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KIT Staff U.S.: Charles Lamar, Editor; Vincent Lagano, Assistant Editor; David E. Ostrom, research.
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K e e p I n T o u c h
Table of Contents
Hilarion & Susie Braun
Joy (Jones) Loewenthal
Susanna Alves Levy - David Fischli
Hans Fischli - David Fischli
Elsa Wild-Fischli - David Fischli
Margot (Wegner) Purcell
Rosie Johnson Sumner
Ruth Baer Lambach
Rosie Johnson Sumner
Margot (Wegner) Purcell
Margot (Wegner) Purcell
Rachel Mason Burger
Miriam Arnold Holmes
Johanna Patrick Homann
Rosie Johnson Sumner
Ramón Sender, 3/1/01: Following a communication from an attorney representing the Bruderhof Communities, I have reviewed my letter to the Speak Truth To Power organization (published in the January issue of the KIT newsletter). In that letter, I repeated certain allegations that had been reported to me by an ex-member of the Bruderhof. Upon further review, I have determined that I must retract my published statement concerning the Bruderhof. I apologize for any misunderstanding that the publication of this letter may have caused, and will inform my original correspondent at Speak Truth To Power of this retraction.
|Jakob Davies, 1/26/01:
Sad news! ! R.I.P. Mr. Cyril Davies, FRCS (D), born in Caerphilly, Glamorgan,
South Wales, on 23rd September 1916, passed away on Friday, 26th January
2001. To all those dear and close to us, please forgive the terseness of
the above words, but a more personal note will follow. This is all I can
manage at present.
R.I.F. Dr. Cyril Davies, FRCS (D), geboren in Caerphilly, Glamorgan, South Wales am 23. September 1916, schied am Freitag, den 26. Januar 2001 aus diesem Leben. Alle die uns lieb und nahe sind, vergebt bitte die kurz und bündigen Worte oben, aber etwas persön-alicheres folgt. Das ist alles was ich im Augenblick zu stande bringe.
Q.E.P.D. El Dr. Cyril Davies, FRCS (D), nacido en Caerphilly, Glamorgan, South Wales el 23 de setiembre de 1916, falleció el viernes, 26 de enero del 2001. A todos los queridos y allegados a nosotros, se les ruega disculpen la brevedad de las palabras más arriba, pero seguirá una nota más personal. Esto es todo a lo cual llego en estos momentos.
Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe, 2/11/01: I will try and write a little bit about Cyril. He and Margot were indeed very dear to many on the Primavera Bruder-hof and meant a lot to our lives.
Cyril Davies was born in Ceaphilly, Glamorgan, South Wales on the 23rd of September 1916. His father had a large medical drugstore there. Cyril studied medicine in Cardiff, Wales and was a deeply convinced conscientious objector. He believed in peace and freedom for all men and all nations. He grew a beard to give witness to this different attitude he had from the rest of society and his fellow students. He never shaved again until asked by the Woodcrest brothers in 1960.
When Germany declared war to England in 1939, the pacifist Bruderhof Communities decided to leave England out of fear that all German members would be interned in camps. The only country willing to accept these 360 men, women and children from all nations was Paraguay in South America. All the plans were made for the first large group to leave 1940.
Around about that time twenty-four-year-old Cyril came to the Community and was struck by the fact that it was possible that men could live together in peace and harmony through their Christian faith. He decided there and then to join the first group leaving and be of help to the people in this unknown, tropical country. He asked for the novitiate, and the Bruderschaft accepted this as a sign from God that a medical doctor would come and join at this very critical time.
Cyril was tall, dark-haired with a black beard and always twinkling eyes. A little later Margaret Stern (later Hawkins) and Ruth Castle (later Land) who also had only just finished their medical studies would come together with a trained British nurse, DorothyCocks (later Headland) They had formed a group of radical Christians at the hospital, and saw their views realized in a common Christian life of Community. They left England with the last large group in April 1941.
The first group did not have a permanent destination and joined the Mennonites in the Paraguayan Chaco. From there brothers went to search for a place where a Bruderhof could be built. Life in the Chaco was very primitive, with the food poor, very few shade trees and a burning sun. Many people, especially the children got sick and Cyril's medical
|knowledge was a gift from God to
all people. Soon the word had spread, that a doctor was there and Indians
and Mennonites were all thankful to receive help in sickness and need.
I remember Cyril telling us how he had to operate on an Indian patient. The Indians said, "The doctor makes them dead first (ether anesthesia) and then alive again and the patient is healed!" I remember how he told my father, what kind of pressure this brought to his work, because not all operations are successful.
The Community did not ask for payments from the patients. The Indians paid with their bows and arrows or head decorations and the Mennonites, by sharing their water and their food.
When our family arrived in the newly founded Bruderhof community in Primavera, south of the Chaco with its much better climate, the first groups had already settled down a bit. Big houses (die Hallen) were in process: just a straw thatch roof on big wooden pillars, one for the women and children and one for the men and bigger boys.
In the beginning there was also a hospital tent where Cyril worked, but it was soon realized, that this was far too hot and congested for anyone to be in. So a little surgery was built at the end of one of the big houses, where we had to go for inspection of our first sand-flies by Dr. Cyril. There was also a special building for the children with trachoma a severe eye disease.
Many babies died during that time and the smaller children had whooping-cough. I believe Rachel Mason was the first one to get better or maybe she had had whooping-cough already while still in England. At any rate, she had to give blood to those very sick children to help them make antibodies in their own blood. It was a hectic and difficult time.
We, the Zumpe children, were under the care of Margot Savoldelli (later Davies) because my mother was isolated with infectious tuberculosis. We loved Margot. She had a guitar and would play for us in the evening, she was "our" Margot and completely took our mother's place. She had cared for us in England also for more than a year and on the long journey to South America. She was the person we loved and trusted.
There came a time when we had very primitive family-compartments. In those big dwellings, people put up blankets, sheets or curtains between the different families, and we too, had our "own" little place. Cyril used to get up early and go for long walks over the campo and through the woods; he loved nature. When he came back, he used to pass "our home," look in on us sitting around a small table (actually it was just a wooden box with our clothes in it). He would smile and hand Margot a bunch of flowers usually in a medicine bottle! I remember (6 years old) that we used to comment on that by saying, "Isn't the doctor nice!" Lini Fischer (behind the curtain and next to us) would sort of wink her eye to Margot, but we did not understand that.
In 1941, Heini fell sick with an acute kidney infection. He had high fevers and the doctors had no medications for him. In those days, there was no penicillin and no other antibiotics, so all you could do was give fluids, aspirin for the pain, and bed rest. Heini was in bad pain, so another treatment was tried: bromides to make him a little sleepy so that he would not feel the pain so much. But Heini started to hallucinate due to the fever and the bromides. The three doctors got together with Moni Barth, Oma Emmy and the Servants, and decided to give him small amounts of morphine. That is all that was available in those days. But Heini got addicted to the morphine. Even though in fact he was recovering from the sickness, he kept asking for it. So Heini was sent to the capital, Asuncion, for further treatment.
I remember well when a small aircraft landed just behind the houses and Heini was taken away. During that time, the people in the community were stressed by the heat, by the poor food, by the dying children, by the newly born babies that needed care and by the many sick people, such as my mother, who lived in complete isolation.
One Sunday morning, end of 1941 or beginning of 1942, Margot told us that something wonderful had happened! She seemed very excited and we were eager to hear what had happened. She dressed us in our best clothes and instead of the tightly braided pigtails, she had made flower garlands for us und combed our hair to let it hang loose. She told us that Papa would tell us the wonderful news. Full of expectation, we followed Margot to the isolation place of our mother and our father said, "Last night, Cyril and Margot got engaged, isn't that wonderful?"
We looked aghast from Margot to my father and asked if she would then leave us. "Of course," Papa said. "Now she belongs to Cyril" at which we the five Zumpe children started to cry, lament and howl that this was not fair because she was "our" Margot.
It was decided to build a hospital in the new Bruderhof, Loma Hoby. Margot and Cyril got married in 1942 . The wedding took three days, one day for the Bruderhof, one day for the Mennonites, and one day for the Paraguayans. We
|did not have enough chairs or benches
to have everyone at the same time. Margot and Cyril went to Lake San Bernardino
for a honeymoon. They returned to Isla until the hospital was finished
and then moved to Loma.
The hospital was the first "real building" and designed in a most practical way so that it was used all the years we stayed in Primavera. It had two wings with three small wards on each side and a little room for a nurse on nightshift. At the far end, an operating room and an anesthesia room. The center part, in between, had a kitchen, laboratory, pharmacy, outpatient department, and three examination rooms. On the second floor there were two dwellings, one for Margot and Cyril and one for Gerrit and Cor Fros. Gerrit worked in the laboratory and Cor was there to help in emergencies.
In 1946 their first son Raphael was born, and in 1948, Jacob. In 1947 my father was in Europe for more than a year, and Margot and Cyril moved in with us again. I have many good memories from that time.
Cyril was a quiet and modest person, with a good sense of humor. He was always ready to learn and add to his knowledge. During the war we did not have a lot of medications and he was interested to find out what the Indians used for the different ailments, and to use this if possible. He was known everywhere in our district.
The only way to see the patients was on horseback and he was a good horseman. He had a white horse, during those first years, and the neighboring people watched for that horse when waiting for help. The hospital worked intensely together with the Servants in Loma Hoby in those days. I remember well, that Cyril would always contact my father or Adolf Braun if difficult or serious cases presented themselves. He would never (except in emergency!) act on his own, but discuss the case with the two lady doctors, Ruth and Margaret, but also take advice from Moni Barth, who had been a nurse at the front during World War I.
Cyril worked night and day. We often wondered when he would get some sleep. He was always willing and ready to mount his horse and travel, sometimes for hours, to a patient in need. At the same time he studied to get all his medical certificates for Paraguay, which was hard work in a different language. Cyril was very respected by the specialists in Asuncion and also asked several times to help out in the hospital the Mennonites had built in Fernheim / Chaco. He was not a person to take credit for his good work, nor did he like praise of any kind. No, he felt that the brotherhood was standing behind him and, through that, much was given from above.
I remember that in serious sicknesses of Bruderhof, Paraguayan or Mennonite patients, the Community was called together for prayer to ask for the guidance of Cyril's hands, and we would all go up to the hospital and sing. Not only Bruderhof patients but all very sick patients. The Servant would also join the staff meeting in the morning, so that they all knew what was expected from them that day. As there were also two female doctors, Cyril would sometimes join us when the school children went on a hike. I especially remember a trip to Santani in 1944, when we all went for a week, sleep around an open fire or in a desolate sheep's-fold and were invested with fleas! He would also have us for Kinder-Abendbroot children's-supper once a week if he could.
In school he would give us lessons in anatomy! So he was not only the hospital doctor, but, as a person, respected and liked by everyone!
After World War II many gifts were given for the hospital and, little by little, the hospital had a special place within the Community. It was not only there for our own people, but patients came from far and near for help and advice in sickness and need.
Cyril was loved and respected as a person, as a doctor, as a good listener and always modest about his knowledge. More nurses were being trained, two midwives took over part of the work in the new maternity home, a physiotherapist from England came, and doctors from various countries worked at the hospital to get experience in tropical diseases. Margot Davies was asked to be full-time at the hospital to coordinate and supervise the different staff activities. The Community was happy with the hospital, feeling that at least we were able to help those people who could never afford treatment otherwise.
In the late '50s, after the Woodcrest Bruderhof was founded, a young doctor, Milton Zimmerman came to Primavera to do his alternative military service at our hospital. He had different ideas about a Christian Community and felt that "hospital work" was not our first duty. Social work should be left for others, while a Christian Community should strive only to build God's Kingdom on earth. He went back to the States after a year.
In 1959 it was decided in the Communities in the States that three Communities in Paraguay were too much. It would be better to sell the Community nearest to the Mennonite Colony, Friesland, to the Mennonites, and build a new, modern
|hospital in Isla Margarita. A lot
of Werbung (begging) was done with great success to get a large
sum of money together for this new project. Meanwhile the hospital work
was well organized and had finally reached a very successful status in
which many community members found joy and fulfillment. Cyril had all the
Paraguayan certificates needed to run the hospital and was a fulltime surgeon
next to all the other activities at hand.
Early 1960, brothers, together with Heini Arnold, invaded and excluded the Bruderhöfe in Germany and England and plans were made to "give up" the hospital in Primavera, as social work was not our first task.
Although many members did not agree with this, they were too worn out by heat and the tropical life of now twenty years, to protest against the word that had came from Woodcrest. In 1961 the hospital was torn down. Brothers from Woodcrest came down to Primavera and excluded the whole brotherhood and only those that were able to declare that they loved Jesus more than husband, wife or children were allowed to join the "new" brotherhood.
Cyril was asked (like most members) whether he had not taken too much pride in the hospital and in his work. He was excluded in Isla Margarita and was asked to shave off his beard so that the Paraguayans would not recognize him. Wagonloads of stones arrived in Isla from the torn-down hospital and Cyril was asked to clean the stones as an act of humility so that they could be sold to the Mennonites. In 1992 when I was in Paraguay, I heard from those local people how they grieved for their doctor, standing in the sun and cleaning the stones from "his own" hospital, that had been built with sweat, blood and tears.
At the end of 1961, Margot and Cyril with their two boys, Raphael and Jacob, were sent to Bulstrode, England. When they arrived, they were told that it was better for them to leave, which they could not understand. They had not realized that they were excluded. They went to Cyril's family in Wales first hoping to go back to the Bruderhof they had given their lives to.
Slowly it became clear, that the Davies family was no longer wanted on the Bruderhof, and Cyril started looking for a job. As he did not have the British surgical registration, he went to Ireland to study and get his surgical papers, Due to his long experience he managed quite easily and came back to England to work as a "Surgical Registrar" on relief service, which was not easy. He had to relieve surgeons in sickness or holidays, which meant working all over England and Wales.
Cyril did not much like the constricted hospital constitution, but needed to earn money to let his sons study. He did not have a car and would drive to the hospitals by train or scooter. No, he could no longer find his roots in modern competitive society.
Woodcrest looked back on "the dark years in the desert of Paraguay." Milton Zimmerman made public the hospital files from Cyril Davies about Heini's sickness in 1941. These letters were sent to ex-members all over the world suggesting that Cyril had deliberately mistreated Heini. This was hurtful, to say the least.
In 1973, he was asked to fill a job for some Catholic father in the mountains of Peru. He loved it, but it was very isolated and, for Margot, not always easy. Kilian and Lorna visited them there and thought the place was just lovely high up in the Andes.
After a year or two, Dr. Dollinger from the Mennonite hospital in Fernheim, Chaco, asked him to come and take his place for a year. Again, Cyril felt "This is where I belong amongst the people that really need me." But they had two sons in England, and also Margot wanted a place to feel at home, so they returned to England in 1975.
Cyril held various jobs, filling in for surgeons, but looking for something permanent. This was not possible in England, as younger "Surgical Registrars" just had better chances. He no longer fitted the pattern of the hierarchy in European hospitals.
In 1978, Michel Gneiting in Carmen, Paraguay, offered him a job at the local hospital. Both Cyril and Margot loved it and were happy there. Constantin Mercoucheff worked there too as a dentist and I think those years were good and pretty happy.
The time came when they looked for a place to settle down and build a house with the pension money amongst friends they had known for many years. Hans Jürg and Lucrecia, Guillermo and Joan, Constantin and Florinda, Erwin and Johanna were moving to Minguazu, near Ciudad del Este, where the land was cheap. It is in the corner of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. So Cyril and Margot decided to settle down there as well.
This is where they have lived ever since. The home was lovely, and also Jacob and Ute moved near to them and had two lovely children, Genesis and Michael, which gave both Cyril and Margot much joy. Cyril had been sick for a long time and was ready to go when he did, but it is so sad for those that have to stay behind.
|In closing, I would like to say
that what the Bruderhof has done to Cyril is absolutely unforgivable. The
deep pain they inflicted on this special person is so evil that there are
no words for it.
Cyril had a forgiving heart but the pain never left him. He visited the Bruderhof several times, once in an attempt to get Constantin and Anne Mercoucheff together again, but Woodcrest was unwilling. Heini did not want to hear about this.
Then Cyril and Margot brought Marei Braun, dying of cancer, to the Darvell Bruderhof in the late '80s and were received as friends but no excuse, no word about what had been done to their lives in the past, in which a colleague (Milton Zimmerman) played such a foul, unloving and unchristian game. Cyril was never visited in an aim to set the past right again.
Many of us shall remember Cyril as a special, quiet, and loving man with great knowledge, loving heart and a listening ear, which is so important in life! We shall miss Cyril he was a true friend, brother and doctor to all of us!
Hilarion & Susie Braun, 1/29/01: Cyril was a man of compassion, dedication and passion. He had a presence hard to describe. When I was a child he seemed bigger than life to me. He called me "Sunshine," and whenever I was in Loma I would visit the hospital, mainly to see him and Maureen.
One April first, Maureen colored her skin brown, dressed like a Native, and presented herself as a patient. Cyril asked her all of the usual questions, not having a clue that it was Maureen. In the end, they both laughed like two naughty children.
One memorable event happened on a Sunday. I had worked on an electric grinder without goggles, and a piece of metal had burned itself into the cornea of my right eye. A sharp edge stuck out, cutting into my eyelid. After my attempts at removing the metal had failed, I ran to the hospital in agony. Cyril very gently removed the piece, and agreed to tell my mother to lessen her anger at my foolishness. To give him time, I went for a long walk with a patch over my eye. When I got home, my mother tersely commented how Cyril had found every excuse in the book on how this can happen to anyone, and that goggles are often so scratched up that one can hardly see.
Another event took me to Cyril after I had welded without UV protection. I had a bad sunburn on my corneas. Again, he gave me no lecture about my stupidity but wanted to know whether I understood the physics of what had happened. He showed me a picture of a cross section of a human eye, and indicated where the "sun burn" blisters had formed. He winked at me, and told my parents that the pain had taught me a lasting lesson. I was allowed to stay home for two days, and had to medicate my eyes.
Another time I had been squeezing uras out of our dog Kyon, when one of them burst. The fluid flew into one of my eyes, and burned terribly. A blister had formed on the cornea, and screwed up my vision in that eye. Again, Cyril gave me some ointment, and assured me that the blister would go away, and explained that uras contain HCl, which had caused the blister to form.
Another time I broke and dislocated my left arm. When my wagon arrived at the hospital, Cyril was there, and cared for me. Late at night he would visit me, and this had a very calming effect on me. He always brought up science issues, and my interest in electronics.
While I lived in Loma, I was given engine duty for the hospital. This meant that I had to maintain the emergency power generator and start it at night whenever the hospital needed power. The night watch would wake me, and Cyril would handle the shut down, as soon as power was no longer needed. Through this task I got to see Cyril often and got to know him well.
Our friendship was renewed in 1980 when Pally, my wife, developed bone cancer. After her death, I visited Paraguay for Christmas 1981 and, still raw from Pally's death, I experienced unforgettable hours with Margot and Cyril.
One afternoon, he took Cassie, my daughter, who was about 5 years old, and me on his small motorbike to the Parana river. He dived into the turbulent waters, and made it to a small island. He had to be brought back by boat. There was a small rancho nearby and we decided to have a few cold beers. The folks there had no electricity. Their refrigerator ran on kerosene. As it got dark, a kerosene lamp was lit for us, and Cyril and I talked 'til late while Cassie was fast asleep on a cow hide on the floor.
|Finally we had our last beer for
the night, and headed home. Cassie stayed asleep between us, making balancing
awkward, but we puttered through a beautiful Paraguayan landscape, with
the Palm leaves glittering in the moon light. I was thrilled that Cyril
and I had not missed a beat during years of separation, and I knew then
I would some day be happy again. Holding Cassie, and listening to Cyril,
made the pain of Pally's death tolerable.
The effect of the wonderful Paraguayan beer made it a little difficult to find the break in the fence, which we had to find to get to the public road. Then we discussed how we would handle the reproach of my mother and Margot for our nocturnal mischief. After all, it was way after the hour we had promised for our return. We decided that I would handle my mom, and he would handle Margot.
When we arrived, both women took Cassie away from me and put her to bed, and told us we would meet in the kitchen for a "talk!" ,Well, you see it was the day before Christmas Eve, and I tried to appeal on that ground. My mother quickly nixed that approach, since as she put it, I was a heathen. She also observed grimly that she had smelled beer on Cassie's breath, and gave me a look which would have terrorized me thirty years earlier. Then it was Cyril's turn, and it was obvious that both Margot and my mom were ready to forgive us for our naughty behavior.
Cyril is gone now, and his spirit, decency and love will stay forever. If we are lucky, we'll meet his beautiful spirit, if not directly, then through the love of others whose lives he touched and changed.
I left out mention of Cyril's brief complicity with the 1960 crisis mongers for several reasons. Cyril was one of the very few who cleared up every little detail of his very brief complicity. Later, the viscious, poisonous diatribe against Cyril that Milton Zimmerman wrote in one of those Heini worship, revisionist publications, showed how the SOB had turned against Cyril. It spoke volumes of how Cyril must have stood up to these thugs in the end.
Margot and Cyril took my dying mother to England from Paraguay, where she died in Darvell. It was in Darvell that Susie met Margot and Cyril. That meeting impressed her very much. Thank you, Margot. All over the world people are thinking of you and your loss. Susie and I wish you the best, and send you our love.
Wolfgang Loewenthal, 2/16/01: The recent death of Cyril Davies brought back many memories. Cyril was an English doctor who joined the community at the Cotswold Bruderhof straight out of medical school. He then emigrated with us to Paraguay. His presence, as well as that of two other English doctors, Ruth Castle and Margaret Stern, was invaluable to us in the extremely primitive conditions in the subtropical jungle in Paraguay.
Cyril was a humble man, and very patient. He was beloved by all of us, and also by many Paraguayan patients who sought his help. In our first year in Primavera (1941) we had not yet built a hospital. Some sick Paraguayans came from far away to seek medical help, and some wealthy estancias sent employees with horses to take Cyril to a sick family member.
At this time, Cyril spoke no Spanish. I had learned a bit on the ship coming from England from a Spanish couple who were fleeing the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. So, although my Spanish was quite limited, I was sometimes asked to accompany Cyril as translator. On one such occasion, a man arrived with two extra horses to take us to a distant estancia where the owner's wife suffered from painful boils. We left around sunset and rode all through the night a typical Paraguayan landscape until we arrived at a stretch of water, knee-deep for the horses. We sloshed for about half-an-hour through this swamp. Suddenly the water ended and we entered a formal park with trimmed hedges and flower beds. The path was covered with white gravel. The contrast was breathtaking! Then we came to the estancia, a building with pillars of white marble (imported from Italy). The sight was almost unbelievable after all the wilderness we had passed through.
The owner greeted us courteously and insisted that we freshened up and have breakfast before seeing the patient. He led us to a modern washroom, also done in white marble. After cleaning up, we were shown to the dining room where we were served an enormous omelette made from one ostrich egg, laced with rum. There also was strong coffee with fresh milk and freshly baked rolls. It was delicious! Only then were we taken to see the patient, and Cyril was able to help her.
The owner was a wealthy estanciero who had his own airplane to fly to Asunción, the capital. No roads led to his estancia. Once a year he drove a herd of cattle to the meat factory near Asunción.
The next year (1942) Cyril married Margot Savoldelli. This was the first wedding in primavera. By that time I was a student in Asunción to become a teacher in our school in Primavera.
|On their honeymoon, Cyril and Margot
came to Asunción and invited me to spend one day with them in San
Bernardino, a picturesque resort on the shore of Lake Ypacaraí.
We rented a rowboat and had a lovely day together. I still have photos
of that day.
Joy (Jones) Loewenthal, 2/16/01: The first time I saw Cyril was at the Cotswold Bruderhof, either at the end of 1940 or early in 1941. He came out of the front door of the original farmhouse to join a group of young people sitting and listening to Johnny Robinson tell his life story. (Of course most of these young people are now grandparents, great-grandparents.) Someone leaned over to tell me, "That's Cyril Davies. He just graduated as a doctor."
Years later, I got to know Cyril better when we lived in Isla. He or one of the others doctors would come on a weekly visit. I would have a list of people for him to see. He was always patient and courteous. On one of his visits. A Paraguayan worker in the sawmill was injured and was brought to the 'surgery.' I fully expected Cyril to deal with the injury, but Cyril said, "No you deal with it. You know what to do." I certainly appreciated his confidence in me.
Cyril usually rode his horse "Rose" when he travelled between the höfe. The young boys, my son Ken included, would vie with one another to see who would be the lucky one to tie up the horse and give her water.
I have been told that when Cyril had to perform surgery -- he was not trained to be a surgeon -- he would take his books into the woods near Loma hospital. There he spent all available time reading up on the forthcoming procedure.
Poor Cyril! He shouldered an enormous amount of responsibility, for which many of us "old-timers" are very grateful. His suffering has ended, and we have had to say "Farewell" to our friend of so many years. Our thoughts and love are with Margot, his life companion of many years.
Susanna Alves Levy, 1/29/01: My brother David Fischli passed away this morning at 7:00 am. He fell asleep and never woke again. He had the joy of having his twenty-three year old son Miguel from Paraguay with him during the last four weeks. Miguel was given accommodation at the hospital where David was, and made very welcome by the hospital and medical staff. He joined in the everyday care of his father. He was wonderful! It was a most precious gift to his father.
Would you pass on this message to the KIT folk? There will be many who will remember David.
David Fischli - 29th August, 1943 to 29th January, 2001, by Hans Fischli, 6 February 2001, Oberrieden, Feld Cemetery. (translation by Susanna Alves)
Dear relatives, friends, and colleagues of David:
I thank you that you came to say goodbye to David. I would like to tell you a little about David, as I knew him.
David, the fifth of nine children, was my older brother. He was born on 29 August, 1943, in Paraguay, in the Bruderhof's Colonia Primavera.
This community left a very forceful impression on all of us and also shaped David very strongly. Many occurrences in his life are impossible to understand without knowing about this background. The Bruderhof was a community that tried to live a Christian life of sharing in which community of goods, the renunciation of private property and freedom from violence, were values placed in central position.
The Bruderhof began in the thirties in Germany and like a magnet attracted many largely different people. Among them were also our parents, who met and married there. A few years later, under the German National Socialist regime, the Bruderhof was forcibly closed and then started afresh in England. As there were so many Germans among them, whom the English government wanted to intern after the outbreak of war, they left England in 1941. The only country ready to take them in was Paraguay, a landlocked state in South America, situated between Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia.
On a large area of land roughly the size of 8,000 hectares the Bruderhof had three settlements with about 1000 people at the last count. We first lived in the one called Loma Hoby, then later in a second one, Ibaté.
Paraguay was then a wild country. The virgin forest came right to the settlement's doorstep. There, monkeys and parrots frisked about noisily. But roughly half the property consisted of prairie, called pampa, where rhea, armadillos, anteaters, snakes but also puma and, in earlier years, even jaguars lived. Everywhere you could see larger and smaller termite hills
|and sometimes a burrowing owl sat
on top, having made its quarters at the entrance to an armadillo's underground
passage. There you also found the extremely shy mane-wolf of which
I once had only a fleeting glimpse.
By night and to the full moon, the urutas [nightjars] cried, a bird active by night, hiding during daylight hours on a shady perch in a large tree, pressed close against its branch.
The variety of trees in these virgin forests was extraordinary. Among them were those that could not be felled with an axe because their wood was so hard. That one was called Quebracho. 'Quebra hacha' means 'axe breaker'. The wood of the Quebracho was also heavier than water and sank when put in water. The Omb, another tree, was just the opposite; it had wood like a wet pile of newspapers. One could cut into it with a knife as if into margarine.
In winter, in the southern hemisphere from June to September, it rains quite a bit, and then the trees in the forest blossom, including the forest giants such as Lapacho, Timbú and Yvyrapití. Those experiences were unforgettable for all of us. In this wild and beautiful country David grew up and enjoyed it like the rest of us. In summer, the heat was unbearable, and it was best then to slip away to the reservoir, the represa, to take a cooling swim.
In our home and in school we spoke German; later also English and Spanish. Only years later in Switzerland did we learn Zürideutsch [Swiss-German dialect], but which with David one could never fail to notice.
Of the years in Paraguay I do not have many memories about David apart from the one that in our family he was the most gifted in drawing and painting. Sadly, he lost this gift later, and I suspect that this too was connected with the Bruderhof upbringing, which was extremely rigid and narrow-minded regarding sexual and intellectual matters.
David passed through school in Paraguay and, if I remember rightly, always had high marks. In 1959 part of our family was transferred to Montevideo, Uruguay. There David visited secondary school together with his older brother Benjamin. A year-and a-half later, a crisis and power struggle broke out in the Bruderhof that led to an exodus of about 600 people, most of them removed compulsorily. This is one of the saddest and darkest chapters in the history of this community, and to date there have been no answers, with matters still to be cleared up.
In this context we were dislodged and sent to Germany. David started an apprenticeship as precision toolmaker in Würzburg, at the renowned Max-Planck-Institute, which he concluded successfully within four years.
At the time he was undyingly in love with a girl. She lived in England, in a Bruderhof settlement. He went there twice to see her. Still, the Bruderhof people noticed quickly that he was not exclusively interested in life in community, so they sent him away, denying him the possibility of a talk. Two weeks later, he tried again, but this time he was detained at the English border and asked where he was going. When he declared his destination, they made inquiries by telephone and he was told that his presence there was undesirable. He was denied entry and was forcibly returned. This rejection wounded him deeply and plunged him into a serious crisis from which he would not recover during the rest of his life. It changed his life and many of his values. He withdrew.
Back with the parents in Switzerland he recovered from the shock.
After his apprenticeship David came to live in Switzerland and at Swissair did a finishing course as aircraft technician, working there in aircraft maintenance. With his job at Swissair he could fly cheaply and so he once flew to Paraguay, where he met his wife, Ortencia, and married.
When my parents visited David in Paraguay, my father discovered that Ortencia's father had once worked for him in the sawmills of the community and so already some kind of family tie existed.
David gave up his secure life in Switzerland and settled in Paraguay. On his small hacienda he grew cotton, manioc and fruit, and held a small herd of cattle, but it was very difficult to manage financially.
With his wife Ortencia, David has three children, Florentina, Miguel and Elsa Maria.
Miguel managed to come to Switzerland, arriving on 31 December 2000, and since then cared intensively for David and could stay with him around the clock. For this, and also for the very kind nursing care David was given, I would like to express here our thanks to the Triemli Hospital, to the responsible doctors and nurses!
When David realised that his small agricultural holding would never
render sufficient income for an adequate living, he decided to go and once
more work in Switzerland. Wife and children did not want to move to cold
Switzerland; anyway, the children were already going to school. So what
had been planned as temporary circumstances became permanent.
David was always interested in technical science subject matters. I often had discussions with him about themes such as astronomy and cosmology, as well as many other topics, among them botany and genetics. What he also talked a lot about were computer simulations, where via diagrams he created load capacity graphs of buildings and geological layers.
Only recently I meant to ask him if he had ever thought of publishing his findings in a scientific periodical, but sadly this cannot come true anymore.
David was always good for a surprise whenever the subject was present-day scientific concepts. I loved this trait of his and could spend hours arguing with him over details. In addition, he also enjoyed experimenting, measuring, and building prototypes, among these a light-organ that changed the frequencies of sound into the most varied light colours. He let the electrons show their trajectory on his oscillator with a green monitor. Devilish stuff, I thought.
He also had an early passion for motorcycles that led him to do a number of modifications in their electrical installation. David impressed me hugely when he and his brother Benjamin turned up in their holidays on two motorcycles and rode them to Bisistal. I must have one of those too, I told myself.
Around twelve years ago, David worked with the company Excom on the design of electronic components, when he made a discovery that was to have far-reaching consequences. With additional components and a change of the switching diagram, he managed to eliminate a functional error in mobile telephone devices and similar products, which brought in hundreds of thousands of additional Swiss francs for the company. Their technicians had been sweating over this problem for a period of time, and his idea brought the crucial breakthrough.
He then told me he had been deeply disappointed when the company did not acknowledge this achievement. Even worse, the department manager had claimed the invention as his own and gained promotion. He, as creator of it, was left empty-handed. This disappointed him immeasurably. It was the reason that he decided to leave. He then applied for a job with Swisscom, went through a very demanding further training, sat another exam, and since then had been working there.
David always did his utmost to do a good job, also doing overtime which, at the end of a year, he converted into six-week holidays in Paraguay. I asked him only recently what it was that he liked most doing in Paraguay. To this he replied: "Sitting in the patio under the mango tree, drinking tereré." (Tereré is a tea made of the mate leaf which, cold or hot, is sucked through a bombilla a small metal tube with a tiny sieve from a small calabash).
This kind of contemplative occupation will now sadly be denied him. I remember how he said that he would make up for this year-end, as he had to stay behind because of his illness. But so quickly, much too quickly, the point in time arrived when it became clear that he would never travel to Paraguay again.
Just as his thinking was often totally concentrated on his family in that faraway land, wondering if his children were successful in school and everything ran smoothly, so too was he connected with Switzerland and Oberrieden more than a first impression might reveal. So it was his express wish to be buried here in Oberrieden, not on his own but in the community grave, to find his peace in this tranquil place. I thank you.
David Fischli: 29 August 1943 to 29 January 2001
by Elsa Wild-Fischli - 6 February 2001
(translation Susanna Alves)
I too would like to say something to illustrate the personality of my brother David.
Paraguay is inseparably tied up with David. Paraguay was his focus. It was his beginning, his journey, and his destination.
He was born in Paraguay and there he grew up, surrounded by nature's then still untouched native tropical wilderness ? pictures and recollections that remain hauntingly engraved in everyone's memories ? it was this Paraguay that never let go of David.
He had the astonishing gift of winning the trust of wild animals within the shortest of time. He tamed them, they came and ate out of his hand, toddled, trotted and flew after him: armadillos, little owls, parakeets, a fox I believe was among them too. And of course the horses!
|And he could draw and portray those
animals as true as nature had made them. Incredible! There are some among
us who did not know this, how delightfully well he drew. For example horses.
Fantastic. A dozing animal, its head slightly droopy, relaxed, hind quarter
hanging loosely, lightly supported by the tip of its resting hoof.
Mensch, did I admire him! I too as his little sister wanted to get it on paper just like he could. He never ? contrary to us other siblings ? drew those romantic pictures. Remember? Two rounded hills, in between them a setting sun, left and right on the hilltops some palm trees, on the edge of the hill dark forest silhouettes and in the sky a few birds ? like '3s', but lying face down by 90 degrees...
Everything he accomplished in his journey through life was very, very difficult. He suffered a number of aggravating experiences and came away from them deeply scarred. Yet he always stood up for the downtrodden, openly defending colleagues and friends against unfairness, standing up for them without giving any thought to the consequences he himself might suffer by those actions.
He marries in Paraguay, founds a family, has two daughters and one son. Today they are adults; the oldest daughter Florentina has a small daughter of her own and the second oldest, Miguel, a little son, six months old. David a grandfather twice over! That is something else I could never really imagine... Wonderful, don't you think?
And for this family of his he worked his guts out, walked his legs off till his feet were sore, going short for the sake of them ? he wanted the best of everything for his children, and to secure their future. This sense of responsibility drove him, propelled him, spurred him on.
Many a time in the early mornings at a quarter to six o'clock I stood downstairs by the front door waiting for the delivery of my newspaper when David came along, fresh faced, happy and wide awake, on his way to catch the train. "Hoi," with a grin, "all the best today, and tschüss." Unbelievable. He never wanted to be late.
And now? Is it now too late? David had only just been offered early retirement ? he didn't even have time anymore, today, to really feel the joy of anticipation. Oh yes, he did enjoy the thought, but suddenly he wouldn't be able to enjoy the benefits, and most likely had to shelve his plans, because everything went in a way none of us expected.
He put up an extraordinary fight to conquer his difficult illness, he was amazingly motivated to slay this inner fiend. To the last.
And then his Paraguay comes to him: his only son, Miguel, comes to him, to his bedside. David cried tears of joy. And his Miguel cared for him all the time, around the clock! Can you imagine? Something so incredible, something so admirable!
I believe that both had immensely important key experiences: David, that his Heimat and 'yearning' came to him; and Miguel ? as painful and excruciating as this period with his father has been ? that he belongs to the living, and may now hold something in his heart that no one will ever take away. His father is in him and will follow him on his journey through life. We all follow our journey through life. I am quite sure that David's latest great voyage has been peaceful, and that he arrived well.
Migg Fischli, 2/13/01: Dear Ramón, in KIT January I read your contribution. Your last sentence... "any help or advice..." made me think. So what I write take it or leave it.
After the loss of David, my mind is concentrating on Life. Despite the wintery coldness, the first snowdrops braved the frost. Under the dead leaves are potential forces of life, waiting to burst out into the open.
Many years ago I lived in a living community and I know life cannot die. Under the ice-cold crust of the present leadership there are so many humble much too humble people supporting each other in communal work.
I know that working even if suffering together means more than a Sunday morning sermon. I thought long ago that a collapse was imminent. Is this a reason why it has not happened yet?
I cannot make a snowdrop grow. It just happens in its own time. It will happen, call the "it" what you like. Can you explain it? The "It?"
"It" kept me alive writing this. "It" took David away. "It" is painful and "it" is wonderful. "It" is life! With loving greetings,
|Mike LeBlanc, firstname.lastname@example.org
2/14/01: Please join me in sending thoughts, prayers, and best wishes to
my mom as she deals with the loss of my dad Lowell.
Dad passed away Monday, February 12th, and was buried yesterday. As expected I was not allowed contact with siblings or mom.
Dad, thank God you are free at last!
I am taking a few days off work, so those wanting to call can reach me at 732.780.7697.
If anyone has special memories of Dad, please feel free to send them. Regards,
Nadine Pleil, 2/14/01: Dear Mike, August and I send you our condolences at the passing of your father. August and I really enjoyed your parents and often spent time with them. Your dad was a rather quiet man, but he and August who was also quiet got on well together and had many a good conversation. Your dad was a good listener and he enjoyed August's stories about Paraguay. Your dad told me once that August had a lot of knowledge, not just about Paraguay, but other things too.
In short we missed your parents when we had to leave. They told us how sad they were to have to see us go. Love and our sympathy,
Margot Wegner Purcell, 2/15/01: Mike and family, I was so sorry to hear that your dad has passed on. Another of my dad's peers is gone. They worked together in the shop in Oak Lake. I only remember your parents from my childhood in Oak Lake.
Your dad had a great smile and a good sense of humor. With each death it brings me closer to the time I hear about my parents'. I would like to think that grieving along with each, I will find it easier when my turn comes.
Melchior J. Fros, 2/15/01: Dear Mike, I don't know what to say to you. I feel your pain. I sense your (others') loss. I anticipate I will be treated in the same callous way when my mother departs.
Perhaps I have subconsciously pushed these types of events far into the inner crevices of my soul because I don't know how to deal with them. That's one reason why Lausbub is therapeutic for me. I will not condone barbaric behavior. I have no respect for those who perpetrate it.
If there is any consolation, know that you are not alone in your grieving. There's strength in numbers. In sorrow,
Joachim Bolck, 1/21/01: Reading November's KIT (rather late on my part), I would like to make a few comments. For your information I used to live In Wheathill from 1953-4, and 1955-6, also Hohenstein in 1955, but I was too young to become fully a member.
My heart goes out to the members of the Mason family, Rachel, Janet, Bridget, David & Jonny. I remember Arnold Mason as a true gentleman. Being invited (for breakfast) to this outstanding family was a highlight at Wheathill, also I had much contact with Arnold while I was working at the office for a while. I consider Arnold Mason, as well as Guy Johnson, Bram Burger, and my old teacher Derek Wardle pillars of what the Bruderhof was supposed to be all about.
Phil Hazleton, 1/25/01: I am home after having aortic valve replaced. I was attacked by oral bacteria released into the blood through dental work. I have some 4-6 weeks of continuous intravenous antibiotic treatment to do, a great tax on Aline who was meant to be in Brazil by now to assume her work there. A real blow to us and our plans.
I will not write about any of the procedures or background; just glad to be away from the hospital and the sense of complete dependency and helplessness.
Also glad to be alive!! Home telephone is 202-265-7445 for any of you who would wish to call. I miss the voice and soul contact. Love...
Kellie Obong, 1/26/01: I thought that I would share the joy and celebration with all of you. Yesterday, Ebong received his swearing in ceremony papers. He will be sworn in as a U.S. citizen on February 5th. We are all very excited and can't wait for this to take place. I will keep you all up to date on the event. I will make sure that I take lots of photos for Charlie to put in KIT.
|Arthur A. Lord, 2/5/01:
I have just read the January 2001 issue of the newsletter (Migg Fischli's
story is fascinating perhaps more understandable to a North European than
to a North American?)
The principal reason for writing withot delay is to correct a mistake concerning Sam and Daisu Withers. They did not join the Community in Paraguay; they were already Brotherhood members in Wheathill, England, when we moved there in April, 1945. Daisy was the sister caring for my wife Mildred when Stepehen was born early in 1946, and she was the concerned nurse who urgently sent for the doctor in mid-1947 when Stephen was diagnosed with meningitis, with which he was hospitalized for three months prior to his death.
Sam worked on the farm, and I had the pleasure of accompanying him on the visits to neighbouring farms with the threshing-box. The threshing-box was towed to the various sites by an old Fordson tractor, which then served as the power unit for the main box. The power was taken by a long belt from the tractor to the threshing-box. When a nearby farmer to Wheathill got a combine harvester, there was little need for our box. It had also been felt that the visits during the winter and spring to so many farms kept the two men too much away from the Community. It probably did! Yours as ever,
Rosie Johnson Sumner, 2/21/01: I visited Coventry Cathedral for the first time in years and was so moved. This symbol of reconciliation stands witness to people's determination to forgive and work together.
I think, though I stand to be corrected, that it was the local people near the Cotswolds who became suspicious that the Bruderhof was working with the Germans and conceivably directing the bombers in to Coventry that prompted the exodus to Paraguay. Of course our folk had nothing to do with that, given their convictions, but I believe I heard that the bombers did come over, so one can understand the concern.
Well, I felt close to my dad, who died 22 years ago this month, and was a West Midlands boy (Coventry is in England's West Midlands) and to my Mum. I don't usually but I remembered Ben reporting lighting candles in Europe for Pete Holland, so I lit a candle for Pete and my parents, with a little focussed thought (prayer?) going out to them in this lovely setting.
The old cathedral that burned down as a result of incendiary bombs was left, with two blackened timbers forming a rustic cross, roofless and largely windowless and, at an angle so that the past is silhouetted through the end opposite the altar, the new cathedral was built. Clean, modern lines, brilliant windows, cascading multi-coloured light. Really powerful. A symbol of peace.
Anyone who comes to the 2002 KIT (more before long) in Europe would find it worth a detour, to visit. I don't usually wax lyrical about cathedrals and churches, by the way!
Ruth Baer Lambach, 1/31/01: Happy Valentine's. Memories of a love cocoon from Ruth Lambach
My high school classmate, Joy McDonald, submitted a great shot of her first grandchild to the January issue, I, hereby submit a photo of my seven- month-old granddaughter, living in a cocoon of love in Zurich, Switzerland. Here's Emma Louise pulling herself up in her crib and taking a look at the world. What she sees is good!
There's great stuff out in the world after the Bruderhof. There's life out here. People make love, make babies, take care of them, educate them and they grow up to make love and pass it along. The Bruderhof does not have a corner on love. No country, no culture and no religion does. Love is larger than anything ever invented or conceived by mankind. Love is what sustains life. It is what connects us to our fellow human beings. Emma Louise Steinke, my first grandchild, arrived as a blob of protoplasm, full of potential. Her parents and their surrounding network of relationships have brought forth everything she is today and has the potential to become in the future. She's hiked around mountains and hills in Switzerland and even been inside a glacier in the Alps. What she sees from her vantage point is good.
Here's to the February issue of KIT and to my way of celebrating Valentine's Day. May love extend beyond and outward to all we meet, every day. I interact daily with people who come to this country as refugees leaving behind families, broken dreams, destroyed cultures, aborted professions and educational goals, roots, connections and sentimental gardens, villages, cities and towns. They come with memories, with few belongings, not even knowing how to speak English. Here, in America, in classes where they learn how to speak English, they begin reinventing their lives, making connections and building their homes. It is hard work. Each of them carry memories of a past. Some of these memories are beautiful and lots of them are difficult and even unspeakably painful. They leave all of it behind because it is in the past and they live now. Their present needs are intensely occupying and demanding.
|Emma Louise Steinke
carries inside her cells, memories of her time in the womb, where she was
safely ensconced and had every need instantaneously gratified. None of
it matters now. What matters now is that she stretch, kick, scream, yell,
push, pull, turn over, twist, demand and demand and demand that life provide
her with what she needs to progress in this next stage of her life. She
has been working diligently, intensely and daily at making her body work.
She has been listening and watching intently because everything is new
and she has to learn it all. Eventually, when her life is less ideal, when
things go wrong and she has no one to turn to, she too may consider joining
something like a Bruderhof or going on drugs or taking up meditation, to
keep herself perpetually in the state she enjoyed inside the womb and even
afterwards when her every wish and need dominated the attention of those
around her. She will have strong memories of being inside a cocoon of love.
Those of us who've been kicked out of the "Garden of Eden," "The Womb" or what is otherwise known as "Utopia" created in the Bruderhof and other such idealistic, communal enterprises, share the common human experience of a baby expelled from the womb. May we all keep ourselves intensely alive so that we can live and love in the lumpiness of the here and now. And may we be more or less successful at creating for ourselves a 'womb with a view.' And, most importantly, may we not overstay our time in the womb, for it may then become our tomb. Happy Valentine's Day!
Sam Arnold, 2/8/01: This morning was beautiful outside and not very cold, so Karen and I decided to go for a ski with Molly, our Irish Setter/Australian Retriever. Molly is now three years old and has grown into a wonderful and entertaining pet. She is always obedient for me now, and usually also for Karen.
We decided to ski on a freshly groomed snowmobile trail after the big snow storm of a couple of days ago so Molly could run. She enjoyed the wide- packed trail, because when we take her snow shoeing where there is no trail she has to bound through the snow, which is now knee-deep on me.
The weather was exhilarating, and the skiing was great too. As we were returning to the car I could faintly hear music, brought to us on a light breeze. Instinctively, I had to determine what the music was and where it was coming from. I could only hear the music very briefly, as it faded away when the breeze changed directions, but I was able to recognize the music as Mars, from The Planets, by Holst, and it was coming from the elementary school about one kilometre away. (The school has loud speakers outside)
I was thrilled to hear that music, because just three weeks ago that school had hired me to teach an advanced recorder group, and at the same time started a school wide classical music listening program, which I had been advocating since 1993. The way the listening program works is that during each week a new selection is played over the school PA, and the teachers are given information to read to the students about the music. The entire selection is played each of the five days and at the same time, so that the students will get to know the piece quite well. No one is allowed to talk or make any noise while the music is playing, including the staff. Mars lasts over seven minutes, so that is a longer work. Last week
|the selection was Invention
number XIV by Bach, which is very short, and the week before that it was
Mozart's overture to the Marriage of Figaro.
Two weeks ago I decided to test my recorder group by playing the opening bars of the Mozart overture on my recorder, after they had heard it just three times, and then asking them if they recognized the music. The first guesses were incorrect, but when I played it again, one girl correctly identified the piece and the composer. I was quite impressed, because the music sounds very differently played by an amateur on a recorder, than by a professional orchestra. Pretty neat, don't you think?
Hilarion Braun, 2/8/01: Hi Everyone! For the past 26 years I've been wondering whether anyone had done work in the field of my graduate studies, and whether my findings and explanations are nonsense. Finally I found a citation of work published in 1999 with exactly the same findings twenty-four years later! The citation, appearing in Physics Today January, 2001, goes like this: "...the long-anticipated kink in the E(k) curve close to the Fermi level, due to the electron-phonon interaction, has now been observed.^7" The footnote identifies the group that published its findings in 1999.
My advisor and I had submitted a manuscript in 1975, but the stylistic demands of the referee so infuriated my advisor, he withdrew it. He was a stubborn stylist himself of heroic dimensions while suffering from brain cancer. A few hours before his death in 1981 he called me to say goodbye, certain that death was near.
He would have loved the citation and the new excitement about the topic. It's nowhere near as dull as it sounds!! Love,
Rosie Johnson Sumner, 2/24/01: Almost every September, business commitments take me to Atlanta. My bonus for the year, because my eldest brother Tim Johnson and his wife Carol and a once manic but always and still exceedingly cute Chowki live there.
The fraternal chauffeur meets me with a hug and I dine right royally. The taxi service to and from either the conference complex or the Marta is well appreciated but I don't see that much of my hosts until the show's over. Then Tim and I try to take time out together. This time we drove upstate to visit Kathy Brookshire at her 'new' home, which last visit had been but a shell with promise, set in quiet woodland. Yummie lunch preceded our visit to nearby Tullulah Falls, which is, I think I understood, the deepest gorge of the East. Not quite Grand Canyon spectacular, but certainly lovely and a joy to walk. Mind, it was only when we had walked down the million-and-oneth steps to the bottom that I remembered that both Kathy and Tim were (a) older than I (they don't look it!) and (b) had relatively recently wrestled with heart problems. Whoops! Of course, I am heavier, so lifted twice as much to the top and promised myself to lighten the load for next time which I haven't yet... maybe tomorrow. It was a glorious day, most definitely they are both my kind of companions for walking. Appalachian Trail next time??
|Anyone on for some proper hikes
before or after the next USA KIT? Why isn't the venue in more walkable
countryside when you have so much choice? Seems strange to stick at the
same venue; in Europe we move around and always get new folk as a result,
as well as visiting old haunts. Takes more effort to arrange, but pays
off, I think. Whenever I ask about Friendly Crossways I don't get the impression
it has the facilities Fulda and The Ridgeway have had, for long countryside
rambles. Am I wrong?
Does anyone else want to get up some hiking to explore around former Oak Lake at some other time? Or isn't that feasible? I left aged 10 and have often thought of Bare Mountain, the logging trails etc., Fort Necessity, etc. I'd be up for around fifteen miles a day, depending on gradient and sun/heat levels. Hertfordshire hikes are pretty flat, so it takes a while to work in my hill-walking muscles. Where did the idea blow to visit South America and do some exploring? And, while I'm asking, is anyone involved in scuba diving? I have to take some qualifying open-water dives in the next four months and haven't yet found a 'compatible' gang to join. A KIT divemaster would be of interest... Warm clear water preferred! Breasted 50 and feeling cheerful that retirement (of Kathy's sort) looms ever closer, beckoning me to keep going in hope. Love,
KIT, The next fourteen items come from a discussion about the practice of Auschluss [exclusion] and related topics on the Hummer, one of the electronic bulletin boards for ex-bruderhofers and their friends.
David Ostrom, 2/14/01: A short intro: I am the son of Dave and Louise Ostrom who went to Woodcrest in 1955 with my sisters Virginia and Martha. They were taken into the Brotherhood at Forest River. Martha and I (because of some of Virginia's papers I am now going through she died early 1973) and I believe Virginia, were in some of the very earliest of the "clearings."
To the best of my information, Virginia was accepted into the Brotherhood at Oaklake (New Meadow Run or the Connecticut community). Martha was about eight years old then and she was continually punished for "things" until Dad was ousted in 1960. Martha was about thirteen years old when they left Oak Lake. I was ejected a year earlier, still under the "cloud."
The fact that Martha was still in trouble in 1960 leads me to believe the "Clearing" practice was still in use during the '60s. I had the experience of visits from the Moodys and the Domers circa 1990-1992. I also visited Woodcrest in 1992 and in meetings with Dick Domer, Andreas Meier, Dave Maendel, JCA and others, I was given the impression that the "Clearing" procedure was in use until sometime in the 1980s. There will probably be a lot of debate about my "accuracy," but I post as I know it. The reason I use "Clearing" procedure is that the adult rationale for this abuse was to eliminate evil by punishing the devil.
This may be an oversimplification of a complex phenomenon, but it will suffice. There was a Bloody Holy War being waged by Heini and his American converts. These adults were all young, ambitious, zealous and not too concerned about the way they accomplished their aims. The Bruderhof (pre-Heini) was a true community, not all Christian but with strong Christian tendencies. Heini and crew wanted to whip the community into Christian shape (Heini's version of Christianity). Adults were given the choice: be zealous or be gone! In order to accomplish this, the Torquemada use of abuse to cleanse the impure was instituted by Doug Moody and Dick Domer as leaders of the practice and other "wanna-be" zealous brothers followed suit. Any parent who complained was "not of the right sprit." The principle is still in use today as evidenced by Susie and others. Sincerely,
Hilarion Braun, 2/14/01: The only way I can explain the sexual torment some of us went through is that most of the time we had no idea what was meant, but had been brainwashed into believing that we were rotten to the core. I was about twelve when a crisis happened in Isla (Paraguay), and Georg Barth was put in charge of "clearing things up."
I was suspected of having been entertained by animal eroticism (watching a donkey perform a sexual act). The group that was involved didn't consider me man enough to be part of this group, and so I had no idea of what had been going on. I didn't find out about this until nine years after I had left the SOB, so that was thirteen years after the fact.
I would lie awake often at night crying, wanting nothing more than forgiveness. I knew that I lusted for girls, and was very stricken by one particular one but would not or could not tell. Also, my mom knew about it, and so I thought it couldn't
|really be that sinful. For several
weeks in the evenings, my mother would look at me with anger and sadness
and tell me that Georg was waiting in the Cedar Wood for me to finally
confess. She would tell me that I was indecent (unanstaendig), and
that that was a Schweinerei, in other words 'disgusting, like a
I dreaded every minute of my talks with Georg. It was always the same question: 'What can you tell me about your sins so that you can be clean and decent again?" I tried to confess all of my dirty jokes, but they were so pathetic, that they didn't interest him. Often he looked at me sternly and suggested that I might need a good thrashing to bring me to my senses. I would have given anything to come up with a plausible sin, but there was none.
Finally Georg gave up on me and told me that I needed to clean up my dirty mind, but that I should now be forgiven. A big meeting was held in the School Wood, and a group of boys was expelled. We were told the facts of life in a way that nobody could have understood them. I pitied the boys who were expelled and asked my mother why they couldn't be forgiven. She very harshly told me that I was very lucky that I had been forgiven and that my expulsion had been a very likely possibility.
I knew now with certainty how filthy I was and tried desperately to purify myself. Of course I could not. It was this horrible curse I had, because I did not have the faith I should have had. I thought all others had that faith. In the United States, things were worse, but that story will have to wait for some other time.
This subject revolts me. I raised a sweet daughter, and the thought of invading her privacy is beyond the worst nightmare I can think of. Needless to say, she grew up a free soul who howls with laughter on hearing my tales. I am glad the SOB taught me what never to do to a child. I just wish it had been a class in the theory of evil rather than a lab course.
My wife Susie is twenty-two, and ran away from the SOB nearly eight years ago. She still suffers from anxiety attacks with anything that remotely reminds her of the SOB. One of the things is something she loves the most, namely her cello, but unfortunately it also can give her horrible flashbacks to her life on the SOB.
Margot Wegner Purcell, 2/15/01: Since this topic came up, I thought I would share some of my thoughts and remembrances of these tough times. My memories have, thankfully, been numbed a little.
As a preschooler in Isla, we went through a short clearing, with some kids out of the group for a week or two. I was with my Oma for one week for lifting my dress because a boy wanted to know what girls looked like. (I had no idea there was a difference in our physical structure). I do remember knowing that some of the boys got into trouble when I was in second grade. Yes, Georg B. was one headmaster that we were all terrified of. He ruled the school in Isla with a strict hand. If you were late for circle time, you were punished. I do remember that some kids were given a little more leniency than others.
When our family moved to Forest River in November, 1956, there was a clearing going on. At that time the bruderhof knew that they had to leave Forest River. Our family and the Trumpis were sent to support Hardi Arnold during the rift. Doug Moody and Welton Snavely were the school principals and they were tough, especially Doug. I knew very little English, so did not understand all that was going on (I was in third grade). I did sense the separation between the Hutterites and Bruderhofers. I also knew that a group of little boys had been separated from us. George Maendel was one of these boys.
The first children's crisis in Oak Lake that I remember was when I was in fifth grade (1959-60). As in all crises that I remember, they hit you all of a sudden. I remember coming to the morning school circle and we were told that there was a wrong spirit in the school. We would all need to think about this. From now on, everyone was to sit at their desks and do nothing but think. So all of us went into our classrooms, desks were moved as far apart as possible and we sat and sat and sat. This pertained to all the kids from first through eighth grade.
We were not told what might have gone wrong, so most of us had no clue as to what we were to think about and what was required to get it resolved. I can see us all sitting there still, first in my fifth grade classroom, then as the group became smaller we moved to another room, and finally those who were left were combined in one room. Every morning Doug, Ruby or Welton would come in and ask if any of us had anything to say. Those who had, would raise their hands and be called out one by one. Sometimes they would return to sit some more, or they would not return. So we knew that if we told what they wanted to hear, we could end this torture.
|I came up with one thing that had
bothered me, and one morning raised my hand. I was a painfully shy child
and this was so hard for me to do. I anxiously waited till I was called
out to the office and had to face Doug and told him that I felt some children
pressured others to join the Gemindestunde and that this made me
uncomfortable. I thought the individual should be ready to do so on their
own. To my horror this was not it. I was sent back to sit some more.
I remember this as a very sad and solemn time. I don't recall if the hof was under crisis, but I know that Art and Mary Wiser were sent to help the school with a "new start." I don't remember where we had our meals, but if they were in the dining room, the meals were silent ones. I do recall having the meals brought to the school and that we then had to go home for rest time then back to school. I also do not know how many days this lasted. I think it was at least two weeks. I remained in the final group of kids who had found nothing to say and one day they came in and said it was all over and we would join the others. It was very hard to know what we could do, what we could say, how we should act during this "new start." Nevertheless, life was better and the joy was back and soon things got back to "normal."
When I was in eighth grade, our family had to leave for a time because of my mother's pride (or so we surmised from a letter my sister found and read). We went to live in the Clements' summer house in Ship Bottom. What a joy that was; we had a great summer until it was decided to move us closer to the hof just as school was starting. We were moved to a farm house and attended Turkeyfoot High School separately from the Bruderhof kids who went to Uniontown. Our family moved back to the hof suddenly in the fall. I now know we had to make room for the Le Blanc family.
The next children's crisis occurred when I was in high school eleventh grade. To me, a children's crisis is one that originates in the school and the children are blamed for what has gone wrong or an attitude that is "discovered." An adult crisis is a brotherhood one where entire families move away to another hof or off the hofs. Brotherhood crises occurred often and were just as disruptive but not as personalized (for me).
This crisis again came down with a bang! A joint brotherhood was to be held at Oak Lake what an honor for the hof! All the servants and witness brothers arrived with their wives and all seemed very happy until it all came crashing down on the heads of the high school kids. This was a very bad time for all of us.
The high schoolers were asked to come to the first brotherhood meeting to "clear up some things." Each of us had been called in to the main office (terror on its own) earlier that afternoon and had to talk to all the servants there; they were looking for something. The adults started their meeting and then all of us were called in and there was a chair for each of us no more no less. Then "all hell broke loose." We were shouted at by all. All the "big names" were there. The children involved were ninth through twelfth graders.
When it was all over, we were told to quietly go to our rooms and await further instructions. I think my parents probably told us what was expected of us and that things would change. They sure did. Our family and many others were moved off the hof for some time away or moved to another hof. We had just completed our first semester and were not permitted to go to school to get our things. We were relocated to live in a house in High Falls, NY. This was a depressing time for us all.
Finally we returned to the hof the day before school was to start for my senior year at Kingston. Just as we had settled into life in a new place with new kids, we were sent back to a hof I did not like at all. Just before Christmas bam! another crisis and who was to blame, but the high school kids! They found plenty to blame on me I was made to feel that I had been welcomed back to the hof with so much love and then I had the nerve to bring a bad infuence into the group. This was another hell and time of depression for me. It lasted all too long and I never was recognized as a prospective member during my remaining time with the Bruderhof. This made it easier for me to be placed far away when I graduated.
Children in general have a good life on the hof. It is great to have so many kids to play with and opportunities for activities that most outside kids don't have. But looking back, all those sad times influenced me much more than the good times. The crises were such power plays by the adults in charge over the weaker adults and children. These times were so lonely and sad for me. There was no one to talk to "safely." Not even parents were "on your side."
When I think back to all the adult-made depressions we were put through, I am so thankful that I did not remain and that I survived. My daughter Emily has not had to experience anything like this.
Sometimes these times of crisis involved only one hof, sometimes it seemed to be contagious and move to the next hof, then the next. Reading Ben Zablocki's book The Joyful Community made me realize that this was a pattern of communal
|life. What a good book this was
for my brothers and sisters as well as myself because it verified so much
for each of us and started us talking amongst ourselves.
I hope that what I have written here will be helpful to others who experienced similar times. I hope I have been able to give those of you who were not members a glimpse into the life of one Child Of The Bruderhof.
Nadine Pleil, 2/15/01: The Clearinghouse thing was still going on in NMR. I think it was 1978 or '79 that all the school kids were in trouble. One of our daughters was accused of having asked another girl about where babies come from. Our daughter was in first grade when a second grade girl initiated our daughter into the why's and wherefore's of the birds and the bees. Our daughter had not asked, however she was accused of having been curious.
When all this business came to light our daughter was already in her teens and was ausgeschlossen etc... I wrote about it in my book. All the school children were being accused and interrogated, however the Servants' kids got special treatment and some of those special parents found it very hard to believe that their sweet little kids could have spread such evil stuff, the evil stuff being curiosity of where babies come from. Our kids were all penalized for listening to older kids telling them about the evil stuff.
Endless sessions of questioning took place, until our kids stubornly stayed silent once they realized that they were being forced to admit to things they had never even thought of. It was a very bad time and all staged and timed just before Christmas which is for all kids a very special time.
I think that this kind of thing still goes on. I have heard from some of the young people who left a few years ago that the exact same thing happened to them.
Two of our kids had been going to the Gemeindestunde, however after the Clearinghouse episode they just stopped going and vowed to themselves that they would leave the commune as soon as the possibly could. Even our youngest child aged five at the time said to herself she would never stay one minute longer than she had to.
Not a very pretty picture at all. Greetings,
Ben Cavanna, 2/15/01: Thank you, Margot, for your memories of the clearings. I tried to read what you just wrote from the perspective of someone who did not grow up there.
It seems that you tell a story full of horror and abuse. Yet you say that childhood on the Bruderhof was good. How can that be? I have said the same, yet how can it have been good when all this abusive shit was heaped on us?
While reading your piece I was suddenly transported back to the Evergreen school in about 1967. There was a clearing that I had forgotten about, but it all comes back to me now. I think that I forgot it because I was not caught up in it. In fact I had just got back into school after my four-month or so Auschluss for peeping.
Most of the classes of 5th to 8th grade were involved and I never found out what it was all about, but various people were taken out of school for varying periods of time mostly boys as I remember.
Actually I do recall my parents giving me guidelines about how to keep out of trouble. I remember that one thing that was brought up was that we kids were too vain and looking in mirrors too much and too concerned about our hair, etc. I am sure that some others were hurt by this, but for me it was hilarious as my problem was not looking in the mirror often enough and not taking enough care over my appearance. I remember my mother in a moment of levity saying if only Bendi had the problem of excessive vanity alas he had the opposite problem. Of course this was said in the safety of no servant ears listening.
Thank you, Margot, for telling your story. These are stories of horrible behaviour by adults obsessed with conformity and control.
Margot Wegner Purcell, 2/16/01: Oh, if only we knew then what we know now! We might have all stood up and told them to go fly a kite.
Since these tortures seem to have been done to children at any age, the hof kids were conditioned, in my opinion, to become trodden-on members. This seems to me to be the Bruderhof way of conditioning their future members. Those who cannot be broken are sent away as they become too dangerous to the unity of the brotherhood. Most of the
|membership now are second to fourth
generation members. It is hard to believe they are willing to stay.
I suspect these clearings and the isolation of children probably continue in some form. I remember talking to my mother about the highschool crisis in 1965, and she said, more or less, "Yes we know these were wrong and we are sorry, but we do not do it in this way anymore."
I cannot understand how parents permit this type of treatment of their children. I know that mothers and fathers who spoke up in defense of children were not on the hof for long. My aunt Liesel was one who did. She spoke up against the treatment of children and was put out with her family for many years.
Mel Fros, 2/16/01: Thanks, dear Margot, for your detailed account. I can't remember anything quite like a Children's Clearing. Oh, I had occasional separations from my group, but nothing quite like you and others described. The only thing close to it was an incident in the Loma kindergarten around 1955.
Several kindergarten boys and girls made a hideout in an old termite hill in the back woods. There, we pulled down shorts and skirts and urinated. Of course, anatomical differences were noticed. Suddenly, we were found out by R.A.! We got the daylights strapped out of us in the Loma dining hall fathers present, pants down, bent over and hit with a leather belt on our little white behinds by G.B.).
We commemorated the event thus:
I hit him on his bottom with a rotten piece of cotton
And his tears came rolling out the doorway."
(Sung to the tune of "John Brown's baby has a pimple on his nose"...smile)
But after that life went on, thank goodness!
As I look back at these events and ponder my present role as parent, I realize how counterproductive it is to harshly punish children for natural curiosities. In fact, I believe such hard punishments have negatively impacted the sexual identities of many Bruderhof youths. I know I struggled, but I also gained. One positive outcome for me has been a respect for the female as a person, not as an object of sexual gratification. Another positive outcome has been that our children appear to be growing into their own sexual identities in a manner my wife and I find pleasing. Rather than punish, we help them deal with their hormones and sexual identities. We emphasize our trust and confidence in them. We can even laugh with them occasionally.
Matt Ellison, 2/20/01: My first Auschluss was for pissing off a swing standing up. Unfortunately for me, it was not as easy as it sounds and when I let go, I landed on my head.
Someone must have ratted on me as I ended up in Cleeton Court for three days; at least that's what I remember it as, and I can't remember a thing about it.
What I do remember is the coming home like the Prodigal Son. I was given an apricot, my first in post-war, austere Britain, and jollied along. It was great. I was in pre-school, so this would have been 1951 or '52. Elizabeth and Nadine, you have such clear memories of these times, perhaps you remember what went on. Of course I don't suppose you've landed on your head as often as I have.
What I used to loathe was the bare-arse spanking or slippering. I don't recall getting the stick. It was not the pain, which I took as part of the toughening-up process, but the sleazy indignity of it as if punishing sexuality at its core. What pained me more was that some guy was looking up me. There's a thin line between this form of activity and touchy-feely paedophilia, and on the whole I think it's one and the same thing, only worse.
There is a whole range of paedophilia from the voyeurs to the unspeakable sex murderers. Naming and shaming perpetrators also exposes the victims, and they are not generally keen on that. Not naming leaves other kids vulnerable. In my opinion, the Bruderhof method of cruelly interrogating, punishing and intimidating the victims is certainly a vile and despicable form of mind-paedophilia.
|Rachel Mason Burger, 2/16/01: I was in NMR around '65 or '66 for one year. Miriam Brailey was put in exclusion along with Hazel Bronson for having tea together every day. I remember Andrea M. admonishing children for being friends. I was booted out of the brotherhood for being friends with another sister. After a year of diminishing well-being, I decided to leave. I had noticed that on Sunday morning school trips I felt light and happy as we left the 'hof, but on returning I would feel very tense and fearful. I lost a lot of weight. Every attempt to nurture my spirit, doing art with children who treated me like a lovable person, doing pottery in the basement or art for the dining room, was squashed.|
|Mushie once played me a record
of Pete Seeger, which for some, now unimaginable, reason I then thought
was risqué. I was working very hard at my regular work cleaning
children's departments followed by looking after servants' families while
their parents attended meetings. Then to supper, then back to being the
watch for the children. I especially remember comforting the two youngest
Goodwin boys as they cried for their mother (who had been sent away) while
the tune of "We Would a Fire Kindle" (or whatever) came from the brotherhood
I was a brotherhood member, even if I was in exclusion, therefore I too was responsible. I needed to leave. I think this may have been going on at the same time as your very troubling story, Margot. If I compare your story with our childhood in Wheathill, your oppressive periods were much more frequent. It's so good we both got out! Love,
Miriam Arnold Holmes, 2/16/01: I believe the Children's Clearing Room was an American invention. At least I do not remember any in Primavera, unless there was a Group Sin such as a pissing contest. In Primavera we got tortured individually, pretty much as Margot described except we were alone. Interrogated alone; removed from the school alone; removed from our families alone. Eventually I was removed from the hof alone to live with a childless couple on another hof; worked in the laundry alone, got private tutoring alone!! This went on for months and months, until one was completely demoralized and paranoid. Either method was cruel.
Name Withheld, 3/1/01: I lay awake last night thinking about the situation of the parents when children were taken away and punished, isolated together (physically together not supposed to be talking). The children were all moved in together, I am not sure for how long. My parents told me about this and said they were told that the children were given this opportunity to learn together about the wonderful spirit and joy of living in community. They were told it would be better for the children to live together, away from the families for a while, so that they could really learn about the true spirit of living in community. My parents did not know that we were also not in school.
Think about it very plausible in fact that is probably what was happening. We were being 'helped' to find the right spirit, but not in the way the parents thought.
The reality was we were not allowed to talk. We were interrogated and asked to admit to what we had done wrong. In actual fact, we did do quite a bit of chatting when the adults were not around, but I certainly had no idea what we were supposed to have done, or how we were supposed to get back in the right spirit. Mind you, it probably helped strengthen the bond between us children!!
I never at the time thought to discuss with my parents what had gone on. Firstly, I assumed they knew, but also they were so pleased to see me back that I assumed I had got something right somewhere along the line. I wasn't about to rock the boat by discussing what I wanted to forget. Iam not trying to make excuses for the responsibilities of anyone, but just put another perspective on it.
Joanna Patrick Homann, 2/18/01: I am very interested about what my mother went through in the 1960s after being sent away with all of us kids. She never wanted to burden us with details about what the Bruderhof and my Dad put her through, and so didn't confide in us about these things. I know that she was constantly under tremendous stress to make ends meet and take care of our needs on welfare which gave her weekly migraines.
When she was down with one of those, she had to retreat into her darkened bedroom and was out of commission for several days. We had to tiptoe around because she couldn't stand any noise and I had to constantly take care of her and the rest of the family, doing the cooking, shopping, laundry, etc. I later found some letters that she had kept in which she is begging the Bruderhof for money to repair the house they rented to her. I know that there were major structural problems, like the ground floor was in danger of collapsing into the basement.
I think that she was under the impression that the Bruderhof would let her live in that house free at first and so was willing to relocate to Cheltenham. Then the Bruderhof figured out that welfare would pay money for the rent and so they began charging rent. They later would raise the rent several times and, according to her letters, my mother told them of the struggles she was having with asking the Government to raise her allowance to cover these increases. They were up to there tricks even then, bleeding the government agencies for any money that they could get their hands on.
|They didn't care about the extra
stress this put on my mother and dealing with the bureaucracy of government
agencies on top of all her other struggles and even chided her in reply-letters
about her attitude in being truthful about this situation. Does anyone
have any more information in letter form that I could have? I know that
my mother wrote extensively to many ex-Bruderhofers. I would also appreciate
more details about those two Bruderhof people forcing themselves into her
house to ask for forgiveness. I don't have much more information than that
Eventually, though, through harassments by my oldest brother Bart and the efforts of people like Belinda Manley, they reluctantly bought her another semi-detached house in Cheltenham. I think that Belinda used the information about all the inheritance money that the Bruderhof absorbed from my mother's well-established family in Holland and the fact that they had also promised her to always take care of her and her kids if she remained loyal to the Bruderhof when my dad was sent away. She trusted their promise, but was then sent away penniless after one year at Bulstrode. What wonderful Christian practices!
My mother tried to live by her Christian beliefs. One of them was not to bad-mouth them or my dad, but she saw what they were like and refused to go back when they finally asked her to rejoin. The hell that they put her through is my main gripe with them.
My brothers have much bigger issues that they don't want to deal with. They were taken from my family when my dad was sent away and were placed with Robert and Dorothy Headland. I believe that they were very abused there and constantly punished. My youngest brother Joe was only two years old when he was taken from my mother and Bob was six and Bart was seven or eight.
2/18/01: I do remember a whole school clearing in Isla, (maybe 1958 or 1959?) where the whole school was shut down for crimes unknown to me, but all of us had to spend time working in some department until we could confess to something. I, for the life of me, didn't have a clue as to what they were looking for. I just went along happily pealing vegetables in the kitchen and wondering what I was supposed to do to get back in. I remember that Salome Laackmann went back almost right away, but she had been classified as a "true Community child" by Karl Keiderling.
I think the whole thing started because some of the older kids had done something 'very wrong' and the whole school was now in the wrong spirit. Well, one day I was bored while at home and cleaned our little waschecke (wash corner). My mother must have reported this as a good sign, but I still had to search my soul and confess to a personal failing (being bossy) before I was allowed back into school.
Hilarion Braun, 2/19/01: Thanks Rachel, Mel, Margot, Matt, Ben for all of your contributions about SOB child abuse.
One thing that is actually the terrible part of it all is the idyllic beauty we experienced in Primavera. It was that seductive grandeur of our heritage that made us vulnerable. In another dictatorship sans the beauty, we might have fought back. That beauty was not just the paradise of Primavera, but the whole cultural heritage, the music, the struggle to stay alive, and the honest attempt to live a brotherly life. When I learned to sing about "a little buttercup" in Evergreen, all of the beauty I had known in Primavera was gone.
Regarding Doug and Art, my dad coined the word Seelenknutschen (making out with another soul, or invading someone's space in an almost sexual way). Many post-SOB contacts with people like the Hazeltons, Davies, Sorgius, Lizbeth, E. Hasenberg, and others confirmed for me that my memories of this indescribable beauty is not some maudlin fantasy of mine, but was real.
Any attempt, though, to describe it to others who never knew it is futile. Perhaps Hermann Hesse's claim that true Christianity happened only in Bach's sacred music begins to tell the story of how rich and powerful that heritage is. We were immersed in it while the cicadas and birds and we made music. I suppose, Ben, some beautiful flowers grew in that shit. Love,
Matt Ellison, <email@example.com> 2/20/01: Ok I lied. No Context. No Contest. NFK A boy of about 12, who played the cornet, came to the Bruderhof. His party piece was to attempt to fart the first bar of "God Save The Queen" on the cornet. Apart from being pretty risqué to us younger kids, using the tune had the double-edged irony of being both republican and Bruderhof rebellion. On the odd times we went to the cinema, we were forced to look pillocks by sitting through the anthem.
|What fascinated me about his trick,
in our hygienic hands-wash culture, was the way he nonchalantly put the
mouthpiece back to his lips and continued the tune.
Eventually someone grassed him up and the rest of us were chewed out for not doing so; he got away with it as he was deemed not to know better.
Hannah Johnson, 2/10/01: Honor is truth, to be free to be honest; though we hold our peace through love , and there is honor also in this. It was my choice to break my childhood bonds, the unspoken psychological conditioning that one grows up with. I didn't' feel badly treated until I left. It seemed they wanted me to despair. I was deliberately disconnected. I wrote home feeling I had to keep a child-to-parent line.
I must live without the hof. I had to leave the obvious advantages of teamwork, having grown up there. Deep insecurities stir up from way back, by being sent from the room at an early age. How can this mind control be escaped? My parents gave me all they gave that church branch., How do I find my identity after leaving?
An insignificant group can easily breed these head games: leave one alone unidentified and then the internal trouble is an individual problem. I am left to see that they will drown in despondency (1 Tim 6.9), unless life lines are accepted. They have a big problem to hold an individual to vows after their contract is broken by the group with one's expulsion. The group foes on deciding what is best for each child. The impersonal street is very certain punishment. Alone, lonely and depressed, troubles are kept to oneself.
The KIT safety net can help those struggling "out" with an intellectual entertainment, eventually taking advantage of the hospitality in many hearts. Our ex-bruderhof conflict may resolve or dissolve by each one "in" taking an honest dose of self-knowledge on limitations. Divorced partners run into such conflicts. There are different approaches to communicate the pain feeling angry when reentering these bondages, the trappings of human affection bound in a broken contract.
This I see and know:
|Rosie Johnson Sumner,
3/2/01: A month later... Tim in Atlanta outdoors equipment shop, eyeing
the range of walking sticks (though he owns three!!)... "I have an idea
how about I buy one of these and you take it back to Renatus, would you
mind?" (Conscience still pricking???)
Rosie: "Does it mean I have to stop telling everyone the story?"
Tim: "Well, you could tell it a little more kindly, explaining that I was just so overjoyed that Renatus had found my stick on the Pferdeskopf that I didn't stop to think that he might think it was his, and not know I had lost mine, and be using it, and pleased about it and all. I didn't mean to snatch it away and fold it up, I was just happy..." Rosie, sceptically: "I could..."
So all endeth happily, though friendship had never been threatened; no Ausschluss; me gossipping merrily at my dear eldest bro's expense, but only because it was so funny at the time, so totally out of character, and one of the highlights of a merry, rejuvenating day many of us shared together.
Happy wanderlust, all!
PS Tim's still in Africa, right? Whew! Hope he doesn't find out I told you all this... keep it secret...
|"Incident on Pferdeskopf"
(Photo reconstruction by Matt Ellison)
Protagonists: Renatus Klüver & Tim Johnson
"Feinde eine, -
2/19/01: Here are some of my feelings on the subject of publishing the
various memories of childhood trauma. I think it is very important to do
so in a public forum like the KIT newsletter.
If the Bruderhof was no longer in existence and these stories were old history, then maybe not. If it was meant for some sort of personal closure, then that may not be effective either. But this community is prospering. They are still raising children and continuing on in their old ways. Some sort of 'clearing' must still be going on, even if they've changed the name and the manner in which they operate. I am speculating here.
I see KIT as the "mirror, mirror on the wall." They can look at it and see the true reflection of who they are. Mary Ann made sure I had many books that Christoph wrote. The hypocrisy of setting themselves up as experts on family, marriage and children takes my breath away. Publishing the old abuses may not heal the person writing, but it surely will shed the light of truth into this illusion they are conning the world with.
Hilarion Braun, 2/25/01: There are some of us victims of the SOB, who keep hanging on to the notion that our parents were either fooled, or saints. It makes very little difference which version one takes.
I knew my own parents. They suffered tremendously, but they made all of their children suffer much more. It was extremely important to them to be good SOB members, and to have children that would become good SOB members. When some of us children turned out to be "crap," our parents were humiliated and tried to beat the shit out of us, so that we wouldn't be 100% crap. Now we, the pieces of crap, imagine our parents to have been wonderful, non-crap. Love,