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,
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
It encourages the expression of all views, both from
and from outside the Bruderhof. The opinions expressed
letters we publish are those of the correspondents and
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
create a network of those of us who experienced the life
the Bruderhof and then either were excluded, expelled,
excommunicated or left on our own decision. The
of leaving was very traumatic for many, especially those
were 'kicked out' after many years of community living.
many cases we underwent the experience of starting over
completely isolated from other ex-hofers because there
way to make contact. When I started phoning around
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
sort of newsletter. It seemed like an easy beginning for
share the addresses of those I have contacted....
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
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
to create a network of those of us who experienced the
within the Bruderhof. For me it has been very rewarding
connect with so many of you, and feel the closeness we
even if we never met face-to-face. My search for
others in my daughter Xavie's age group is gradually
although I am still eagerly searching for more names of
her age -- she would have been 33 this year.... Perhaps, as we
continue with this newsletter, it will
way for others of you to share your experiences. Please
remember to write to me with any current addresses or
or corrections you might have. It's been wonderful
with you all!
Addresses or 'In' or 'Out' info needed for: Charlie
Masterson, Wendy Rimes, Alan Stevenson & children,
Button (at chiropracter's school Chicago), Miriam Button
Island, Harold Goree, Jonathan Clement, Michael Gneiting,
Pedro Gneiting, Alfredo Gneiting, a son of Claude & Billie
Nelson in Washington State, Dick Wareham, Scott
Doris Greaves, Ruth Dodd, Mary Worth, Jack Melancon,
Clement, Joy Jones (Ft Langley BC), Jack Warren, Esther
Dave Noble, Elizabeth Johnson, Andrew Szilard, Anne Gale
and Hans Wiehler, the Trembley family, the Dietsch
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,
Cocksedge, The Welhams.
Leonard Pavitt writes: Since reading the 'Round
Robin' and seeing the list of names, I realize that as one
left in 1959 before the "Exodus' that I have never known
how many left then or since. But I sat down and, partly
the list and partly from memory, counted up to 71 ex-
who I know for sure spent a minimum of 20 years as full
members of the Bruderhof. Quite a few of them actually
several years more than that, and I have not counted the
full members who had been with us for less than 20
simply because I had no way of knowing how long the
folk had been members. This means that those who were
either expelled or left, disillusioned, have together put
over 1500 years of work into helping to build the
communities. When the Bruderhof write their history,
mention will they make of these 1500 or more years?
rate a chapter headed perhaps "The Bruderhof's 1500-
Debt?" I rather doubt it. I feel that sometime, out of
justice, it whould be put down in black and white, not
how big the 'Exodus' was, but also how big the
the building-up of the Bruderhof communities was, from
who were put out. They also gave their all -- homes and
money, the company of much love family and friends.
also, to paraphrase the words of a dear friend's poem,
'til the hot sweat poured down their faces." They also
fear that the sun would beat them down." And what's
after all those years, they had the courage to start their
over again, from nothing, 20 years older, no job
many with children to support. They don't deserve to be
scattered to the four winds, and their sacrifices and
Ramon Sender: The Bruderhof's publication of
Torches Rekindled provides an excellent
for all of us to comment and discuss some of the issues
mentioned. The book describes Heini Arnold as The
Servant who never meant to deal harshly with anyone,
was not at Primavera for the mass exclusions. Hans
course is presented as the arch-fiend, conveniently not
to defend himself. Also, it does a great disservice to the
memory Gwynn Evans, because it quotes in toto a
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
and may give the impetus needed to collect the stories of
of the Bruderhof 'wanderers' into a second volume. Until
a project becomes a reality, I will be glad to make this
available as a forum for critiques of and amendments to
One sentence that especially stuck in my mind from
time when Primavera was sold for a quarter of a million
dollars: "The receipt of money from the sale covered
many other expenses and helped us send as much as we
to our people who were away." I would be interested to
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
been "sink or swim." Occasionally I have heard of the
month's rent being paid on an apartment, but at least in
USA the advice to an excluded family was "go apply for
(aid to needy mothers and children)." I bring this up not
muckraking spirit, but out of a feeling that the Bruderhof
not be facing up to something very wrong in the way
practice church discipline...
Loy McWhirter: My family was one of the many
were left to "sink or swim" after leaving. Mostly we sank,
don't know if I will ever come to forgive the Bruderhof
their part in the destruction of my parents and siblings...
Bruderhof powers-that-be purposely destroyed my
emotional well-being before we left and he never
He is dead now, so no amends can be made... but I am
coming back to life and I am very angry. I know that
did was a most obscene form of bloodless torture. It was
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
call mind control a matter of choice (emotional and
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
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.
They determine in godlike fashion what is right and what
wrong. 3. The child is held responsible for the
anger. 4. The parents must always be shielded.
The child's life-affirming feelings pose a threat to the
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
the time of monarchs and kings. They are pre-
They presuppose a world of eternal laws... The poisonous
pedagogy justifies abusive methods for suppressing
vital spontaneity: physical beatings, lying, duplicity,
manipulation, scare tactics, withdrawal of love, isolation
coercion to the point of torture. All of these methods are
Another aspect of (Alice Miller's) 'poisonous
to impart to the child from the beginning false
beliefs that are not only unproven, but in some cases,
demonstrably false. These are beliefs passed on from
to generation ('sins of the fathers'). Again I refer to Miller
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
parents. 4. Children are undeserving of respect
because they are children. 5. Obedience makes a
strong. 6. A high degree of self-esteem is harmful.
A low degree of self-esteem makes a person altruistic.
Tenderness (doting) is harmful. 9. Responding to a
needs is wrong. 10. Severity and coldness towards a
gives him a good preparation for life. 11. A pretense
gratitude is better than honest ingratitude. 12. The
you behave is more important than the way you really
13. Neither parents nor God would survive being
offended. 14. The body is something dirty and
15. Strong feelings are harmful. 16. Parents are
creatures free of drives and guilt. 17. Parents are
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
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
1) I received no notice of her engagement and marriage.
2) I received no announcements of the births of my
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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'
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
...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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
Former Bruderhof Members Launch New Efforts At
by Margaret Loewen Reimer
Reprinted with permission from The Mennonite
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
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
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
About Heini, Eberhard expressed a deep love but also a
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
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
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
3) All services should be appointed by the Brotherhood.
4) Each community must choose all services from its own
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
In conclusion I would like to say:
IF JAKOB HUTER'S CHILDREN & GRANDCHILDREN
WOULD HAVE BEEN TREATED LIKE THE CHILDREN AND
GRANDCHILDREN OF EBERHARD AND EMMY ARNOLD,
THEN THERE WOULD BE NO HUTTERITE COMMUNITIES
IN EXISTENCE TODAY. PERHAPS THE HUTTERITES WILL
SAVE THE BRUDERHOF.
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