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

P.O. Box 460141 / San Francisco, CA 94146-0141 / telephone: (415) 821-2090 / FAX (415) 282-2369 / / e-mail:

KIT Staff U.S.: Ramón Sender, Charles Lamar, Christina Bernard, Vince Lagano, Dave Ostrom, Brother Witless (in an advisory capacity)

EuroKIT: Joy Johnson MacDonald, Carol Beels Beck, Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe, Ben Cavanna

KIT XI #7 July 1999

The KIT Newsletter is an open forum for fact and opinion. It encourages the expression of all views, both from inside and from outside the Bruderhof. We reserve the right to edit submissions according to guidelines discussed at numerous KIT conferences. Obviously, it's seldom easy to know exactly how best to carry out KIT's mission of allowing many voices and various points of view to be heard. We do not, and cannot, vouch for the validity of any opinion or assertion appearing in the KIT Newsletter. The opinions expressed in the letters that we publish must remain those of the correspondents and do not necessarily reflect those of KIT editors or staff.

Yearly subscription rates (11 issues): $25 USA; $30 Canada; $35 International mailed f/ USA; £20 mailed f/ EuroKIT to UK & Europe


This is the final KIT issue of our first decade of publication! Hooray for us! (Visualize fireworks, rockets, loud band playing Keine Shoener Land or perhaps 'The International'). This decade has offered such a rollercoaster adventure! The 'ups' have been all the wonderful reconnections between people, the 'downs' having been the Bruderhof's descent into the abuse of the law courts and even worse behavior. Anyway, Happy TENTH ANNIVERSARY to KIT! May it continue to serve in ways too amazing yet to be imagined! We look forward to seeing everyone at Friendly Crossways, Aug 6 - 9, and EuroKIT, Sept 17-19, Lower Shaw Farm!

The Whole KIT And Caboodle

------ Table of Contents --------
Joy Johnson MacDonald
Margot Wegner Purcell
Eric Lee Goodnight
EuroKIT gathering Sept 17-19, 1999
Bette Bohlken-Zumpe
William Kulla Fischer
ITEM - Rifton Aviation Expansion Plans
------ ------
P Fox, ploughman, B Purcell, P Fox, T Domer,
M Purcell, B & M Purcell, R Sender
Terry Miller
ITEM - Plough Pub publishes She Said Yes
------ ------
P Fox, B Chesley, W Chesley
B Purcell, B Cavanna, W Chesley,
D Ostrom, P Forde, M Fros, Kitsucks1, M Fros
B Cavanna
ITEM - Cries From The Heart review
ITEM - Drained reviews on
Katherine Brookshire
Hilarion Braun
Sam Arnold
Hilarion Braun to Sam Arnold
Ramon Sender
Hans Zimmermann - 'Wenceslao Jaime'

Joy Johnson MacDonald, 6/14/99: Dear KIT friends, for many years Ramon has sent me 80 KITs each month, which I mail on to people in England, Germany, Switzerland and Holland. I have also been responsible for collecting the European subscriptions which I pass on to Ramon after deducting postage. I am unable to continue this task and we need to find an alternative by September. It is certainly much more economical for KITs to be posted from Europe and indeed it would be good if a German reader were willing to send out 20 KITs, as the mailing cost from England to Europe has doubled since I started, whereas internal mail has hardly gone up at all.
When I spoke to people at our recent Rookwood KIT B.B.Q. there were a few suggestions but no firm offers, so I'm widening my appeal to all the European readership. I am very willing to help someone set up the mailing list and could print a few months labels for them. If Ramon and his editors have to send out the extra KITs, we may need to consider increasing the European subscription rate to cover the extra (more than double) cost of mailing from the States. I do hope someone, or several people, can take this on. With best wishes,

KIT: Thank you, Joy, for all your efforts over these years! Your job as faithful EuroKIT distributor has been only one facet of what we know is your ongoing and very loving commitment to KITfolks' needs.

Margot Wegner Purcell, Father's Day, 6/20/99: To those of the Bruderhof who read this site, I have a request. Please pass on to my Papa and all the fathers on the hofs, that we think of them especially today as Father's Day is celebrated in the USA. I miss communication with my father and being a part of his later years. I know it is not his decision alone that is keeping us apart. My parents are missing out on their children's and grandchildren's lives. My daughter sorely misses knowing her grandparents.
Therefore, J. C. Arnold, Christian Domer, Joe Keiderling or whoever else reads here, please pass on sincere greetings to all our parents on the hof.

KIT: Eric Lee Goodnight was born on June 7th to Ann Button and Dean Goodnight, arriving a few weeks later than expected. After a lengthy labor, Eric was delivered by c-section, weighing in at 12 pounds, 1 oz. He was immediately offered a very generous contract to play with the San Francisco Forty-Niners in 2018. Proud papa Dean refused the offer. "Wait until at least the kid can sign his own name," he was heard to say. BEST TO ALL!!!

KIT: Eurokit 1999 -- Tenth Anniversary Weekend at Lower Shaw Farm, Swindon, Wiltshire. Friday Sept 17th supper to Sunday 19th lunch.
Full weekend accommodation and all meals - £60
Full weekend - non resident inc all meals - £43
Day stay Saturday including meals - £18
Day stay Sunday including meals - £12
Bed & Breakfast before or after the weekend - £12
Please book direct by sending a one-third deposit to: Lower Shaw Farm, Old Shaw Lane, Shaw, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN5 9PJ. Matt Holland or Andrea Hirsch on 01793 771080. If money might prevent you from attending, please contact Ben Cavanna on 01424 716573. Please bring song books, musical instruments, sports equipment, etc. We look forward to seeing you all there!

KIT: Those of us who know of Lee Kleiss's health problems will be glad to know that she is slowly recovering from her surgery and hoping to regain, via physical therapy, as much of the use of her legs as she can. Keep her in your thoughts.

Bette Bohlken-Zumpe, 6/24/99: This morning I had a phone call from Erna Friedemann telling me that Hilde Pfeiffer, mother of Klaus, Gudrun, Horst, Isolde and Hanfried died last night from a heart collapse. She, same as her husband Fritz, will be remembered by many Bruderhof and Ex-Bruderhof people as very dedicated members who gave all their strength, love and abilities to the Communities in Primavera.
Like many others, they had to leave in the early 1960s without understanding why. Luckily Fritz was able to find a teaching job once he returned to Germany, because he was sent by the State to build up German Schools in Paraguay and with this his pension, too, was guaranteed. This was especially good for Hilde after Fritz's death some years ago. They left Germany in the early 1930s, and Fritz worked as a German teacher in the school in Colonia Independencia. Brothers went to visit many colonies, to make contacts with the local people in Paraguay and I think it was Gerhard Wiegand who first met the Pfeiffers. I remember well when the Pfeiffers came to the Bruderhof. We never had many guests, so this was special -- a whole family.
They came to live in Loma Hoby and Hilde, like my father, came originally from the city of Dresden in Germany and they had many laughs, as they talked in the sficksische dialect. The oldest son, Klaus, (who is married to Elizabeth Headland and lives in Mallorca) came into our school class and he knew a lot and was well educated. His father Fritz worked in our schools almost at once because we were very short of German teachers. They joined soon and took upon themselves the difficult life of the poor communities, whereas in Independencia they did have a good life. Fritz and Hilde took us on school outings to the river Tapiraquay, and Fritz taught us a lot of songs we did not know. Later he also had us for art classes and I remember well how he taught us to finger-paint making a thick paste of mandioca flour and dripping in a little paint -- we really enjoyed that.
Later they moved to Isla Margarita and we lost touch. At the KIT conference in Worpswede 1996, I met Hilde again after so many years. Like all of us, she had aged a lot and her health was very poor. In 1997 and 1998 we met her during Advent when Hans and I stayed with Erna and Werner for carol singing with the family and friends. Hilde had found peace in a strong and loving faith for Jesus Christ. She had forgiven those who had hurt her and loved to remember the good times we did have together. It was good to see her so peaceful and hear her sing the old Christmas carols and hymns with so much joy. My thoughts go out to all her children, who will most surely miss their mother intensely.
I liked the June KITletter although I am not through reading John Stewart's contribution. I think the letter written by Tim Domer to his father speaks for all of us who have aging parents and family on the inside. Thank you, Tim, for expressing it that way. I wish that I could meet you, but tell your wife and daughters that we are sort of family also. I do wish you and your family the very best and God's blessing for the work you are doing. Pauline's letter was very enlightening also and Paul Fox and Wayne Chesley speak about a Bruderhof I do not know, a hardness and lovelessness I find difficult to comprehend and understand. Hero-worship was always a lure for those in the Servants' position. The Servants in Primavera, though, fought against this and saw the danger, whereas Heini and his son really seem to wallow in it, and then comes pride and destruction. I am so thankful that we have this way of contact with each other and hope to meet many of you in August.

William Kulla Fischer, 5/26/99: Hello all! Thank you, Mel and Hilarion, for your contributions. In reading your lines, I felt more than understood your dislike of complicated, untrue stories that don't really give you a bottom line. Then I get to Hans' story "Living With The Elements," remembering the suspense whether I could go along or not, because of my age, I suppose -- 11-12 years.
In all honesty, I only recall flashes of the adventure, such as Herman Pleil showing us how to rip only one side of the palm leaves, the absolute fear of that thunderstorm slowly changing into aggression; consciously waiting, counting the second for the next flash of lightning and clap of thunder.
At daybreak, drying off as well as you could, and getting on with what had to be done. The sight of that rushing brown water in that canal was the ultimate test. Don't ask me how I crossed that canal or how I walked home!
What I do remember is feeling ten feet tall the next day, unafraid of certain people or elders.
Thank you, Hans, for awakening memories, and thank you Jere, Herman and Bob for having a hand in making me respect real power -- the elements -- and grow up. Greet you all,

ITEM: Aviation Week, 10/20/98, ran an article on the Bruderhof's planned "super center" at Stewart International Airport. The article describes Bruderhof plans to build "the largest business aviation facility" in the Northeast on a 22-acre plot at the intersection of the two main runways at Stewart.
The building is described as unusual, both in its design as well as its enormous size, a double hanger divided by maintenance shops and a glass domed terminal with amenities for all on the two top floors. The main concourse will offer retail outlets, gift shop and gourmet restaurant. A complete array of services will include the ability to obtain theater tickets, dry cleaning and transmit faxes. The VIP rooms will include computer data ports while crew amenities will include sleeping quarters, a lounge, shower, a sauna and an exercise room.
The hangers are described as "immense," each able to hold three Airbus A3's or Boeing Business Jets, according to Christian Domer, president of Rifton Aviation. Hanger doors on each side will allow easy entry and exit of aircraft. Rifton Aviation will not offer maintenance, but may rent space to specialists in these services.

Paul C. Fox MD, from ASB, 6/13/99: Readers who are unfamiliar with the growing empire of Bruderhof-controlled businesses may wonder what this article has to do with the newsgroup. It's simple: 1. Rifton Aviation Services is owned and operated by the Bruderhof. 2. Rifton Aviation Services' President Christian Domer is a powerful figure in the little circle of decision-makers who surround Christoph Arnold.
Question: will the Bruderhof start using the proceeds from the 'aviation super-center' to provide medical care for its members, instead of billing Medical Assistance? Or will they continue to plead 'poverty' in order to get the taxpayers to foot the bill?

Ploughman, from ASB, 6/13/99: What the Bruderhof does in regards to 'Medical Assistance' is perfectly legal.

Blair Purcell, from ASB, 6/13/99: Ploughman wrote: "What the Bruderhof does in regards to 'Medical Assistance' is perfectly legal."
Is it right?

Paul C. Fox MD, from ASB, 6/13/99: Ploughman wrote: "What the Bruderhof does in regards to 'Medical Assistance' is perfectly legal."
So is the sale of pornographic magazines, extramarital sex between consenting adults (of either sex), and partial-birth abortion. That doesn't make those things moral.
When we lived in the Community, and were completely in the dark about the income the Bruderhof derives from its various enterprises, we had no problem billing Medical Assistance. We were 'the poor,' after all. But things look rather different now. Without question the Bruderhof could afford to pay for medical services for its members. Instead, its leadership chooses to juggle the numbers in such a way as to put members in the 'poverty income level,' and milk the taxpayers. This is wrong!

Tim Domer MD, from ASB, 6/13/99: In order for Mr. Ploughman to know that what the Bruderhof does "is perfectly legal", he must have some inside information. On what basis do you make that claim, Mr. Ploughman?
Mr. Ploughman should remember that what is "legal" and what is moral, ethical or "christian" are often very different issues. The Bruderhof claims to follow the teachings of Christ. More and more, however, they flaunt their "legal" rights. This includes their rights to sue, to cut off contact to and from family members, to be cold-hearted, unloving, and to follow the American dream of amassing great wealth. I do not doubt that they have researched corporate and business law to make sure that they can legally have great wealth and collect public assistance at the same time. Many wealthy people in this country do the same.
They also have a perfect "right" to try to make their elder famous, even though his actions contradict his words and leave his words empty. Certainly these are all "legal" as Mr. Ploughman points out. I do not recall any reference in Scripture, however, that indicates that Christ was represented by an attorney or that He stood on legal rights that ran counter to his words.
Why does not the Bruderhof web page indicate Rifton Aviation and their high-priced charter jet service as sources of income? Community Playthings, Rifton Equipment and Plough Publishing are all mentioned. The photo on their web page is of a smiling family in simple, traditional dress. Why isn't the family standing in front of the Bruderhof Gulfstream jet parked in front of the new "super center?" Would that spoil the innocent, simple, poor, "love-thy-neighbor" image the Bruderhof strives so hard to portray?
As Abraham Lincoln said, "You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time. You can never fool all the people all the time." One can never fool God.
Some people may be fooled by the "christian" packaging of the Bruderhof and its' elder. If one tears the packaging and looks inside, the actual product is quite different.
Mr. Ploughman, Jesus warned us to "beware of wolves dressed up in sheep's clothing." Go ahead and ride your wave of worldly success. It won't last for ever. The truth will out some day. The bigger the wave, the mightier the crash.

Margot Wegner Purcell, from ASB, 6/14/99: Thanks, Tim, for what you wrote here. I agree with what you wrote and ask "Ploughman" to answer these questions and concerns. maybe the President of Rifton Aviation, Christian Domer, could give us some explanations.
Bruderhof elders, is the membership fully informed and aware of the Bruderhof's financial status? Why does the "work force" of Community playthings and Rifton Equipment work so many hours and feel they are living in poverty? So many wonderful people live on your hofs, what do they really know? I for one want to know. Please explain.

Blair & Margot Purcell,from ASB, 6/20/99: ...We really feel, from some things we have heard, that maybe there has been some serious reconsideration of past actions by the Bruderhof. This hasn't exactly translated into any real apology to those on the outside -- hence our lack of optimism. If the Bruderhof has re-thought at least some of what has taken place, perhaps it is up to us to build on that. Still, we need some sign, some indication of movement. And, perhaps, the first thing to be discussed is how to keep public criticism to a minimum.
This indication of movement need not be public, it need not be directed to us. Others can bring the message to those who need to hear it. It's time; both sides have waited for so long.

Ramon Sender, f/ the Hummer, 71/99: Joe Keiderling mailed me a copy of a "pamphlet" (240 pps) titled The Forest River Story, 1954-57, Extracts From Letters Written By Heini And Annermarie Arnold And Emmy Arnold. At first glance the book appears to be yet another self-serving, revisionist tract, this time a rewriting of the Bruderhof's ruin of the Forest River Colony, a very sad chapter in Bruderhof-Hutterite relations. The human suffering triggered by the Bruderhof leaders' abusive behavior at Forest River has lingered on for many of those who were children in the colony at that time.
Joe Keiderling also sent a copy to Bette Bohlken-Zumpe. Each included the same letter that asked that we "not circulate the document among the colonies of the Hutterites." Meanwhile, Christoph Arnold has sent Rev. Terral Miller a copy with a request that he review it for his newsletter, which circulates among the Hutterites. Is some strange sort of titillation going on? Obviously the Hutterites should be allowed to read this carefully selected correspondence and respond at length from their own archives. A review of the book will be forthcoming in a later KIT.

Terry Miller, Hutterite Studies Centre, 6/30/99: The Herald Press has published a new translation of Peter Riedemann's Hutterite Confession Of Faith in modern English. The translation was done by Professor John J. Friesen of Canadian Mennonite Bible College. Although this is a new publication, available in both hard cover and soft cover, the Jake Kleinsasser Leut have released a 'New Expanded Edition,' also available in hard cover and soft. All of this is becoming a very controversial matter and seems to have met with almost universal disapproval amongst the Darius, Lehrer and Schmiedleut leadership, who are united under the banner of the Hutterian Brethren Church (HBC). The smaller, separate group led by Jake Kleinsasser, now incorporated under the name Schmiedleut Conference Hutterian Brethren Church (SCHBC), has added some thirty pages to their New Expanded Edition. The added material includes an endorsement by an SCHBC committee, historical material by Dora Maendel (with several historical inaccuracies), a time line and a photo of Jake Kleinsasser among others. None of this material seems to be acceptable to the HBC, except the smaller SCHBC group.
Both the Herald Press version of the Hutterite Confession Of Faith and the New Expanded Edition are available though: Hutterite Studies Centre, P. O. Box 150, Austin, Manitoba, R0H 0C0, Canada, fax: 204 466-2950.

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ITEM: Lynn Garrett, in the June 14th Publishers Weekly's 'Nota Bene' column, announced that 'tiny Plough Publishing' had landed a potential blockbuster. Misty Bernall, the mother of Cassie Bernall (the student murdered in the Littleton massacre after being asked "Do you believe in God") has chosen the Bruderhof as the publisher of She Said Yes, her memorial to her daughter. Cassie was reading the Plough book Seeking Peace at the time of her death, and using Discipleship in her daily prayers.
According to Garrett, Plough staff has already enlisted the Lynn Goldberg agency to handle a $150,000 national promotional campaign that will include a five-city tour and a national print and advertising on Details of the book to be published September 9th, "are embargoed." Plough Marketing Manager Clare Stober is quoted as saying that subsidiary and first serial rights are also being negotiated. "There have also been film offers."
According to Stober, all profits from the book will go to a trust fund that will promote "causes that Cassie believed in." Inquiring minds wonder what those causes might be...
The Bruderhof/Littleton connection seems to have come about via Bruderhofer Charles Moore, previously a Colorado professor of theology with connections to the Bernall family.
The Denver Post on June 7th ran a story about the Bruderhof/Littleton connection. They described Christoph Arnold, "a counselor and pastor for 25 years" as having flown to Denver to meet with Misty Bernall to discuss her book plans. According to local Pastor Dave McPherson, the Bernall family approached Plough Publishing "because they aren't too churchy."

Paul C. Fox, from ASB, 6/12/99: Dear Ploughman -- do I detect a certain amount of gloating at this favorable publicity? If Cassie Bernall derived some hope and inspiration from the words and experiences of those quoted in Christoph's book, that is wonderful.
If Christoph derives some pleasure in being thus linked with a genuine martyr for the faith, he is welcome to it. None of that alters the fact that Christoph Arnold and his policies are responsible for terrible human suffering among those who have been wrongfully cut off from their families in the Bruderhof. None of that makes Christoph Arnold's arbitrary and absolutist exercise of power within the Bruderhof any less abusive.
Christoph, remember that you (like everyone else) will have to answer to God for what you have done. He is not impressed by your books. Ecclesiastes 12 reads: "v. 12: Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. v. 13: Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man. v. 14: For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil."
That seems singularly appropriate to me -- especially the last verse.

Betty Chesley, rom ASB, 6/12/99: Paul Fox wrote: "If Cassie Bernall derived some hope and inspiration from the words and experiences of those quoted in Christoph's book, that is wonderful." And I believe that it also demonstrates how wisdom can work through us in spite of ourselves.
"None of that alters the fact that Christoph Arnold and his policies are responsible for terrible human suffering among those who have been wrongfully cut off from their families in the Bruderhof. None of that makes Christoph Arnold's arbitrary and absolutist exercise of power within the Bruderhof any less abusive."
Absolutely true. None of that changes the fact that this is the same leader who has refused multiple mediation efforts proposed with respected agencies to reconcile those family tragedies either. The Nigerian fathers remain cut off and outcast from their families within the communities, and now I understand there is yet another Bruderhof father exiled with his son (in Lancaster County) from his wife and daughter within the community in spite of his efforts to reconcile. All of these pathetic fruits stem from a man and a community who "stand" for peace, forgiveness and family values!
When we were leaving the Bruderhof, a Servant's wife told me that "the Bruderhof will not break up any marriages." Things have apparently changed in a very short time. Christoph Arnold and the Bruderhof may pull the wool over the eyes of their book endorsers, their political contacts and even the suffering people of Littleton, Colorado, but God knows the truth and will hold us all accountable.

Wayne Chesley, from ASB, 6/13/99: ploughman wrote: "All the profits go to a private foundation."
All the attention and fame goes to Christoph. No tragedy is too great for Christoph to capitalize on. I think his next book should be called Seeking Fame. Actually I think that might be a good title for the book about Christoph and the Bruderhof movement. You Bruderhof folks have simply become weird!
Hey Ploughman, how about a real dialogue?

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Blair Purcell, from ASB, 6/17/99: Wayne Chesley wrote that Christoph Arnold replied to his posting with his usual strange foot-in-mouth sarcasm. He suggested that when Wayne has his own book titled Seeking Fame ready, perhaps Christoph would endorse it.
Perhaps it is time to create a scholarly tome titled The Collected Correspondence of Johann Christoph Arnold.
What we really need is some sort of blanket assurance from JCA that the publisher would not be sued. He can send letters to us (although so far the Purcells have not been so fortunate, thank goodness), but we can't send letters to him because his e-mail is blocked.
Actually he did send us a note (he asked that it not be published) some little time ago asking "our forgiveness for where he had hurt us." Since he had earlier denied any responsibility for the harassment of our telephone help line or for the harassment and ill-treatment of our friends (including a wiretap on the phone of his own sister) and the break-up of our family, it was difficult to understand exactly what he was apologizing for.
When asked for clarification, he declined to be more specific. It is our belief that sincere apology requires that the one seeking forgiveness "own" the offensive behavior which created the need for apology. And that the behavior stop. But that would take courage. Otherwise there is always the sense of insincerity -- more or less like the insincerity evident in Wayne and Betty's letter from JCA or the one received by the Fox family.

Ben Cavanna, from ASB, 06/15/99: Ploughman wrote: "What the Bruderhof does in regards to "Medical Assistance" is perfectly legal."
Oh dear -- hit a sore spot perhaps, Mr/Ms Ploughman? Perhaps your courage might run to using your real name, or is ego death finally complete at the Bruderhof? Enquiring minds wish to know.

Wayne Chesley, from ASB, 6/16/99: Ben, you raise an interesting thought, and I'll say it straight: Johann Christoph Arnold has one of the biggest egos of any person I have personally known. Even the posting by Ploughman just emphasizes Christoph's huge ego. He wants to associate with famous and influential people, and it seems he uses the Bruderhof for that purpose. In short, the Bruderhof communities seem to largely serve Christoph's ego! One surrenders one's own self at the Bruderhof in order to build up Christoph's ego.
This is something that only recent "exiles" can relate to, though perhaps it happened with Heini (and even Eberhard) as well. I can recall many incidents at the Bruderhof which illustrate my point. Certainly the idea related by Tim Domer about his having to have a relationship with Christoph in order to relate to his family demonstrates the cult-like Christoph-centrism of the present day Bruderhof. Perhaps Paul or other recent exiles can relate to this.

Dave Ostrom,from ASB, 6/16/99: Wonder if, in the subjection of all the little egos of the 2,000-plus robots at the Bruderhof Communities of New York Incorporated, J. C. Arnold via the Domers and the Keiderlings has absorbed or taken on all those egos. If so, there is a very simple answer to all this, the man has the ego 2000-plus times the norm of any individual. Sincerely,

Peter Forde, from ASB, 6/18/99: With the sarcasm shown in earlier postings here, JCA possibly has a soul that is crying out to be brought to heel. Any person can become megalomaniac. All it takes is for nobody to inhibit that, and for at least some people to encourage that tendency. It's a thing about cults that people let themselves get unduly persuaded to push power to the leader, with results that we are familiar with...

Melchior Fros, from ASB, 6/19/99: Peter Forde wrote: "With the sarcasm shown in earlier postings here, JCA possibly has a soul that is crying out to be brought to heel."
Peter, I think your view is correct. There are people, a constitution and events that have made Christoph who he is today. And while Christoph can not evade responsibility for wrongs he has committed or allowed others to commit unchallenged, I do believe that behind the man's glowing, attention-seeking outer veneer is a wounded soul.
Please pray for his healing even as you/we are obligated to confront the sins for which he is responsible as Elder of the Bruderhof Inc. (48 Hours TV show). I believe that the Bruderhof Inc. constitution, to which every member must agree, encourages this condition in the present elder.
The door of my heart shall always be open to true, forgiveness-seeking, repentant dialog. Please pray for Christoph Arnold. from ASB, 6/16/99: Inquiring people who drop in on this forum to learn about the Bruderhof should consider the following analogy:
A while ago, I was interested in purchasing a product from a relatively well known manufacturer. However, before buying it, I decided to do some research, so I got into, and entered in the product name, as I knew people would be talking about it. Sure enough, there was a whole forum on the subject. After reading a bunch of messages in the forum, it appeared that the product I wanted to get maybe wasn't what I was after, as virtually all of the posts were negative to the product. However, after doing more research, including calling the company, and other buyers, I decided that the product was probably the way to go. After checking back in the forum periodically, it also became apparent that the people who were posting were:
a) pretty much the same people the whole time
b) had personal gripes about the company, and this was there way of dissuading others of using the product.
To make a long post short, I ended up buying the product, and have been extremely happy with it ever since. Oh. The name of the company is DirecPC. Thanks for listening... [posted a total of eight consecutive times on]

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Melchior Fros, from ASB, 6/17/99: Recently there was a high school shooting in Colorado that left children dead and a nation in shock. In the aftermath of this tragedy the mother of one of the victims intends to write a book about her daughter. Recently, she was approached by a representative of Plough Publishing Company. He happens to be the elder of the Bruderhof Inc. as well. He flew to Denver to meet with the mother and church representatives of one of the victims.
Unfortunately, it appears, grieving folks in Denver did not research the Elder and the group he represents. Had they done so they would have found that the man behind The Plough, the Elder of the Bruderhof Inc.:
- was at one time licensed to carry a concealed weapon.
- has only recently threatened to arm himself yet againÉ
- in recent letters he taunts ex-members about their choice of church affiliation; questions a marital bond; mocks past struggles with masturbation; toys with others' desires to let their lives be ruled by the words of Christ.
The tragedy at Columbine High School is being sullied by an association with an editor/Elder who refuses to put into practice what he prints and preaches regarding forgiveness, love of enemies and a pacifist's refusal to bear arms. It is mocked by an unrepentant, attention-seeking man.
This unlikely association between the Bruderhof and Christians in Colorado has come about because grieving individuals did not know about bruderhof and other forums where information about the man behind the Plough is available. It appears an overwhelming list of "gripes" by outspoken persons could have illumined minds and hearts seeped in sorrow.
The moral: don't buy the product until you have researched the facts to your satisfaction.

Ben Cavanna from ASB, 6/19/99: So kitsucks1, all the recent puffs of Plough Publishing books should be taken as indication that they are no good and should not be bought? Or did I not get your reasoning straight?
Just wondering, and nice to see more Bruderhof (tm) participation in this newsgroup. And please give my love to my parents who are not allowed to communicate with me.

ITEM: A review of Johann Christoph Arnold's book Cries From The Heart, posted on Amazon. com's on-line bookstore on 6/3/99, quotes an early June Publisher's Weekly's review: "Although the stories are sometimes moving, Arnold's brief interpretations of them are not profound and fail to teach lessons that cannot be found elsewhere in a livelier form."

ITEM: Reviews of Johann Christoph Arnold's new book, Drained, posted on's on-line bookstore:
A reader from Western Pennsylvania awards one star: "Derivative and poorly written. Johann Christoph Arnold seems to be churning out a new book every few months. The construction of this latest book demonstrates his production method: taking other people's stories, adding lengthy quotations from other authors' books, and patching them together with his own turgid prose. It is also striking how much less overtly Christian this book is than Arnold's previous efforts. Is he sacrificing principle in order to gain a larger market? In any event, readers looking for inspiration would do well to look elsewhere."
A reader from Pennsylvania awards one star: "If only there were an option of no stars?... This is a direct quote from Arnold's book Drained, page 4, paragraph 2:
"'In the following pages I have tried to resist formulating neat theses or presenting loophole-proof arguments. I have also tried to avoid dwelling on the roots of our feeling of being drained. Though one could write a whole book on that subject, it would be too depressing to wade through. What's more, it might not even help.'
"Arnold was right; it was depressing.
"And it didn't help."
A reader from England awards four stars: "Self promotion? Could the below review have been written by the author J. Christoph Arnold, otherwise known as Mr. Awsome? I believe it was:"
"'A reader from U.S.A awards four stars: "The best book yet, Drained is a concept that every human being can relate too [sic]. The author and the Publisher had a brainwave to name the book as such. The stories are awsome [sic] and real. I am sure it will become an all time best seller".'"

Katherine Brookshire, 6/4/99: Dear folks, I've been reading/re-reading the May KIT and there are a couple of things I'd like to mention: The first is that I'm sorry to hear about Tom Potts. I have fond memories of Tom and Florrie and their family. He did reach a ripe old age, though. Me best to all his family. The second is in response to Chris M. Zimmerman of the Bruderhof, whose letter to/about Bette and her comments on 'The First Law of Sannerz' seemed to find its way into KIT.
Seems like I remember, after I'd been at Woodcrest at least long enough to be a member, Heini talking about it and then had it printed up and distributed. I didn't hear about it when I was first there, and don't remember it being discussed in our baptism group (It may have been, but I didn't remember it). We had a similar 'rule' at Macedonia, which may or may not have originated with the Bruderhof. One was supposed to take a 'problem' directly to the person involved rather than just gossiping about it. For people living close, it does make sense; however when I tried to apply it with my parents, it just created hurt feelings. I probably did not explain it sufficiently ahead of time, though.
But back to KIT and Chris Zimmerman's letter: I'd write directly to Chris, but have no idea if he would get it or even where he is. So I'll use KIT, as he apparently did. First, I'd like to comment on his language. When I was in the Bruderhof, children were not allowed to even hear such expressions much less use them. Apparently the Bruderhof has become much more worldly, using common worldly expressions. I still find it offensive. My parents, grandparents and relatives did not use such words. Once in my life I heard my father say 'damn' when he hit his head while changing a tire in the rain -- and in the mud! I was shocked, but the provocation was rather severe.
I do not use such terms, nor do either of my sons. My grandchildren have picked up some terms at school, but upon being told the words (of which they did not know the meaning) were not good things to say, they did not repeat them. They do say some things now that they are older, but it is not approved of by the adults and not what they hear at home. So I am, to say the least, disappointed that people who have grown up in the Bruderhof seem to find in necessary to use such terms.
Chris mentions Matthew 18 as the apparent source of the Sannerz First Law. I must say that I don't read it that way. Also I suspect that Christ does not know much about conflict resolution. This is a very brief 'take' on my reading of Matthew 18 (using The New Oxford Annotated Bible), verses 1-35, sayings on humility and forgiveness. (Be like children) but in v 8-9, He specifically says 'If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off.... if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away." I don't remember seeing people in the Bruderhof with one or no feet, or one or no eyes. Obviously they don't take that part of Jesus' sayings literally.
But if one sheep goes astray, "he leaves the ninety-nine and goes in search of the one who went astray... and rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray." One certainly does not see that at the Bruderhof. There is a lot one could say about how the Bruderhof treats the "lost."
But to continue with v. 15, "If another church member sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses."
I believe one would normally tell the two or three 'witnesses' something about what the problem was. Is that 'gossip?' v. 17 "If the member refuses to listen, tell it to the church" etc. Where is this business of Servants of the Word and Witness Brothers discussing various brothers' and sisters' (members') weaknesses and/or problems and deciding what they want the solution to be? And then just telling the brotherhood in such a way that the brotherhood has no choice but to agree?
And then in v. 21, Jesus continues about forgiveness 'seventy times seven," being beyond calculating. v. 34-35 are concerned with what happens to those who do not forgive brothers and sisters 'from your heart.'
I don't believe forgiveness 'from the heart' involves keeping families from seeing each other and not telling family members about the illness or death of their loved ones.
In my opinion, the Bruderhof has become a cult involved in making icons of people and rules. I don't see any relation to the teachings of Jesus. I don't see anything of "selling what they have and giving to the poor." I do see (hear about) jet airplanes and trips all over the globe (for certain people).
Chris Zimmerman says KIT should stop gossiping; what does he call what the Bruderhof does in talking about KIT? How is it any different? And incidentally, who is Chris Zimmerman (which family) and how old is he? [Chris is one of Dr. Milton and Sandy's sons, born in 1968]. I think this is enough for now. I hope to see you (KIT) at Friendly Crossways. I'm going to try and get there.
My son Paul is doing well with his Mail Boxes, Etc. business in Miami, and Tom, Diana, Geoffrey (12) and Stephen (9) just came back from a vacation in Costa Rica. They loved it and hope to go back sometime. I'd love to go too! Greetings to all,

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Hilarion Braun f/ the Hummer, 6/23/99: One of the aspects of human behavior that has fascinated me all my life long has been the want of power by some and the absence of it in others. On the Bruderhof it was very evident in the servants, and even now those servants who are ex-bruderhofers have not dealt with that aspect in their writings. For Eberhard Arnold and Heini, being a servant was not enough, they had to be elders. I remember Hans Hermann Arnold being the least arrogant servant. Somehow, even in his face there was that look of doubt and concern. I had the feeling that had I told him about my doubts regarding the office of the servant, he would have smiled, and maybe even agreed.
Georg Barth also seemed quite down to earth, and I told him that I thought a real Gemeinde did not need or want servants. Out here in our glorious capitalistic world, the drip and splash testosterone is getting old, and it is almost comical how people in management positions strut and pout to the delight of the worker who has long figured out that such power abuse doesn't lead to happiness. One does wonder how long it takes people in power to realize all that the powerless have long known.
Here in Arizona the Mexicans and native Americans are the powerless, and yet in many ways seem to be ahead of the Anglos. A Mexican recently wrote that in America the blacks say: "We shall overcome," while the Mexicans say: "We shall overcome with the permission of the Anglos." In very much the same way the plain brothers and sisters labored hard, and eventually sacrificed their identity for the cause which in the end was very simply the adoration of Heini and a distortion of the past.
It's utterly amazing how much detail people seem to remember about Sannerz, the Rhoen Bruderhof and Eberhard, and how little they remember about Primavera. The myth on the Bruderhof has always helped to explain away any concern anyone had. For example, if one questioned why a servant family was getting more goods and food than a regular family, it was obvious that the questioner was in a wrong spirit, and I wonder how this might have given servants a persecution complex.
Eberhard Arnold was constantly traveling, and I'm sure someone questioned the wisdom of this, and very quickly had to eat his own words. "I mean, how could you question poor Eberhard who suffers so much, because he loves us so much. Every time he travels he is away from his beloved brotherhood, and this is terribly painful for him." Any normal reaction to such control nonsense would have been: "I don't believe this answers my concern." Instead, I'm sure, the questioner suffered pangs of guilt and remorse and begged for forgiveness.
It's this twisted, controlling mixture of myth, maudlin obsession with glory, and an obsession with preservation of the status quo that made it all possible. The main elements were well in place in the beginning as is evidenced by some of the earlyites who stayed to worship Heini, and who kept a portrait of E. Arnold on their night stand. These same witnesses felt that the sick, thick, tense atmosphere in Woodcrest reminded them of the spirit in Sannerz.
I had many long talks with Dwight Blough, in whose family I lived, and his adoration of Heini was pathetic. Dwight was also overly critical of Primavera, especially that the "young people in Primavera did not respect the servants there." Obsessively he tried to trick me into an anti-Arnold statement or anecdote that would prove widespread anti-Arnold sentiment in Primavera. One day he told me that his friendship with me was wrong, and that from that moment on it was to cease. I had never trusted him, and was convinced that this nonsense came from Heini. I'm sure though, that Dwight was the disciple Heini could never have had in Primavera. I also believe that the kind of adoration Dwight gave Heini is very unhealthy, and showed a gigantic flaw in Dwight's character.

Hilarion Braun with parents Marai & Walter, and sister Deborah - Primavera, 1956(?)

Sam Arnold f/ the Hummer, 6/26/99: Hilarion said: "I remember Hans Hermann Arnold being the least arrogant servant. Somehow, even in his face there was that look of doubt and concern. I had the feeling that had I told him about my doubts regarding the office of the servant, he would have smiled, and maybe even agreed".
You may be right in what you say, because my father did not crave power, nor did he like it. The responsibility of being servant bothered him, and he was stressed out by the job. But he also adored his father, and his focus was set on doing what Eberhard would have wanted. While he probably had many doubts about the office of the servant, he had no doubts about the path that the Bruderhof members should follow. From the values and rules he tried to instill in us, that path seemed overly straight and narrow. There was very little negotiating room.
Hans Hermann's career as aspiring servant was brief. He was made Servant in 1952, but his record became tarnished upon his return in 1955 from the U.S. He was asked to tell a young Primavera woman, Rosemarie Kaiser, that the man that she loved was going to marry someone else. When she became upset he put his arm around her to comfort her. She immediately told this to Hans Meier, who then put my father into the big exclusion for this. So right after being away from his family for two years, my father was sent to the Waldhuette for months, and we were not allowed to visit him. He was also denied medical treatment by Hans Meier for an open sore on his leg. Heini was able to use that incident to keep him from becoming a threat to him.
My father would not divulge many of his thoughts to us, or negative information about others, including Heini. But it became clear to us that he was very upset about the closing of Primavera and El Arado. and the human suffering. We were living in Bullstrode when Primavera, Wheathill and Sinntal closed, and he had to oversee the closing of Wheathill. He was very stressed at that time, and had a number of blow-ups at home that were probably a result of that stress.
Heini moved our family to the U.S. where he could keep a better eye on my father, who was not made a Servant again after 1962. Hans Hermann was in Ausschluss most of the time while we were in Evergreen and Oak Lake, and then our family was sent away for three years as well. Even after the family moved back to Evergreen and lived in the house behind the shop, my father continued working outside.
Heini also moved Hardy's family to the U.S from Bullstrode. Heini made sure that both his brothers were kept apart, and out of the brotherhood. Hardy was also sent out at least twice.
I am certain that the dramatic and cruel changes brought by Heini and his American buddies was the root of my father's "lack of unity." After he was diagnosed with cancer in 1972 and given 6 months to live, the family was immediately moved back into the hof and he was reinstated as servant by Heini. What a farce!
Hans Hermann's final request was to clear up the disaster brought about by the closing of the communities in Paraguay some ten years earlier. But Heini was very firmly in control at the time, and the "clearance" became a whitewash. A number of Bruderhof leaders such as Art Wiser, Merrill Mow, Doug Moody, Georg Barth, Hans Meier and a few others wrote lame letters of apology for the mistakes that they had made in handling the Primavera closing. These letters were sent to a small number of ex-members. Georg's letter was the best that I saw, but there was no letter from Heini! Heini was never implicated in any wrongdoings, nor did he admit to any. My father was in no condition not to accept this one-sided gloss-over, and so the clearance was considered finished.
Maybe it is time now to call on Christoph's B'hof to hold a conference on the way the numerous communities were closed in the late 50s and early 60s, including Forest River, El Arado, Primavera, Sinntal, Wheathill, and Bullstrode, and to open it to all who want to participate. If Christoph wants to be seen as being sincere about forgiveness, he owes it to all the people who were affected by his father's actions to be heard, so that their questions can be answered, and some sort of closure be made for the victims. Maybe this could become a joint B'hof-KIT project to begin the long-awaited healing between the B'hof and its former members. Until the B'hof can address its past wrongs, they are living a lie! A lie that no quantity of Plough Publishing House books, no matter how cleverly written by whomever, can hide about the B'hof past.

Hilarion Braun f/ the Hummer, 6/26/99: Sam, thanks for the info. I'm still overwhelmed by it, and I'll answer later in detail. I do not think that there will be the kind of healing that you speak of, but that doesn't mean I don't hope for it. I never was able to talk to your dad, but I remember watching him many times, and I guess my conclusions were right. The destruction of Primavera and the other communities is so criminal and dark that I don't think the perpetrators will ever own up to it. Above all, the romantization of Eberhard Arnold is understandable, but a typical human reaction. Your dad may have ultimately had to oppose his dad for representing a Heini-like power cult. There is nothing in all of the historical accounts that contradicts this. It is not that Eberhard Arnold was unusually bad or evil, but that he was power-crazy. He did it in a more sophisticated way than Heini, because he was intelligent, and Heini was not, but that doesn't make it any different in terms of the outcome. Love,

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Ramon Sender f/ the Hummer, 6/26/99: It's interesting to study 'alpha malehood' in other species. Alpha is a tough job. You are the one who must always be on the alert to challenges from the bachelors eyeing your herd of females, and also you are the one who must defend against the marauding leopard. You sleep with one eye open, and your levels of paranoia and suspicion must remain high. You die young, either from stress-related illness, from wounds inflicted by the victorious new alpha or from the leopard's claws.
In this sense, one has to feel compassion for Heini. I think his life was an unending nightmare once he had gained the coveted eldership. So many bodies lay strewn in his path, and he was not the sort who could easily accommodate to that sort of guilt. No wonder Harriet had to give him a shot every evening before bedtime.
How can I sum up what the 'powerless' have long known? Perhaps: "We can enjoy the simple pleasures of a quiet life while the 'leaders' grunt and lock horns to see who can scramble to the top of the manure pile."
It amuses me when I see a documentary about the 'primitive' Amazonian Indians. They arise at their leisure, hoe the tarot for an hour before the sun gets too hot, take a dip and then a siesta. When they awake, they play with the baby, weave a basket and then in the cool of the late afternoon catch a fish for supper. After the meal, they blow hallucinogenic snuff up each other's noses and watch the 'pretty pictures' in the flames of the fire, which are probably more interesting than our TV.
This is the 'unenlightened' life of the savages, whom we must of course hasten to civilize by tearing down the jungle and harnessing them to the 40-hour work week. Of course I am romanticizing a lot, the closer truth being that these poor people have been terribly exploited and no doubt suffer from hookworm, amoebas, our diseases, and die early. But the great irony is that their simple life is more in harmony with how we are designed to live than how we live today, working 80 hours a week to pay off our 'labor-saving' devices.
Ah, Rousseau... how right you hopefully were! May we all return to the gardens and groves to be nurtured by ecologically correct machines smarter than we are. What am I saying?

Wenceslao Jaime, Estancia Primavera, Paraguay
by Hans Zimmermann, 10/09/98
As a young person living in Primavera, and for many years thereafter, I always wondered what the real history was of that area which seemed totally wild when we first arrived. However, there were many indications that this had not always been like that and there must have been prior settlements which were abandoned for one reason or another, leaving as their main clue sweet orange trees which by now were engulfed by the natural forests.
On October 3, 1998 I had the opportunity to visit Wenceslao and Teodora Jaime in Sunbury, Ohio. Wence, who is approaching his 89th birthday is a Paraguayan native, born and raised in the immediate vicinity of Primavera. He became one of our most trusted native employees, living with his family on our property while his children attended our school in Primavera learning both German and English. Later they joined the Bruderhof and eventually made the move to the USA. They left the community after a few years, preferring to live the close private family life they were used to in Paraguay.
I knew the Jaime family fairly well, and the older children at school. As a small boy I frequently visited their house in Isla Margarita with my dad, which was across the campo (prairieland) from the workshop and sawmill. The carved wooden animals which they had around the fire place and used as stools, made a great impression on me. We frequently went to pick sweet oranges which grew in the woods up the hill from their rancho. Wence remembers my father well from his effort in planting the Cedar Wood. He remembered me mostly from the last years when I was working in the Estancia with the cattle.
I was looking forward to this visit and came prepared. I had sheets and sheets of questions for Wence. For me, he is one of the last living links with the past, as virtually all his contemporaries have died. I had so many questions that his head must have been spinning and when he could not remember the name of a person, event, or place, he became a little frustrated, saying "I know this. I know this, but the name just does not want to come to me!" However, he warmed up to the task and relished the opportunity to talk about his life, places, events, and people we both knew. It made it easier for him once he realized how much I knew and could still remember. We talked for almost two days. The first night on the day of my arrival he could hardly sleep because he was trying to answer many of my questions. We talked until after 11 PM, had a couple of glasses of wine, by which time I was dead tired. I had driven 1250 miles straight from Colorado with just a nap in the car. In true Paraguayan tradition, I slept virtually in the same room with Wence and Teodora. It was just the accepted thing to do.

Wenceslao and Teodora Jaime in their home - October, 1998

After nearly two days of talking -- and Wence did most of the talking, with Teodora helping when Wence could not understand me (he cannot hear at all with one ear and only poorly with the other) -- a totally new picture emerged for me about what Primavera was like before we had arrived. Also what Primavera was like 70 to 80 years prior to our arrival, after the devastating war that took place from 1865 to 1871.
When the Spaniards sailed up the La Plata river, they came to what today is the capital of Paraguay, Asuncion. Here they encountered a Guarani tribe whose cacique (chief) was called 'Paragua' and from this name came 'Paraguay.' In our time, the native Paraguayans still called Asuncion by its Guarani name Paragua-i (the last letter being pronounced "ue"). To help pacify and civilize the native Indians, the Spaniards gave the Jesuit monks the authority to build missions in the jungle. The Jesuits built numerous missions, or reducciones (colonies), mostly in southeastern Paraguay and a few in north and central Paraguay. It was a most interesting experiment in a theocratic government. with two white men and 2000 Indians in each colony.
Voltaire (the French agnostic) is said to have remarked, "If anything could convince him of the rightness of Christian religion, it was the Jesuit experiments in Paraguay. They were so successful, that the civilian and military government was afraid they would become too powerful. They withdrew the mandate and ordered the Jesuits to leave the missions, leaving the native Indians to themselves, and in this way the missions were virtually abandoned. San Estanislau or Santani, located about 25 miles east and inland from Primavera, was one of those missions and later became a military outpost. The Guarani Indians were not as belligerent as other tribes and assimilated fairly well with the newcomers while at the same time preserving their native language.
When traveling to Santani, people took a boat up the river to Puerto Rosario. In those days the road to Santani followed the path of least resistance; that is it went over the campos wherever possible. A direct or shorter way would have meant cutting a path through the dense forests, a daunting task in those days. Therefore the road followed the edge of the forest in a generally eastern direction. To the left were the forests, and on the right the flood plains of the river Paraguay and its tributary Tapiracuay. The heavy gray clay soil is an ideal conditions for the Carandai Faecher Palm tree, a.k.a. palmetto) which were generously sprinkled across the plain so that from a distance it looked like a palm tree wood. Farther inland, the soil became more sandy and the Carandai ceased to grow. One stayed on campo all the way to what is now the Mennonite colony of Friesland and Campo Tapere. A narrow gap opened in the forest before the road entered onto what was our Campo Guana.

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Crossing Campo Guana, one encountered the first forest through. According to Wence's parents or grandparents, the road followed the river Tapiracuay, exiting on Campo Invernada, which in those times was virtually dry most of the year. The road continued over Campo Invernada along the forest which we called Monte Jaime to a point where it had to cut through Monte Jaime to reach a shallow spot in the river Tapiracuay with a firm sandy bottom, which made for an easy crossing. On the other side, the terrain became hilly and the swamps ended. This ford was known to us as Floh Frau's Inn and almacen. The section through that part of the forest was still in use during our time, the age of the road being quite evident, washed out with banks on either side of 10 feet or more.
As this was the main connecting road to Santani, there were a few side roads leading off to the north: one going to the town of General Aquino, another to the town of Itacurubi del Rosario. In our time we frequently used the road over the campos, leaving Itacurubi on our way to Puerto Rosario. Another road must have branched off from Campo Invernada up Campo Carapei. Here, the story goes, there had existed a small leper settlement. Wence believes the settlement was on the spot where we had a natural spring and evidence of a caved-in well. When digging in that area, one could find ceramic pottery shards. The name for leprosy in Guarani is Mba hazi, and as leprosy is associated with swelling and growth, this part of the forest was called Abebo and Abeboi (beule) since it protruded like a swelling from the rest of the forest. The road then went through the wood to Potrero Ibate and exiting again on what was our Campo Lechera in Isla Margarita. Those who knew the old road to Ibate and then Campo Carapei might remember it was deeply washed-out where it entered the forest to Ibate. This was a very old road and must have been there for a long time and, by its looks and appearance, preceding the time of Rutenberg, the owner of Primavera before the Bruderhof. The same was true on the other side by Campo Carapei.
There was a settlement in Isla Margarita that must have been in the vicinity of the spring in the Orange Wood. A road led down to the spring which must have been there prior to us and Rutenberg, because there were no houses during the time of Rutenberg in Isla Margarita. The name of that settlement was 'Avelino,' after an old curandero (medicine man or shaman) who supposedly had lived there. We used to find pottery shards in the fields behind the School Wood after they were ploughed. Our thinking then was that they were of native Indian origin. However Wence told me that in those times, people used primarily ceramic pots and dishes. There might have been an old forge behind the School Wood because we found a large piece of pig iron partially buried in a depression, the earth around it was still charred. There must have been other small settlements in the area as evidenced by the locations where one could find groups of sweet orange trees growing in the forest. A known settlement was in the forest of Octavian (formerly Maria Cue) and Riveros Cue, but no one knows the name anymore. The same observation could be made in and around Potrero Amambay.
Paraguay gained its independence from Spain in 1811 when Simon Bolivar's forces swept across South America, liberating most countries from Spanish rule. Some turbulent years would follow for Paraguay. After initially being governed by a triumvirate, a certain Dr. Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia gained sole power by eliminating his rivals. He became a dreaded dictator and ruled Paraguay with an iron fist but, worst of all, he had this crazy idea that Paraguay should be totally self-sufficient in everything. With that he closed the borders and nothing came in, virtually nothing going out. Paraguay is strictly an agrarian country, possessing no mineral deposits that are commercially viable. The closed borders policy had a devastating effect on the economy, and the people suffered. People had to improvise. Tools and utensils became scarce and housewares were mostly ceramic, especially in the country and remote areas. Francia stayed in power for about 20 years until 1840, making Paraguay one of the poorest countries in South America. After his fall and a short interlude of other government heads, Carlos Antonio Lopez assumed power. He also held sole power but was very progressive-minded. He reopened the borders, and permitted free commerce. He built the first railroad in Paraguay and, with the invention of the telegraph, he installed the first line between Asuncion and the second largest city, Villarica. Paraguay prospered and became one of the wealthiest countries in South America.
Two things happened that would change conditions in Primavera. First, a telegraph line was installed that connected Puerto Rosario with the military posts in Santani. The line went from Puerto Rosario to General Aquino, from there to Itacurubi, and on to Santani. In the process, a road was cut through the forests that was more direct and followed the higher ground. This became the Camino Real that crossed Primavera just north of Loma Hoby and passed by Isla Margarita. With the new shorter and drier road, the old road through low-lying Campo Invernada and Campo Tapere was abandoned. Any settlements along that old road were now off the beaten track.
The second event was a national catastrophe. With the death of Carlos Antonio Lopez, his son Francisco Solano Lopez (mostly referred to as Mariscal Lopez) came to power. This man was infatuated with personal grandeur and wanted to become the Paraguayan Napoleon. Paraguay had no outlet to the ocean and Lopez wanted direct access to the open seas. So in 1865 he went on a war of conquest against Brazil and Uruguay. After a few early victories by Paraguay, Argentina joined the war against Paraguay. The three nations, also known as the 'Triple Alianza,' quickly turned the tide and gradually pushed the Paraguayan armies back. This was to become a long and protracted war, and the allies vowed to destroy Lopez. Lopez was not going to capitulate, even if he had to fight to the last man. This he proceeded to do. With each battle he lost he withdrew his armies further north, incurring great human losses. The war lasted five years until 1870. During the last two years, Paraguay fought the war with old men, children and women because virtually all the adult men had been killed. As the fighting moved north, small towns and settlements were destroyed and abandoned -- I'm not sure if it was a scorched earth policy by Lopez. I have the feeling that this was the fate of the settlements in and around Primavera, most of them never to be resettled. (We also heard stories of how Lopez buried part of his treasures somewhere on the Primavera property). Finally Lopez with only a handful of men was defeated and killed at Cerro Cora in the northern section of Departamento Amambay. By then, Paraguay had lost about two-thirds of its population. The ratio of men to women was 1 to 11, with the male population being mostly old men and young boys. The road to recovery would be long and hard.
It was Wence talking about the old road and the previous settlements in Primavera that made me reach this conclusion. A settlement of simple ranchos and huts, once abandoned, would quickly be overrun by the tropical vegetation that obliterates most traces of previous human activity. So the land of Primavera was not as pristine as I had imagined.

Wence in Primavera - 1951(?)

Wence asked me if I still drank mate. By myself, no, I replied. But if he had any, I'd love to drink with him. Wence himself now only drinks mate on occasion and then mostly mate cocido, i.e. brewed. So Teodora heated up a kettle and prepared the gourd and bombilla. It was like old times, only the mate seemed to taste even better. With the mate going back and forth, Wence started to talk about his life.
Wence's parents lived in Mbocayati, a small village at the northwestern tip of the Primavera property. Wence was the oldest son of a large family. He never got to know his father very well as he died when Wence was only eight years old. When he reached school age, the parents sent him to Itacurubi to attend school, where he stayed with some acquaintances. However Wence's parents had to pay his room and board. With the death of his father, his mother could not afford the payments anymore and so he had to move back home. Making the daily trip to school from Mbocayati was not feasible because it was more than 10 kilometers each way. So Wence had only two years of schooling and very early had to help earning money for the family and/or work the chacra (garden) at home. A year or two later, his mother married again, but Wence never went back to school.
His first major job or occupation was as a bueyero (ox herder) for a contractor who did logging by alzaprima for Eduardo Rutenberg. Estancia Primavera used to be part of a larger estancia called San Vicente, owned by Rutenberg and his partner Herr Lenz. Estancia Primavera got its name from Lenz, whose name is another word for 'spring' in the German language. The combined property stretched from Friesland all the way to the Tapiracuay river at the crossing of the Floh Frau Inn. All the terrain south of the Camino Real to the Tapiracuay River, which was the southern border was part of it. My estimate is that it covered close to 50,000 acres, possibly more. The main ranch house or villa was in Vacahu, in our time occupied by the De Stefano family. The partnership got into financial trouble and the banks took possession of over half the property. What was to become Primavera remained in the control of E. Rutenberg. The campos were quite wet, so drainage canals were dug by hand from Vacahu the whole length of Campo Dolores to Campo Invernada. Also a drainage ditch was dug the length of Campo Loma and Guana down to the swamps of the River Tapiracuay.
While Rutenberg was engaged in cattle-raising, one of his major sources of income came from the sale of logs and cut vigas. Vigas are large logs chopped into square beams with an ax. The dimensions were from 2 up to 3 or more feet square, and as much as 40 feet long. He had his own personnel alzaprimas and oxen, but he also hired independent carters to haul logs out of the forest and then, when the weather was dry enough, cart them all the way to Puerto Rosario on the river Paraguay. It was for one of these independents that Wence started to work as a young boy. As he told it, these were the worst years of his life. As a bueyero he had to tend to the oxen day and night when on the road, always on foot. The trip from Primavera to Puerto Rosario would take three days or more going down, and at least two days coming back. This was always during the summer month because the winter season was too wet. They would start before daybreak and drive until late morning when it became too hot for the animals, Wence trudging behind or alongside the alzaprima, always on foot, swallowing the dust the feet of the oxen would kick up. When they stopped to feed and rest the animals, the bueyero had to follow the oxen while they were grazing to prevent them from running away. This meant Wence was constantly on his feet. In the late afternoon, the oxen were hitched up again and the journey continued for another 3 to 4 hours into the night. Imagine, 4 to 5 alzaprimas, each with a team of six oxen, slowly trudging down the road, churning up a suffocating cloud of dust. At times you could hardly see the big carts, but you could hear the clanging of the metal squares hanging from the long bamboo pole being supported by the shaft, held by the first two oxen. From a great distance one could hear the clanging of the metal, hollering of the drivers, and the squeaking and groaning of the giant wheels. During summer on the days when the moon was out all night, the carreteros were on the move. When they reached their over night camp, Wence again had to graze the animals in the dark. This meant he virtually got no sleep. He was tired, hungry and frequently cold, a miserable existence. Some of you may have heard the Paraguayan song about the guajiro oxcart driver, which laments the fate of his profession.

Isla wheelwright, Heinz Bolk - Primavera, 19560(?)

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When Wence did not work or was not busy in his own chacra, he would go hunting with a certain Carai Augusto Montiel, also known as Peru Ivai because he was so ugly or unattractive. This man had a family but never worked, his source of income coming solely from hunting. He sold some of the meat and the hides of the animals he killed. Not surprisingly, his family frequently went hungry when he came home empty-handed. Wence seemed to be his good luck charm. After a week of hunting without success, his wife would come over to Wence's mother and beg her to send Wence on the hunt with the old man to bring him luck. This man did not possess his own rifle or shotgun, so he would either borrow one from a neighbor or friend or just go into the woods with his dogs and a machete. (Sounds familiar) Anything edible was fair game. However there was no telling or predicting when or where he would find an animal, so they roamed the forests from Mbocayati all the way down to the River Tapiracuay trying to track down a herd of tajicati (Javalin) a large wild pig, or the smaller curei (Peccary). The Javalin could be found near orange groves or at the edges of the forests where there were plenty of Mbocaya palm trees, but the herds were constantly on the move, covering many, many miles, so there was no telling when you might cross their path. Now the Javalin was extremely aggressive and when in a herd, totally fearless, so you had to climb the nearest tree when they chose to attack. When they heard a dog bark, they would head for the nearest thicket and so to say 'circle the wagons.' There the creatures would mill around, furiously gnashing their large teeth with a loud clattering. When the dogs came too close, they would come charging out and tear the dogs to pieces if they could catch them. They were rather predictable in that way. Wence told me that all you had to do was get close to them, hop on a fallen tree or low branch, then imitate the barking of a dog and they would come charging out to get you, even jumping up try to try to reach you. Now it was as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. When they did not have a rifle or shotgun, they'd fashion a spear by tying the machete to a pole with an Isypo moroti (a special white vine that was very strong and pliable and could be used like a rope). As the pigs jumped up at you, you would simply stab them to death. After killing two or three they would withdraw a little and stop attacking. However this did not mean a quick retreat. Frequently they would stay around for hours and you just had to wait for them to leave. If they saw you climb down to the ground, they would charge again.
In this fashion they killed many Javalins. After the kill, the insides were removed, the pig flung over the shoulder and carried home, frequently many miles. Wence was too young and small to carry a full-grown pig, so they cut off the big head to lighten his load. On one hunt they had gone all the way to the end of Campo Guana finding nothing. On the way back in the late afternoon, they encountered a large herd of Javalins near the Campo Bolsa in the forest close to Friesland. This time Carai Montiel had a shotgun. As he imitated the barking of dogs, the pigs quickly bunched together amongst the nearest bushes. Wence and a another boy climbed on the next tree while Carai Montiel approached as close as possible to the furious herd. There he jumped on to a low-hanging Isypo nearly 8 inches in diameter. The heavy vine was hanging like a loop 5 feet off the ground so he could support himself. He started barking and out came the porkers. He shot two but that was the extent of his ammunition. One died immediately. The other, severely wounded, could not move. Now they had to wait for the herd to leave, but the pigs remained, sensing the wounded one was still alive. It turned dark and our three hunters were still hanging in the trees. It was many hours before the herd finally decided to slowly distance themselves from the scene, reluctantly leaving their fallen comrade behind. One big problem: the pigs moved in the direction of Campo Bolsa, which was the way home for the hunters. They could not chance walking in that direction. Carai Montiel called the two boys when he thought it was safe and told them they would stay the night in the forest. He knew of a lagoon close-by where there were two mangulios (hunters tree stands) where they would spend the night. Now the problem was getting there in the pitch-black darkness of the Paraguayan jungle. They had a few matches which they would only light when coming up to a totally impassable spot. In the distance they could hear the quacking of the yuis (frogs) so they were on the right track. When they were about to run out of matches, they hit upon a Pindo palm tree. On the ground they found the dry stalks of the fruit which they hit against the trunk of the palm tree to fluff up the fibers and then they could light them and make torches. They made it to the lagoon, spent a miserable night up in the tree stands and the next morning went to retrieve the pigs.

A peccary

In those days the mborevi (tapir) existed in greater numbers, however that did not make them an easy catch. Their place of preference was near the rivers and the swamps, a safe place to be. Nevertheless with the sparsely populated area, they frequently ventured through the forests. A lucky hunter could find one somewhere high and dry. One day Carai Montiel and his dogs surprised a tapir in the woods between Amambay and Isla Margarita. The only way of escape for the tapir was the nearest lagoon, a little north of the Camino Real. The tapir rushed into the middle of the shallow lagoon where it had no trouble fending off the dogs. Carai Montiel, not having a gun with him, first fashioned a lasso out of an Isypo Moroti. After many attempts, he finally roped the animal. He was perched on a fallen tree in the water when the tapir made a sudden rush, and he was yanked into the water. After recovering, he slowly pulled the animal towards the edge where he speared it with his improvised spear. This would be the only tapir he ever killed.
Many years later, Wence had a similar experience. His dogs chased a tapir into a lagoon, which some of you might still remember. It was about half a mile into the forest from Aguada Timbo in Loma Hoby. This would be the only tapir Wence ever killed; otherwise his encounters with tapirs were near the river, where the animal quickly found safety in the swamps and canals. Interestingly, when I was a young boy hunting tatus (armadillos) at night in Loma Hoby, my dogs twice chased a tapir from the spring at Aguada Timbo into the deep forest. At that time we had no idea that a tapir in that area was very vulnerable, so we never returned during the day to see if we could find them.
Another favorite game was the Paloma Hoby (blue pigeon). These birds would arrive in huge flocks, descend on the corn, sorghum or bean crops and wreak tremendous havoc. These pigeons were larger than the common house pigeon but more streamlined. With a longer neck and smaller head, they were fabulous flying machines. The Paraguayans would fashion bows out of the Catigua (Rotholz) tree, the bark of which was also used to dye leather red, or they used the Querandi wood. I remember the name but cannot visualize the tree anymore. The bows would have two strings with a little basket in the middle for the votocque (clay) bullet the size of a ping pong ball. The string was made from the fiber of the Mbocaya palm tree leaves or the Ivira plant which grows in the forests. It takes practice to shoot a clay bullet with a bow. To avoid hitting the bow and/or your hand one had to do a flicking motion when releasing the string, so the aim was at best poor. The trick was to get close when the birds were feeding on the ground and just shoot into the feeding frenzy and then try to get off two or three more shots off when the birds rose with a thunderous flapping of their wings in a tight bunch. Shooting into that swarm, one was bound to hit one or two birds. I can still remember as a small boy in Isla Margarita, seeing the Paraguayans come back from the fields with dozens of pigeons hanging from their belts.

Isla Carpentry - Sam Withers

Wence wanted to earn more money. He heard of good paying bueyero jobs in the Argentine Chaco where Quebracho wood was being harvested. It was a long way from home but, like young men everywhere, he was looking for a better-paying job. The work was hard and the Quebracho wood even harder. He stayed only for a short while, then followed a rumor that farther north in the Paraguayan Chaco the work was better and supposedly the Quebracho softer. As always, the grass seems greener on the other side. but once there it's just more of the same and, if anything, the wood even harder and the climate hotter. It did not take long before he crossed again into east Paraguay to work with a logging outfit in the north near Concepcion. Here they first had to break in new oxen. The other men showed him how to literally take the steer by the horns. One man would reach across the head of the steer to grab one horn and with other hand he would grab the nostrils. Another person grabbed the tail while the guy in the front received additional assistance from a third or fourth person. In this way they wrestled the steer into submission. At times the ox would toss Wence around like a rag doll. Wence had to do everything from buyero to errand-running, but he also got to drive the big alzaprimas. Here he stayed until it was time to report for military duty.
After first returning home to Mbocayati, he left for Santani to report for military service. During the first few days a rather small steer was delivered live to the barracks to be slaughtered by the soldiers for meat. Somehow the steer got loose and was running around the patio between the buildings while everyone tried to catch him. Wence watched for a while with amusement but when the steer passed him he jumped at him, grabbed one horn and the nostrils and flipped him over. Wence did not think this was a big deal. However everyone else did and from then on, the sergeant wanted him to be his assistant. Wence, also being in possession of a bombilla with which to drink terere (cold mate) was now in high demand.
Wence was not tall and, if anything, slight in build and stature. However this did not stop him from competing with the bigger fellows and he wanted to participate in all activities regardless of how strenuous. The battalion commander was selecting a group of soldiers to serve in the Chaco and Wence volunteered, anticipating adventure, but was rejected as too fragile. Wence wouldn't take 'no' for an answer and simply rejoined the group. He thought the mission must be something special and he was looking for adventure. The commander finally relented and let him come along. Once in the Chaco near Puerto Casado, the troops had to do heavy physical work, building roads, digging ditches and wells. Wence severely injured himself in the thigh when falling into a well they were digging. He developed gangrene and they had to lance his leg. He recovered slowly and should have received a medical discharge, but the company commander felt it would reflect poorly on himself and the company, so he kept Wence around the barracks and post doing odd jobs. In the word of the commander, "You are now a quimba, a good-for-nothing, but we will keep you like our company pet." So he hung around the barracks drinking terere with Felix Prieto, who was also from the village of Mbocayati. Wence eventually did recover, but was left with a slight limp.

Isla Schoolgroup, top L to R: Helmuth Dreher, Gisela Wegner, Pedro Cavanna, Beate Trumpi, Adolf Wegner, Agathe Meier, Jean Hasenberg, Nathaniel Sorgius, Philip Bazeley, Dawn Marchant, Hilarion Braun(?) - Primavera, 1955(?)

After terminating his military service, he returned home to Mbocayati and again took up his profession as a carretero working for local logging contractors. This didn't last very long as the Chaco war broke out and a general mobilization went into effect. His name came up in the third call, and together with several of his local friends they had to report to the nearest military establishment. In time of war, it seems that you tried to stay close to your friends and people you knew, so he was lucky to be with Florencio Santa Cruz, Pablo Soria and a few others who I would later get to know or work with in the sawmill or on the estancia. This little group tried to stick together during the war, looking out for each other.
Wence wanted to join the cavalry and from his previous tour of duty he was known to be able to work with horses and cattle. He was assigned a job as tropero (cattle and horse herder). He was able to get his friends the same duty, so by the time they were shipped to the Chaco their assignment was to stay in the rear, driving the horses and cattle for slaughter as needed by the fighting army. They followed the action into the Chaco along the Pilcomayo River, the southern border between Paraguay and Argentina (an area I would get to know well many years later). As the war dragged on, the cattle supply dwindled as they pushed on to Esmeralda on the River Pilcomayo. Their days as troperos seemed to be numbered because once the supply of cattle had run out, they would have to leave for the front, a prospect none of them looked forward to. However near Poso Hondo, large numbers of wild cattle lived in the woods where they found plenty of fruit from the Aromita tree to feed on. But it was very difficult to drive them out of the woods and they had to be roped or trapped one by one. Wence and his friends were told that as long as they could round up enough cattle for slaughter, they would not have to go to the front. This was enough incentive to keep them hustling.
It was a hard life and they frequently spent days and weeks in the woods. However it was much better than facing live bullets. Wence and his close friends were lucky, because the Bolivians were pushed back and the number of cattle they were able to round up was sufficient to keep them out of the fighting until the end of the war.
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Our little group of friends made it back to their homes. Wence found his future wife Teodora and settled in Mbocayati. Florencio and his brother Pasqual made their homes in Riorugua. Felix Prieto went to work for Rutenberg, and Pablo Soria settled in Carolina. They were a tough bunch of men who knew how to endure hardship. Most of them would work later for the Bruderhof in one capacity or another. I still remember them well, as I do their sons, who tried their hand at working as cowboys but they never measured up to their fathers. They found the work with cattle too lonely and hard. Also it kept them away from their homes and their friends.
Wence went back to work in the logging industry as a carretero. He also tried his hand at being an acerador, sawing logs by hand over the pits in the ground. This was very hard work, requiring a lot of physical strength and endurance. The pits were dug under large shade trees so that the men could work in the shade. The various names we remember in and around Primavera were named after the aceradors cutting the logs, names such as Riveros Cue, Clemente Cue, Maria Cue (later Octaviano) also, Toribio Cue, (piquetei in Loma Hoby) were all named after these individuals. Wence also tried his hands as an hachero, (tree cutter) but that too was very hard and heavy work. So he went back to being what he did best, a carretero who carted the big logs out of the forest by alzaprima. This was by no means an easy job and was fraught with danger, but this he knew best.
If not busy with logging he enjoyed hunting in the forest. He was an expert in knowing where to find deer. He loved the jungle and the variety of wildlife it harbored. He would hunt alone or with Jose Melo, a well known local hunter, or other friends. (As a teenager I would get to know Jose Melo very well and went on several hunting trips with him). They would trek through the woods from Mbocayati all the way down to the river Tapiracuay, or into Abebo or crossing Campo Invernada into Monte Jaime. Monte Jaime got its name when Rutenberg sent one of his men to explore this remote forest. The man came back telling about large potreros in this forest, wild cattle and herds of tayicatys(Javalins). Rutenberg then named that forest after this man who's last name was Jaime, no relation to Wence. While there were many different wild animals, from deer to agoutis, agoutipai, armadillos, tapir (hard to catch) and currei, the animal of choice to hunt was the tayicati. Once you found a herd, the likelihood of catching, two or three was very high. Another animal was the carpincho (capybara) a large rodent, which lived in great numbers in the swamps along the river Tapiracuay.
Primavera had miles and miles of forest, the main concentration running the full length north to south. Wence could enter the woods in Mbocayati and never exit until he reached the river Tapiracuay. There were numerous lagoons or watering holes scattered throughout the forest and one could go from one to another as one progressed along the jungle path or followed the main logging road that ran most of the length of the forest. For those not familiar with the topography of that forest, there was a long and wide depression between Loma Hoby and Ibate. Along this depression were several lagoons and, during the rainy season, the depression was under water for many weeks, sometimes months. Because of the frequent standing water, the underbrush was not as dense, so when dry it was easy to walk from one lagoon to another. Around the lagoons grew a lot of saw grass up to three feet high in which the peccaries and Javalins liked to spend the day or wallow in the mud. This depression narrowed and finally just became a deep narrow cut that drained and exited on to Campo Carapey.
Our hunters had many choices of where to go and what to hunt. The animal of choice was the Javalin but they were becoming more scarce and withdrawing deeper and deeper into the jungle. To find them the men now had to cross Campo Invernada and look for the tayicati in Monte Jaime. This was a long, long way by foot from Mbocayati. One of the times when they killed a few of the pigs, they gutted the animals, slung them over their shoulders and carried the porkers all the way back home to Mbocayati. The tayicati tends to have many niativu (ticks) and, as the body of the pig grew cold, the ticks crawled on to the next warm body. By the time our hunters arrived at home, the ticks had found a new warm body to feed on. At home Wence had to strip his clothes off so that Teodora could pick him free of ticks.
Sitting again in the large living room of their Ohio home exchanging hunting stories and drinking mate, we revisited all the different spots in the woods, aguadas, springs, ca–adas and discussing the many different birds, animals and plants. We talked about our love for the forest and his eyes lit up. As Wence talked, he had this faraway look and a smile on his face. It was as if we were walking again through the woods, admiring the trees, different bushes, the vines, blooming azalea, the forest lilies. Everything seemed to have a purpose, such as the big blue butterfly, 6 to 8 inches across, which lazily floated through the air as if beckoning you to follow deeper and deeper into the forest. There seemed to be this compelling urge to keep going farther and farther -- "Let's see what is behind those trees, or behind those bushes! Were there tracks of pigs under that Pindo palm tree there to the left? Check that hollow Ombu tree!"
Not expecting anything unusual, nevertheless one kept going, every step an adventure. Who can forget the haunting call of the mocoi-cocove (the big brown wood hen) in the late after noon? Mocoi means 'two' in Guarani, and these birds always seemed to run in pairs. At this time of the day the deer started stirring, so as you sat in your tree stand, one was serenaded by these birds.
For me it was the strangest feeling. Here was a person who felt exactly the same way about the forest as I did. We could read each others thoughts. We looked at each other and understood. We were quiet for a few moments, knowing full well that our beloved forest did not exist anymore. My biggest regret at that moment was that we never really connected while in Primavera. Oh, how much I could have learned from him then, the secrets of the Paraguayan jungle, which may be lost for ever!
We talked about the different mythological figures of the Guaranis and their significance to the Paraguayans, among them the Bombero and Yasy Yatere, the Wild Man of legend. It turns out that most of these were the protectors of the forest and the wild animals. They were kind to those who respected nature but turned on those who abused the animals or vegetation. In our time the Paraguayans throughout the country still gave the mythological figures a lot of credence.
I asked him about the supposedly newly discovered wild pig, tagua in the Chaco of Paraguay. He chuckled and said, "Yes, they were in the Chaco, but they also were in east Paraguay. In the early 1900s there was still a small herd in and around Primavera, but they disappeared, hunted to extinction. They called them 'the pigs with a cravat,' because of their white stripe down the shoulder blade."

Isla vegetable garden: Jochen Loeber, Frieder Braun, Fred Kemp - Primavera, 1960(?)

Our conversation switched to the arrival of the Sociedad de Hermanos [Bruderhof] in Primavera, locally referred to as los Barbudos, since most of the men had beards. The building of many new houses, the construction of the sawmill and work shops, putting up new fences, building of corrals and the general infrastructure for the new settlement generated jobs for the local Paraguayans living in the nearby villages. The cutting of timber and lumber was done better and faster by the native lumberjacks. Hauling the logs out of the woods by alzaprima with their team of oxen was mostly done by the Paraguayan workers. With the lack or shortage of material, we had to adopt the method of the natives to build our first houses and with their help and advice built the first houses, using vines (isypos) to tie the rafters, cutting colorado grass to thatch the roofs, mixing the red clay to build the mud walls etc. Much of this work was done better and faster by the experienced locals.
Ludwig Pickel, the major domo of Rutenberg, stayed on for about another year to give our people a crash course in how to ranch in Paraguay. Felix Prieto, the capataz (supervisor of the cowboys) stayed on and worked for us for many more years. A new corral had to be build in Riveros Cue with a brette (chute) so that all the cattle and horses could be branded with our newly designed brand "marca flor," a redesign of Rutenberg's old brand of an joined 'ER.' Wence helped cut all the posts for the new corral, which were all from the irundaimi tree that grew plentifully on the high red forest soil in the adjoining woods. This wood is extremely hard and lasts for decades before it rots. Arno Martin wanted Wence to build the chute, but he told Arno that he did not know how. However he suggested that on a big occasion like the branding, Paraguayan custom is to kill a heifer and roast it over an open pit. Arno thought that was a great idea and Wence told him he was an expert at cooking an asado (barbecue). The asado was a great success and became a tradition for all future yearly brandings. Wence chuckled and laughed at the thought of having hoodwinked Arno into something which thereafter would come to be expected. When our doctor Cyril Davis and Margot were married, a big asadowas planned to go along with the festivities and many of our local neighbors were invited. Of course Wence orchestrated the cooking of the meat over the open pits.
The barbudos were looking for a Paraguayan couple who would be willing to cook for our growing number of native workers. We had built two ranchos at the forest edge across the narrow strip of campo from the sawmill and workshop. Several of the Paraguayans were approached, but no one wanted to have his wife do all that work and be alone with all those men. When Wence was asked, he consulted with Teodora and she was willing to give it a try. Another responsibility which was taken on by Wence was to be in charge of our logging operation, caring for the alzaprimas and all the oxen needed for that operation. At the edge of the forest were several houses for our workers, one house occupied by Wence and Teodora and their growing family. The four or five alzaprimas were parked in a paddock and a corral built for the oxen and the couple of milk cows the Jaimes kept. Part of the deal was that their children would attend our school where they learned both German and English. His oldest son would remain in Mbocayati to attend the Paraguayan school.

Hilarion Braun with snake

Wence gained the trust of the brothers and was frequently used as a liaison between the newcomers and the Paraguayans. Together with one of the brothers, they searched for additional draught oxen for the alzaprimas. We had no cooking oil or fat, so Arno asked Wence to go with him to the nearby villages to buy pigs which we could slaughter for their fat. Wence would laugh, remembering Arno approaching Paraguayans, pointing his finger at the person he would say "tu chancho?" (you pig). Many times the people would become insulted, but Wence would laugh and explain what Arno was trying to say, and a possible altercation would be defused.
Wence developed a special friendship with Johnny Robinson. Together they made many trips to the surrounding towns and villages to buy cattle or horses, and he had many stories to tell. Away from the Hof and on trips, Johnny had no trouble letting down his hair. He would tell stories and jokes and laugh with this deep sound that seemed to come from his belly. He nearly keeled over, his whole body shaking as he clutched the front of the saddle in order not to fall off the horse. On the ride home, the boys sometimes produced a bottle of the local rum, or they had it in a aluminum bottle hanging from the saddle. The bottle was handed from one rider to another and conversations would become quite animated. We kept that tradition for special occasions such as branding or major roundups. One evening Johnny stayed longer at Wence's house as they proceeded to kill a bottle. It was late by the time Johnny decided to walk home across the campo to the Hof. He staggered off into the darkness, but after ten of fifteen minutes Wence heard someone calling. When they went out to look, they found Johnny hanging over the wire fence tangled between the wires unable to free himself. Wence and another fellow freed him from his predicament and took him back to the rancho where Johnny passed out on a bench and did not move until the following morning. I had heard the story before, but not in detail. Wence thought it was hilarious.
Wence earned the respect and trust of many of the men among the Sociedad de Hermanos and was consulted frequently on how to deal with the local workers and matter relating to forestry and logging. He was essentially in charge of the logging operation in Isla Margarita. The sawmill and turning shop and carpentry would mention what type of wood they needed and Wence searched the forests, which he knew better than any one else, for the right trees to harvest. He did this for most of the time we were in Primavera. Wence also did a lot of the carting of firewood for the steam engine, kitchen and laundry. The firewood was cut when we cleared the forest for agricultural purposes. Later when Wence became too busy, he brought in his relative Pablo Soria to deliver firewood from the rosados (freshly cleared forest).
He was impressed by the way the Sociedad de Hermanos was able to work and live together and be so productive. It was a source of great satisfaction to him that his children were able to attend the Primavera school where they were able to learn much more than would be the case at the local national schools. He did not want his oldest son to be drafted by the Paraguayan army and was very grateful when the Sociedad helped his oldest son Andre leave the country and go to Uruguay, where he spent some time at the El Arado Bruderhof.
The Jaime family was drawn ever-closer to the Bruderhof, and a close bond developed between them and the members of the Sociedad, what with the kids attending the school and Wence working closely with the brothers on a daily basis. They attended many of the festivities and holiday celebrations such as Christmas and weddings. In the mid-fifties, they asked to join the Sociedad and moved onto the Hof in Isla Margarita. When joining, it was discovered that Wence and Teodora had never been officially married, so a wedding ceremony was arranged to put an official seal on their common-law marriage. It is fair to say that the Jaimes, and in particular Wence, were instrumental and an integral part of the building of the Primavera Bruderhof. His contributions should not be underestimated. The brothers could fully rely on him, a trust Wence never abused. In his quiet way, he was somehow already part of Primavera long before many of us could fully appreciate his part in the building process.
By the time Heini Arnold engineered the diaspora of the Primavera Volk with his American goon squad, the elder children of the Jaimes were abroad. Justina was in the USA because the American couple for whom she had worked in Asuncion had sponsored her move to the States. Andre was in Uruguay, Mamerta was in El Arado and would later marry Ariel. They went through a lot of hardship, being imprisoned and separated for more than a year during the social upheavals during the late 1960s in Uruguay.
The Jaimes were told that they could not make the move to the USA and a place was found for them outside Asuncion. However the close association they had had with the Sociedad for so many years and their lifestyle now made them feel out-of-place and they missed being with their friends of so many years. They expressed their feelings to the American communities, and eventually were permitted to join the New Meadow Run community. Wence in particular expressed his gratitude towards the Community for giving his family this opportunity. Clementina stayed behind in Asuncion where she had obtained a job tutoring the son of President Stroessner in the German language. In that capacity, she had to chaperon the young man to Germany for a short period of study.
The Jaimes tried to settle in and get used to the confinement of communal sweatshop living, "a la the Heini Arnold communal indenture." While the parents were willing and humble enough to subordinate themselves, the kids had a much harder time fitting in. Nevertheless, I find it very hard to imagine Wence living in this kind of confinement, a person who had lived all his life on the open range or in the forests, having responsibilities and making his own decisions. With the kids unable to adjust, the Jaimes were again asked to leave.
Wolfgang Loewenthal was instrumental in finding a place for Wence and Teodora and their kids with a lawyer in Ohio. This man was an amateur horsebreeder who needed someone to look after his horses. Teodora asked for permission to have one cow and some chickens, which was granted. They were given a nice mobile home, and some land to cultivate vegetables. Wence was put in charge of the stables, taking care of the horses in addition to working the fields, cutting hay with a tractor and doing all kind of odd jobs. The owner did not speak any Spanish and Wence, as well as Teodora virtually no English, but somehow they were able to communicate and matters ran smoothly. The family settled down, the kids went to the local school and were happy.
This lasted for several years until Wence suffered a terrible accident. Trying to cross a ditch with the tractor, the vehicle toppled over and his right leg became severely injured again. He needed several operations and was totally incapacitated. Wence told me, "I have had all these accidents and rightfully should be dead, first the accident in the Paraguayan Chaco, on another occasion I slipped and fell between the wheel and the large log carried by the alzaprima and my head got crushed, (from other sources I heard it was his shoulder), then this accident with the tractor where I nearly bled to death, but here I'm still living while most of my contemporaries in Paraguay are long dead!" Incapable of continuing at his job, the Community took him back. The kids silently cursed their father for having had this stupid accident. They had lost their freedom and were unhappy campers in the confinement of the TOYS-R-US (Community Playthings) factory.
This lasted for about two years until Wence was again well enough to move around, and with that the community found him a job outside the community and his family left again. Wence harbors no ill feelings toward the community, however, and the kids could not wait to get away and were greatly relieved. By now the older kids were able to find jobs themselves and pursue their own lives. As the years went on, one by one they left to get married or found jobs further from home. The three youngest sisters decided to buy a house together. The boys and some friends helped them to enlarge it and built a separate efficiency apartment downstairs for the parents. The young ladies are all very handy and helped with the building and renovating.
The Jaimes, and in particular Wence and Teodora, enjoy receiving visits from people whom they know and can remember from our days in Primavera and Paraguay. Wence has a great love for that country and likes to read about the people, their customs and current happenings. They are at peace with themselves and visitors should respect that and avoid bringing up subjects which to them should be left in the past. Wence and Teodora have a lot of integrity, with malice toward none. I am happy knowing that they have a place where they can just be themselves, in their own home on a beautiful spot out in the country, together with their children.
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