The Best of The Best of KIT 1989-90

From August, 1989, thru December,1990

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

P.O. Box 460141 / San Francisco, CA 94146-0141 / telephone: (415) 821-2090 / (415) 282-2369
KIT Staff U.S.: Ramon Sender, Charles Lamar, Christina Bernard, Vince Lagano, Dave Ostrom;
U.K. : Joy Johnson MacDonald, Ben Cavanna, Leonard Pavitt, Joanie Pavitt Taylor.
The KIT Newsletter is an open forum for fact and opinion. It encourages the expression of all views, both from within and from outside the Bruderhof. The opinions expressed in the letters we publish are those of the correspondents and do not necessarily reflects those of KIT editors or staff.
This collection skims the Best of KIT 1989-90 file, which is derived from The 1989-90 Annual, to create a Best of the Best of KIT 1989-90. We understand that the sheer volume of articles and letters available can overwhelm the casual browser, and so we offer in this manner a sampling of the most interesting and informative.

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

Dear ex-bruderhofers: This is a modest attempt to create a network of those of us who experienced the life within the Bruderhof and then either were excluded, expelled, excommunicated or left on our own decision. The experience of leaving was very traumatic for many, especially those who were 'kicked out' after many years of community living. In many cases we underwent the experience of starting over completely isolated from other ex-hofers because there was no way to make contact. When I started phoning around this month to interview people for a book of memories of my daughter Xavie (who died at 33 years of age of cancer at Woodcrest last year) many expressed a wish that we start some sort of newsletter. It seemed like an easy beginning for me to share the addresses of those I have contacted.... Please write to me with any current addresses or contacts or corrections you might have. So here they are. It's been wonderful talking with you all!
NOTE: I'm searching for anyone who knew my daughter Xavie Sender Rhodes and can recall specific anecdotes or incidents from her life that I can include in the book I am writing. Thank you, Ramon Sender

----------September 1989 1989 Vol. I #2------- ---

Dear ex-b'hofers: This continues an ongoing attempt to create a network of those of us who experienced the life within the Bruderhof. For me it has been very rewarding to connect with so many of you, and feel the closeness we share even if we never met face-to-face. My search for classmates or others in my daughter Xavie's age group is gradually paying off, although I am still eagerly searching for more names of people her age -- she would have been 33 this year.... Perhaps, as we continue with this newsletter, it will become a way for others of you to share your experiences. Please remember to write to me with any current addresses or contacts or corrections you might have. It's been wonderful talking with you all!
Addresses or 'In' or 'Out' info needed for: Charlie Masterson, Wendy Rimes, Alan Stevenson & children, Steve Button (at chiropracter's school Chicago), Miriam Button Long Island, Harold Goree, Jonathan Clement, Michael Gneiting, Pedro Gneiting, Alfredo Gneiting, a son of Claude & Billie Nelson in Washington State, Dick Wareham, Scott Wareham, Doris Greaves, Ruth Dodd, Mary Worth, Jack Melancon, Joel Clement, Joy Jones (Ft Langley BC), Jack Warren, Esther Tabor, Dave Noble, Elizabeth Johnson, Andrew Szilard, Anne Gale and Hans Wiehler, the Trembley family, the Dietsch family, Mike & Linda Cahoon, the Horning family, Matthew McAdams, Tim McAdams, Marlene Wegner Gelman, Hans Wegner, Gisela Wegner Anderson, Margot Wegner, David & Rae Whitehead, Alan & Sue Wiser, Charlie Jory, Walter Bennett, Walter Illingworth, George (Eddie) Halliwell, Edmund Cocksedge, The Welhams.
Leonard Pavitt writes: Since reading the 'Round Robin' and seeing the list of names, I realize that as one who left in 1959 before the "Exodus' that I have never known just how many left then or since. But I sat down and, partly from the list and partly from memory, counted up to 71 ex- members who I know for sure spent a minimum of 20 years as full members of the Bruderhof. Quite a few of them actually spent several years more than that, and I have not counted the many full members who had been with us for less than 20 years simply because I had no way of knowing how long the various folk had been members. This means that those who were either expelled or left, disillusioned, have together put well over 1500 years of work into helping to build the Bruderhof communities. When the Bruderhof write their history, what mention will they make of these 1500 or more years? Will we rate a chapter headed perhaps "The Bruderhof's 1500- Year Debt?" I rather doubt it. I feel that sometime, out of simple justice, it whould be put down in black and white, not only just how big the 'Exodus' was, but also how big the contribution to the building-up of the Bruderhof communities was, from those who were put out. They also gave their all -- homes and money, the company of much love family and friends. They also, to paraphrase the words of a dear friend's poem, "Worked 'til the hot sweat poured down their faces." They also "did not fear that the sun would beat them down." And what's more, after all those years, they had the courage to start their lives all over again, from nothing, 20 years older, no job references, and many with children to support. They don't deserve to be just scattered to the four winds, and their sacrifices and courage completely forgotten.
Ramon Sender: The Bruderhof's publication of Torches Rekindled provides an excellent opportunity for all of us to comment and discuss some of the issues mentioned. The book describes Heini Arnold as The Suffering Servant who never meant to deal harshly with anyone, but just was not at Primavera for the mass exclusions. Hans Zumpe of course is presented as the arch-fiend, conveniently not around to defend himself. Also, it does a great disservice to the memory Gwynn Evans, because it quotes in toto a letter of repentance which he later retracted in a second letter, claiming that the first was written under much emotional duress. The book calls out for some sort of published rebuttal, and may give the impetus needed to collect the stories of many of the Bruderhof 'wanderers' into a second volume. Until such a project becomes a reality, I will be glad to make this newsletter available as a forum for critiques of and amendments to the official story.
One sentence that especially stuck in my mind from the time when Primavera was sold for a quarter of a million dollars: "The receipt of money from the sale covered travel and many other expenses and helped us send as much as we could to our people who were away." I would be interested to know how many members excluded at that time received any financial help from the community. As far as I know, the Bruderhof's attitude towards excluded members has always been "sink or swim." Occasionally I have heard of the first month's rent being paid on an apartment, but at least in the USA the advice to an excluded family was "go apply for Welfare (aid to needy mothers and children)." I bring this up not in a muckraking spirit, but out of a feeling that the Bruderhof may not be facing up to something very wrong in the way they practice church discipline...
Loy McWhirter: My family was one of the many who were left to "sink or swim" after leaving. Mostly we sank, and I don't know if I will ever come to forgive the Bruderhof for their part in the destruction of my parents and siblings... The Bruderhof powers-that-be purposely destroyed my father's emotional well-being before we left and he never recovered. He is dead now, so no amends can be made... but I am slowly coming back to life and I am very angry. I know that what they did was a most obscene form of bloodless torture. It was done in the name of God and Jesus to the children who did not choose the life, as well as to those who did 'choose,' if one can call mind control a matter of choice (emotional and spiritual blackmail).
Ramon: I have been reading John Bradshaw's two books, Bradshaw On: The Family and Healing The Shame That Binds You.... Just a few quotes:
"One of the most insidious and toxically shaming
distortions of many religions is the denial of secondary
causality. What this means is that according to some
church doctrines, the human will is inept. There is
NOTHING man can do that is of any validity. Of himself,
man is a worm. Only when God works through him does
man become restored to dignity. But it is never anything
that man does himself. The theology here is abortive of
any true doctrine of Judeo/Christianity. Most main-line
interpretations see man as having secondary causality...
Man's will is effective. In order to receive grace, man
must be willing to accept the gift of faith. After acceptance,
man's will plays a major role in the sanctification process.
The abortive interpretation sees man as totally flawed and
defective. Of himself, he can only sin. Man is shame-based
to the core."...
Bradshaw also quotes Alice Miller's Poisonous Pedagogy rules, from which we have all suffered to a greater or lesser extent:
1. Adults are the masters of the dependent child.
2. They determine in godlike fashion what is right and what is wrong.
3. The child is held responsible for the parents' anger.
4. The parents must always be shielded.
5. The child's life-affirming feelings pose a threat to the autocratic adult.
6. The child's will must be "broken" as soon as possible.
7. All this must happen at a very early age so that the child
"Won't notice" and will therefore not be able to expose the adult.
Such beliefs about the parents' absolute power stem from the time of monarchs and kings. They are pre- democratic... They presuppose a world of eternal laws... The poisonous pedagogy justifies abusive methods for suppressing children's vital spontaneity: physical beatings, lying, duplicity, manipulation, scare tactics, withdrawal of love, isolation and coercion to the point of torture. All of these methods are toxically shaming.
Another aspect of (Alice Miller's) 'poisonous pedagogy' is to impart to the child from the beginning false information and beliefs that are not only unproven, but in some cases, demonstrably false. These are beliefs passed on from generation to generation ('sins of the fathers'). Again I refer to Miller who cites examples of such beliefs:
1. A feeling of duty produces love
2. Hatred can be done away with by forbidding it.
3. Parents deserve respect because they are parents.
4. Children are undeserving of respect simply because they are children.
5. Obedience makes a child strong.
6. A high degree of self-esteem is harmful.
7. A low degree of self-esteem makes a person altruistic.
8. Tenderness (doting) is harmful.
9. Responding to a child's needs is wrong.
10. Severity and coldness towards a child gives him a good preparation for life.
11. A pretense of gratitude is better than honest ingratitude.
12. The way you behave is more important than the way you really are.
13. Neither parents nor God would survive being offended.
14. The body is something dirty and disgusting.
15. Strong feelings are harmful.
16. Parents are creatures free of drives and guilt.
17. Parents are always right.
Loy McWhirter: I feel that we have to tell the truth of our stories to stop the (mind control) machines. Ours was/is very insidious because it (HSOB) looks so good to outsiders -- such a shining example, and with many of the ideals any 'conscious person' should aspire to.
People who do you wrong at random is painful. People systematically destroying your self in the name of some ideology, whatever it may be -- Christian, satanic, militaristic, whatever, is survivable only if you capitulate and lose yourself, or disassociate -- 'break.' When you are a child subjected to ritualized/systematized destruction of the self, you have no self-protection to fall back on, or no memory strong enough of who you were to sustain you. You have to break or die, physically, emotionally, mentally and/or spiritually.
Ramon Sender: (responding to a letter from Duffy & Susie Black) Sometimes, dear Duffy, I wonder if we're talking about the same Bruderhof. You talk about your "gratefulness for the experience during the years we lived together." And Susie of the 'riches' she felt she received. And you really swallowed the Torches Rekindled apologia for Heini? I'm sorry, but I can't go along with that. I agree that Heini had a lot of charisma, but unfortunately he used it to serve his own ends. It seems to me as if you have woven a web of sweetness and light around your memories and are not really facing some of the starker truths about the closed religious system which the Bruderhof promulgates....
I don't want to get into all my personal ins and outs in a letter to you, but suffice it to say that, after two rather lengthy replies from Tom Potts, I am still waiting to hear something like a recognition on the part of the HSOB that they wounded Xavie deeply by not allowing her access to her father during her growing up. Also I am still waiting to hear these concerns answered:
1) I received no notice of her engagement and marriage.
2) I received no announcements of the births of my grandchildren.
3) I did not receive word of her terminal illness until a month after her death.
When Tom asked me why I was writing the book, I answered:
"Of course I am writing it to heal myself of the many years
of a father's anguish. I hope that other fathers who have
been cut off from their children by divorce or separation
will find solace in what I write. I also hope that it will
console parents whose children have joined splinter sects
or cults, and perhaps even give some good advice. I care
very little about my 'reputation' or 'making money,' as
anyone who knows me can testify. Books of the sort I
write barely break even financially.
The most compelling reason, above all others, is that I
hope the book will encourage the brotherhood to change
into a more humanistic, compassionate organization for
the sake of my two grandchildren who are growing up
there. And for the sake of those many, many other
Bruderhof graduates who have relatives within the
I hope the tone of this letter is not too testy, Duffy. But I feel I should emphasize that I don't think you're really seeing the situation as it is. There are many, many very badly mistreated ex-members and children around. Their voices have not been heard by the communities except on a very selective basis. It's time they were listened to, at least by others who share their pain...
--------------From The Archives--------------
Some readers seem to be unfamiliar with the background of The Great Crisis except from the HSOB's point of view. The KIT Newsletter archives contain some letters from previous years that may shed some light. The following, dated, December 1972, from the ex-Servant of the Word Roger Allain to the Brotherhoods, could just as well have been written in answer to Torches Rekindled:
You are indignant over the cruel treatment dealt to Heini, Hardi, Hans-Hermann [the three sons of the founder, Eberhard Arnold - ed] and a few others during their exclusions [in Paraguay in 1941]... But why do you interpret it as almost exclusively directed against the Arnolds? Don't you know that dozens of other brothers and sisters were treated just as cruelly by all of us while (they were) excluded in Primavera, Asuncion or other places?
And what of the cold, careless treatment of many unbaptized, undecided youths whom we sent away to Asuncion at an immature age without any help? What of the cruel, often brutal, treatment of children whom we excluded for months from school and family for some minor sexual misdemeanor?. Don't we all share in this collective guilt? Why do you, Heini, fail to confess the cruel way you, particularly, treated many children when you were a Hortner [youth director] and later a Servant in Ibate? Do you know that several of them, now adults, say you are the brother they feared the most?...
Dear people, even if your letters contained more personal recognitions and fewer attacks against others, they are coming too late for me, and probably for many others like me, who have managed to find a new foothold in life and have assumed new responsibilities. And they are too late to reach those of us who have departed from this life -- some of them out of a broken heart (I personally know of two members who committed suicide as a result of being rejected by the Bruderhof: Felipe Baderssich in Uruguay in '61 or '62, and Nicko in Berlin in '62 or '63.) However well-intentioned your letters may be, I fear they will only exacerbate the differences which separate many ex-Bruderhofers from your group, instead of leading to the reconciliation you want...
...Your appeal to our baptismal vows... is to me an idle and fallacious one. You yourselves ("the five of us from the States: Heini, Doug, Merrill, Gert and I," to quote from Art's letter) dissolved the old bonds and proceeded to form a new brotherhood. You sent people away, often against their will, under the pretext that they had entered the 'church' through the wrong door (and you published this pretext in the press). To those few who, like Norah and myself, left in protest, you said yes, it was better that we went, and you wasted not one word about our baptismal vows.
In any case, your group (now) is different from the one we joined thirty years ago, although many members of it belonged to the S.O.B. in Paraguay and in Europe, and you still use the same name. You have left off being a revolutionary world movement concerned with God and the whole world, and of significance for it, to become engrossed with yourselves and sectarian perfectionism. I remember those of you with whom I lived in community for years with love and gratitude, I sincerely wish you all well, but I have no further obligation towards you, and you have no claim over me.
Staughton & Alice Lynd: We are not among those who feel wronged by the Hutterian Society of Brothers. In saying this, we do not mean to distance ourselves from friends who feel they were wronged. We only mean to say that this was not our experience. Of course there were some particular remarks and particular meetings that hurt us or made us angry at the time. But anything of this kind is very much outweighed by the following:
We were the only full members of the Macedonia Cooperative Community who did not join the Bruderhof. After we had left Woodcrest, the Bruderhof made the decision to sell the Macedonia property. They took the trouble to seek us out, and to give us the opportunity to purchase the place and continue it.
When Alice wished to return to Woodcrest in February, 1958, with a two-year-old child and also very pregnant, the Bruderhof took her in and, more particularly, Hansuli and Lizzie Boller took in our daughter Barbara and gave of their wellbeing. Finally, when Alice asked to move toward the Novitiate, and the Brothers saw that she could not move forward, or indeed anywhere, without her husband, they encouraged her to leave. They acted just in the opposite way a spiritually imperialistic, greedy in the missionary sense, church might have acted.
Our continuing concerns, which we have fully expressed to friends at the Bruderhof, are these:
1. Reading Torches Rekindled has made us aware of ways in which Macedonia and the Hutterian Society of Brothers are fundamentally different, and we find ourselves wedded to the Macedonian basis as much as ever. We had never seen so clearly that the Bruderhof believes literally in rule by a king, in an authoritarian rather than an egalitarian governance. We don't believe that any human being is infallible, even if he may be an Elder, a Vetter, a Servant of the Word, or a witness brother entrusted with authority because of his great spiritual receptivity. Nor do we believe that females are any less the vessels of spiritual understanding than males. We believe that human beings are endowed with a conscience, and that each of us needs to use it, to keep his or her heart open and to be guided by it. We need each other because none of us can see and hear all.
2. When we were at Woodcrest in 1957-'58, we expressed the hope that the Bruderhof might start outposts in the city like the Catholic Worker houses of hospitality. We are sad that the physical properties at Macedonia and Primavera were given up. Being at Macedonia would have given the community an opportunity to be more in touch with the Southern civil rights movement than proved to be possible, and continuing at Primavera might have caused the community in one way or another more fully to encounter the spirit of the Second Vatican Council in its Latin American manifestation, liberation theology. Next to Macedonia,.the Southern civil rights movement and liberation theology have been the deepest experiences of our lives. We think they may have been the most important renewals of the religious spirit anywhere in the world in the second half of the twentieth century.
With these two concerns in mind, we'd like to lay the following before newsletter readers. May it not be that all of us- -those who stayed at the Bruderhof and those who did not -- are members of a larger community seeking to being about the Kingdom of God on earth in the sense of a more just society? We who left are perforce the "outposts." This is an opportunity, and a responsibility, and may be valued more than we imagine by those still on the 'hofs. The work of taking even small steps toward a more just society is a task so much bigger than us all that we can undertake it together, knowing that nobody has all the answers.
Loy McWhirter (replying to a letter from an HSOB couple): My clearest memory of you and all the others who upheld the Bruderhof's 'ideals' and ideologies is your standing by while my father and my family were torn apart and shunned by the very 'loving community' in which he so deeply believed and had committed himself to be truthful with. You either participated in his torment and destruction, or stood by in fearful silence. This is real. And the ones whose lives were affected are real, and cannot be dismissed with 'warm regards' and apologies.
The years that followed our exile have been painful and deeply damaging to my family and myself. I no longer am able to see my family, even though I live two miles from them, because they willingly clutch the happy lies to their hearts. I am in intensive and difficult therapy at great cost to my chosen family and myself.
I do not appreciate or trust your 'warm regards' in the face of all that has gone before, and in the light of the painful reclamation work I am engaged in. I might like to believe such stories, but I have found them to be treacherous and disappointing. I would welcome any real and tangible help towards healing the deep and long-lasting pain the Bruderhof has caused in my life. I do resent having to do the difficult work without the help of the Bruderhof or my family-of-birth.
My father is dead, never having recovered from the 'break.' I have no idea what can be done for my brothers, sister and mother since they, like so many Bruderhof cast-offs, either have been able to pretend it never happened or that it was a fleeting time filled only with fond memories. Since my siblings were so young there, it has been easier for them to forget or ignore the ways they have been affected than it has been for me. /dl>
Victor Peters, a historian at North Dakota State University and author of All Things Common: The Hutterian Way of Life, (1965) reviewed Torches Rekindled for The Mennonite Reporter. Here are excerpts (quoted with his kind permission):
Narrative confuses readers not familiar with Hutterite conflicts
...This book traces the tortuous internal conflicts within the Society's own history and its troubled relationship with the Hutterites. It generously absolves the latter of all blame and places the cause for disagreement on the Society and some of its members.
It is difficult to assess the author's share in writing this volume. He died before the manuscript appeared in print and the reader is informed that the story is presented as "told by Merrill Mow."
The writer is solicitous not to offend members of his group, and he does not discuss the details of the conflicts. The reader is left with ambiguities such as "When the underlying causes of that was wrong were revealed, a crisis developed" (p. 132), or again, "Some were fearful and others were angry, all I can say is that it was a mess!" (p. 133)
The author also appears to be overly protective of leader Heini Arnold, son of Eberhard Arnold. In one instance he writes, "we were in the very difficult situation of someone having raised questions towards Heini that were absolutely way off." (p. 139)
Often the reader is confronted with historical or devotional pablum without a focus on the problem at hand.
No doubt the members of the Society of Brothers know the omitted details, and many of the Hutterites, at least their leaders, will have some grasp of the conflicts, but the general reader is left with a nebulous narrative that confuses more than it informs...
Unfortunately, Torches Rekindled does not measure up to most of the Society's other publications. The most positive feature of the book are the symbolic torches on its cover, where a brightly burning torch rekindles another torch.
Michael Caine: I really appreciate the newsletters. Thanks for putting in so much effort. Please excuse my spelling mistakes... I only had very little school on account of too much Ausschluss (exclusion). The only complete school year was First Klasse in Isla Margarita, 1946, with Roger Allain, then followed by about three years, mainly Ausschluss, in Ibate. Anybody who knows me will tell you that I was not always a conformist -- in fact quite early in life I learned that a life of delinquency was a much more eventful life!
The older I get, the more I realize what a good life we all had as kids in Primavera. What kids anywhere in the world have a life like we did! I was taken in as an orphan by the Bruderhof when I was just two weeks old. the most fortunate thing that ever happened to me in my life... Primavera was a lot more than a cattle ranch -- it was our Heimat -- in English there is no word for that! Since leaving Primavera, I never felt at home anywhere....
I remember my first Ausschluss, I was seven years old -- the long interrogation: "What were you doing with yourself in the bathroom?... What were you doing with the girls? Do you love Jesus? Your mother's sin is in you!" (I was born illegitimate, and it was never the sin of the father, only my mother) And the endless beatings with his bamboo stick. Heini really taught me the art of hatred. With him being such a creature, it is not surprising that he found more of his kind. No matter how big the jungle is, one monkey will always find another monkey, and that is how they managed to smash up the Bruderhof... dd>The Bruderhof can exist only when poor because that is the idea it was founded on: 'Give your money to the poor and follow me.' That was the purpose of the hospital, and everybody who contributed to the closure of the hospital has paved his path to heaven in blood. When I was in Paraguay in 1969, a Paraguayan told me that he estimated that since the hospital's closure until that point in time about one thousand people had lost their lives, more than often just from things like the lack of a hookworm cure for a child.... dd>I could go on and on about how I feel about Heini and Heini-ism. A lot you will know in any case, but what I must most strongly object to is: calling those disciples of Heini 'the Bruderhof.' What an insult! If you have a table or a bed at home and I come and smash it all up, you cannot call those two items a bed and a table anymore. Well, that is exactly what happened to the Bruderhof in 1961. The Bruderhof was a place where anybody could walk in as a guest. Everybody there had a concern for the poor, and most important, they always took in orphans like myself. Look at the time in the Rhon, how poor they were, and how many orphans they had...
John G. Arnold:This is a short response to what Doug Moody wrote in the KIT newsletter, Is it not time, Doug, that you start apologizing for the serious injustices and injuries which you so heartlessly inflicted on others? You not only poisoned my grandmother's heart against me, but you also stated that I was not allowed to attend my mother's funeral. How is that possible? For four solid years I protested against the lies you inflicted on others. Your accusations were all false. I wrote over one hundred letters to Heini and the other servants.
Why is it that you servants had no love? With a little love and humility, in no time all differences could have been resolved. Until today, nothing has been cleared up. I shall never be reconciled to the lies you told about me.
Item: From an ex-member's phone call: I know that the mail at Woodcrest was censored. One of my sons left a postcard with one of his high school teachers to mail to him his final grades. Anyway, the card came and he received very high marks on his Regents and a 99 for the semester. Also the teacher wrote, "Congratulations! It was great to have you in the class."
"I don't think your boy should have this," Heini said.
"Why not?" I asked.
"It's not good for his ego."
"But it's addressed to him," I said. "What can we do?"
"We can lose it," Heini replied. "Tell him he got a 99, but not the rest of the post-card."
"Somehow it doesn't seem right," I said.
But you didn't argue with Heini, because then he would say,
"You're sticking up for someone not in the Brotherhood?"
Well, I told my boy exactly what happened, but I also said,
"Don't tell your mother."
If someone not in the inner circle received something noteworthy, it really bothered the inner circle. And my child was the far-thest removed from the life among the Highschoolers. That he should get such a good grade was a tough nut for them to swallow.
When I left, I sent my kids letters and presents for their birthdays. But I never got a response, so I don't know if they even received them.
'Warts & All' Item (from an ex-member): I am not surprised by Heini's suggestion that the teacher's postcard to the boy be 'lost.' The mail definitely was not respected. When I was in small exclusion and one of my children was on another community, the servant there read the letters I wrote to my child. When I protested, they said that because I was excluded it was necessary for the servant to know what we were writing about. Later on, two others who were servants in Primavera both admitted they had opened my mail there and that they withheld one or two letters from my family to me. Who are Doug and Ruby defending?
The Evergreen servant also read the letters I wrote to people in Bulstrode. It was the time of the Civil Rights movement and I had expressed my feelings about the whole issue. The servant opened them before they were to be mailed and called me up to his office. He told me that I should be careful not to be too emotional about these things. I was shocked by this incident and again was upset that there was no privacy on the Bruderhof. So they can say what they like about mail being respected. It was NOT respected when I lived there.
Also, newspapers were censored. They were taken out of the reading room because Heini said that there were too many things and pictures in the papers that were not good for the soul, especially for the young men -- it brought them into temptation. If you tell Doug that, he would defend Heini and say that he cannot believe Heini would do such a thing, but this whole issue was brought to the brotherhood, and the servants said this change was recommended by Heini. Only the servants and work distributors were able to read the papers. I could never figure out why the newspaper could cause so much temptation for the young men when there were so many other things that could be tempting? It was all so ridiculous!
Bradshaw On: The Family, by John Bradshaw, Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL. 1988: ..."Obedience and orderliness are essential to any family and social structure. Law as a guide to human safety through its protective structure is essential to human fulfillment. Learning to be agreeable, cooperative, unselfish and meek are useful and valuable.
"However, it was obedience without critical judgment and inner freedom which led to black Nazism, Jonestown and Mylai. It was obedience absolutized and cut off from human sensitivity and natural law.
"Similarly, cleanliness and orderliness without spontaneity lead to obsessive enslavement. Law and intellectualism without vitality and emotions lead to mechanical coldness and inhuman, heartless control. Considerateness, meekness, unselfishness without inner freedom, inner independence and critical judgment lead to a "doormat," people-pleasing type person who can be ruled by almost any authority figure.
"Soul-murder is the basic problem in the world today; it is the crisis in the family. We programmatically deny children their feelings, especially anger and sexual feelings. Once a person loses contact with his own feelings, he loses contact with his body. We also monitor our children's desires and thoughts. To have one's feelings, body, desires and thoughts controlled is to lose one's self. To lose one's self is to have one's soul murdered."
Former Bruderhof Members Launch New Efforts At Dialogue
by Margaret Loewen Reimer
Reprinted with permission from The Mennonite Reporter.
Waterloo, Ont.- Former members of the Bruderhof are making contact with each other and with their former communities through an initiative begun last fall. The contacts have opened discussion about the painful effects of expulsions from the Bruderhof during the 1960s....
In January, Sender sent an open letter to the five Bruderhof communities in the name of former members. The letter seeks to open conversation about past "injustices" and suggests ways in which wrongs may be righted.
"May the 1990s bring a new freedom of expression and openness between all Hutterian brothers and sisters and those of us who now live in the wider community," begins the letter. "It encourages us to read that the brotherhood now acknowledges some guilt for their previous judgmental and unloving behavior."
Consider elderly ex-members
The letter urges the communities to consider assisting the "many elderly ex-members living in poverty" because they had to leave everything in the community and now receive no social security. The letter also asks for a guarantee that no reprisals, such as cutting off visiting privileges, will be taken against those who publish their names in the newsletter. Called "Keep In Touch," the newsletter has become a forum for Bruderhof "grads" all over the world to share their stories and experiences....
Some of the submissions to the newsletter are bitter accounts of being expelled from the community after many years of hard work. Several express concern about the whitewashing of facts and the leader-worship illustrated in the new history of the Bruderhof, Torches Rekindled.
"I feel that sometime, out of simple justice, it should be put down in black and white not only just how big the 'Exodus' was, but also how big the contribution to the building-up to the Bruderhof communities was from those who were put out," said one reader.
Signs of hope
Others see signs of hope that Bruderhof members are becoming more conciliatory toward former members. One reader had recently spent five weeks at four colonies visiting old friends, bringing up old grievances and "why-the-heck- does-the-B'hof-do-this-anyway? type of questions." He came away "amazed at how much I'd accomplished and how much better I feel."...
John G. Arnold: ...Mail censorship: my own destiny or past life has been determined by the censorship of letters. In 1958 I was a member of the Oak Lake community. In October of that year, the US Department of Immigration sent the permits to immigrate directly to me. Mark secretly opened these and refused to give them to me. When I reached for the letters, he refused to hand them over. He then said to me, "You and your father are a burden to Heini, and therefore I send you to England and Germany. I think you should no longer live on the Bruderhof." He said the same thing to my sister Miriam (that she should not live on the Bruderhof.)
In 1955, Christoph Arnold told me that his father Heini opened a letter from Klaus Siebert's father Herbert. Herbert told his son why he left the Bruderhof, and asked his son to join him in Germany. What right did Heini have to do so?
In January, 1977, I confronted Heini about this incident. Heini then said, "If there is a legal threat, or when there was a legal threat, I did open letters."
From the evidence of three members of the Bruderhof, I must conclude that censorship and a Secret Service was fully operational. If I had received the immigration papers, I would live in the USA today.
Name Withheld: I was shocked reading those (KIT) first editions, and am more shocked and shattered as I receive each new one. I had never realized that for so many years I was part of an organization which harbored such false expressions of what started out as a community to which I felt I could give myself. I find it almost impossible to put into words the extent to which I grieve for all who have suffered under the 'regime.' And I have felt guilty that I was part, altho' I must say I had never realized to what lengths the 'rottenness' had and has gone. The foregoing is said very sincerely, since I have come to realize how I am one of those wronged, and most terribly.
Hopefully, now that so much has been revealed, the HSOB will at least admit that much of that which was spoken of over the years was, is true. So many of us have had denials of events, etc. given us individually, yet now one hears of many who raised the same sort of questions, always with apparently the same result -- we were not listened to by them about just those things to which many can attest. Are all those who are 'out' the biggest liars going? Of course not.
Up until now, there has not been "gossip" in KIT. Rather it is a vehicle for pent-up hurts and thoughts, and we all need that, because who, other than those who experienced the community, can have the faintest idea of what we mean if we voice our hurts?
John G. Arnold - Extracts from Bruderhof History: What happened could be divided into three parts. The formative period could be classified as the whole life of Eberhard Arnold. I have my grandmother's account called "The Locked Papers." Eberhard's life was a continuous search for the truth which was revealed as a continuous revival of the Holy Spirit amongst men. It was the Movement of the Spirit, a constant awakening to new meanings of the truth. The Bruderhof should become not only a vessel of the truth, but also a focal point of true life. George Fox would have called this 'the Sea of Light.' Eberhard called it 'the Ocean of Love.' It included a special love for deprived people.
The second phase could be seen as Eberhard's death until 1960. The last two months of his life have been recorded by Emmi (Oma) and Moni Barth. Seeing his imminent death, Eberhard wrote a testament to the new elder, Hans Zumpe. I am still waiting to receive a copy of the original letter. Here is what my research has found. My information came from five members of the Rhon Hof. This letter was read in the Brotherhood:
About Heini, Eberhard expressed a deep love but also a clear warning:
1) Heini shall not be the main servant of a Hof. He needs to be guarded and corrected.
2) Heini loses his balance too easily, is too emotional, which affects his better judgment.
3) Heini should not be in a position from which he can exercise too great an influence over the souls of men. The power over souls is morally wrong.
Eberhard felt that his son Hardi was more gifted than he was, and that his (Hardi's) battle would be the fight against his own pride. Oma (Emmi) also confirmed this....
Eberhard seems to have died of a broken heart. He was glad about the Alm, but grief-stricken about the Rhon. Was Eberhard's judgment not affected by his infection and by his utter physical and mental exhaustion? The threat of a Nazi occupation was imminent. After Eberhard's death, the Arnold families felt hurt, forsaken and even betrayed. My grandmother taught me to read between the lines. The exclusion of Georg Barth and Hans Zumpe on the Cotswold Hof seemed quite harsh. Emi was against the exclusion of Hardi and Fritz Kleiner in 1942. The extreme harshness of the terrible exclusions in 1944, I believe, was partly due to Hans Zumpe's and Georg's exclusion in 1937. These acts destroyed the Movement of the Spirit. What happened in 1960 was partly a result of 1944, but it also was retaliation. The third period could be called Heini Arnold (1960-1982)....
In 1977 I attended a very special meeting in Darvell. The purpose was to shed light on the 1960 crisis. There seemed to be a clear separation between what the Brotherhood felt and what the servants represented. Merrill Mow and Arnold Mason defended what happened in 1960 and especially what happened in England and Sinntal. Brothers and sister objected by telling examples. To me, it seemed quite clear that most members would like to limit the power of their leaders. I kept a record in my blue and red book. David Mason recorded that meeting.
Before I ever could rejoin the Bruderhof, the following changes would need to be made:
1) The powers and responsibilities of all the services need to be clearly defined.
2) No elder or servant is allowed to appoint another servant.
3) All services should be appointed by the Brotherhood.
4) Each community must choose all services from its own Brotherhood.
5) All services should be periodically reviewed.
6) No community has the right to interfere with the affairs of another community.
KIT NOTE: On a number of occasions HSOB members have denied there ever was a letter from Eberhard warning against placing Heini in a leadership role. However we have had two other independent sources confirm this was the case.
Wendy Alexander Dorsey: My parents have expressed real concern about the newsletter. I hastened to assure them that nothing you or anyone else said in KIT would change the fact that I loved them or that I knew that I had received many blessings from the Bruderhof growing up there. They asked me not to read KIT. They also asked me not to pass on information from them to you, which latter I won't. However I do want to share some things with you: I feel the newsletter is providing a tremendous forum for dialogue between ex-members and members, as well as among ex-members themselves. You must know you are treading sacred ground and needs must walk it gently! I believe the Bruderhof is in the midst of a Glasnost of mighty proportions. You are contributing to it. It could however be perceived as dangerous and threatening to their fundamental beliefs....
Now I have written a letter to my family explaining why I am not interested, at this time anyway, in joining the B'hof. The reasons were as follows:
1) The B'hof is hierarchical in structure. I live in a church community that is more egalitarian, with shared leadership.
2) The B'hof is male-dominated (closely related to the first reason). I am part of a community that has female as well as male leadership.
3) The B'hof requires everyone to think one way about everything (or it has traditionally been so -- things are changing currently, I believe) to preserve unity at all costs. I live in a community of people who think differently on a variety of issues and who try to find a common ground of faith and action to base our communal life on - embracing the differences.
One of the main concerns raised by my family was that people who have problems with the B'hof should go directly to them -not write them in a newsletter. I said how difficult it would be for someone who had left a large community to feel the trust to go back and confront the community, especially when they presumably left because of a disagreement in the first place. There seems to be a lack of understanding of group psychology and what a powerful force that can be.
I'm glad to see that KIT is printing a variety of opinions and memories, including those of B'hofers.
Jack Elston (from a letter to Tom Potts at Woodcrest): Thanks for your letter and invitation to visit. We could not accept your offer because we couldn't afford the air fare. I missed any personal interest in our spiritual life. It reminded me of the time you came to visit us soon after we arrived here and decided to stay in the States because of the illness of Janetta's mother. You showed no interest in us. You were only concerned that we would hurt your community. I did not like the idea of the "challenge."
We were put out against our will. We were both sick and we were given $100 to start life over. Later, we asked you for financial help. You lent us $500, and at the same time we got a very self-righteous letter from Art Wiser and you about serving Mammon because we wanted to adopt children....
We are members of the Four Square Church which does a lot of missionary work in Central and South America and Asia. God is moving in a mighty way in East Europe, Russia, South Africa, etc. He needs laborers to bring the Word and His love to these people. I challenge you to be a part of this work. I don't believe the community is the Church. It can be a part of it. The Church is made up of all those who love Jesus and are in God's will for their lives. Why don't you go to Times Square in New York and see what God is doing through David Wilkenson and the Church there? Maybe you can help.
A Bruderhof graduate: On memories of Heini -- my impression and memory of his role in my life was that:
a) He cared very deeply about the spiritual life of each of us.
b) He knew intimately what was going on with me.
c) He squelched every sign of creativity when it became threatening in any way.
d) The reason for this was that he sincerely feared for the soul of the person if he or she got too involved with their creativity or ideas -- that he thought they would get too proud and go to the Devil. This fear was based on the belief that human beings are born sinful and one must root out the sin. Time and again I was encouraged to be creative and to learn and to ask questions -- to a point -- and then quickly squelched when they or the process went too far. I could give many examples of this, but won't for now. My impression is that Heini was behind ALL of this, and in several instances confronted me directly. His little book "Freedom From Sinful Thoughts" is clear evidence of Heini's paranoia.
On the reason Heini is getting so much flack from so many ex-B'hofers: The book Torches Rekindled clearly shows how Heini willingly, in martyr-like fashion, took on the sins of a whole community (actually all of the Eastern communities) and asked for forgiveness from the Western Hutterians on behalf of all the Eastern communities. His is presented in the book as a Christ-figure taking on the sins of the world for its redemption. This explains why he is both blamed for so much and glorified for so much. A person cannot take on that kind of responsibility and not expect to get blamed for all that went wrong. Personally, I think a much healthier way of Christian living is to EACH accept blame for one's actions and EACH accept responsibility for the whole. Shared responsibility doesn't expect one person to be either the Savior or the Scapegoat. I believe we need a new model of leadership for our time -- one of SHARED leadership. Problems and possibilities are too big for ONE leader. Too much creative energy is wasted when the gifts of each person are not evoked and developed and put to use fully. That's the business I'm in -- and I hope many of us will be engaged in.
After the anger and frustration and pain and guilt have been vented and heard and healed, then we must stop trying to find Scapegoats and Saviors. Then it's time for each of us to take up our Cross and work out our own salvation with fear and trembling -- i.e. discover our giftedness and work toward the empowerment of ourselves and others for the sake of God's reign on earth which is happening now IN us and AMONG us in quiet, but powerful ways.
Joshua Maendel: ...The following is a list of 9 points that recently came to my attention which define cultic leadership. I believe they are very appropriate and depict the Bruderhof to a 'T'. Some may be on the mild side, because this list depicts what is going on in more loosely-knit organizations than the Society. There are many of these organizations around with gurus leading them, and the Bruderhof is no exception.
1. ISOLATION OF DISCIPLES FROM OTHER PEOPLE -- Leadership will instruct their disciples not to associate with anyone outside of their "camp." They will either separate their followers geographically, psychologically or intellectually. They will be instructed not to read or listen to any teaching unless it has been pre-approved by the leadership.
2. ABSOLUTE AUTHORITARIANISM -- The leadership will demand unquestioning surrender to the authority pattern of that leader. Anything less than "Yes, Sir," is usually considered rebellion and insubordination. This type of leader will only want "yes" people around him.
3. DEIFICATION OF A STRONG, CHARISMATIC LEADER -- The disciples will elevate the leadership to a divine place of authority where the leadership becomes the final authority over conduct, doctrine, family situations and even marriage partners. The leader is the "voice piece for God," and therefore hears God's voice much more clearly than the disciples.
4. USE OF FEAR TO HOLD THE DISCIPLES -- The leadership will unleash threats and warnings of divine retribution. The individual who attempts to pull away will experience great group pressure through such things as "personal" visits. The disciples might hear statements such as "If you dare leave us, you'll die because you are missing God," or "If you leave, you'll miss the next move of God and you life will amount to nothing."
5. INTOLERANT DOGMATISM -- Leadership will say, "Our group sees it this way" rather than saying "the Bible teaches this." Any interpretation of scriptures will not be tolerated because the leadership has been given a "special revelation" by God.
6. COERCION TO SURRENDER FINANCIAL RESOURCES -- There will be extreme pressure to give everything away for the common good.
7. CLAIMS WILL BE MADE BEYOND SCRIPTURE -- Scriptures which seemed so clear in the past will now become cloudy to the disciples because of poor leadership interpretation. The leadership will announce new insights which oppose the spirit and the letter of the written Word. These new teachings will be disguised as "fresh revelation."
8. EMPHASIS ON WORKS -- Those who work the hardest and longest for leadership will be elevated, rather than those who demonstrate a Godly spiritual life and character.
9. LEADERSHIP BEGINS TO REDEFINE BIBLICAL TERMINOLOGY -- The truth of the Word is "stretched' beyond biblical context....
Ruth Baer Lambach: Excerpts from an article entitled The Spirit Or The Letter. My mother worked diligently but did not share her emotions with others freely. She was not participating in the joyful community spontaneously. They recommended that either I live with another family on the 'hof or leave the community and experience the world for a while. That night they put me upstairs in the attic and locked me in. For two days I stayed there,. My meals were brought to me and I slept there alone. I spoke with no one. My task during this time was to decide whether I wanted to leave or not. I had no idea what life on the 'outside' would be like. I had no basis on which to make a decision. But for me it was so threatening to think of living at the same place with my family and not be with them during family times that I decided in favor of the lesser of the two evils.
The next day when I announced my decision, I was taken to Pittsburgh some 70 miles away. Howard and Marion Johnson drove me there. I remember saying goodbye to my father. He was working in the shop. He stretched out a hand and said curtly, "Mach's gut." I don't remember my mother seeing me off. In Pittsburgh we stopped at a Salvation Army to buy some clothes for me. I didn't know where I was being taken and I didn't ask. I trusted that things would be taken care of. I had no sense of what I was doing. Somewhere around 3 o'clock in the afternoon they dropped me off on the street. I walked to the nearest house with a big porch and sat down, waiting for the people to come home. I guessed that they would be nice people. It didn't occur to me that food and shelter would cost something. I had twenty dollars but no idea how much that was worth nor how to make change. When the family, the Daglish's, came home, they did take me in. They were the caretakers for the Quaker Meeting House.
For the next two weeks I walked the streets looking for a job. I walked to every hospital. Once as Hutterite I had been in the hospital. I knew they needed people to do cleaning and felt confident that I could clean. Sometimes I walked by restaurants and could see people inside, dressed up. I figured it would be a while before I could work in fancy places like that, but I could see that perhaps being a waitress was something in my future. Another time I watched an ad on television. I reasoned that I could talk like the lady selling the laundry soap.
Eventually it was through the Daglish's that I landed a job as a dental assistant. They helped me to buy a white uniform, shoes and nylons to get started. When I got my first $85 paycheck, I repaid them. Also I moved to a rooming house. For the next nine months I kept that job. Every morning I went to work, every noon ate my lunch at a lunch counter, and every evening went home. I could as well have been in prison. There was little that I understood about how to be in the world. I live in a prison I carried around with me, a prison of my own ignorance. Sometimes it was a blessing, sometimes a curse.
The Daglish's also taught me how to ride a street car. When I first got on one, I started talking to whomever sat next to me. I introduced myself to them, telling them all about myself. After several days, I realized that no one else was talking. I stopped at a drugstore and bought a paperback. The first book I read on public transportation was 'On The Beach' by Nevil Shute. The desolation described in this book matched what I was feeling in Pittsburgh. When I walked along the streets I was overwhelmed with frustration because I was used to getting to know people on a first-name basis, and I presumed it would only be a matter of time before I knew all the people that I met. But there were so many! I was exhausted even by the possibility of relating to them all. Then I noticed that they did not even look at me. They just walked by me as though I were a piece of furniture, and that made me feel even colder and more alone.... It was very clear to me that I was out to experience the evils of private life and that it was some kind of a punishment. Inside I held to my Hutterite-Bruderhof values and judged everything I experienced accordingly.
The people I talked to must have wondered at this self- righteous attitude. Many times the police picked me up because I was walking in dangerous areas. Since I didn't read the newspapers nor listen to the radio, I was unaware of things like strikes. Also I had little sense of private property and would walk diagonally across people's back yard if that was the direction I was going. But at least I had a good sense of directions and I could speak English.
I wore my white uniform all the time, even when I went back to Oak Lake for a visit. They told me that weekend that my dress was too short. I stayed one night, and all night I cried and shook. The next day, emotionally drained, I had to go back to Pittsburgh, this time by Greyhound bus. My father took me to the bus. He pushed me on the bus to make sure I went. I felt his big paw pushing me. Maybe he could tell how scared and lonesome I felt. He used to tell us about his first time away from his family when he wasn't more than fourteen. He was desperately lonesome but didn't dare come home. So he walked to within sight of his family home and just stood looking at it across a field. During my entire nine months in Pittsburgh I didn't get my period. My menstrual periods had been normal before that.
In Pittsburgh I held out for another several months before I wrote another letter asking if I could return for good this time to try 'the life' again. With my savings of $500 I stepped off the bus just outside Oak Lake. My father greeted me. Suddenly I saw again the alive, enthusiastic father I had not seen for years. He announced that the family was leaving the next day. I took my money and put it on the steward's desk. That evening there was a love meal to say goodbye to my family. The next day my father and half the boys left with an old car, and my mother and the other half of the family left by train. They were on their way to North Dakota. I stayed. Later I learned that they had given my father $50 and my mother the same amount.
An Open Letter to the Bruderhof Communities from a Workshop of the Friendly Crossways Conference
August 19, 1990
Almost fifty of us former members and children of the Bruderhof communities gathered for a weekend of sharing memories and concerns. Many of our memories are happy and precious. Many are not. This open letter addresses the latter.
Our former association with you gives us a unique insight into various problematic aspects of the Bruderhof communities. We therefore request that you give careful consideration to the concerns we here express:
1: The frightening prospect of expulsion leads to community-wide fear of honest communication. Members and children dread the effects of their candor. Genuine honesty is only possible if its results are not calamitous. Guaranteed financial support and the right of continuing contact with family and friends are minimal requirements for making the prospect of departure from the Bruderhof less traumatic.
2: Children must be educated and acculturated so that they may easily leave if they choose. They need to be able to make meaningful choices, get training in a field of their choice, and know that if they choose to leave the Bruderhof, they will still be respected and will not be cut off from family and friends.
3: Physical and psychological abuse has definitely occurred in the past. At the Friendly Crossways Conference, we heard numerous, detailed personal accounts of such abuse. We are really concerned as to whether this is continuing. We have many thoughts on this important subject, and want to start a serious dialog with you about it. We believe that our insights and concerns in this regard could help you understand more of the nature of this problem, address it effectively and thereby immeasurably enhance your witness to the power of love and reconciliation in the world. That witness remains ours too, and we have made this plea in that spirit.
We ask that this Open Letter be read in membership meetings on each hof. We ask that you let us know how we can help you address these questions. And we invite you to respond through the “Keep In Touch” Newsletter, now going into its second year of monthly publication.
All this we ask in deepest sincerity and seriousness,
The Friendly Crossways Conference Workshop
Christoph Arnold, Bruderhof Elder, to Tim Johnson: Dear Tim: Thanks for your letter. It was wonderful to hear from you. I really feel your concern about the KIT circular and how we can work together more. That is very much our longing, I can assure you. Thank you also for your suggestions. About the mailing list, it might surprise you that KIT has a much better mailing list than our communities have. I also want to reassure you, dear Tim, that no one has been threatened by the community that if they associate with KIT their visiting privileges will be revoked. I know this is stated in KIT, but it is not true. [our emphasis - editors] So please continue sharing with us. We are glad for any kind of contact with anyone. Should you have contact with any KIT readers, please encourage them to write directly to the community. No one who has written in a respectful way to the community has been turned away or discouraged. There is a tremendous longing in the brotherhood for reconciliation.
Name Withheld: After reading the posthumous letter from Heini to Christoph, I am beginning to wonder why it was printed in the second edition of Torches Rekindled." So many people already were upset about the first edition without that letter from Heini. What is it with the "PLAIN BROTHERS?" I really think this is going too far! Apparently the 'plain' brothers and sisters had no say and Heini got upset that the plain brothers puffed themselves up in the Bruderhof in Loma Hoby, and he for one was not used to that type of behavior.
Well, I for one, object strongly to the use of the term "PLAIN" brothers and sisters. We were always told that everyone was equal on the Bruderhof and that there were no class differences. However of course there were class differences, but I had never before seen it put down in black and white. The Servants always stressed the fact that we were all equal. When reporters came to interview the Servants to write about the Bruderhof, they were told very emphatically that everybody was treated equally. Of course we know that it was not so, and now in this letter Heini has confirmed that feeling that so many of us had, that we were not equal.
I am shocked to say the least, that this is now in print for all the world to read. Such class distinction should not even exist on the Bruderhof, but sad to say it obviously does, even today.
The word 'parasite' has been used to describe some very dedicated brothers and sisters. That is almost worse than being classified as a so-called "PLAIN" brother or sister. How is it possible that brothers and sisters who have dedicated their whole lives to the church be called "PLAIN" brothers and sisters or even a parasite? All this is beyond me and not easy to understand at all. So now so many of us know how the Servants and Heini felt about us. When we joined the Bruderhof, we did so in good faith that we were giving up a life of competition and class distinctions. We gave up everything to join the Bruderhof in order to live a life of dedication and in peace and harmony.
Susan Welham: I have been following the KIT letters with interest for the last few months. Reading the various accounts has helped me to gain perspective on my formative years. My parents were excluded in Paraguay in December, 1959. I was 17 at the time, having just spent a year as a student in Asuncion where I had experienced a small taste of freedom. I was happy to leave with my parents and launch myself into the adventure of life.
I feel like sitting here and writing FREEDOM, FREEDOM, FREEDOM - to dance FREEDOM, to cry FREEDOM. That is what living in the SOB did for me. It created an unquenchable thirst for FREEDOM. It became the driving force in my life and still is. I seek freedom from everything that stops me from exercising my God-given right to choose. Freedom to become and evolve....
Loy McWhirter: I have been thinking about your request/suggestion that I write the few tangible and accessible pieces I do remember of abuses and accusations - being labeled the demon child, being possessed of the devil, manifesting evil when I was a child. My memories are very fragile - of being a child at all - and the fear-of-telling and being 'rooted out' and destroyed is still very great because the child I was did not escape them...
I am thinking about the real memories of the demon child. I do not remember where and when she began, yet one time I do remember that she was isolated and named was when we were learning to make letter loops in First Grade (I was 5 or 6 years old). Mildred Lord was the usual teacher, but on this day it was the tall woman with the tiny head who always had a stiff smile on her face because, I think, she tied her hair too tightly in the bun on the back of her head. She was showing the 'f' and 'l' loops on the blackboard. She was pointing with the yardstick. We made loops at our desks on the paper with the pencil. The child liked to feel the loops making in her hand. She made bigger and bigger loops that filled the paper because they felt beautiful and round. The child saw the shadow of the woman moving fast towards her on the floor. The tight woman grabbed her and the paper and made all the children look at her letting the devil take her and make her disobey and be evil by thinking she could do better than anyone. She said that the girl's father thought he was better too because of his paintings, but he gave them for the good of the community. The girl was bad because she was making only idle marks for her own selfish and willful pleasure and that makes her evil and strayed from the good children that she knows all the others are. She said the girl must be alone again to reflect on her evil ways and root out the devil in her heart and soul. She put her in the dark corner where the coats and school things were kept. She said that the spiders and snakes would keep her afraid and then she would not go to sleep so she must attend to her task. It seemed that the child was in the dark corner for many hours and she was very empty, like the dark room. She looked for her hands to see if she was still here but she could not find them. She thought she could hear poisonous snakes and spiders moving around her and she did not move and stayed very quiet as much as she could. There seemed to be people moving in there also. She is still in there. She disappeared when someone opened the door and the brightness washed her away.
Heini was the ghost always in the background . He did not show his face.
In Memory of Two Brave Women
Miriam Brailey, a doctor from Philadelphia, became a member of the Bruderhof. As she grew older, she began to lose her sight and was confined to a wheelchair. She was sent away for a time and then was brought back and lived in Woodcrest. During her time there, a meeting occurred during which each member had to go up to the microphone and say "Yes" to confirm again that Heini was the Elder. Miriam had the courage to say "No." Heini stated that she had created a disturbance at the meeting. She was sent away to an old people's home where she died in 1976. She is not buried at Woodcrest. This is another sad ending to a long and dedicated life both as a doctor and a sister.
Maria Perez Eckroyd joined the Bruderhof in England. She had escaped from Spain during the Spanish Civil War where she lost her husband, an English Quaker, and her son, an only child. Maria travelled to Paraguay with the Bruderhof and worked hard as a very dedicated sister. She helped look after the toddlers and became a 'grandmother' to all the little ones. When Primavera was closed, she came to England and lived in Bulstrode. Maria contracted diabetes and found it very hard to keep to her strict diet. Finally she was told that she was causing too much trouble and was placed in an old people's home. It was felt she was too much of a burden. She fell out of bed and broke her arm, and then a little later she died a very lonely death. It was a very sad ending to such a long and dedicated life. She was a very loving person and deserved better than what she received. It was tragic that she had to die all alone, especially since she had experienced so much tragedy in her life.
Andreas Meier Woodcrest Bruderhof:September 17, 1990 Dear Correspondents of KIT: Your unsigned open letter of September is a poor witness to honest seeking. Most of the people who might have been able to respond to the complaints you have are not living anymore.
Could you please let us live our choice of life in peace. All this stirring up of old wounds brings only more pain and does not allow healing. If anyone has a specific hurt or need to one of us who yet lives, let them come and reconcile man to man.
What you require of the Bruderhof, how it should or should not do and believe, I find unreasonable.
We live this way because we have a conviction, and for anyone who would like to have a say and take a responsibility upon himself for what we do, he would have to first become a full member or renew his commitment. Our lives are short, the times are serious; let us live the life of our choice to the full and look forward.
Anonymous: An open letter to Ramon Sender, and other writers of the filthy tabloid of lies known as KIT:
Your slanderous lies are quickly gaining you a reputation as one of the biggest liars of the century. Yes, you are probably dying to know who we are... but the joke is on you this time -- in the same spirit of openness that pervades your crazy publication, we are withholding our names. Your letter of September 1 was the most incredible, idiotic, pernicious, slanderous, and misdirected letter yet. You claim to spread the truth, but every word from your mouth is a LIE, and you know it damn well. While Heini Arnold lived his life in love, humility, purity, and undeserved suffering, you and others (Hans Zumpe, for example) have lived lives of shameless sin. You are an adulterer and you know it! Meanwhile, your former companion lives on at one of the communities, steadfast and faithful. (Let's see if you will publish this kind of "truth" in KIT -- remember that you have promised to publish every anonymous letter. Obviously, you won't print this one, you liar!) In your letters you slander and mock Heini and allude to his "mental instability." For a change, why don't you admit that it was those evil, wicked servants in Primavera, who along with an evil doctor whose name we aren't even going to utter, who poisoned Heini with bromides and effected a psychosis to remove him from his service and cut off his witness which was so badly needed. Nice job, you hypocrites! And why don't you write about how those wicked ones in Primavera starved Heini almost to death when he was in exclusion? You are a WIMP! Face up to the real truth and repent! It's never too late. Finally, you accuse us of child abuse. Unfortunately we recall how you deserted your own daughter Xaverie while she was yet a child. Now doesn't THAT classify as abuse? IN spite of your sin (that's right, SIN) Xaverie remained faithful to her death.
Do you realize that we actually pity you? You have got yourself into a real mess, you and your breed of liars, and you will never be at peace until you repent. Until that time, why not just hold off with all this garbage about "dialogue" and "openness" and "truth". You change the meaning of these words, just like Hitler and his Nazis did.
In conclusion, we ask you once more to own up and admit to the truth. We all make mistakes -- c'est la vie -- but you have made more than a few little blunders. And don't you ever, ever, ever dare to print blasphemous lies about Heini Arnold again! So long, Eyebrows!
KIT: A photocopy of the previous letter was mailed to Woocrest. In a personal phone call, Dick Domer assured Ramon that the Bruderhof had no knowledge of this letter and that the author, of course, did not speak for the community. Dick left it up to KIT whether to publish the letter or not. We publish it because we believe it to be genuine and expresses what some people in the communities feel. /dl>
Christoph Arnold: Woodcrest, 11/5/90
Dear Ramon and KIT readers, On behalf of all our communities, we greet every one of you with very much love, thinking of the coming Advent and Christmas weeks which is such a special time in our communities.
Verena and I, Chris and Else were very thankful for the meetings which we had in San Francisco with Ramon and Judy, Charles Lamar, and Dave Ostrom Jr.... We were joyfully surprised that the many concerns which the KIT staff brought up were actually the same concerns my father and I always represented. For example, prudishness about sex; to have respect before all people and how Christ works in them.
P.S. No one is forbidden to read or write to KIT, or to meet with others in whatever way they wish. (our emphasis - KIT)
Loy McWhirter 10/31/90: ..."Attention Bruderhof hierarchy, in response to your bogus 'warm' Advent and Christmas greetings using Sara King as your current device to get thru to me. The war the world is on the brink of, that you can and must do something about, is inside of yourselves & within your closed communities. I am a casualty of those wars. There are many others besides me. You have sacrificed your children and my childhood for your narrow, invasive 'beliefs.' I have told you plainly, and so have many others who suffered under your systems, what you can do to redeem yourselves and heal the torment you have caused and are accountable to. Until you do so I do not forgive you, and I do not believe your God or Jesus will forgive you. I know what you have done. Those of us who survived and are struggling to heal are witnesses to your weakly disguised treachery. Your words are empty gestures. Your saccharine images are self-delusions. We will not give up. We will not go away."
Name Withheld: Tom Potts writes in the October KIT letter: "Church discipline is voluntary AND MUST BE ASKED FOR." Well, I did not ask for it. Several days before I was excluded, the brotherhood decided with Heini present that I should be excluded. I had no knowledge of what was being decided. The next day I was called into the austere presence of the servants and informed that I was to be excluded, and that in the meeting I would be asked, "Do you ask for this exclusion?" I could not have been more astonished! I felt like a trapped animal. I was told to wait outside until I was called into the meeting at which time I was to "ask for exclusion." So where does the voluntary asking come in?!! And once you are in exclusion, it is almost impossible for you to get out. The servants pester you with questions as to other sins you might have committed or perhaps thought of.
John G. Arnold, Oct 26, 1990 Excerpts from an Article: Without a hearing or even a talk I was evicted and condemned by the Bulstrode Brotherhood. The accusation were all false. How was this possible? I was sent to a good psychiatrist who said that I was quite normal. There had been no sex in my life whatsoever. Two single girls liked me and followed me around. I shared this. Is this the reason why I got kicked out? I had not even said a word to any of the girls. I was accused of chasing after sisters....
Records Of The Leaders: In 1961/62 Hans-Hermann Arnold, my father Hardi Arnold and Ullu Keiderling were leading Bulstrode. Hans Zumpe had kept all private correspondence including Eberhard's letters locked in a vault. Harry Magee and I were asked to burn all correspondence of the two elders Hans Zumpe and Balz Trumpi [who both had been kicked out - ed]. True history was burned, about 50 Kilos of letters (all about Primavera and Wheathill). Here we found also the most important and controversial letters of Eberhard. His letters from America in the early 'thirties to Emmy explaining his ups and down with the Hutterites... Shortly after we read some of Eberhard's letters, Heini, Don Noble and Mark Kurtz came from America. Hans- Hermann and my father were disqualified and sent to America. In my last brotherhood meeting as a full member, Heini said that all of my father's life went wrong. He achieved total control....
In conclusion I would like to say:
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