My heart suddenly pounded, and I grew slightly afraid. Had I gone too far with my haughtiness and antipathy? I blushed and swallowed.

"Oh -- " I said, embarrassed. "He complained about my ways of treating him?"

Alex nodded. "Yes, Sam spoke to me last night. He's concerned that he has offended you without quite knowing what it might be. Have you any reasons for complaints? Is there anything that offends you, anything that happened?"

I searched my mind and conscience for a short moment, although I knew quite well that my dislike of Sam was based on pure superficialities, such as irritation and antipathy. There was nothing concrete in Sam's conduct that I could blame for my bad behaviour.

"I'm afraid I've gone rather amiss," I said soberly. "I can't think of anything. I just -- I don't know how to say it -- I feel sometimes such loathing and antipathy... I don't know why. There is something about him -- " My voice trailed off. I felt ashamed of myself:

"Maybe you ought to apologise to Sam?" Alex suggested. "If there is no reason for complaints, it would only be charitable and kind. He is a brother, you know. He does have some awkwardness about his ways, but this does not mean that he intends to offend anyone."

"I am sorry," I said. "I'll apologise. It won't happen again."

Alex's face moved into its smiling position. It was rare that he broke into a real humorous smile, but I knew this facial expression well. It indicated that he was satisfied, and nothing further was to happen by way of disciplinary measures.

As I returned to the house, I became aware that my cheeks were now flushed and hot. Still, I had gotten away with it. But then I still had to go to Sam and apologise. That was the worst bit.

But I did it. By now, I had learnt to humble my pride. Yes, Sam was a brother. I owed it to him to ask his forgiveness. I had behaved badly. Badly and unfairly. So swallowing hard, I told Sam how sorry I was. He had expected my apologies, and was very kind, and accepted them graciously. I noticed that he made an effort not to embarrass me.

Since my apology, a change had occurred in our relationship, an ease of communication that gave me great pleasure, at least for a while. From then on, I got on well with Sam. We had good conversations. It was quite easy to be in his proximity. I was careful, of course, to avoid being on my own with him if at all possible, which made things also so much easier.

Then, to my vexation, it seemed that Sam began to seek out my company more and more. It looked like my having been singled out by him, as if he wanted to become more intimate and personal. This did not suit me at all, so I decided to put him on ice for a while. I avoided him wherever I could. Alas, Sam was such a complicated human being!

Again, his extreme sensitivity brought things to a head. It came to a critical point when Sam one day offered to walk me down to the Old House after breakfast.

"No thank you," I said coldly, and went back into my bedroom.

He looked hurt, but let it stand.

Some time later that same day, he found me on my own at the office. He sat down at the other desk. Julius had just left a moment earlier. Sam began sticking stamps on the mail, but I felt tension in the room.

Suddenly he turned and looked at me in a peculiar way. Too personal by half, I thought. And there it came!

"Simoanee," -- I always bristled at the way he pronounced my name _ "Simoanee, I have the feeling there is something between us these days? I don't know if I'm right, and you must just tell me if I'm bothering you, but have I said anything these days which wasn't right, or was unfriendly?"

I became angry. How dare he address me like that! Putting on a bored expression, I said, "Please don't bother me!"

Still, I was unsettled. My heart raced. But what else, for goodness' sake, could I have answered? I couldn't say he was getting too close for comfort, he was imposing on me!? If I were to tell him, I'd breach the boundaries of propriety !

"So it isn't anything I've done or said?"

I froze in fury. With his last question he had laid a trap. What a mean trick! He had no tact. It was not my business to make this clear to him! So I brought the shutters down on my face, ignored the question, and him as well.

He did not speak anymore.

If this kind of game is repeated by him, I thought grimly, I must go and tell Hope Forrest.

Hope was Alex's wife and quite a lovely person. She seemed to be older than Alex, and much noisier. She loved a good giggle. She was quite the opposite of her husband and appeared to truly complement him. Where he was reserved and quiet, she was keen, lively and outgoing. Enthusiasm was her signature. I liked her very much. I cherished both Forrests dearly.

I was worried that Sam might start his strange questions again. What was I to say next time? I didn't want to be mean to him, but then he was really asking for it! I knew, nonetheless, that I shouldn't go beyond a certain line and lose my way in this antipathy. It did not fit into our Christian community life of brotherly and sisterly love. I promised myself to beg in my prayers that I might be shown the right answer to this problem.

Some time later, one Sunday morning, we had gathered in the large hall. Here we usually held our Gemeindestunde meetings, those assemblies that brought us together once or twice a week for our communal prayer. As I sat down not far from Carla Hafner, my cousin, she leaned toward me and whispered with a snigger: "Look who's sitting with Lydia!"

It was Sam Leimann.

Lydia looked at us with querying eyes. Carla winked at her and darted a quick look at Sam. Lydia understood, grinned, and nodded.

I saw that Evie was smiling impishly too. She had obviously noticed it also.

Sam was no great favourite with my female friends either. Lydia had a large heart, I knew, and probably wouldn't feel offended at Sam's proximity. The thing was that by having chosen to sit so obviously close to her, Sam was actually making a statement to the rest of us in the room, or so we believed. I suppressed a giggle when my eyes met Carla's and Lydia's. I was pleased that Lydia was the victim this time. Who knows, I thought with some hope, maybe his interests will from now on be directed thence!

During the Gemeindestunde meeting, while Alex was reading to our gathering, I felt restless and inattentive. It wasn't because of Sam this time. It was Dick Bradford.

He was doing it again!

I shivered. Dick was quite another case. There seemed to be a perverseness about this man. Something sleazy. Here was this chap -- my guess was that he had reached his forties by now -- who had nothing much to show for himself apart from endless trouble.

He was either in the small exclusion, or the great exclusion, then in again and quickly out again; off the village premises and back; to Asuncion for a period of reflection and to Primavera again after a while. He must be one of the most excluded brothers of all, I conjectured. His transgressions were of a mysterious nature. No one ever mentioned explicitly how, when and where Dick had sinned. There was a nasty feel about him, something creepy. A negative aura, I might even say. I was secretly convinced that his trespasses were of a sexual nature. Why I believed this, I did not know. It was a hunch.

I wanted to discuss my feelings about Dick with someone. Elspeth had always struck me as a mature young woman. She was several years older, and was learning midwifery. There always was an air of calm and insight about her. I liked and respected her.

But Elspeth could not help me. It was a disappointing conversation. "That's how men are," was the sum of it. No, it couldn't be. Surely it couldn't!

And here he was doing it again! Staring at us girls, one after another, quite openly and unashamedly, during our Gemeindestunde meeting! His spectacles swivelled in slow motion, hither, then thither; from Alex, who was reading, to the girls, and back again, and again. How dare he!

This time I was so incensed by it that I left the room before prayer. I was unable to feel that I could pray with the others while Dick was behaving that way. I had to have this out first, before I felt at ease again. I decided to raise it with Hope right after the meeting.

I heard the bustle and noises of the meeting breaking up. Feet dragged, chairs moved, and before I knew it, Carla and Lydia burst into my room. I was lying on my upper bunk bed, hands under my head, staring at the ceiling. I shared one of the larger bedrooms with seven other girls. We called our room 'The Shack.'

"Simone, come, we need to talk," Carla said with some urgency. "Let's go to 'Mucky Hollow.' I think Evie's there, and she needs to be in on this too And it's more private there."

'Mucky Hollow,' the name we had given to the matchbox-sized bedroom adjacent to the dining area occupied by Birdie and Evie, was empty. No sign of either girl.

"I'll find Evie," Lydia volunteered. She came back quickly, Evie in her wake.

"What's up?" Evie asked smiling, cheerful as ever.

"It's Sam and Dick," Carla burst out. She looked somewhat cross. Her cheeks had a slight blush.

"Yah," I said. "Exactly..."

"Is that why you -- ?" Lydia looked at me.

I nodded. "I was too annoyed with Dick, staring so, all the time..."

"Listen," Carla intervened. "It's about time that we bring it out in the open. Why don't we all go and speak with Hope."

"Oh, I wanted to do that anyhow."

"Yeah..." Carla went on. "You know actually -- it was very unloving, also the way we have been sniggering about Sam and you, this morning."

"What about Sam and me?" asked Lydia.

"We were laughing because he sat next to you," Carla explained. "We were giggling at the idea that he might... well, you know!"

"Don't be silly!" Lydia exclaimed. "Although yes, he has pursued me with a bit more attention in the last couple of days. But I don't think what you think. I certainly hope he doesn't have any futile ideas. What disturbed me much more was Dick's behaviour. I certainly noticed his intense interest this morning in all of us, one after the other. We should bring it to Alex's notice, for sure. Dick has no right to take advantage of such situations."

"Yes," said Carla gravely. "Also, all our gossiping and giggling must stop. It is rather unloving and really quite unsisterly. We must be careful that we don't go too far."

We all agreed.

Later that day, Hope invited the four of us into villa-i, the tiny three-storey miniature tower-house that she and Alex inhabited. Stuck into the front corner of our Bruderhof House grounds, it was accessible on its ground floor from the street, and on the middle floor from inside the grounds. Each floor consisted of just one small square room, cosily fitted out and decorated.

While Alex sorted out the seating arrangements, a bit of a problem for such a large crowd, Hope sat on the stairs leading to their third-floor bedroom. Light filtered through a small window higher up. The afternoon sun's rays framed Hope's head. Her honey-coloured hair lit up and gave her lined features a gentle golden glow.

"Now, what's your big problem?" she asked.

Carla began: "Today during the meeting Sam sat next to Lydia, and I winked at her and we both laughed. Evie then made signs wanting to know why we were laughing and I said to her, 'Have a look who is sitting next to Lydia.' First, we laughed. Simone also giggled. But then after a while Evie said to me very seriously, Carla, 'we have to watch it, that we don't go too far " Carla paused, then went on. "I suddenly felt it like a shock. I think we ought to stop with our constant remarks about Sam and Dick, I mean, and our whole attitude to the two. After all, they are brothers."

"Ach!" I burst out. "If you only knew how exactly this issue causes me tensions daily!" I proceeded to tell them how I had snubbed Sam when he wanted to walk me to the Old House, and about his difficult and rather intimate questions later at the office.

Alex and Hope were listening attentively.

Lydia added: "We thought you'd understand and tell us how to handle such situations."

"I'm really sorry about it all," Hope commented. "You know, Alex, I had noticed this with Sam and Lydia and should have done something about it!"

We spoke about other occasions of similar behaviour by the two men.

Alex then turned to me. "You know, Simone," he said. "What you did when Sam wanted to walk with you and you snubbed him was, I believe, more loving than if you had let him have his way."

What a relief! I could now shelve my misgivings about myself. I had thought that my behaviour with Sam had been rather loveless, but Alex said I did right. So I needn't feel guilty anymore. Thank goodness!

"Thank you, Alex," I answered, trying to sound meek. "But I want to add something about Dick. We all feel that he has, kind of, so much interest in us girls, and it is very uncomfortable -- for all of us."

The others nodded, their faces serious.

"He just keeps looking at us all the time!" I said. "Especially in meetings. It makes it quite hard, I mean I find it quite hard then to concentrate on what is said."

The girls were nodding and murmuring their agreement.

"I tried to talk it over recently with Elspeth," I went on. "She said, 'This is how it is. This is reality. That's how men are.' She said that I just had to accept the fact that men simply were interested in young girls. One couldn't help it. That yes, it shouldn't be like this in the Bruderhof, but alas, men were like this. One had to accept it."

Alex was shaking his head.

"I told Elspeth that I didn't believe this ought to be so. That I was sure there were men who were not at all like that."

"You are very right," Hope said. "There are many men whom one can trust to the end of the world." There was indignation in her voice. "You know," she continued in her lively manner, concerned with reassuring all of us, "whenever you girls look at Dick, you must try and feel great compassion for him. Because he is one of the 'unredeemed' men."

Alex nodded. "Do not tempt Dick, ever, under any circumstances," he said. "So that he may not fall again. Keep your distance. Keep your distance from both these brothers. In this way you will help them best." After a brief pause he continued "And if there is at any time any reason, small as it may be, that you feel you ought to complain about either of them, but especially about Dick, you must do so and come to me immediately." He looked at each of us in turn. "I think "at this point it will be best that I speak to both Sam and Dick. So I now beg of you, forget everything, leave it all behind. Try and see in them the brothers they both are, but don't for anything invite them to approach you in any but the most necessary matters of daily life."

Having found comfort from our conversation with the Forrests and from Alex's reassuring words, we left. It was all now in the good hands of our Servant of the Word, and there it belonged.

A couple of days later, Alex asked me to see him in villa-i. I was intrigued. I had seen him speak with both Sam and Dick, separately, a day earlier, and knew of course what it was about. Could it now have something to do with all that? We sat down in Alex's tiny living-room-cum-office.

"You will have noticed that I spoke with Sam," he began.

I nodded.

"Sorry to say, Sam confessed that he had entertained hopes with regard to you. All those uncomfortable happenings are down to these notions of his, and came to pass because of it."

Oh no! I thought.

Alex went on: "Sam wants me to tell you that from this day and moment there shall not be anything any more. You shall feel free and quite at ease. He is sincerely sorry for his behaviour and for the things he said, and for all the discomfort he has caused you."

I suddenly felt dreadfully uncomfortable. Nervous -- a bit anguished, even. Why must Alex tell me this? I wondered. Wouldn't it have been better if it had remained unsaid?

"Well," Alex said after a short silence, "I warned Sam that he has to expect that for at least a while the relationship between you and him will be strained. But I ask of you, Simone, that you try and overcome all bad feelings, and find a brotherly-sisterly relationship with him in the truest sense. And I told Sam just that, too."

I remained silent. Everything was jumbled inside of me. My thoughts were a total helter-skelter. I must say something, but there were no words to express my confusion. So I just said, "Thank you, Alex."

We shook hands, and I left. I knew it! I knew it! I stamped my foot. I was angry, frustrated. The first time that anyone seriously thinks of wanting to marry me, and it comes from such an...

No, Simone! Don't!

I checked myself, but the angry thoughts and feelings wouldn't go away. I knew that from now on, whenever I saw Sam -- and it would be often (after all, he worked and lived at the Old House) -- I'd have to make a real effort not to think about this. He had hopes! Hopes! Hopes!!! Couldn't I laugh and laugh and laugh! But then I felt that I should rather cry and cry and cry. Oh how absurd, how ridiculous!... How infuriating !

I realised that anger wouldn't do. It must all be forgotten in its entirety, quite quickly and totally! No thank you very much indeed!

Those wedding bells! I had wished for them so much! I had waited so patiently!

Instead, suddenly, there now was all this clanking going on...

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