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

P.O. Box 460141 / San Francisco, CA 94146-0141 /
telephone: (415) 821-2090 / (415) 282-2369
KIT Staff U.S.: Ramon Sender, Charles Lamar, Christina Bernard, Vince Lagano, Dave Ostrom;
U.K. : Susan Johnson Suleski, Ben Cavanna, Leonard Pavitt, Joanie Pavitt Taylor, Brother Witless (in an advisory capacity)
The KIT Newsletter is an open forum for fact and opinion. It encourages the expression of all views, both from within and from outside the Bruderhof. The opinions expressed in the letters we publish are those of the correspondents and do not necessarily reflects those of KIT editors or staff.

July 1995 Volume VII #7

Corrections from hard copy edition contained in bold brackets [ ]
A Reminder to All Stalwart Readers: As usual, there will be NO August KIT issue! See you in early September after the Friendly Crossways Conference

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

The 1995 Annual Report On The State of KIT

Last July's 'State of KIT' editorial catalogued some of the ways that post-Bruderhof KIT readers respond in their attitudes toward the Bruderhof:
1: "The Lassez-faires: those who want get along with their lives and leave the Bruderhof to evolve or devolve on its own.
2: "The Free Speechers: a mild activist attitude that includes the publication of personal memoirs or perhaps a desire for the wider distribution of the KIT Newsletters and Annuals to include libraries, schools, other religious organizations and the like.
3: "The Dialoguers: the group who desires dialogue and/or conflict resolution in either (a) 'secular' or (b) 'sacred' context.
(a) "Secular: This latter category of approach first highlights the problem that KIT is a non-membership forum. In order to negotiate with Bruderhof leadership, there must be duly voted-on and accredited group representatives. But since there exists no membership group per se, there would have to be created a membership organization who then could claim status as a group and decide on representation, policies and procedures.
(b): "Sacred context dialoguers find themselves up against a similar problem because there is no philosophical editorial policy or slant to KIT whereby a Christian or other religious context could be advanced as a united voice.
4: "The Activists (let's 'do something' about them!): This category breaks down into preferences for potential litigation, boycotts, picketing, exposŽs, sky-writing, bungee-cord-jumping for brief visits. Activists similarly have no formal platform for organizing and decision- making.
5: "A final category includes either those who have recently emerged and must focus exclusively on re-entry, or those who were so damaged that their attention is entirely focused on psychological healing."
In view of recent developments, we thought that last year's editorial might form a starting place for concrete considerations regarding the potential development of an actual membership organization amongst post-Bruderhof KIT readers. There are certain things people can do only if they are organized together as a group. And notwithstanding the fact that people feel as though they belong to KIT, KIT has never encompassed an actual membership organization. So at last, perhaps inevitably, a prospectus for "Children of the Bruderhof" or "COB" appears in this issue. Hopefully post-bruderhof KITfolk will now have something to belong to.
What about the Peregrine Foundation with its projects KIT, Carrier Pigeon Press, MOST and the XRoads Fund, entities that already exist? It has often been assumed, perhaps because people feel as though they belong already, that any "KIT process" membership organization would naturally be encompassed in the existing Peregrine structure. But there are a number of reasons why COB or any other membership group should be completely independent.
When the Peregrine Foundation was formed, pursuant to legal advice, the mission statement was broadened to address the needs of people exiting from and involved with high-demand groups in general, not just the Bruderhof. If Peregrine were to sponsor or sustain an organic relation with a membership organization composed of people exiting from one experimental social group, the affairs of that group might become entangled with those of another. For example, the people who read the MOST Newsletter have different interests from those who read KIT.
For a membership group such as COB to be a free decision-making body, it should be independent. If Peregrine were to sponsor COB, the Peregrine Board would have to review all the decisions and actions COB took in order to protect the Peregrine Foundation's non-profit status. That should not be. COB should set up whatever decision-making mechanisms it sees fit.
Other groups responding to the various needs of KIT readers may form. If any do, they too should have the same independant standing and be free to do as they see fit. The Peregrine Foundation will continue to sponsor KIT's publishing efforts and conferences, as well as the XRoads Fund and, as parallel projects, The MOST Newsletter and The Carrier Pigeon Press.

----- The Whole Kit And Caboodle -----

-------- Contents --------
Guillermo Fischer
Name Withheld
Children of the Bruderhof Invitation
Children of the Bruderhof Position Statement __
ITEM: COB 800 number 'blitzed' by B'hof
Joan Pavitt Taylor
Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe on Birnbach
George K. Maendel
Name Withheld 'Titterstone Report'
Ludwig and Irene Fischer-Friedeman
Erna and Werner Friedeman,
Bette Bohlken-Zumpe
Hans Bohlken
Carol Beels Beck
Cristoval Wright on Mumia Abu-Jama
Ramon Sender to Cristoval Wright
Charles Moore '
Oakie' to Charlie
Nadine Moonje Pleil
Hanna Patrick Homann
Blair Purcell re William Raspberry
Bill Kimbro
Ruth Baer Lambach
J. Christoph Arnold to Hutterite colonies
'A Message from The Great Guru'
Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe to German Press
KIT re German Press replies
Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe to ADW
Mennonite Weekly Review on East/West split
Mennonite Weekly Review on E-W history
The Plough And The Pen -- Book Review
HAPPY 80th BIRTHDAY TO NORAH ALLAIN!!! (JULY 14th -- Bastille Day! No wonder you married a Frenchman!)
We were sorry to hear that Bruderhof members Nicky Maas (79) in Woodcrest and Walter Hussy (89) in Darvell both died recently. Our sincere condolences to both families.
Joyce Hazelton phoned to say that she, Donald and the family appreciated all the cards and 'get well' wishes that came in from the mention in the April KIT. "I'm feeling much, much better!" she said. And she sounded just like herself! Well done, Joyce!
Guillermo Fischer, 5/26/95: Hallo, all! Just a few lines to let you know we are still alive and receiving the monthly newsletter [in Ciudad del Este / Iguazu Falls, Paraguay - ed]. The message about Konstantin's death on your answering machine was short, just to let people know that their dentist from Primavera had passed on. After years of bad health, he was able to leave quietly -- peacefully. To save a little, just send one newsletter down here. We copy it anyway and send it inland to three more readers. The 'Kulla' on the address you can omit as well, as I have been recognized by most. Otherwise, all is well down here. I don't seem to find any time to put my thoughts on paper, so I send you a financial contribution. Greetings to all,
Name Withheld, 6/12/95: The weekend before Memorial Day (May 20-21), Johann Christoph and Verena Arnold, accompanied by daughter Verenali and her husband Raymond Hofer as well as their son Christoph Andreas, rode the family jet down to Bermuda. Is this something that the Bruderhof rank and file know nothing about? According to sources, Christoph is now with the Pope at the Vatican, delivering him a copy of the Hutterite "Chronicles." I wonder if Pope John Paul realizes what Christoph's current status as a Hutterite actually is.
Children of the Bruderhof, 6/24/95: Children of the Bruderhof (COB), a network-in-formation of ex-members and Bruderhof children living outside the Bruderhof communities, extends a warm invitation to the public-at- large and the media to an Open House at The Trinity United Methodist Church, 27 Wurts Street in The Roundout Historic District of Kingston, N.Y., July 27th, Thursday.
3 to 4 P.M: Public Meeting and Press Conference: Open to the public and interested parties. Children of the Bruderhof panel will answer questions put to us from the floor about who and what we are, and what we are doing. How can we improve communications with the Bruderhof and their children? Free literature will be available. Graduates will offer personal testimony of how they were helped by the support network. Heckling or speeches from the floor will not be entertained, and we will have some form of security to ensure this.
6 to 9 P.M: Private Children of the Bruderhof 'Masquerade Party' to meet with others who share our heritage -- i.e., leavers and graduates from the Bruderhof. Make contact, get to know each other and share fun and food and drink. Your disguise will shield you from any negative effects resulting from 'being recognized' by lurkers outside! Wear an outlandish mask or just put a paper bag over your head! Come as your favorite cartoon character! There will be live music, singing, and lots of merriment! Ex-members, survivors and graduates only!
Children of the Bruderhof Position Statement
Children of the Bruderhof is a group of people with a common heritage background of having been born into or brought up in the Bruderhof (also known as The Hutterian Brethren, and previously as The Society of Brothers) The group was formed in early 1995 by a number of us who wished to find a means of moving forward on various fronts. We realised this would require a more formal structure and accountability than the very informal, ad-hoc basis under which we had been operating until that time. Many of us have been able to remake connections with each other through the KIT Newsletter and network that has developed since KIT's inception in 1989. We have connected via personal contacts made at annual KIT conferences held in the U.S.A. and the United Kingdom, and via the newsletter and individual phone, letter and e-mail contact that the network made possible.
During the last year, it has become clearer that the subscribers to the KIT Newsletter were falling broadly into a number of different categories with differing aims and ways of moving forward. Some of these groupings had overlapping aims and strategies that they wished to explore, but some groups wanted to do things that needed more organisation and that might not be compatible with the all-embracing nature of the KIT Newsletter and conferences. Recognising that the strength and attraction of the KIT Newsletter and its conferences and gatherings was its very all-embracing nature, and not wishing to disturb what was working well, we decided to form a totally separate, autonomous, independently financed membership organisation, with the following Aims and Objectives:
Aims and Objectives of Children of the Bruderhof (Children of the Hutterian Brethren)
1. Provide a forum for healing from the hurts of the past for all who identify as having a Bruderhof heritage.
2. Provide support for leavers from the Bruderhof.
3. Establish, and maintain good communications between all who have been and are now involved with the Bruderhof.
4. Establish, and maintain free and unhindered contact between those in and those out.
This Spring, in the United Kingdom, we have facilitated a support group and counselling class for people from a Bruderhof heritage, taught by an internationally accredited counselling teacher, also a member of Children of the Bruderhof.
We have provided 'no strings' information, support and practical help to leavers and Bruderhof members temporarily out.
In May of this year, we established a free 800 number phone support and information service staffed voluntarily by Children of the Bruderhof members and supporters. We have had a number of genuine calls seeking support and information, but unfortunately there has been a major and quite sustained effort directed at us to prevent the proper functioning of this support service. During May alone we received over 1700 calls to this number, most of which were not genuine and many of which were harassing, abusive and even threatening to the volunteers answering the phone. Volunteers have been subjected to great distress in their attempt to provide much-needed support.
The harassment of this service is currently under investigation by the authorities and currently the level of hoax calls seems to have subsided.
On July 27th we are holding an informal gathering in Kingston N.Y., for those who share our common heritage and wish to renew old connections, make new ones and find out what we are all about. We are establishing dialog with the Bruderhof in an attempt to break the current (apparent) impasse that exists between the Bruderhof and those of us who have now moved on into the wider world. An important issue in this dialog is the reestablishing of free contact between friends and family in, or out of, the Bruderhof.
If you share our common heritage of being born in, or growing up in the Bruderhof and leaving, we invite you to apply for membership in Children of the Bruderhof by sending your donation of 20 dollars. If you do not fall into a membership category but support our aims and objectives, we would be delighted to receive your support, financial or otherwise. We will be electing permanent officers in August.
Mailing address: Children of the Bruderhof / 5 Rothschild Court / Gaithersburg, MD 20878, or e-mail, or call toll-free to 800 742- 3052.
Ben Cavanna, Chairperson
Children of the Bruderhof Steering Committee.
ITEM: The Children of the Bruderhof organization reports that their 800 number has been swamped with over 2000 harassing, slightly obscene and -- more recently -- threatening calls during the past six weeks. Here is a rough breakdown of points-of-origin for harassing calls for the month of May:
111 calls came from 914-331-9842 (the Capri 400 Motel pay phone in Port Ewen, New York, a mile or so from the Pleasant View Bruderhof) all within one hour; 36 calls from 914-658-8568 (Woodcrest), the offices of Rifton Community Playthings; 33 calls from Stewart's Convenience Store in Rosendale; others from Rifton Gulf and Rifton Deli; 23 from New Meadow Run and Spring Valley; 15 or so from Rifton Enterprises (charter jet company) at Teterboro Airport, several more from a fax line at Teterboro Airport; 20 from the Deer Spring Bruderhof. MANY more came from other pay phones, misc. fax lines, some private residences, and other numbers probably directly connected with Bruderhof locations such as fax machines. Many of these calls have been taped on the answering machine and these tapes are available for listening and analysis.
COB faxes to the Bruderhof communities to cease and desist have resulted in a reduction, but not a cessation, of the harassment. At the same time, despite the 'blitz,' they report that the 800 number does continue to serve its intended purpose of providing a useful service to survivors and graduates 'on the outside.'
More recently, printed labels have been placed on pay phones at various airports and elsewhere, some of which read "SWEET TALK - Roberta and Sally [names changed to fictitious ones - ed] are Waiting For Your Call -- 24 Hours -- 7 Days -- 800 742-xxxx." Is this dumb or what?
Joan Pavitt Taylor, 6/29/95: Dear Joy, I hope you won't mind too much this open response to your article (KIT June '95), but I wanted to let people know how deeply it touched me to see your thoughtful, well-read, well- informed, balanced and professional work being presented in public. All our heartfelt conversations, shared insights, shared laughter and tears have given me an understanding as to how far you have travelled; how hard it was to get from there to here, and how brave you have been to 'face those dragons.' I don't think you quite see it yet, but I hope you will soon realise what a tremendous way you have come. I am very glad, proud, honoured to be trusted with your friendship. With lots of love.
Dear 'Graduate' ( KIT June '95), I just wanted to say 'hello' and let you know I appreciate how much it has taken to get to the point where you could share your story; how brave you are being. You are right, it is a hard road, but time and time again I see how important it is to try, and I hope people who read your story really 'hear' the last two paragraphs. Thank you for sharing your story, for showing part of the process. I truly hope the road from here isn't so steep, and I'd like you to know I'll be thinking of you and keeping you company on the way. Travel well.
Dear Susanna Zumpe, Hello, I know we have never met, and you won't know who I am, but I wanted to welcome you to the KIT gang, and let you now that another someone in England is rooting for you. All the best,
Bette Bohlken-Zumpe, 6/23/95: Because of the several responses I have received to my report about our visit to Birnbach, I realize that I have not really written about the real difficulties that arose for the Bruderhof community in Germany, and I will do so now. May was a very busy month for me, and I have to understand that I cannot continue like that. May 2nd - 5th we had a family reunion in our house in Ameland for Hans' family. May 16th-20th we went to Germany. May 20th an article of mine was published in the Mennonite Weekly here in Holland and we went to the east of Holland to pick up Hans' old father for a week with us, as Hans turned sixty on May 22nd. May 26th I was asked to participate in a discussion about sects and cults on Dutch TV. May 29th I had a talk about my book for the M.S. organization here in Drachten. May 31st I had to go to the hospital for treatment, and the next weekend we had another family reunion for all those unable to attend the first one. So my time was all scheduled and booked up, and in-between I wrote my report on Birnbach, a letter to the German Press and media, and translated various articles for KIT as they came in. So I hope you will excuse me if I did not give a complete picture of the real difficulties that had arisen in Germany.
Birnbach: On March 15, 1988, the Bruderhof purchased a house called 'Waldfrieden' situated in the middle of the village Hemmelzen with the aim of having a Bruderhof House in Germany for people interested in the community life. In May of that same year, a brother found the empty property of the Michaelshof in Birnbach and the Community decided to purchase the place, still saying, "We only want a Bruderhof House so that people interested in our life can drop in and talk with us." Now the Michaelshof was actually also part of the village of Birnbach, situated on the edge of the village with the neighbors' houses just opposite the short driveway that takes you to the main house (compared to Woodcrest, the distance would be from the Carriage House to the Forest River House, a distance of perhaps thirty yards or less). If the Bruderhof had made the point of telling their new neighbors who they were and what they stood for, attempting to integrate themselves into the village community, the people would not have become so scared and skeptical.
Another thing was that at the time the Bruderhof settled in Birnbach, the TV showed documentaries on another sect called "Der Christusstaat" (State of Christ) near Wurzburg. This group also purchased a house in the village and then continued to buy up all the houses adjoining their land. They built big temples, schools, workshops, and fenced in their land while they harassed their neighbors into leaving. They believed that the end of the world was close at hand and that only their place would be saved because it would be where Jesus Christ would return to earth. They patrolled all night with dogs and searchlights and virtually scared away their neighbors. So when the Bruderhof came to Birnbach, the neighbors were cautious, to say the least! And when the Bruderhof started buying up the adjoining houses and properties, the neighbors were on their guard. And when the Bruderhof asked for a change of the parkland zoning restrictions on further construction, the villagers became really scared.
If now, for example, Jorg and Renate or Ben and Marianne could have come over for an informal evening (as a couple) to talk things over in a neighborly way with a cup of coffee or a bottle of wine, the neighbors might have understood that they need not be afraid. Instead, what they saw was that the Bruderhof also was "guarding their property with dogs and searchlights at night (against prowlers)," that the Bruderhofers never really talked to the villagers, and that the group kept changing members all the time. The villagers told us, "You just would have gotten accustomed to one face, and then that person was gone and three new faces came in his place!" The narrow village road became more and more cramped with community trucks, buses and many cars. Although the Bruderhof people were friendly enough in the beginning, the immediate neighbors felt obstructed from living their lives with such a large group breathing down their necks all the times. And when the Bruderhof began planning a big new building, the neighbors fought them legally inch-by-inch because they simple were scared of what these people might do within their village. By that time, even the singing in the middle of the night was felt as a disturbance.
At the beginning of this year, all of Europe was in the grip of the 50th anniversary of the fall of the Third Reich. The TV ran terrible documentaries on the concentration camps -- Auschwitz, Dachau, Treblinka, Bergen-Belzen. Many people in Germany were asking, "How was such a thing possible?" At that exact time, Jorg made his public statement, that "Due to the Nazi spirit still alive in Germany today, we feel forced to leave Germany for a second time under the Nazis." That was when I felt that such an accusation was so terrible that I had to go see for myself what was going on. When you have lived in Holland for 32 years, you are very conscious of what the Nazis really were and did, and I felt the Bruderhof just did not have a right to make such accusations!! The Press and media in Germany began a most terrible, haunting persecution of the poor neighbors of the Bruderhof, who I must admit legally fought the Bruderhof's building permits with German "Grundlichkeit." But they were NOT NAZIS AT ALL, but were afraid of these strange people who could barely speak German. What we found on our trip to Birnbach were kind people who could not understand all the inconsistencies of the Bruderhof, their lies "for the Big Cause," their inability to tell them simply that they really wanted "a fully established Bruderhof" in Birnbach. The Press really brought so much hurt to these villagers that the village is divided into two camps and will never be the same again, and this FOR THE WITNESS OF PEACE AND LOVE. It is these same villagers who are now deeply concerned as to why Ben and Jorg have been excluded. They do not understand at all.
What the Nazis did during World War II was so horrible, so incredibly evil, that I felt no one should be accused of being a Nazi if they simply are fighting for their own rights! Living in Holland has opened my eyes to the terrible things from which the Bruderhof was protected by leaving Germany. Those that stayed and took a stand had to die terrible deaths! None, no one in the Bruderhof, had to suffer such a fate! They have no right to use the word "Nazi victim" out of context, because they were spared by leaving. The villagers will have to go on living there and try to prove to the world that they never were (also because of their age) Nazis and never want to be Nazis! This was the reason for our trip to Germany, to stand by the people who now were persecuted by the Press for something the Bruderhof accused them of, but which was in no way true.
George Maendel, 2/1/95: Wow, that interview with Ann Button [March KIT Vol. VII #3 - ed] was quite something! Ruth Baer Lambach had a very different experience in community and in the transition to autonomy, but with a surprising number of important similarities. One can see in Ann's experience how the Bruderhof 'culture' works. They put in place a lot of those same methods during the 'occupation' of the Forest River colony.
Speaking of Forest River, I picked up on a word that Hilarion used in one of his letters to KIT. The word 'denkzeit' [time of repentance/consideration - ed]. When the Bruderhof decided to abandon Forest River for Oak Lake, they dropped those of us children in 'counseling' without informing any of the adults staying at Forest River of what had been discussed with us. This was a critical mistake. It's unthinkable that someone concerned with our welfare would not have told our parents -- or some other responsible adult -- what they had been 'counseling' us about. Even to this day I am very angry about this psychological damage inflicted on me, and for this omission of a duty they were morally obligated to perform. I was eight years old, and totally intimidated, humiliated and fractured by my 'clearing house' experience.
After the Bruderhof left Forest River, the oldest boy (16 or 17) 'counseled' in the children's clearing house began secretly to 'counsel' the younger boys. With me this involved intimate touching, and each incident ended with a punishment, or denkzeit, as he called it. This 'punishment' consisted of him undressing, caressing, then spanking me. He said he was giving me a denkzeit for some vague wrong I had done. He claimed that my parents knew, and approved of, what he was doing. I believed him. My parents knew that Doug Moody had been 'counseling' us, and this was for me a continuation of that experience. Both of them, the boy and Doug, used the same syrupy, cooing, "I'm-here-to-help-you" manner. The abuse ended when one boy told his parents about being undressed and spanked in one of the barns. Being Hutterite parents, they could not say even a word about what had happened. We children were given no reassurance, but they moved the perpetrator elsewhere, to a different State. Did they tell his new family that he had been abusing children? I don't know. Where did this Hutterite boy get the idea for doing what he did to me? I believe that he picked it up from the 'counseling' that he received in the children's clearing house at Forest River. That word denkzeit is the incriminating evidence. I know it's a tiny bit of evidence to explain something, but...
Name Withheld, 6/24/95: Midsummer Sunrise on Titterstone. Just returned from Wheathill. 20 people gathered in the Crown pub near Wheathill last night (Friday) for a meal and decisions about camping etc. Six of us camped at the Three Horseshoes pub (some of the Brothers were apparently well-known down there in B'hof days!). The rest of the party of hardy souls camped at the summit of Titterstone, including young ones of 7 and 5. The Base Camp party set out at 4.00 A.M. with a clear sky just getting red and the old sickle moon hanging high. It was a beautiful, chill windy morning and the hill was at its loveliest. We made the summit at 4.40 and found the advance party strewn around among the rocks in sleeping bags out in the open and in a small tent all being battered by the usual strong biting wind. Some had already surfaced, coffee was on and, as we sang 'Happy Birthday' to one of the younger of the party, the sun winked open a glorious orange red eye over the horizon. It was wonderful to see the fiery orb fill and break free into the blue sky over the soft Shropshire landscape. Time for a photo and then the cold drove us down off the hill to the campsite at the Three Horseshoes for a delicious mix-and-match cooked breakfast. Food shared with this family of good comrades, was nectar of the Gods. A most fitting welcome of the Midsummer Sun.
Ludwig and Irene Fischer-Friedeman, 6/8/95 to John Stewart (transl. by Bette Bohlken-Zumpe): It took me almost three days to read your report in the April KIT. Since I left the Bruderhof 30 years ago in Paraguay, our English has deteriorated somewhat and is by no means "up to date.' But your story was of great interest to us, as you came to the Bruderhof as a believing Christian! My husband and I both were raised on the Bruderhof and lived there until we were 17 years old. But it was only after we left the Bruderhof, living here in Germany, that we found our faith to believe in a living Jesus Christ. We had to realize that we grew up on the Bruderhof without the Gospels and faith! We, the children and the young people, were raised to be true communitarians and live up to the ideals of a true community, but not in simple faith and trust in Jesus Christ who will actually give us "true community of faith!" Community is something wonderful if its foundation is truly anchored on the word of the Bible and never on the word of Christoph or Heini Arnold!
What saddened us deeply is that you tried to bring the word of God in the Bible to the young people on the Bruderhof in the form of a simple Bible study, and that was rejected by the Witness Brothers and even Christoph Arnold -- yes, and this even led to difficulties for you amongst the community members. About reading the Bible, you should have seen at an earlier date that the Bruderhof does not live by the word of the Gospel but is, in fact, a 'negative sect.' Rejoice, therefore, and be thankful that you were led out of this group! So many brothers and sisters in the community are driven to sheer madness if they have questions or doubts! In this world there are so many ways to live out one's true faith and conviction, and so many church-communities in which you can live up to your faith. We wish with all our hearts that you might find such a place somewhere! My husband and I joined the Baptist church some thirty years ago and feel very happy and deeply fulfilled in our work and faith. We have been able to use many things we learned during our childhood and youth on the Bruderhof to give a new dimension in our church, such as: a communal meal once a month, communal singing and communal play, and afternoon fun playing games and Volleyball, football, and other sports.
Please, don't be sad that the Bruderhof doors are closed on you! This world needs true Christians and there are so many brothers and sisters everywhere that need your love and dedication! Our wish for you is that you might find a church community soon in which you feel at home and needed! Loving greetings from us both,
Erna and Werner Friedeman, 5/18/ 95 (transl. by Bette Bohlken-Zumpe): It's lovely spring weather here in Germany, but we are sad that our old friends from the Bruderhof left Germany. We always had hoped to visit them sometimes, but our health did not permit such long travels. Slowly I am recovering, but now they have left! We are deeply saddened by the Bruderhof's break with the Hutterians. I myself grew up on the Bruderhof and was 12 years old when the Bruderhof united with the old Hutterian Church! As children we were deeply involved in the struggle that Eberhard Arnold had to fight for this vision he had -- for one united church -- and how he gave every ounce of his being to make this belief come true! The long distance from Germany and his family and loved ones -- his eye sickness -- nothing could prevent him from fighting this lonesome struggle for his faith! It was such a very difficult time and he was so very lonesome and away from home for such a very long period -- and now everything is smashed and broken in pieces.
All of us human beings are imperfect and full of sin and fault. This is true for the Old Hutterites as well as the New Hutterites -- you and me and all of us! The only thing left for us now is put all the difficulties and problems into the hands of our Almighty God and ask Him earnestly to lead the communities through this difficult patch and serious time!
The letter from Johann Christoph Arnold in The Plough hurt us most deeply, as it is an open accusation against the Hutterian Brethren, given to the world in an open letter and statement. Each of us eventually will have to stand before God's throne alone and we will have to take the full responsibility for what we did with our lives, but also for the things we left undone during our lifetime. This Werner and I firmly believe, and are in full unity in this faith. Our prayers will be with the Bruderhof, and we ask God that He will straighten out the crooked and turn the wrongs into rights once more. With loving greetings,
Bette Bohlken-Zumpe, 6/18/95: Erna Friedeman, Luise Sumner, Sophie Lober, Liesel Arnold as well as Rudi Hildel, Walla von Hollander, Ruth Martin, Gert Wegner, Konstantin and George, Hannes and Daniel Habbakuk all were among the children my grandfather and grandmother Eberhard and Emmy Arnold took in during the years 1920 to 1934. Wolfgang Lowenthal as well. I think it is important to listen to these older community members and what they have to say in the matter of the Hutterites!
Thank you for the June KIT. It surely is a very good issue and made many things clear that I did not understand. For example, it really was not clear to me that Children of the Bruderhof was a new organization of KIT people in a closer bond to find new ways and means to get into contact and conversation with the Bruderhof. Maybe a lot of good will come from it. I do hope so!
I especially like the letters from Hilarion Braun, very clear and to the point. At least no one can accuse us of not having tried to find a way in peace with the Bruderhof and its members. I wonder if it's possible to get May Davis' book. I remember her well. We children thought she was the most beautiful lady on this earth. She lived in the attic of the Babyhouse where we also lived, and she used to play the violin for us when she was on Evening Watch. She gave my sister Heidi a small violin and gave her lessons. I remember well when she played her first round with May: "White sand and grey sand..." We really loved May and the night she left, we were very mad at Harry "who came and whisked her out of our lives," as we thought then.
The period May describes was the difficult period when Heini still was the main Servant, sick and fragile, and his helpers were trying hard to work along Heini's line. It was absolute chaos for everyone, and I remember crying sisters everywhere! Anyway, when my father Hans took over with Gwynn Evans and Hans Meier and later Balz, life came into smoother rhythm although, I must admit, the underlying thought must have been more fear than faith that kept these people together. It's amazing, though, that I have so many positive memories of that time. How is this possible? Maybe a child just accepts and lives in a completely different world altogether.
It was brave of Eb, Dieter and Susanna Zumpe to write in KIT because they can be sure this will have repercussions with their parents Ben and Marianne. I found Eb's story especially disgusting! These people just will not stop telling lies 'for the Big Cause!'
The story by 'The Graduate' I found so very sad! There are so many of us [Bruderhof young people] who fell pray to the wild animals in this world because we just did not know the world and trusted easily! It is good to have this story in KIT. It is so important to see where things went wrong in order that we can help each other.
Konrad's story of Konstantin Mercoucheff's life is actually very good, especially because it show clearly how Heini just broke off a very good marriage, and how Konstantin never understood what had happened to him. His heritage to KIT are the wonderful photos of Primavera, and I do sincerely hope that something will be done with them. I have contacted his daughter Claudia in Belgium, a wonderful 17-year-old girl, and hope to hear from her soon. I met her in Paraguay in 1992.
Joy's article for the Advanced Certificate in Counseling naturally was very well done and puts many loose ends and pieces into a well-written work study that can be of great help to all of us. I especially liked the sentence: "RECOVERY -- takes mental discipline, courage and time, and it cannot be hurried." This is so true, and I find myself falling apart over little things, even now after 32 years. Childhood is so important. Love for now, and greetings,
Hans Bohlken 6/26/95: I'd like to thank all of you who have helped me with my stamp collection by sending stamps!! My special thanks to Wolfgang, Margot Purcell, Migg Fischli, Bruce Sumner, Ricia Bernard and especially Lie Arnold-Priest who gave a collector's album to Bette in England last year at the KIT conference. This was very special for me because it gives the American Stamps from 20 years ago! Many, many thanks to all of you! I collect stamps from Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, Holland and the United States. If there are any stamp collectors among the KITfolk, perhaps we can exchange stamps? Would be fun! I have been a stamp collector now for 50 years and I do enjoy it very much. I just love to sort them out and put them into albums. A very nice hobby! Dieter and Patty Zumpe bought a stamp- collector's album from the United States for my birthday this year. It has not yet arrived, but I am looking forward to receiving it soon. Much love to all of you,
Carol Beels Beck, 6/26/95: This year it's been even more difficult finding time to write to KIT. So I appreciate more than ever when KIT drops through the door. Thank you to each one who sends things in. I just find it all so interesting and worthwhile, and makes KIT a powerful tool to expose the tragic state of affairs the Bruderhof is in. If only people in the Bruderhof could become humble enough to see the damage they are doing to their way of life they say KIT members are trying to destroy.
By about the 2nd or 3rd day of each month I'm counting the days when my next KIT Fix lands on the doorstep! It just means so much, the contact. It is also the only news of interactions with the Bruderhof. I can't give up hoping that one day KIT can be the bringer of positive, creative responses from the Bruderhof members to all the continual efforts made by various ones "outside", to have meaningful interaction.
Five of us met 4 times this year in Andover to learn Re-evaluation Co-Counseling. Our teacher is Ben Cavanna. I've learned so much from him. His enthusiasm for Co-counseling is quite catching and I believe is why his teaching was so clear and helpful. We have had a marvelous four days together and hope to have one more in July. I have been in psychotherapy or counseling for a number of years, but actually have found Co-counseling one of the most helpful tools to "discharge" deeply suppressed emotions. All of us had to do this to survive in the Bruderhof and it is very damaging.
I also like about Co-counseling the sense of community built up between those people that co- counsel together. It is now a worldwide network. I understand Ben is happy to meet up with those at the July conference who would like to know more about Co- counseling and how much Ben has benefited by getting into it. We had a very worthwhile hour introduction to Co-counseling led by Ursula at last year's EuroKIT conference. Even though you may not think it is for you or may not be interested, listening to Ben enthuse for even a quarter of an hour, it is not possible to remain indifferent to the benefits of this tool!
Even though at present I haven't got time or energy to contribute more to the KIT process - a big THANK YOU again to everyone who contributes to ten pages of packed news and information coming through my letter box each month! Loving thoughts to each one,
Cristoval Wright, Spring Valley Bruderhof, 5/20/95: In recent months we have been deeply concerned -- as you surely are too -- about the climate of paranoia, hatred and retribution that seems increasingly to define the political scene in this country. In particular, we have been giving thought to the death penalty, which is certainly a 'hot issue' at the moment here in Pennsylvania, where there are more death row inmates than in other states except California and Texas, and in New York, where the death penalty was recently reinstituted.
Those of you who read The Plough will know of our involvement in anti-death penalty events in Pittsburgh, New York, Albany and Hartford. Many of us have also been reading Helen Prejean's bestseller, Dead Man Walking as well as Live From Death Row, a newly- released volume of essays by Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther and Philadelphia journalist unjustly incarcerated in the new super-maximum security prison just minutes west of our Pennsylvania bruderhofs. Despite long-standing evidence of Jamal's innocence and despite the efforts of national and international organizations working on his behalf, Jamal has been denied a fair trial by an impartial jury. And it may soon be too late for that: Pennsylvania's first execution in 33 years took place in April, and four more are scheduled for the summer. Mumia Abu-Jamal is said to be high on the governor's 'hit-list.' The cause? His brilliant advocacy journalism, especially his exposes of police brutality against blacks, which has angered the white establishment so greatly that it has been silenced even by so liberal a bastion as National Public Radio.
All of which brings me to the following plea: Knowing how deeply concerned all of you are for the causes of justice and fairness, we invite you to join with us in writing to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge to request a new, fair trial for Mumia Abu-Jamal.
It may seem strange that we should turn to you about this case, yet the issue is, of course, not an isolated one, but one of import to anyone who stands against the increasingly blatant injustices of our government and its courts. It is in this sense that we enlist your support for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Write soon to: Governor Thomas Ridge, Capitol Building, Room 225, Harrisburg, PA 17120. Sincerely, P. S. Please print all the enclosed on Mumia.
Ramon Sender replies to Christoval Wright (based on his personal fax to Chris Zimmerman of 5/31/95): Sorry that we cannot publish in KIT the eleven or so additional pages of material on Mumia Abu-Jamal that you fax'd. My own personal 'take' on your letter is as follows: with all due respect to the concerns expressed, and for the obvious injustice to Mumia Abu-Jamal, it seems ironic to me that the Bruderhof should take such a stalwart stand against "the climate of paranoia, hatred and retribution" when that is exactly what so many KITfolk view as running rampant within the Bruderhof leadership today. Also your stand against the death penalty seems to me hypocritical when your leadership has condemned so many Bruderhof ex-members and children to what the Communist Party used to call a 'civil death'. Cutting outside families off from Bruderhof family members, ignoring their letters and phone calls, not advising them of serious illnesses and even deaths of parents and children means that you are basically treating KITfolk as if they, the KITfolk involved, have been condemned to death AND executed by the judgment of the Servants. Thus I personally find your death penalty protests shallow and meaningless. It is always so much easier to view wrong attitudes in the 'outside world' and then project the dysfunctional aspects of your own group 'out there' rather than face them in their stark reality within your own organization.
An ongoing offer (four years in duration?) by a group of KITfolk still stands: to meet with any Bruderhofers in a sincere attempt to dialogue over issues of deep concern to both sides. We also recommend utilizing the skills of trained conflict resolution professionals. Sincerely,
Charles Moore, (a recently joined Bruderhof member), excerpts from his recent address during the Fresno Pacific Mennonite College Hour: I want to greet you all from our community known as the Bruderhof ...we link to the Mennonites. We really share common historical roots's a community that shares a history with the Hutterians...
Now I want to read you two quotes... I'd like to see a show of hands... Which metaphor would you say describes your experience of the church?
"As I see it, the church is like a ship on whose deck festivities and appearances are kept up, while deep below the water line a leak has been sprung and masses of water are pouring in so that the vessel is sinking hourly lower, so that the pumps are manned day and night. If it were not for the storm outside the stench inside would suffocate one to death."
Now here's another metaphor. "Our best and truest hope in these tumultuous times is an ark, an ark with a sense of direction and a sure star by which to navigate."
The church is that ark. And the star of course, is Jesus Christ. The living ark, a positive view of the church the truest and best hope for these times. Now let's be honest, let's be really honest, what has your experience been? (Asking for a show of hands)
Because in my own life, I must say, that as I grew in my faith, the more and more I became dissatisfied... a culture of professionalism was beginning in my own experience, really be useful to God, you had to be trained, professional, had to know how to speak, ...the techniques of persuasion had to be mastered in order to be able to grab the attention of audience, had to be a good pulpiteer... ...if you are a successful pastor you had to grow your church, learned principles of sociology ...find like-minded people... As I got more involved with the church, I became more and more uncomfortable with why there were some in the congregation who were poor and why some were rich and they sat next to one another and proclaiming their unity in Christ. There was this gap within the church...
...I want to share a little bit about the ark I am a part of now... After WW I, Germany just collapsed in every single way, and many of the young people saw through the aristocratic institutional, formalistic church of the day. There was a move to being back to nature, there was a move for genuineness in speech, let's get rid of all the titles, let's stop hiding behind the roles, let's just be heart-to-heart. Let's get rid of all the religious theological language and just speak straight with one another. Lets just be truthful...
By the time Hitler came to power, we were essentially forced out of Germany since we, along with Anabaptists traditionally, did not believe in any form of violence. So we could not send any of our youth to join Hitler's military machine. We were basically persecuted out of Germany and found asylum, only for a few years, in England in the late '30's ... essentially the British authorities said, We'll give you free passage anywhere in the world but you can't stay. The only place at that time was Paraguay, and thanks to a group of Mennonites, who owned several thousand acres of land, they invited us to basically move to Paraguay.
So at that time there were about three hundred and fifty members, and in the late 30's in the beginning of the war, we all moved to Paraguay. That was not something we wanted to do. It was in the middle of the jungle. We did not feel called to be a rural, monastic, separatist community of the Holy Ones with the evil world out there. We just found ourselves in Paraguay and that's where we were for about twenty years until the late 50's, when it was decided that the life in Paraguay was so harsh, it was so removed, the forces of the jungle were just so destructive that we had to do something. So we moved to the East Coast, and that's where we've been ever since. Now we have seven communities in the East Coast, one back in England and one back in Germany...
We believe very much in the unity of the spirit... we don't believe in majority votes, we don't believe in Democracy... democracy is not the Kingdom, not even close to the Kingdom... Because you still have the power of some over others... So we believe in unanimity of decision-making in the spirit... we don't go into power politics... we don't go into leadership that makes all the decisions, we don't have a clergy/laity distinction... you'll find that our quote, "pastors," -- we call them Servants -- are ones that would work in the shop or be out in the field or whatever. We also believe in the community of justice. In our community there's never unemployment. We 're just one family. We also believe in the koinonia of the shared life as opposed to individualism. We share a common table, we also believe very strongly in the family. We educate our children ...we send them to public school and college... Lastly, we believe in a community of peace and reconciliation. We believe in straight speaking to one another. We only have one law in the community, the law of love. We do not gossip.
Now I want to leave you with two choices. What are you building on? Are you building on a sinking ship or are you building on an ark?... Are you willing to be the church or are you going to be just a churchgoer the rest of your life?
Now, my wife and I will be around for this morning and we are going to have a time in the cafeteria. There's a conference room there and at lunchtime around twelve you're welcome to come for an informal sharing,... We'd love to talk more, it's just gonna be a good time... just talk and dialogue more about what I've shared. And we are anxious to learn from you, your experiences and to be challenged by you. But mostly we want to be available for just interaction with anyone.
Oakie to da wordy talker Charlie Moore: [
I's jus a o'le country boy, fresh in from the farm, still got the chicken manure on mah shoes. Now, Charlie, he sho-nuf can speak a mitey fine line o' bull fer a feller tha' doan like a lotta high-falutin' two-step shuffle. The Broodenhof sho-nuf sent out one highly educated, high- powered, extremely wealthy pair to preach simplicity, humility, straight-speaking and justice. Charlie, o'le boy, how you mean straight-speaking? I noticed you mentioned the word 'honest' or 'honesty' when yo was a- tryin' ta trap them young 'uns like a pig to a garbage heap. Why? Ya'll used a heap 'o par-i-bells to make your yarn lure them kids like a hot grasshopper at a bass convention. You sho' pulled all de stops on dat dere organ when you was a playin' to da crowd dere in dat dumb fawmin comoonity.
L'es jus skip on a' piece doan dat road, skip over how's yousa prayed and studied an all dat ede-cated stuff I got no smarts fer. L'es get to da part der where you all is a-talkin 'bout when ya' ll was in England in the late '30's. Shucks an golly man, yo sho' do we a heap 'o times when ya'll was a talkin 'bout a time ya'll wad-n't e'en taut about. Yo pappy was a youngin hisself! Wat ya'll mean by "we?" Heck, mon, ya'll couldn' even cut the line in Lafayette, the Lal-La land o' west coas. What you mean harsh and destructive, soun's like y'all scalped a good yearn offn' some poor commoner. Harshest time ya'll ever seen was da back seat offn' a '70s Beamer. Mon, yo had the life Riley in Lafayette! Doubt if ya'll could buck a bale, sew a sack or swamp a load. Shucks, mon, you ain't e'en ben close nuf ta dat t'ing labor to knows wha I's a-talkin 'bout. Man. yo is 'sultin dem good Brethren, de Hutterites. They know hard work and honest labor! They know Christian humilty!. Do you?
Now we come's on dat part aboah de common sharin'. I took a hernia of da brain an look up in Webster, wha he gotta say 'bout shar'in. He say 'share, part of a whole, fraction part of, to use, partaking jointly and to share equally.' Wich won ya'll mean? Now common, o'le Webster, mon, he say 'equally, joint, united, widespread, general, frequent, usual, familiar, mediocre, inferior, coarse-vulgar, lacking rank or standing.' Wich won ya'll mean? Now I knows, dem peoples 'cross de pond, der in U-ropa, day got me in da las part -- lacken' de rank, I got rank, lotsa rank, like in smell! Gett'in da plow back in da furrah, ya'll top man der, de Head Woodpecker, he done made cleah wha he tink o' us'n in dat fancy book he had a'ritten, Torches Re-Kindled, he done tell his son how to treat us common peoples.
Walk'n da furrah a'piece, ya'll sho made tha theah comoonity soun' nice and purty. Hows all dem leadahs, da wuk in de shop 'long the commoner. They's got a sayin dere, "There are some that are more equal than others." Knowed a feller t'was dere at dat fancy place ya'll call Crest o da Woods or sompin' -- oh yeah, Woodcrest! Wal, dis feller, he done tol' how dem leadahs, dey all sat 'roun sippin' dat fine wine and eaten high-up on the shoulder o' da hawg whilst the stoop-labors and commoners had chicory, chittlins and pickled hawgs feet. Seems t'was 'felt' dem der leadahs, dey was so overworked, dey 'quired some special treatment.
Lopin' on doan de road a'peice, you spoke some mighty fine words about unity and makin' dem decisions all togather like. Recken I done seen a book by a feller knowd as Roger Allain, he done tole' how dem decisions was a made by de Thursday Morning group. Y'all been roun' long 'nuf to know 'bout dat? Anoder ting dis feller I know'd mentioned. Seems ya'll have some fair-sized broods. Wished my hawg breeers 'ed have as big 'o litters. Whoo-eeee mon, I'd be a rich feller if they was as fertil as ya'lls' clans Well, anyhows, I got to tinkin 'bout wat ya'll say 'bout unity and decisions and no worry 'bout work an pay. Shucks man, yo sho make it soun good. As I says, got ta tinken 'bout it, ya'll knowed I could tink, its' hard mon but if'n I try real hard, I can. Waall, its hard but I's tinkin, how come de got a dem chilluns and de doan dis-agree wit de boss? Mon, I got fo'teen mouths ta feed, I ain't given no lip to da boss an- you can put that in de bank! I only got tree mouths ta grub an I doan 'dis DE MAN. Ya'll say dere's 'bout a hunnert people 'ta place? An all dem peoples, dey agree all da time? Ya'll tryn' tell me dat dem peoples' dey no worry 'bout wat 'appen if'n de doan' agree wit de, wat you call him? de Vetter? Hey mon, is a Vetter like 'a bettor but better?' I's hav'n hard time tinken dis all tru, ya'll know'd wat I means? Like, it don' soun real. Ay, Charlie mon, you sho you speakin' straight? Staraight like honest, not straight like from da 'ip? My haid's all tired an needs a rest, ya'll wanna help me move some o 'dis manure whilst we'es a-waitin? As ya'll is say'in, lastly, 'bout justice, peace an reconciliation. Gee, golly guy, you must have brass for de gonads. Peace? Won o' ya'll leaders, he say, "Hey mon, I do anyting I needs to defend my 'ol lady and de chilluun's. " Yo ' head woodpecker, he done got hisself a real grandaddy hogleg dere, Mon, a .44 Magnum? Whose 'aid yo gonna blow 'way? Ya'll hunt 'coon an' skunk and squirel wit a gun, like a 12-bore, not a 'llphant gun. Ya'll claim yous a pacifists. Is dat like dem guys, day pass-da-fists? Justice is a-tap-tappin phone lines and try'n scare the mud-pucky out a bunch o' kids? Justice is senne'n an eighty-year-ol ol lady to a stranger for care? Justice is scoot'n 'roun in dat fancy areeo-plane ya'll got whilst yousa runnin' a poor girl to groun like a pack o' dogs on da 'scent o' 'scared rabbit? Reconciliation is try'n rile up a carload o' oakies? Reconcilliation is goin' in'ta a fine an honorable school an tellin' dem peoples' dey is bums? Reconcilliation is taken a poor feller ta court an a-tryn' to ruin him an 'is friends? Ya'll claim to honor family -- what 'bout ya'll's past a split'n families? I heard tell 'bout how ya'll gave some o' yo kinfolk a real hard spell? One feller, he tell 'bout hows ya'll won' talk wit 'im an when dey try an follow de gospel as ya'll say, ya'll make up wagonload 'o cow manure as ta why ya'll is 'feard to face da commoners! One ting I's gotta cut ya some slack 'bout, never did catch ya'll in a lie. Yous' slick at talkin' as Daisy Mae is at do-see-do'n an buck-an-weave'n. Yo sho-nuf has silver-smooth tongue. Dis dumb ol' Oakie's gotta question tho: if'n yo' pappy didn' 'ave de money to leave ya'll, an da pull o' the county champeen pull-team, ya'll really tink dat bossman der, de Vetter an 'is tame dawg, de Dummer, 'd let ya'll waltz around de country like ya'll's be'n up ta? ]
Nadine Moonje Pleil, 6/13/95: The June KIT edition was very good, and I am so glad that Ebo, Dieter and Susie have written. Thanks, all three Zumpes, for writing your stories! Ebo, I appreciate what you went through in order to find out about your parents. It really is terrible that the organization in which we grew up can now lie to us in such a blatant manner. It is the Commune who taught us that it is of the utmost importance to tell the truth! I to was given the go-round when my mother died. The Commune is always RIGHT, no matter what (from their point of view).
I am also appalled that John Stewart, at that time a twenty-three-year-old man, was taken for 'a ride.' One of the brothers told him that if someone came to his house and attacked his family, he would punch him out -- and even more than just punch. Well, so much for the Bruderhof's non-violence! In my day, we were taught to offer the other cheek. Then, when the young men were questioned by the draft board about what they would do in case someone attacked or shot their mother, they answered that they would protect their mother but not use violence. In fact, they were told what to say by the Servants, whether they were convinced that that would be the right thing to do. So I do not think the Commune can claim to be a non-violent organization any longer.
We always were told what to do. We never could really act the way we wanted to, or felt that we wanted to act. Orders -- the 'direction' -- always came from the top. In high school matters concerning the children, we always, and I say again always, had to check with the Servants, and then we were told most emphatically what to do!
Bette, what you write about your contacts in Birnbach is extremely interesting! Now everything in regard to the Commune and their actions in Birnbach seems to fall into place. My goodness, the Commune really does always think that they are right! Thanks for writing about the meeting you had with the village people of Birnbach. And Hans, belated birthday greetings to you!
Conrad, thank you for writing about Konstantin. I used to work in the Primavera hospital with him. He and I cleaned and sterilized the instruments, and were responsible for this task. Before every operation, we had to boil the instruments because that was the only way we had available. The instruments had to be wrapped in cloth and placed in the sterilizing pot. Well, one evening we were frantically preparing for an emergency operation and I had put the pot on the fire. Konstantin went to check a little later and came back and told me that the lid of the pot was being lifted off -- or rather 'up' -- because the water was bubbling so high. I told him to put a stone on the lid to hold it down. Konstantin went to do that, but he didn't' put the stone on top of the lid but he put it inside on top of the instruments. When I went to take the instruments out, I saw what had happened and yelled at Konstantin, more or less telling him that he was a dipstick. He came running.
"Verdammt nochmal!" he exclaimed. Then he turned to stare at me. "And don't you dare go and tell the Servants I said that!"
I told him that in any case I had no use for the Servants and that I would not rat on him. We had to start boiling the instruments again, and Dr. Cyril was rather perturbed as to why we were taking so long about a job that normally was shorter. I told Konstantin I was sorry I had called him a dipstick. I also had yelled at him that he was insane to do such a damned stupid thing. Well, we kept our little secret and nobody was the worse for it. Konstantin came and told me that he would not tell anyone that I had used bad language either. He also apologized for doing such a dumb thing. Of course, that kind of mistake with the instruments did not happen again. We both saw to it that everything was done very correctly.
I often have wondered what happened to Konstantin, and why he did not travel to the States with his family. Well, now I know. Of course I believed all the stories that the Servants told us about anyone and everyone.
Thanks to all of you who contributed to this month's KIT! The EuroKIT conference news for 1996 sounds very interesting. I hope we can make it. We'll have to see what happens!
Hanna Patrick Homann, 6/5/94: I have meant to send the enclosed newspaper article to you ever since I read the Hummingbird Express coverage on the London Church of Christ, because we have had a group in Des Moines trying to establish a branch here. It had personal meaning for me because Andy [Baizeley] was approached by them in one of our shopping malls one weekend in January and apparently talked to a recruiter for over one hour (Andy and I have been looking for a church where we would feel comfortable here in Des Moines, but so far no luck!)
Andy didn't tell me about this meeting, but he had a lively conversation telling this man about his whole background and obviously coming across as trusting and naive. The man told him they would be starting Bible study classes and wanted Andy to meet other members. They exchanged phone numbers and this man wanted Andy to come over to his apartment for pizza and a movie.
Well, when Andy told me of these plans, I immediately became suspicious. I didn't think 'cult,' but wondered if this man was some sexual deviate, because you don't invite complete strangers to your apartment alone after one meeting. I tried to tell Andy to take it slow, maybe go first to a church service, meet some of the other members and get a feel of the group first, but he didn't see any problem.
The man kept phoning him to set up a date and was very aggressive with his approach. I talked to a girlfriend and my daughters, who all thought that it was very strange. Andy didn't want to disappoint the man by backing out, but eventually did at my insistence. About three weeks later, the enclosed article appeared in The Des Moines Register and shed some light on the weird way this church operates. It is scary how they prey on the young who are searching for somewhere to belong or for some meaning to their life.
If you wish to summarize the article and this story, you can put it on the Hummer. It is so great to be connected with so many through the Hummer, and I'm glad Andy talked me into it..
I graduated with honors (4.0 GPA) May 22nd and will transfer to Iowa State University and major in Animal Ecology for two more years. My Chrissie graduated from high school too, but hasn't yet decided what she wants to do. I hope she goes to college! Keep up the good work with KIT! We all appreciate it so much! See you all soon, Love,
Blair Purcell, 6/8/95: Hi all, here's a column by a well- admired (by me at least) black writer for The Washington Post from which I have excerpted a major part (as it may apply to our dialogue with the Bruderhof). Raspberry surely reflects the situation as I perceive it. Is there ANYTHING we might do to break the log jam? Maybe devote a whole issue of KIT to that question?
William Raspberry, © The Washington Post
Every now and then, I'll get a call from my friend. "You were steaming this morning," he'll say. "I love it when you're mad."
It's his favorite compliment. It's no longer mine. It delights my friend when I use the column to deflate stuffed shirts, to bring political 'enemies' down to size or to attack writers he doesn't care for. And if I do it with a touch of nastiness, so much the better.
I used to enjoy it too. The elegant insult of a public figure whose views I dislike, interpreting a critic's position in a way calculated to make him look ridiculous, sly attacks on the intellectual honesty of an opponent, picking apart some partisan with the gall to disagree with me -- these things used to be fun. They aren't any more, and I'm trying to understand why.
To some degree, it may be simply a matter of tiring of old toys and grasping for new hobbyhorses to ride. But the major part, I think is fear: fear that the clever barbs I throw away may wind up doing real damage -- if not to their human targets at least to our ability to discuss the issues in which we have a common interest. I know it seems that we spend an inordinate amount of time discussing issues. In fact, what we do is more cussing than discussing -- more probing for exploitable weaknesses than searching for common ground. Our opponents are not merely wrong; they are wrong-headed and, worse, mean-spirited. Holders of different views from ours don't just disagree; they would like to see us discredited, disenfranchised, or dead. And when I allow myself to believe such garbage, I am likely to take my hardest shots - not at issues but at people, Then my friend will call and tell me how he loves it when I'm mad.
Well, I don't like being mad. One of the reasons I avoid those head-to-head TV stare-downs is that they force you to pretend to be mad even when you're not. The format -- perennially popular -- discourages common premises or definition of terms, lest they lead to the disaster of tentative agreement. A overstates his view, B overstates his, and each refuses to grant the other the slightest concession. The rationale, if there is one, is that viewers will, like conscientious jurors, arrive at the truth in the middle. On TV, of course, it's a game -- like professional wrestling -- though not a game I enjoy playing. Who wants to be a single bookend when the intellectual nourishment is between the bookends?
But it's not always a game. Increasingly, or so it seems to me, participants in these hard-edge assaults masquerading as debates really do want to hurt the other side -- and seldom for reasons that can withstand close examination. We do an incredible amount of deliberate damage to one another for the slightest temporary advantage: a few votes here, an endorsement there -- even a round of applause. (There are always some who love us when we're mad.) What I find frustrating about all this is that it masks the seriousness of our situation, the mutuality of our problems and the narrowness of our real differences...
Listen to our point/counterpoint on social issues, and you'd think that half of us actually favors crime or an increase in teenage parents, while the other half loves prisons and orphanages. The truth is, all of us care about strong families and safe communities, and we might actually make some headway toward achieving them -- if we could learn to talk and listen to each other.
So why do we persist in shouting, instead? Is it that we fear the motives and objectives of our 'enemies'? Or is it because too many of our friends love us when we're mad?
Bill Kimbro, 6/15/94: The nature of inner pain... the constant struggle to understand what one considers to have been extremely unfair hurt and injury... will ultimately destroy everything tender in a once-tender heart, unless the mind can reach a Quiet place within... where the Presence of the Wounded Christ has His seat. There He sits... with unhealed scars... having accepted the torture from brutal hands... having looked on those who abused him, spit on Him... threw Him out... betrayed Him... ground Him through the power machine of ecclesiastical hierarchy... all in the name of His Father... He looked on them... without malice and whispered: "Father... forgive them... they are ignorant of what is happening."
Ruth Baer Lambach, 6/12/95: I just returned from "The Quiet In The Land" conference, where I was able to tell my story and pass the address list around, asking people to check off their names if they were interested in receiving information about KIT and about other stories, such as Bette Bohlken-Zumpe's and Nadine Pleil's.
The conference was an historic event, a first of its kind. There were 99 presentations and only 16 of these were by men. Intellectual activity was very high since there were mostly scholars. I was impressed and felt, in spite of my foot-dragging, that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Unfortunately I was not able to attend the session chaired by Beulah Hostetler on the Hutterites. Gertrude Enders Huntington was there and there were three Hutterites there who had come to my session the previous day. The mother of one, John Stahl, died on Saturday at 90 years old. I offered to drive the Hutterites to the Philadelphia airport. Considering all the local roads and twists and turns, we made it all right. After the conference, Tom came down and picked me up and we drove Beulah home. We visited with John, stopped by the Swedenborgian (New Church) headquarters close by, and then returned to Jersey City. Greetings to all,
J. Christoph Arnold, Woodcrest Bruderhof, a current letter to various Hutterite colonies:
NOTE: This letter has been deleted as of November 16, 1995, to comply with the Bruderhof's attorneys' request that KIT "cease and desist from republishing in any of your publications any copyright protected articles, letters or items published by the Hutterian Brethren." (By "Hutterian Brethren" we assume they refer to the Bruderhof.) We offer the following description of the letter instead:
Christoph accuses the Hutterites of dishonesty and self-righteousness. He states that they have removed him as Elder without allowing him a hearing, which they cannot do. "I would respect you brothers much more if you would tell me openly that you hate me." He accuses the Hutterites of being unrepentant and that they view repentance as "something to be avoided at all costs."
Christoph describes how he begged not to be given the Service of the Word in 1972, but the Bruderhof membership "pleaded for it." He goes on to say that now he has been outcast, he feels freer to go out and proclaim the message of the Gospel to the world. Then he becomes more accusatory, and claims that short of a miracle, he sees no hope for a reuniting with the Hutterites because "through arrogance and despising, Christ is being trampled on with soldiers' boots."
He goes on to state that he has concluded that the old Hutterian Church system must completely collapse before it can be renewed, and quotes Beatitudes: "Blessed are the poor in Spirit."
"Please stop despising what God is trying to do in the Eastern communities," he writes. "Here in the East we feel desperate, we feel lonely, and every day we ask for God's intervention. This will probably be the last communication you receive from me since I am the most hated person in your eyes. I am a thorn in your flesh, but I thank God for that."
Name Withheld, 2/26/95: A Message From The Great Guru Of The Order of Divine Inspiration to the open- minded reader. Shalom - Peace Vol. VI Nr. 8-9 , Aug-Sept 1994 of the KIT newsletter contained a reprint of a letter from Mr. Martin Johnson, dated 7/2/94, Pleasant View Bruderhof, to The Mennonite Weekly Review, in which the writer claims, "...our whole position is attacked, especially by the publisher of her [Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe - ed] book, The Peregrine Foundation. Her and their only aim is to destroy our commitment to Jesus and the witness of our Hutterian and Anabaptist forefathers... "...the author left our changing group..."
Mr. Johnson, how can anybody destroy some else's commitment to Jesus? I wonder... Or do you mistake the former with a commitment to The Bruderhof? Have you ever read Luke 5: 36-39? Please compare your group versus the Old-Order Hutterites in the light of this text. How dare you speak of the Hutterites as your forefathers and put "our changing group" under the same topic, Mr. Johnson! Firstly, the Hutterites or Hutterite Anabaptists are not your forefathers,, or are you in a position to trace your origins back 450 years as a Hutterite? Secondly, the Hutterites are not a "changing group," as you put it so aptly for your group. It's a historical fact that the Hutterites underwent terrible persecution and suffering because of their steadfastness and uncompromising inflexibility regarding their way of life and faith!
In his 'Open Letter' in The Plough, Winter 1995, J. Christoph Arnold vehemently attacks the "Hutterian Church," as he calls it. Why are you, Mr. J. C. Arnold, attacking the real Hutterites? Is it because they outsmarted you and your cronies? And told you right-off where you were wrong?
Here is part of a very right song:
Ist einer der uns auf den Tod nicht mag leiden
Soll lieber aus unserer Mitte fortbleiben
Chorus: A ja-doch ihr Bruder
A ja-doch ihr Schwestern
A ja-doch wir alle wir kennen uns schon
A ja-doch wir alle wir kennen uns schon
Rough translation:
Is someone who hates us to the gut
He'd better out of our midst shall strut
Oh yea, yea, thou brothers
Oh yea, yea, thou sisters
Oh yea, yea, we all do know each other well
Oh yea, yea, we all do know each other well
Somebody may remember the melody and write it down. It's fun to sing it!
Eberhard Arnold tried to fool them, but the Hutterites were on the alert from the start! Heini Vetter tried to fool them and they said, "The apple falleth not far from the tree, but we'll give them a chance because of the many members in good standing and for the many ex-members' sake! J. C. Arnold Vetter comes -- inheritance and all -- and tries to take over, thinking they will take his bait, hook, line, sinker and all (after all, they have no 'worldly knowledge.') But you forgot one little detail, Mr. J. C. Arnold: the 450-odd years of accumulated knowledge of the functioning of the human mind with all its malice, double-talk, deviousness, as well as the power of faith, the combination of which has kept the Hutterites afloat for almost half a millennium, nearly 20 generations. As you have stared, they already have lived over 450 years (and not a lousy 79) in community of goods, trying in their fragile human ways to follow the teaching of Christ, which is: Love God above everything, and your neighbor as yourself, and which includes and permeates every human interaction on all levels. They have succeeded in evolving a system (different from the SOB's) that leaves room for personal freedom and individual incentive, which you, Mr. J. C. Arnold and your group, smother systematically in order to have a better and more effective control over the individual member.
Somebody may fool some people some of the time, but nobody will fool all the people all of the time.
Mr. J. C. Arnold, you are a third-generation Fuhrer, Elder, Guru, or whatever, head of a multi-million-dollar corporation, no questions asked... How much have you and your forerunners stashed away? Those multi- millions must be somewhere, right? This despite the fact that all the common brothers and sisters believe that your group is living a life of voluntary poverty. They literally work off their xxx for nothing (or is it for your personal benefit, Mr. J. C. Arnold?), only to be kicked out at the whim of the Fuhrer, no questions asked... Isn't it so, Mr. J. C. Arnold, that you employ the same managerial techniques as all multi-million-dollar corporations? Wasn't 'The Nigeria Project' rather a very clumsy cover-up for the diversion of enormous funds to the exterior? And now you feel you are more needed in Russia, Japan and Korea? Aren't these now the hottest regions of heavy investment by international capital? In this context it strikes me, Mr. J. C. Arnold, that you give the same excuse for selling your place in Germany now as did your dad, the late Heini Arnold Vetter, back in the 1960s, in Paraguay: "That the Bruderhof cannot afford to keep the place any longer..." (With all those millions of U.S. $ from your corporations rolling all over this planet Earth? mutter... mutter...). For the benefit of uninformed or mal-informed readers, I am talking of multi-million- dollar investments, not of offering aid to needy ex- members or Sabras.
A problem is now arising in Germany for any cult, namely an official cult awareness on the part of the government due to the recognized threat to Democracy from such cults as Scientology and other unsafe sects because of their violation of human rights. Lengthy discussions are going on in Parliament on the "cult problem" topic and what stems to take for the protection of democracy and citizens.
Returning to your "Open Letter," Mr. J. C. Arnold: Is a united group more than Jesus Christ? Why is the devil mentioned in this context and not Jesus Christ? Is J. C. Blumhardt more than Christ? Where does Jesus demand to "fight for His victory?" Where in 'The Sermon on The Mount' is Jesus "sharp against sin," as you have stated. I only can find passages on forgiveness of sin, not on 'sharpness' (Luke 5: 19-25/31-32)
Aren't you perhaps too self-righteous, just like the Pharisees, to grasp the message and meaning in Math. 7: 15-21? In Luke 6: 27-49, doesn't Jesus speak very explicitly to you, Mr. J. C. Arnold, and you situation past and present? DO you really only see the splinter in the eye of your (Ex)-brothers and sisters, but cannot recognize the beam in your own?
An Amish Sabra once told how he measured or judged any "Christian" doctrine or teaching, namely by the words of Jesus in Math. 11: 28-30: "...and if the yoke is pressing and pinching, and you feel the burden of the load, you may rest assured that it is NOT from Jesus...!" Jesus Christ did not ask vows from his disciples. On the contrary, he came to free us from all those human-made chains and bonds, all those rules and bylaws, written and unwritten. If we accept His teachings and only His teachings alone, we will be truly free!!!
I cannot find any place in the New Testament where Jesus demands the forming of a group, association or community of goods, or unity above everything, among members of His commune. All I find is: Jesus states that wherever two or more people are gathered together in His name, He'll be right there amongst them... Then again, in Matt. 19: 21, Jesus instructs us to give our riches to the poor and then to follow Him. Jesus never mentions a group, nor does He indicate His followers as the recipients of our riches...
Mr. J. C. Arnold, you mention the part where Jesus warns His disciples against false teachers. Doesn't this apply to you and your system rather than to the Old Order Hutterites? How dare you accuse the Old Order Hutterites the way you do, after you and your group have caused such havoc amongst more than 600 ex- members and Sabras?
Now a question to KIT readers: is there anybody who shares my doubts about the authenticity of Chip Wilson? [see KIT Vol. VI #12 - ed] Nobody saw him, and the whole action reminded me of a secret agent sequence on TV. Knowing what I know of the deviousness of the present Leader, his late father and their cronies, the last communication from Chip clearly demonstrated a staged sequence of communication. Another bewildering thing to me is that the Federal offense of phone-tapping has not been report to the proper authorities! Why, it's a crime! And her you sit and argue...
Does any ex-member or Sabra really believe that the innocent, childlike spirit they thought to have grown up in still exists on the 'hofs today? Hogwash! You should seize the slightest opportunity to cram their hypocrisy down their throats. Read Luke 6: 24-26, or Matt. 15: 7-9 / 15, 19. A "Heil (t) [TEDEL" ]<]. to everybody,
Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe to various members of the German Press, (5/28/95: Since January 25th, the day Mr. Jorg Barth made the announcement that the "Hutterite" Bruderhof community would leave Birnbach/Westerwald because they no longer could withstand the harassments of their neighbors (whom he called "right-wing extremists and Nazis") that was forcing them to leave Germany for the second time this century, the Press and the TV have published many detailed reports on this matter.
As a granddaughter of Dr. Eberhard Arnold, the founder of the Bruderhof community, I would very much like to take a stand to this at this point. First of all, I would like to comment that the people in question are not "Hutterian Brethren" descending from Jakob Hutter, the Anabaptist of the 15th Century, but rather a fellowship started by my grandfather. After the First World War he was shattered by what had happened in Europe and, as a theologian and philosopher, he searched for a different way of living Christianity amongst men, together with the German Youth Movement of that time. He said, "The time for preaching is passed, and the time of active living for Christ has started!" With people of the same mind and faith he started living in Community of Goods, following the example of the early Christian community inasmuch as it is written, "They held all things in common...", as a symbol of God's Kingdom of peace on this earth. This fellowship later became the Rhon Bruderhof near Veitsteinbach/Hessen.
My grandfather never wanted to be the founder of yet another sect, and therefore made contact with the Old Hutterian Order in Canada and the northern United States. His vision was "A modern Hutterian life with the joy and enthusiasm of the German Youth Movement." After the death of my grandfather, my father Hans Zumpe led the Bruderhof through all the very difficult times that followed, until 1960. In 1937, persecution by the Nazi regime forced the Bruderhof community to leave Germany, and via Liechtenstein and England we finally landed in Paraguay, South America. Due to all these changes and travels, the Bruderhof never became a real "Hutterite community," but developed various communities under its own rules and regulations as the exigencies of life required.
As early as 1954, the Bruderhof tried to resettle in Germany, first in the mountains of the Frankish Alps at "Burg Hohenstein," and later on the Sinntal Bruderhof near Bad Bruckenau. At the same time, brothers under the leadership of my uncle Heinrich Arnold (second son of Eberhard Arnold) left Paraguay on mission trips to the United States. In 1954 they started a new community there, the "Woodcrest Bruderhof," mainly with new converts from different American churches and idealistic groups. With these new American members, money and power flowed into the brotherly life for the first time. The spirit of love and unity which had kept the various communities together throughout all hardships changed into a judgmental spirit from America towards the other communities, always finding fault and sin in the others. This brought an explosion in 1961 when seven Bruderhof communities were closed down by the American brothers: three in Paraguay, one in Uruguay, two in England and the Sinntal Bruderhof in Germany. 623 people were put on the street to fend for themselves. This arrogance of the American brothers brought a lot of pain, grief and hardship to the brotherhoods that had outlived the difficult years in tropical Paraguay.
Therefore it is clear that the closing of the Michaelshof in Birnbach is "NOT a second persecution from Nazi Germany" as Stern puts it in its article, "Second Expulsion From Their Homeland" (Feb. 23, 1995) but rather a second failure by the Bruderhof to reestablish life in Germany. This should be made clear!
In 1974, the Bruderhof communities united once more with the Hutterites under the leadership of my uncle Heini. This held several advantages for them:
1. The Bruderhof was recognized like the Hutterites as Conscientious Objectors.
2. When a new Bruderhof is started, all the other communities give a financial donation.
3. Building crews from the Hutterites were willing to come and help with the new construction, which made building so much cheaper.
Here again, it was the Bruderhof's terrible spiritual arrogance that hindered a complete union with the Old Hutterians (who were well integrated into American life). Similar to the 1960s, this would form a deep stumbling block. The Hutterian rules and regulations, even their forms of worship, were not followed by the Bruderhof at all. Only the Hutterite manner of dress and costume was accepted. In the end, this no longer could be tolerated by the Hutterites, especially because the Bruderhof, in its arrogance, continued to recruit new members among the Hutterite colonies. The conflict escalated until the Hutterites actually excluded the Bruderhof from their church, until today they are forbidden to call themselves "Hutterites" and no longer permitted to wear the Hutterite costume and dress.
This proved to be most embarrassing for the Bruderhof people in Birnbach. In order not to "lose face" altogether, it was so much easier to point to the "evil neighbor" as the source of all their misfortunes. For the Bruderhof, exclusion from the Hutterites meant: 1. No further help with building construction. 2. A complete stop of all financial help and gifts. 3. The shame of losing the Hutterian dress and the Hutterian name.
I myself was a victim of the 1961 'Big Crisis,' and was asked to leave the Bruderhof against my will and wishes because I was too independent in my thinking and actions. May of my family members still live on the Bruderhof, but they refuse contact with me. My brother Ben Zumpe as well as my cousin Jorg Barth were the leaders of the Michaelshof.
During the last eight years, many of the former Bruderhof children sought contact with each other in an attempt to offer spiritual and financial support. We formed an organization that is worldwide and has almost 1000 members. We have our own monthly newsletter and meet for a conference once a year in the States, and almost as frequently in Europe. Our goals include: 1. Offering help to one another in those matters that concern us all. 2. Offering a helping hand to young people who are sent away from the Bruderhof so that they can find their bearings in society they neither know or understand. 3. Try in every way to keep in dialogue with the Bruderhof in order to open their eyes to all the wrongs standing between them and their fellow men. 4. Try to find ways and means to contact our families in the Bruderhof, whom we are not allowed to see or even to write to. All mail is censored or just 'returned to sender.'
Due to our KIT ("Keep In Touch") organization, we are always informed about everything that happens on the Bruderhof. Through computer mail and fax, we can be in immediate contact with each other. Also, our newsletters and other articles are available at on the World Wide Web (InterNet).
Regarding Birnbach, my husband and I made a journey there to hear from the people themselves what had happened during these last months. Naturally, the citizens of Birnbach were worried when they originally heard that 100-200 people were moving to their small village of some 500 inhabitants, especially because it was obvious that these people had not intention to integrate into their village life. But more than that, it was the Bruderhof's arrogant manner in which they ignored the feelings of the villagers. That was the REAL point! The reason for resistance to the Bruderhof in the village was not the "fear of foreign domination," nor that they were National-Socialists, but rather it was the manner in which Jorg Barth and others tried to get what they wanted over the heads of the villagers themselves.
When I heard about the difficulties between the Birnbach citizens and the Bruderhof, and after reading some newspaper articles that were sent to me, I wrote a letter to the Mayor of Birnbach on February 23rd, this year. I asked him to have this letter made available to the Press so that the Bruderhof's true reasons for leaving might be made clear. When I never received an acknowledgment or answer to my letter, I mailed the same letter to the Citizens Union in Birnbach. But my letter arrived too late because the press and the media were completely on the side of the Bruderhof and against the people in Birnbach. Personally, I believe that the real reason this campaign became so grotesque is that it was exactly fifty years ago that Germany lost the war and was freed from the Nazi Regime. Press and media were especially alert for anything that even had the 'smell' of Nazi ideas in order to offer proof of their own democratic views and who the world that Germany today is a democratic country. Only in this case, it was a wrong reaction at the wrong time!
An apology is due from the Press and the media to the people of Birnbach. The village is split into two camps, those for and those against the Bruderhof. Silence dominates the streets where once they had village festivals and joy. What are these poor people afraid of? And why? Fear of being called "Nazi" is the most obvious reason, because they fear the stigma for their children. In any democratic state, it is possible to fight for one's rights within the given laws. Also in Holland villagers are allowed to protest if a big building or a main road is planned through a green belt or park area.
At least I understand the people in Birnbach and wish with all my heart that something would be done by the Press who virtually persecuted those people with their television cameras and untrue reports, so that the blemishes can be cleared away from the Citizen Union!
KIT: There have been a number of replies to the above letter, thanking her for her correction to the Bruderhof's version of the story. One quote: " I must agree with you that it was a wrong statement that 'Birnbach has again persecuted the victims of the Nazis.' Through all the many different articles and TV programs it did become quite clear, in the end, that it was not a right wing/Nationalist Socialist cause that made the Bruderhof leave, but rather a tiring struggle with the building codes of this country."
Spectrum printed her letter under the headline, "Why Did The Hutterites Leave? Support Group Says "There was no hate against foreigners."
------ Articles ------
Translation of an article by Bette Bohlken-Zumpe for the ADW (Dutch Mennonite Weekly) published May 20, 1995.
The Departure of the Hutterite Bruderhof from Germany is an Internal Hutterite Matter
I wish to respond to your articles (ADW March 18 and April 1). Both involved the departure of the Hutterite Brotherhood from the German village of Birnbach in the Westerwald. Both pieces refer to "the enmity of the civilian population" who refused to give them the freedom of faith and religion of their way of life, thus forcing them to leave Germany. The actual facts are very different, and I feel it to be my Christian duty and responsibility to see to it that the truth does not get twisted in this manner.
[Bette then identifies herself as the granddaughter of Eberhard Arnold, describes who E. A. was and how the Holland Mennonites assisted Bruderhof refugees from Hitler in 1937 and helped free the three brothers from Nazi jail. Also how her father Hans spent much time at the Mennonite Center in Bilthoven and always wrote of their 'brotherly love.' She describes the move to Paraguay and how, once again, the Paraguayan Mennonites were so helpful and loving, and how the hospital received financial help from the Mennonite Central Committee.]
Difficult Years
But the difficult years were still to come. After the war, brothers left Paraguay for the States to spread the call to Community, and actually united with existing communes there. This new branch of our Community, with its zealous new members, held the strong belief that they alone knew what God wanted from His children. Together with their spiritual leader, Heini Arnold (second son of Eberhard Arnold), a very unstable and unbalanced person who had been through several breakdowns in the past, they believed that they actually had received the power from God to separate the good from the evil spirits. This spiritual presumption brought a lot of division and pain between brothers and sisters, as brothers judged brothers and felt they had the power and right to handle with a harsh hand and a hard heart. They also thought they had the power to drive out evil spirits with prayer and the laying on of hands. All of this brought confusion.
Between 1960 and 1963 this led to the closing of seven Bruderhofe, three in Paraguay along with the Bruderhof House in Asuncion; one in Uruguay; two in England as well as the German Bruderhof Sinntal. The hospital in Paraguay was dismantled because the American brothers said "social work was not our duty on this earth!" Everything that we had built with our sweat, tears and blood was destroyed by a handful of arrogant brothers. More than half of the families, brothers and sisters with their children, were kicked out of the Community to fend for themselves without any financial help or material goods. Those of the brothers and sisters who were willing to follow the "new line" all were moved to the United States.
I too was asked to leave the Community in 1961 without any foundation or cause, same as Sister Paula Thijssen, who will be 90 on April 27.
In 1974, the Community united once more with the Hutterian Church but they never really planned to become real Hutterians (which would include accepting every point of their faith and their Rules). Instead, they felt an inner urge to missionize amongst the Hutterite colonies. So once again the Hutterians have now excluded them from their Church. They are no long allowed to call themselves "Hutterites," and no longer allowed to wear the Hutterite dress and costume. This exclusion has great consequences for the Bruderhof because for the past twenty years, they actually had worked together and had joint ventures with the Hutterites in Germany as well as Nigeria. Both communities were started together, and without the practical help of Hutterite carpenters and their financial support, it was absolutely impossible to build and expand on the Michaelshof in Germany. This must have been a hard blow for them. After fighting the authorities for building permits and to change parkland zoning to permit new buildings -- and finally having the papers they so much wanted and needed to expand and build their own school and factory and Community house -- now it was just impossible to invest 7 million D.M. without the help of the Hutterites and their builders. It is a pity, but without the Hutterian colonies, this was out of the question.
This, then, is the true reason that the Bruderhof people left Germany in such a hurry! Not that the 'evil' neighbors are guilty with their "right wing and Nazi intimidations," as all the German newspapers reported during these last months, but it is a purely internal Hutterite matter! In September of this year, the split between the Bruderhof and the Hutterites will be made final, but even now all joint ventures and united work has been broken off.
Last year I wrote a book about my life on the Bruderhof and the great changes that came in the 1960s. I followed a hard road of life alone in the world without the protection of the Community, seeking a new purpose and faith for the future. This book is written in English and is titled Torches Extinguished, which means the same as "quenched light." Anyone interested can contact me. The proceeds go to help young people who are kicked out of the Community, to try and help them find their feet.
Hutterites Break Along East-West Lines
Schism Is Latest Development in Groups' Turbulent Relationship
by Rich Preheim, Assistant Editor
The Mennonite Weekly Review, 6/15/95
In a complex schism rife with gossip, allegations and even a lawsuit, the last Hutterite link between East and West appears to be severed. Only 20 years after reuniting, the Eastern Hutterites, known as the Bruderhof, have announced a break from a Western splinter group five years after the rest of the Hutterian Brethren excluded the Bruderhof. The leaders of the two groups, whose relationship was once described as like father and son, agree on the root of the rift.
"As soon as a group is united anywhere in the world, the devil is not far behind," wrote Bruderhof elder J. Christoph Arnold.
"The devil is behind it," said Jake Kleinsasser, elder of the Western faction. "That's all I know."
Beyond that, the reasons for the schism are murky.
While there has always been tension between the Bruderhof and the traditional Hutterites, the relationship between East and West had been deteriorating fro several years. Now, with the East deliver the crucial blow, it may have disintegrated altogether. In "An Open Letter from the Bruderhof" released in January, Arnold announced the break from the West because "the church has lost its salt and has become lukewarm, shallow and superficial... a lifeless and self-defeating system."
Arnold criticized the West for members withholding money and other goods despite their vows to relinquish all private property, "little or no spiritual leadership," alcoholism and premarital sex. Western Hutterites and other deny the East's charges. Michael Waldner, a minister from South Dakota, said some of those things have happened, but "allegations to the extent that Christoph writes them" are false. Terry Miller, research director of the Hutterite Studies Centre in Austin, Manitoba, said, "Of the several hundred Hutterites I've known personally over the last 30 years, the vast majority of them take their Christianity very seriously... For many thousand of the faithful, the Hutterite way of the 1990s is not a lifeless form."
The West claims not to know why the break occurred. "As far as I'm concerned, it's insanity," Kleinsasser said. Said Waldner, "We can't figure out the reason."
Bruderhof leaders say they want to bring needed change to the Hutterites, something they charge the leadership in the West is resisting. "In a way. we Hutterites believe we need a reformation from our Hutterite ways." said Ian Winter, a Bruderhof minister.
Said Arnold, "If we are opposed to change, we are a dead church."
Arnold and Winter said the break has nothing to do with the 1992 split of the Kleinsasser group with the rest of the Western Hutterite Brethren in the wake of questionable financial dealings by Kleinsasser.
"What happened there, I can't judge," Arnold said. Added Winter, "Nor are we interested in pursuing anything like that."
Nigerian Catalyst
Whatever the other factors, it appears the primary catalyst in the break is Palmgrove, a new Hutterite community in Nigeria that was a joint effort of East and West. In early 1993, Palmgrove's relationship with the Bruderhof broke down, reportedly because Palmgrove leaders refused to turn over ownership of the property to the church. The Bruderhof left and the Nigerians turned to the West.
Last June, Arnold circulated a letter among the leadership of the West requesting that they stand with the East against Palmgrove. Noting that he supported Kleinsasser in his split from the rest of the Hutterites, he write, "Now I expect the same from you."
Nevertheless, when Palmgrove approached the West, they responded with material resources and ministers. Kleinsasser said the East voluntarily pulled out and that the West still considers Palmgrove a mission project. Both sides claim the support of Palmgrove members. The West has ministers in the community, while the East has had ministers among those who left or were expelled from Palmgrove. In October, in the midst of the Palmgrove developments, Arnold, with his wife, went to Manitoba unannounced for a wedding and to discuss the groups' differences with Kleinsasser. Arnold went to Crystal Spring, Kleinsasser's colony, but was then asked to go to the nearby colony of the assistant elder. For Arnold, that amounted to being kicked out of Crystal Spring and was an insult of unity.
The East, claiming it had sunk $2.35 million into Palmgrove, in January brought a lawsuit against Palmgrove to freeze its assets. But a judge in Nigeria recently threw it out because such suits can only be filed against individuals. Arnold said the suit has been withdrawn.
"We just wanted to make a point that in Anabaptist history it's wrong for a brother to have private property," he said.
Strangely, the lawsuit, filed by the Hutterian Brethren of New York Inc., was filed also on behalf of the West. The West issued a statement opposing the lawsuit. Also opposing the lawsuit were Nigerian pastors and religious leaders of various denominations. They wrote a blistering letter to the East, calling them "hypocrites, thieves and liars" for bringing legal action against fellow Christians.
Underlying Causes
Arnold said the Palmgrove incident was a reason for the "Open Letter." But underlying causes for the break have been stewing for several years. After Kleinsasser's split from the rest of the West, he and Arnold became, in effect, co-elders of new Hutterite faction. (The rest of the Western Hutterites broke ties with the Bruderhof in 1990.) But as far back as August, 1993, Arnold urged that both he and Kleinsasser repent and undergo a period of self-discipline for contributing to the deterioration of relations between East and West. Kleinsasser rejected the idea.
"The word repentance to some of them is like a swear word," Arnold said. Kleinsasser's group, like the other Western Hutterites before them, now acknowledge differences between East and West. "They really are a different group than we are," Waldner said. These differences include authority structures, theology, lifestyle, social/ethnic background and approaches to education and social activism. Arnold, however, maintains that love of Christ should be able to overcome those differences. As proof, he cited the 22 marriages between Bruderhof and Western members. But he said a factor in the souring of relations was the departure of Kleinsasser's daughter, Dora, and her husband, Dan Moody, from the Bruderhof last summer.
Waldner said inter-marriages contributed to the break between East and West. He mentioned two specific couples who moved to the Bruderhof after trying to live in the West. The result was gossip against the West, he said.
"People were forced to elaborate how bad things were in the West," Dan Moody said. "There was a lot of talk against the Hutterites in meetings when they were not present."
That eventually led to his leaving the Bruderhof, he said. "I kept hearing a lot of untruths about my father-in-law," Moody said. "There was false witness. I raised a couple of questions and was excommunicated."
Neither Moody nor Waldner would elaborate on the nature of the gossip. Hutterite teachings prohibits gossip. "When you love somebody, you tell them straight where they're off," Arnold said. But both Moody and Waldner said Arnold never confronted Kleinsasser with the accusations until going public with the "Open Letter." Arnold, citing baptisms, weddings, conferences and funerals in the West, said "Every opportunity I used to say 'brothers and sisters, we have to change in these areas.' Whenever I had a chance, I used it." Possible Power Struggle
There are also indications that a power struggle contributed to the split. About a year ago, Arnold was passed over when an assistant elder to Kleinsasser was chosen.
I'm quite certain that played a big part in what happened between the [Arnold] group and the [Kleinsasser] group," said Mary Wipf, a former Hutterite who still has family ties to the colonies. She said the Bruderhof pushed for Arnold's selection. "But in the Hutterites, to seek promotion is a no-no," Wipf said. "You are always supposed to seek God's providence."
Arnold denied wanting the assistant elder position. I'm so busy just trying to take care of our community," he said. "All I tried to do is point out to them their own teaching."
The Bruderhof has long been an advocate of East- West unity. That has led some on both sides to believe that the East wanted to control the West. Moody, who has connections to both the East and West, said the Bruderhof wanted to exert undue influence on the West.
Mennonite sociologist John A. Hostetler, who helped in the early '70s to reunite East and West but has since distanced himself from the Bruderhof, wrote in 1991: "Uniting implies that the Hutterite colonies would have to give up their traditional understandings" in favor of the Bruderhof style of leadership, which is more hierarchical and centralized.
Among the traditional Hutterites, Miller said, "There was a lot of concern on the part of some that Christoph Arnold would be their elder."
Sam Kleinsasser, a brother of Jake and a Hutterian Brethren minister, has decried the East's centralized, highly authoritarian organizational structure and doubts the East's motives for unity.
"Through hindsight, we now are fully convinced that the [Bruderhof's] request to join the Hutterian Church... was not to conform to Hutterian customs and practices," he wrote in 1990. 'They saw us as a ready- made mission field and set about recruiting converts with missionary zeal and enthusiasm."
The Future
The fallout from this break is still unknown. While they are effectively split, neither side has excommunicated the other, nor has plans to.
"They can do it and create three churches if they want to," Jake Kleinsasser said. Arnold said anyone from the West will still be regarded by the Bruderhof as a brother or sister. But there are those with connections to both sides who are now in limbo. There are 120-plus Western Hutterites in the Bruderhof, plus the intermarried couples who will no doubt have to choose allegiances. With the exception of a few individuals, the Western colonies originally aligned with Kleinsasser have remained loyal to him. The only exception was Oakwood, a joint West/East community in Minnesota, where only three families did not move East.
It also remains to be seen whether either group can or will continues to call itself Hutterite. Lawyers for the "Gibbites," the Western group Kleinsasser broke away from, have already instructed the Kleinsasser group not to use the Hutterite or Schmiedeleut names. The East is now incorporated as The Hutterian Brethren of New York. As for any hopes for reconciliation, both sides aren't ruling it out, but it's obvious it's not imminent. Significant communication between East and West has dried up in recent months. Arnold blames the leadership in both the West and East, including himself, for the split and reiterates his call for repentance.
"If we are true ministers of the gospel, we have to... also say we are weak people, capable of sins as everyone else," he said.
Like his grandfather, the Bruderhof founder, and his father, also an elder, Arnold proclaims his desire for unity with the West. "If God opens the door to reconciliation, I'll be the first one to grab it," he said. "It's up to Jake... I am ready at any time."
Said Kleinsasser, harkening back to the reuniting of 1974, "It happened before; it could happen again."
History of East-West Hutterites Relations Marked By Differences
by Rich Preheim, Assistant Editor
When Eberhard Arnold in 1920 established a Christian community in Germany patterned after the 16th-century Hutterites, he didn't know the direct religious descendants of Anabaptist leader Jacob Hutter were alive and well in North America. Since then, the "traditional" Hutterian Brethren and Arnold's Bruderhof (as they are commonly known) have had a on-again, off- again relationship which is now off. But the story in the last five years also includes a bitter schism among the Hutterian Brethren of the West. The result is that there are three churches calling themselves Hutterite.
The "traditional" Hutterites moved from the Ukraine of Russia as part of the great 1870s Mennonite exodus to the Pains of North America. The Hutterites established three colonies in what is now southeastern South Dakota. As they grew and started daughter colonies, the original three colonies have evolved into three conferences, or leuts (German for people): Dariusleut, Lehrerleut and Schmiedeleut. The three are in fellowship with each other and have a council which meets regularly. Together they are known as the Hutterian Brethren Church.
Contact between the Hutterites and the Bruderhof was made in 1928. In 1930, while Arnold was traveling among the North American Hutterites, he was ordained an elder and his community was accepted into the fold. In 1937, Hitler expelled the Bruderhof, which then bounced around Europe before settling in Paraguay in 1941. When Woodcrest, the first American community, was established near Rifton, N.Y., in 1954, the Bruderhof had communities in Paraguay and England. The first break between the Hutterites and the Bruderhof came in 1955. Bruderhof members moved to Forest River, a Hutterite colony in North Dakota, and, in effect, took it over. Some Hutterites sided with the Bruderhof, leaving the rest of the Hutterites homeless. When the Hutterites excluded the Bruderhof, its members at Forest River, plus Hutterite supporters, returned East.
But in a 1974 meeting at Sturgeon Creek Colony in Manitoba, the Bruderhof was welcome back into the Hutterian Brethren Church, although some Hutterites maintain it was only a conditional arrangement. While there was once again unity between East and West, unity within the West was being threatened. In 1989, in an unprecedented move that drew great attention in Canada, Daniel Hofer of Lakeside, a Schmiedeleut colony in Manitoba, took the Hutterian Brethren to court. Hofer had been expelled over a dispute with Schmiedeleut leadership over rights to a hog feeder patent. The Canadian Supreme Court later ruled on appeal that Hofer's expulsion was invalid. During the trial, accounts were made public of questionable business dealings by the Schmiedeleut leadership, led by senior elder Jacob Kleinsasser. Later, banker Donald Gibb circulated a letter and documents reported to show that Schmiedeleut leaders cost the colonies at least $5.8 million through "deceit, misrepresentation and outright theft."
The Schmiedeleut split into two camps: the anti- Kleinsasser "Gibbites," named after Gibb, and the Kleinsasser supporters called the "Oilers," a name derived from a bad oil investment by the Schmiedeleut leadership. In December, 1992, the Schmiedeleut ministers voted Kleinsasser out as elder. Today about 20 colonies, mostly in Manitoba and a few in South Dakota, are sided with Kleinsasser. They are not considered members of the Hutterian Brethren Church because they have not signed the new constitution, drawn up by the Schmiedeleut division.
Initially, the Bruderhof also supported Kleinsasser. He was its only link to the traditional Hutterites after the Dariusleut and Lehrerleut broke ties with the East in 1990 over theological, cultural and social differences between the groups. After Kleinsasser's ouster, the Schmiedeleut "Gibbites" aligned themselves with the Dariusleut and Lehrerleut.
------ Book Review ------
The Plough And The Pen:
Paul S. Gross and The Establishment of The Spokane Hutterian Brethren
By Vance Joseph Youmans,
with a Foreword by Prof. John A. Hostetler
Parkway Publishers, Box 3678, Boone, North Carolina, 1995, 146 pps, no price given
Review by George Maendel
This concise and easy-to-read book gives a very positive picture of Hutterite Society, focusing on the story of Paul Gross and his leadership in the establishment of Spokane Hutterite Colony near Spokane Washington. The author describes the origins of the Hutterites and their sojourn in Europe before they came to America 120 years ago, the first Hutterite Colonies in South Dakota and the initial move to another state, Montana, after 30 years of pioneer farming. He also tells how the Colonies accepted an offer of tolerance and available land from the Canadian Government when the Hutterites were experiencing intolerance from their neighbors and the U. S. government during the First World War. Mr. Youmans recounts the travail experienced by young Hutterite men from South Dakota (my grandfather among them) who were drafted and placed in military prisons. Some never returned alive because they refused to join the military, even as noncombatants. The reader will learn about the Hutterites' successful adaptation to the Canadian prairies, and about the suspicion, hatred and intolerance they experienced from some organized farm groups who proposed restrictive laws against the Hutterites and managed to get them passed by provincial legislatures.
Modern day-to-day Hutterite life is briefly described, though Mr. Youmans says "Hutterite Society is a mystifying one, and the intricacies of Hutterite life are legion." However, like many "outsiders", I think he is so impressed by the activity within the present-day Hutterite edifice that he may not see the foundations of it, although the bottom half of page 11 touches on some of the key elements. It is a system based on the indoctrination of children, and on their truncated education, which is accomplished by taking them away from school and into the work force at an early age, and by denying them use of a comprehensive language. Mr. Youmans tells us that all Hutterites are trilingual. Surely this is a joke. Most Hutterites speak no High German and have limited understanding of it. They are not encouraged to develop skill in the use and understanding of English. That leaves them with "Hutterisch," which although it may be colorful and worthwhile, is also very limited and has no written form. To say, as he does, that the Hutterites' highest form of expression is in the High German language is true, but in the past tense. All the old sermons were written by Hutterites, once upon a time, when they did have a command of the language. There are no current Hutterite sermons, partly because of a poverty of words with which to write, think and express abstract ideas, amongst the great majority of Hutterites.
In all, The Plough and the Pen is an excellent introductory book for anyone wishing to know about Hutterites. The footnotes are particularly useful, referring the reader to nearly every other written source on Hutterite life and history.
AFTER THE CULT, post-recovery workshops for ex-cult members will be held at the following sites and dates:
Colorado, August 18-20 at a rural conference center outside of Denver, from 9 A.M. Saturday until 5 P.M. Sunday. All meals from Friday dinner included. Center is accessible by auto and limited public transportation. Single and double room options. $155 double, $200 single.
California, Sept. 15-17 at a private retreat center 70 miles north of San Francisco. The workshops will be led by cult education specialist Janja Lalich and Michael Lisman, and will include the participation of other professionals in the field. Participants will have use of swimming pool, hot tub, nearby lake and hiking areas. Limited private room availability, and baths are shared. $220 for double occupancy.
Additional information will be provided in registration packets sent to enrollees. Workshops fill up early. Register now! Mail check to American Family Foundation, P.O. Box 2265, Bonita Springs, FL 33959. Telephone 212 533 5420 or 212 249 7693 (message center)
Topics to be covered include: overview of the recovery process, coping with Triggers, Margaret Singer's Six Conditions for Thought Reform; Introduction to Robert Lifton's Eight Criteria; Effectively Coping with Depression and Guilt; Effects of Hypnosis and Trance Techniques; Anxiety, Fear and Difficulties with Decision- Making; Reestablishing Trust in Yourself and Others; The Grieving Process -- Getting Beyond It; Dependency Issues.
Leonard Pavitt: Something forwarded with brotherly greetings from Brother Witless, "to help keep KIT's circulation down."
How To Tell A Sage From An Onion
Be warned! This is not easy. For a start, both can bring tears to the eyes. The one, just plain ordinary tears; the other, sometimes tears of annoyance, maybe bewilderment and, quote often, of hilarity. I leave you to guess which produces which, but to give you some clues -- have you ever actually laughed at an onion? Also, I imagine none of you have ever been pontificated at, or given stupid advice, by an onion. Another clue is whether it is hairy or not. For some strange reason, 'saging' and 'shaving' don't seem to go together. It appears that as soon as a person feels he is becoming sagacious, he decides to stop shaving. It could be, of course, that this is not a conscious decision on his part. He can often be heard telling people "My whole perception of the world, and the things in it, has been completely altered," so he probably can't recognize his razor any more.
Unlike onions, which can be grown in all sorts of places, sages flourish most successfully in little, closed groups of people. It has been recognized throughout the centuries that they can best be cultivated thus, and such groups were first given the name "sage cultivators" from which, over the years, only the part-word 'cult' has remained and is still applied to such groups. This cultivation of sages does not, on the whole, do too much damage if the people who believe the stuff they proclaim are confined to the group members. It is only when the sages get out and can pontificate to gullible 'outsiders' that harm can be done. The various weighty tomes declaring their 'insights,' that they may write and have published, also do not inflict much damage, although people have been known to trip over them when using them as door-stops. Though it is true that a certain amount of damage from friction and turmoil can be generated, even in the group, if it has more than one sage. Sages do not like to have to listen to one another, and who can blame them? This can lead to a lot of jealousy and infighting between them, which results in the unfortunate 'humble gullibles' getting confused by both sages instead of by just the one.
One last thought: in comparing the relative value of onions and sages to society, it appears to me that there is a blatant paradox inherent in our legal system which finds it perfectly permissible to do the sorts of things one does to onions but which would probably denounce anyone doing the same, however humanely, to sages. I can't help feeling that if this were changed, humankind would, on the whole, benefit greatly.
The Sage
There he sits sprouting Whiskers and Wisdom,
Dispensing Great Thoughts on this theme and that.
His voice drones on as he talks through his beard,
Sharing his Thoughts, which are still just as weird
As before when, clean-shaven, he talked through...
his hat.
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