The Best of The Best of KIT 1991

From January thru December,1991

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 1991 file, which is derived from The 1991 Annual, to create a Best of the Best of KIT 1991. 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.

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George Maendel, October 17, 1990: Dear KIT: I was seven years old in the summer of 1956 when the so- called children's clearing house was in operation (I'd never heard this event named before reading about it in KIT). We who were spied upon and reported to be engaging in various proscribed activities, such as watching each other pee or daring to take off our shorts under the covers when we went to bed at night, were isolated from the rest of the children for months, and taken from our normal families. My own family was systematically dismembered, which included sending my parents to Woodcrest and placing the rest of us either in the basement detention center or with other families. Two of my brothers were also sent to Woodcrest, and Mom had the youngest child with her as well. I remember enduring interrogation sessions during which I could only cry and sob. All my normal relationships were suspended as I was kept isolated from the rest of my family and the extended family of which I was a part in the colony. The questioning ended without any sort of resolution, and I was kept isolated from most other members of the group. There were other boys in the basement, but we were not allowed any unsupervised interaction. Later we were allowed to sleep at "home," such as it was, and during the days we used to pack tons of textbooks for shipment to somewhere. It was a very somber and serious time, and we felt like penitent miscreants.
As I see it, my family never recovered fully from this experiences. I do not know how our "crimes" were presented by "them" to our parents, but it was in such manner as made my parents agree that we be separated from them to live in the large basement at another house on the hof. My parents sat on the bed in their room and wept as they agreed to this arrangement. I don't know what they were told that made them agree to such measures. Sometime after I went to live in the basement, my parents and two of my brothers were sent to Woodcrest. I remember standing at the bottom of the basement steps watching my brothers leave.
In all the grovelling apologies that various HSOB leaders have made among the Hutterites, what they did to my family has never been mentioned. What happened to my family then, I am still trying to understand and place in some kind of context and time....
"Why do groups act more stupidly than the people in them?" The problem is that a group adopts norms -- habits of behavior -- and anyone who changes behavior (by evincing or attempting learning) thereby betrays the group and will be punished or ignored accordingly.
Stewart Brand, in "Costa Rica Saves The World," Whole Earth Review, Winter, 1989
Jacob J. Wipf: 'Strange Bedfellows' (excerpted by KIT)
Some kind of reconciliation took place in '74 (between the original and newcomer Hutterites in 1974 when the East [The Bruderhof - ed] repented). The cleavage, however, was only partially healed in that the Lehrer and the Dariusleut would not be wooed. Nor was opinion unanimous among the Schmiedeleut. Some remain aloof and distant to this day. However those who would raise their voices in protest over the recent rapid acceleration in East/West relations would be subject to censure. The Elder Jacob Kleinsasser will brook no non-submission to what he perceives to be the greater good. Thus many are afraid to speak out.
By now Arnold must know that he will never penetrate the Lehrer and Dariusleut. That breach is simply irreparable at this point for the simple reason that Arnold has nothing to offer... It is unlikely he will even sweep the entire Schmiedeleut realm.
1) There are too many that detest the authoritarian measures of both Kleinsasser and Arnold. Sooner or later someone is bound to throw down the gauntlet and withstand Kleinsasser to his face. He has already lost credibility among the Lehrer and Dariusleut, and the displeasure of these two groups over recent developments is bound to strengthen the resolve of those not yet bowing among the Schmeideleut to Kleinsasser's whims.
2) There is a growing perception that the Arnoldleut manifest all the necessary ingredients of a cult. There is increasing awareness that brain-washing and will- breaking techniques are in use, and the people's zombie- like countenances (exactly what they look like -- I've seen two of their communes) is the tell-tale sign.
3) It is recognized that Arnold wants not just an influence among the Hutterites, but wants to consolidate all the colonies under a common purse. Arnold wants real equality among all the Hutterites. No colony could be richer than another. This can only happen where there is one purse and one ultimate head, which position he, Arnold, would (humbly of course) accept.
What this all adds up to is this: if Kleinsasser persists in his plan for total unification with the Arnold group, a split in the ranks of the Schmiedeleut is inevitable. Rumor has it that the thought is not as remote as it may seem.
1: Several months ago, Kleinsasser drew the world's attention upon the Hutterites by violating the Hutterite constitution. The Confession says "Christians must not sue one another at law" and "it is evident that a Christian can neither go to law not to be a judge." This fact is not unknown to the world at large. Note the coverage in The Winnipeg Free Press [see KIT #4 Nov '89 The Mennonite Reporter article - ed.]: "Sociologist Victor Peters testified before Mr. Justice Patrick Ferg in Court of Queens Bench that... taking each other to court is contrary to Hutterites' basic doctrine dating back to the early 16th Century."... But how is it then reported in The Winnipeg Sun that "Manitoba Hutterites had their dirty laundry aired in public yesterday," and in the Free Press, "Hutterites need government protection to run their colonies according to their own rules, Kleinsasser said. If it is not given, we're finished." Has anyone ever analyzed that statement? It is absolutely packed with implications....
2. Kleinsasser's breach of the Hutterite Confession is bound to have dire consequences in upcoming legal battles against the Hutterites. Kleinsasser, in a case that was watched the world over, has provided opponents of the Hutterites with a weapon that they will some day use against the Hutterites. Kleinsasser has told the entire world how much his constitution (on which the colony is based, the Confession) means to the Hutterites. It does not seem to bother him in the least that the Confession condemns his action....
There is only one option available to the Hutterites at this point to undo the damage done by the reckless behavior of Kleinsasser. Because there is this interconnection between the three Hutterite churches, the other two branches are responsible to rectify matters in order to clear themselves of the charge of violating their own constitution. This would mean soundly disciplining Kleinsasser (and his partners in crime) and removing him/them from positions of leadership. Furthermore, the Hutterites as a whole would have to drop and as much as possible undo the lawsuits responsible for the reproach, and with that go on public record in renouncing Kleinsasser's folly. Not to do so makes both the Darius and the Lehrerleut culpable by association and implication' and it will be only a matter of time before this whole affair will bring the roof down over the Hutterite's ear....
4. Kleinsasser's reckless behavior is further evidenced in his wild financial schemes... Note the Free Press again: 'Kleinsasser said he, Edel, a South Dakota Hutterite and an Atlanta lawyer formed a limited partnership named Welk Resources Ltd. to engage in petroleum exploration." Finally, a worse charge against Kleinsasser is his confederacy with the New Age movement of the East (the Arnoldleut). The Arnoldleut still hold Eberhard Arnold up as their inspiring leader whose writings are revolutionary, anti-government and leftist.
Susan Welham Dec. 12 '90: ...My search takes me back to my earliest years, to Wheathill, particularly to a time when both my parents were gone.... I remember being locked up -- bread and water. My parents don't know. I now ask anyone out there, in or out of the HB, what happened to the children of the excluded parents during that time?
I never was good enough. My lessons were:
I was essentially an evil being whose whole life
had to be dedicated to controlling and/or stamping
out the worm inside.
When people make mistakes, they lose the right to
be loved and either live like ghosts without a voice
or are cast out into the void to perish.
This may sound rather extreme, but children absorb the essence in emotional terms. For an example, my father was cast out a number of times. I was given no explanation, he just disappeared. Imagine my delight when one day, when walking with a school group, I saw him in the distance. Off I ran calling 'Daddy, Daddy!' I was hauled back by the teacher. 'You must not talk to him.' No explanation. He must be a ghost. My life was full of dark confusion. I was eight at the time. We were having a really hard time of it that winter of 1951. My mother was pregnant with Oliver, the rest of us aged 2, 4, 6, 8, 10. My father had transgressed. My mother had forgiven him, but in true SOB style, he must be punished. WE WERE ALL PUNISHED. The desire to punish took precedence over any other consideration, especially how the children would fare. Oliver was born defective -- we were still being punished. We did not know as we sang 'Golden slumbers kiss your eyes' outside the baby house that Oli would have physical-mental-emotional problems which psychiatrists attribute to the extreme stress and deprivation my mother suffered during her pregnancy.
None of us in my family agreed with the harsh treatment meted out to my sister aged 9 when she was excluded, sent away to Ibate. She had been playing doctors and nurses with another little girl. 'The Powers That Be' decided that she had latent homosexual tendencies which must be squashed. The 'best' way to do that was to rip her from the relative security of her family, to send her away and let her suffer. We all suffered. We still do. She still puts herself into exclusion when she is troubled. She does not reach out to her family. They were not there when she needed them most.
Joel Clement, 2/6/91: ...
My father, whom I have always loved, was sent away for two years in 1975 and '76 for pride and ambition, as I understand it, I guess for his part in getting Heini off the 'hof in 1959 (referred to on p. 140 of Torches Rekindled). He had been in exclusion in 1960 or '61 for the same thing, had he not? Where does this fit in with the basic teaching of forgiveness? I suppose it is possible that more things were discovered about him, but doesn't that lead to endless digging? I heard that one of the charges brought against him was that he was too friendly with people "outside." How can you explain that? Upon what basis does the Bruderhof break a person's spirit and personality to this extent, to punish them for an obviously God-given trait -- yes, call it what it is -- a gift? It is quite evident to me that the Bruderhof has trampled on people's spirits. I've seen it happen to my dad and to Jonathan and to others. I would guess you might see these events differently, but to me they are quite plain. In my opinion, this is a misuse of Church discipline as spelled out in Matt 18: 15-17 or 1 Corin 5....
Miriam Arnold Holmes: (Excerpts from her Life Story)
One day Art Wiser, the servant, called me into his office.
"I had a phone call from Heini," he said. "And he was very very shocked that you, Miriam, had asked for a record from Dan. That was very very selfish, and then you even put pressure on him. There is something drastically wrong with you, and Heini was absolutely horrified about what you did. He wants you to give an explanation in the brotherhood meeting tonight."
Heini also wanted Hela Ehrlich, who was visiting Oak Lake from Woodcrest, to take down everything I said in shorthand because he sure would love to know what were my explanations of my selfish actions. That is what Art said that Heini said.
I was totally flabbergasted! I was mortified! I was scared, and I was in shock. I had forgotten about that episode, and from what I heard, my father was sort of upset that Dan would not loan me the record. I heard later that he went to Doug Moody about it, and Doug thought that wasn't very nice of Dan Maendel either, that he would not loan me that record. So Doug must have told Heini. Now Heini, of course, saw a golden opportunity here to trample his brother's daughter into the mud, and that is exactly what he did. I guess this was the only time my name ever came to Heini's attention, any kind of conflict or anything to do with me. And he quickly realized he had a golden opportunity to make his brother look bad. That is the only way I can explain it, because I certainly did not do anything that a lot of other people didn't do. People borrowed records back and forth all the time. Here I was in big trouble for asking, and I didn't even get the damn records! Me asking for a record was a major sin! So I went to the brotherhood meeting that night with fear and trembling. And I was challenged, and here was Hela Ehrlich with her steno pad taking down every word I said!
Basically what I said was "I am really sorry and I'm ashamed of myself. I was very selfish and it wasn't nice of me, I should not have done that."
But that wasn't good enough. I was sent out of the brotherhood meeting. I was sent home and told that I was not in the brotherhood any more. Ausgeschlossen -- excluded. So I went back to my little room which I shared with two or three other single women and could not sleep that night. I did not sleep a wink. I found that experience so traumatic that I stayed awake all night, lying in bed, feeling awful, just awful. That was the beginning of the end for me.
Of course at that time I thought Heini must be right and I was wrong. There was something the matter with me, even though I said I was sorry and I said I was selfish and whatever. I probably said I was proud too, because that was always a standard self-accusation, to be proud. And I really meant what I said. God's sake, I meant it! I did not want to be in trouble! But it was not good enough. They wanted more.
Emotional blood wasn't good enough for Heini. He got that out of me, I can tell you. He got plenty of emotional bleeding. Now being thrown out of the brotherhood did not just mean you did not attend meetings. Of course you were out of the 'Gemeindestunde' also. It was much more than that. It was feeling disgraced, feeling worthless, feeling almost dirty and having those feelings reinforced by being treated as less than human. People stopped talking to you. When you went to second breakfast, people just left you out of the conversation. It was just a nasty, nasty feeling. They still let me work with the children, which to me was a lifesaver. Because the children did not treat me as if I was Ausgeschlossen. It was like the animals when I was a 11 years old and excluded. The only beings that treated me well and the same were the animals. When I came home, the dog jumped up and licked my face, just as happy as could be. He did not know I was excluded. And neither did the little children. They loved me just the same as they did before, and greeted me with enthusiasm when they came to their groups in the morning and afternoon. And as I said, tears were shed when their mothers picked them up. That was really really important to me, the little bit of love and acceptance I received was from the little children. I loved them dearly for it.
At the time I thought this would last for a month or two and then I would be back in the brotherhood and everything would be fine. But that was not the way it happened. One month turned into another month, and another month. It seemed as if I could not do anything right. After a while they decided that I should not work with the children any more, that I probably was contaminating them with my dirtiness, whatever that was. That is how I felt. So they took me away from the children. Now that was devastating. They put me on the cleaning crew which was responsible for cleaning all the common areas in all the buildings, the bathrooms and sinks. Each group of apartments had a general food area with a shared stove and refrigerator and a sink. By that time we had more than one building at Oak Lake. We had the Harvest House and the new shop. The children had moved to the old shop which had been turned into a children's house. So there were quite a few areas which had to be cleaned quite aside from the dining room and lobby in the main building. They had to be cleaned every day, the floors mopped and waxed, the carpeting vacuumed. The long long hallways upstairs had to be dusted. A lot of toilets to be cleaned. So here I was, cleaning toilets, mopping and waxing floors... I was very depressed. I always felt that I did not feel bad enough. I felt maybe if I would feel a little worse about myself, truly truly badly about myself, they would take me back. But that did not happen.

------------KIT Newsletter, May 1991 Vol. III #5------------

The Third Biannual Report on The State of KIT
Well here we are, up to our twenty-first issue. It never ceases to amaze us how KIT grew out of a few telephone calls back in August of 1989. Oddly enough, it is the Bruderhof whom we must thank, since if they had agreed to allow Ramon to interview members about Xavie's life story, he probably would not have needed to look up ex-members to learn about his daughter's life. But sometimes just a coincidence is all it takes to turn our lives around. And as Dr. Bernie Siegel says, "Perhaps coincidence is just God's way of remaining anonymous."
Rachel Mason Burger: 3/26/91 I have held off writing to KIT for a long time, not seeing clearly how my story fit in until I read Susan Welham's letter. What she wrote resonates so strongly with my own experience that I found myself trembling. Susan asks for other accounts of what happened to the children at Wheathill in the winter and spring of '48-'49. For me, the nightmare that followed started harmlessly enough.... A group of us school kids were standing around our classroom stove drying our gloves after sledding. One of them mentioned that two kids were involved in sexual play. The next day, I was told to go to the mother of one of the children, who asked why I did not report the kids to anyone. I thought to myself, "I am not the originator of this story, and if I 'tell on them,' her son would probably get thrashed again, which I did not want to have happen. He had been hurt enough (in fact he got beaten so badly that he ran away). The next day, I was interrogated by a group of mothers in the black hut as to why I did not report on the two children. They ordered me to stand, and tried to force a confession out of me, surmising that a wrongdoing on my part was the reason I had not talked. Again and again I said I had done nothing. They were very hostile. I felt extremely cornered and afraid. They told me to take a walk while they deliberated. It was still winter in Wheathill. The snow lay deep on the ground and blew hard in my face. I started to cry a lot, walking hurriedly to the top of the hill past the huts. There was nowhere to go, so I returned. They repeated the interrogation and then gave up, telling me to go home, and accusing me of wasting their time. The next day my mother told me Llewellyn [the Servant] had said in the brotherhood that my situation was very serious and that he decided that I was to be excluded, not only from the children's community, but also from my family. The shame and pain of that moment is still with me. I asked my mother how long. I protested, "Not my family too!" By way of saying goodbye, I put a chocolate which I had saved for my siblings from my 11th birthday under each of their pillows.
The hardest was leaving Bridget who had been two when my parents were sent away, and now at the age of four, totally depended on me as if I was her mother. During the years my parents had been in the "great ban," my brothers and sisters were everything to me, and now as their big sister, I was being told I was too evil to live with them. I had to move upstairs to live with Ivy. She never smiled at me or said anything nice. I tried to talk with her about birds because I knew she loved them, but was told to remain silent and was only allowed to talk when necessary about work. Ivy, who had a very bad back, and I did all the laundry by hand for the whole community. Mrs. Broom and Mrs. Braithwaite came from Cleeton St. Mary and did all the ironing. Not understanding what was being done to me, they would smile at me. It was very hard work, and Ivy often criticized me. I ate alone in the drying room where I also did an hour of English grammar every day. When I saw Bridget's clothes coming through, I would cry and feel guilty. I once dared to look in my family's rooms downstairs, but they were now empty. My family was simply gone. I was allowed to take a short prescribed walk once a week. I'd think of running away, but had nowhere to go.
...With many parents having been sent away, their children were either in isolation or in groups that also slept in the departments together. Buddig said that Bridget constantly would ask where is "Latel" (Rachel). I sometimes was allowed to carry the little children's supper trays down, but was told not to look around or talk to them. Bridget looked puzzled and sad, the more so because I did not dare go to her. Later, she told me that she was accused of lying about washing her hands and was taken to Llewellyn who spanked her. This still makes me incredibly angry. How dare he have done this! She had lost everyone, and was spanked! My other sister Janet who was eight and was also in exclusion for no reason, was looked after by Margo who she says "was nice to her." Last year, my mother told me that when my brother told her that Llewellyn was planning to send him and the other 12-year-old boys away, she protested and was locked up for a night and then allowed to leave but without her five children. She was given enough money to take the bus to her parents 30 miles away in Birmingham. Here she had a nervous breakdown. In spite of her health, she managed as a result of being one of the typists at the community to remember the address of Gwynn, Guy and Balz and to send them a letter saying that something was very wrong in Wheathill and pleading with them to return from their travels in Germany. Which they did, so ending the crisis. I was working in Lower Bromdon wash-up when Guy Johnson walked in and said, "How are you, Rachel?" After feeling like a piece of dirt for so long, his friendliness startled me. No one was supposed to be nice to me....All in all, feeling I was one of the first victims of this period, I somehow felt my "evilness" started something very bad that had spread like a disease through the whole community and wrecked it.
A List of Questions put to the Bruderhof in KIT and a Checklist of Responses to Date
Questions asked and the Responses
Did the servants tamper with the mail? No
Have you stopped mail tampering? --
Have you stopped breaking up families? Yes
Stopped overly judgmental severity? Yes
Did the servants censor mail? --
Have they stopped censoring mail? --
Inflicted corporal punishment on children? Yes
Stopped corporal punishment? Yes
Inflicted psychological abuse on children? --
Stopped psychological abuse of children? --
Stopped psychological abuse of adults? --
Admit Heini's responsibility for even
one destructive action? No
Stopped expelling people with nothing? --
Addressed "fear of expulsion" problem? --
Children told not to fear outside world? --
Children -- their choice to leave respected? Yes
Respect graduates' freedom to read KIT? Yes
Pressure graduates to 'take a stand' on KIT? --
Revise view of Hans Zumpe in 'Torches?' --
Delete or correct Gwynn's letter in "
Torches Rekindled? --
Dave Ostrom Jr. wrongly accused? Yes
Dave Ostrom Jr. mistreated? Yes
Ramon's 30-yr banishment from his
daughter Xavie wrong? Yes
Annual cash grant to expelled families -
Cease challenging grads to repentance Yes
Share your grads list with KIT? --
Photocopies of grads' files? --
Paid Social Security for residents? No
B'hof pay Social Security now? --
Acknowledge cold and unloving past
behavior? Yes
Stopped adult 'dirty mind' interpretation
of children's acts? Yes
Do you still believe in 'evil spirits' and
'demonic possession?' Yes
No Responses: 16 Denials: 3 Admissions: 12
approximately 50% response rate
KIT has learned that the Bruderhof phoned Bette Bohlken-Zumpe on a 3-hof, half-hour conference call to berate her for the "lies" she told in KIT. They are refusing to allow her to visit her mother Emi-Ma during Bette's upcoming August visit to the USA, or to meet "outside" with her sisters because of her plans to attend the Second Annual KIT Conference. "This would have been your last time to see your mother," they told her. The Bruderhof's actions are in direct contradiction to Christoph Arnold's written guarantee that no one's visiting privileges would be revoked if they published in KIT.; Why is this happening? Because Bette has copies of the many letters her father Hans Zumpe wrote to her mother -- and to the brotherhood -- begging forgiveness? The existence of Hans' letters directly disproves the assertion in Torches Rekindled (p. 151, 2nd Edition) that Hans "was asked to seek repentance, but he never did, and his life was tragically ended in 1973 in a plane crash." It must have been that Heini Arnold in his role as Head Servant intercepted all of Hans' correspondence. It is Heini who must bear the personal responsibility for this deliberate cutting off of all of Hans' attempts to express his repentance to his wife and to the brotherhood. It remains to be seen whether the Bruderhof intends to let Emi-Ma die without knowledge of her husband's letters of repentance and sorrow. It remains to be seen whether the Bruderhof intends to prevent Bette Bohklen-Zumpe from seeing her mother again.
Madeleine Jones Hutchison 6/15/91: I have been receiving KIT for the past seven months or so. My first reaction was of shock and relief. Since my expulsion from the community at the age of 16, I have carried this enormous pain alone, thinking I had been singled out. I also had this burden of guilt, as the decision of my being kicked out was based on some terrible sin I had committed. For the life of me I have never figured out what I did. So, KIT is now giving me hope and comfort, and will hopefully enable me to find healing and growth. I was moved by every letter, especially Rachel Mason Burger's. I remember you well, Rachel, as a kind person. During a short stint in the Sinntal bruderhof we worked in the workshop making dolls and straw stars. Sinntal was extremely confining and we were forbidden to walk off the small acreage. It was like a prison for the children, and so, naturally, some of us used to go off into the woods. This was a beautiful and exciting place and gave many of us a little freedom. One day, one of my pals and I were walking back from a long hike through the woods. This time we walked near Bad Bruckenau and were stopped by two young boys who gave each of us a Pepsi. What a treat! Off we went back home, and two days later, we were in for it. I was accused of sinning, was interrogated and told to leave. This I did the following day. Rachel and another person drove me to Frankfort where I was to get on a plane for London.
One of the women at Sinntal gave me a brown paper bag stuffed with goodies that I was to deliver to someone in Wheathill. When I stepped off the plane in London and was making my way to the terminal, I dropped the bag, picked it up and realized a jar of pickles had smashed, The whole world saw my shame and fear, my clothes soaked in pickle juice. Before meeting my father at Customs, I dropped the bag into a garbage container, feeling like a piece of you-know-what. I was relieved to see my Dad and felt secure again. I was going home, or so I thought.
"No, no, you can't come back," he told me.
"Can't I see my three brothers and three sisters before I am sent away?"
""No, no, you can't come back. You are going to live with your uncle and aunt (strangers) in Somerset."
I was taken to a small hotel where I was greeted by my mother. She and I spent two days there, and my only memory is of constant crying and confusion. My mother had been told to interrogate me and get a confession of wrongdoing from me. Naturally this was not forthcoming as I had no bloody idea what I was supposed to have done. The questions were all about boys and had I done anything with them? What did one do with boys but climb trees, have fun and talk? Sex. what the heck was all that about?! Oh, but I felt guilty as anything and nearly went crazy. Then I climbed on the train, said goodbye to my mother and spent 3 hours on the train with all those evil people. My uncle and aunt were nice, but we didn't talk about anything except birds and flowers. I learned to make bread. Every day was hellish, lonely and dark. Time meant nothing to me then, only grief, endless fear and more grief.
A letter from Wheathill arrived one day: "Get a job. We can't send any more money for your room and board." More fear. I would wake up in the night and think I was dying. All was black. No one here for me, alone. I got a job as a mother's helper. One little girl was now my only contact with reality. She and her parents lived on a farm way out in the country. Again, only memories of fear linger on. Every night the wooden chair in my small bedroom acted as a lock to the outside world. The farmer and his wife were aliens, and their eyes pierced me. I was scared to death of them. They had a gun at the top of the stairs and I was convinced they were going to kill me with it. Why else would they have a gun? I told my dad on the phone that the farmer looked at me in such a queer way and that he had a gun.
"Please, please come and get me away from here. Yes, yes, I have sinned. I'll be good. I will follow God and do better."
Gladys Mason came down 2 days later to take me home. Again, interrogations, accusations and questions.
""Yes, I will make a new beginning and be good."
I remember the daffodils beside the road. so it must have been springtime. All was going to be okay. I was going home. Little did I know, as I arrived back in Wheathill, that this was just the start of a string of abuse. Why do I write this to you? It is not done out of hatred. My whole life has been very much affected by my life in PRimavera and Wheathill. Sure, there were good times, but I can handle those. It is the cruelty, the psychological twisting of my spirit that has left me crippled to some extent. I want to have healing. I want the community to take ownership for what they have done. They are my family of origin and I need their acceptance. There are other events which I will write about another time. This is just something I have to do. It won't all be bad, I promise.
Amos Baer: "I hate the Bruderhof. I've hated them ever since Mark Kurtz took me aside and felt me up when I was in Ausschluss. I was 5 years old."
Ruth Baer: "How did you get in Ausschluss at that age?
Amos: "Ruth, you put me in. You were the Kindergarten teacher and you put me in."
Ruth: "I can't believe it! I have no memory of doing that. Why did I do it?"
Amos: "The Kindergarten was in the corner room right next to the highway. We were not supposed to watch the cars go by out there, even though there was a big picture window and you could see them clearly. I had not said anything yet because I was shy. Finally I got the courage to yell out, 'Look at that big red truck!' You had told us that the next person to speak would get punished, and so you came to me and yanked me by the arm and took me upstairs to the Ausschluss Room. I tried to reason with you, but you wouldn't give in."
Ruth: "What did you do in that room?"
Amos: "You had to sit quietly and they would question you. Maybe they'd ask you why you had two snot rags in one pocket. They were trying to force some kind of a confession from you. First I thought they were trying to trick me into talking, so I didn't say anything. Mark Kurtz was in the room. He let everyone go out and kept me there, and then lay down next to me and cuddled me, telling me about good and bad. I was scared."
Amon Baer: (In the same Ausschluss Room) "Mark Kurtz had a watch. He said that it ticked loudly and that if we listened to it carefully, we could hear it. We all sat quietly and listened. He said we should raise our hands when we heard the ticking. After a while when you sit and think about a watch ticking, it almost seems like your imagination takes over and you do hear it ticking. One after another we all raised our hands. Then he told us that the watch didn't work and didn't make a sound. We were all branded as liars."
Bette Bohlken-Zumpe 8/16/91: Coming home, I received the above letter from my mother. She had heard indirectly that I had found letters FROM HER TO MY DAD, and that I was making them public. Never have I spoken of letters from my mother. But I did want my father's letters to her to be known. My points have al-ways been:
1: A man is ready to commit suicide after confessing to a sin. He is not helped by his brothers, but is kicked even deeper into the mud so that he almost drowns.
2: He wants to speak with the person clos-est to his heart. That is forbidden. He is put on a plane to another country.
3: He writes to his wife and the Servant of the Word. His letters never reach his wife.
4: His wife writes to him, but her letters are never sent off but find their way to the dustbin or the archives.
5: He asks about his children 8 and 11 years old. He never receives a reply, even though he sends a monthly payment for their upkeep.
6: She writes a short letter from the boat to England to him to let him know that they are moving to England. From this he real-izes that all his letters have never reached her, as she does not know his address which he had written on every letter. But she sent her letter to a mutual communal friend.
7: He answers her letter and she gets ex-cluded for that, away from the community to some nuns in Gloustershire. She almost went mad with grief and pain and total loneliness amonst strangers. She fights her way back to the brotherhood in the hope that he will come also, and promises under pressure never to write him again of her own accord.
The brotherhood wants to move her back to the States, but needs consent from the father to give the children passports. He writes the German embassy to give his children European passports ONLY so that there is a little chance he might get to see his children in the future. The brother-hood gets them Paraguayan passports without his consent so that they leave Europe and he never sees them again.
The time period I am talking about is the first two years, from 1960 to 1963, when Hans and I were married. Heini wrote his first letter to my father in 1971, ten years later. In 1960, my father wrote to Georg in Sinntal Bruderhof and asked him for a talk in order to find his way back to the com-munity. Georg wrote back that he should first find a deeper repentance and put this on paper for the brotherhood so that a decision could be made about a visit to him. He was never visited in the 12 years in Germany.
Madeleine Jones Hutchison 7/29/91: When I read KIT, I am overcome with grief and can finally cry, not only for myself but for the many other victims of the Bruderhof. When I was 5 years old, my parents had gone to Bruderschaft and all the little ones were asleep in their beds. It was a hot night, and in my sleep my nightgown had moved up my little body exposing my bottom. I woke up in terror, and this woman (I know her name well) said to me, "You filthy, dirty girl!" I guess my bare bottom offended her so much!! Since this incident, I have this horrible dream of this woman standing by my bed with her arm held above her head ready to strike me. Her eyes pierce me and I wake up in a cold sweat. Since I have started to talk about all the you-know-what with Gerry, the dream has not come again. In Kindergarten in Isla, there was one woman who for some strange reason was allowed to work with children (she would be behind bars in our society). She often locked the children up in a small room. I spent many hours in this room.
On one particular occasion, and I remember it very well, I was trying to teach my little brother Ken how to climb this lovely tree. Halfway up he got stuck and started to cry, then scream his head off. So here comes this woman, and she too starts screaming. She lifted Ken out of the tree and yanked me by the arm, marched me off and locked me up in the dark hut. I don't know how long I was left there, but it seemed like eternity. I was given no lunch and was so hungry that I spat onto the dirt floor and made enough mud to eat. No water. On another occasion, all the children had finished their supper and only D. and I were left. It was goulash that night, full of Wabbel (gristle). There was just no way we could eat any more, but she kept saying, "If you don't eat up, I will give you another ladleful." And she did!!! We sat there crying and gagging with every attempt to eat. Finally she could see that we were not able to eat any more, and said we were going to spend the night in the dark room. I relive the terror of that night. We both screamed and screamed, pushed and pushed the door, so she finally gave up and we got away and ran like hell.
We were powerless little children, terrorized and abused. To this day I have a terrible fear of being alone in a dark house and, as you can imagine, this has caused some problems. Some children are more resilient than others, and I think that even a strong child will eventually break and be crippled inside for a long time. There was always this fear of doing something wrong, always this feeling of guilt which still haunts me to this day. When someone says to me, "I want to talk to you about something," I break out in a cold sweat and my stomach feels as if it were twisted into knots. Now my husband always tells me what he needs to talk about ahead of time so that I don't have this horrible reaction. Paraguay was like the garden of Eden, but we all know who invaded that garden too!
In 1957, my family was moved to Wheathill and we arrived in November. My feet were riddled with zebui, and when the first snow fell, my father made me walk about outside barefoot. That got rid of the critters once and for all. Settling into Wheathill school was difficult, as it was all in English. I made friends with Roger Rimes and we played a lot of Ping-Pong at the school. Some nosy troublemaker finally reported this, and so one day, during class time, I was asked to step out. My first reaction was of fear and guilt. I was taken to B's office where I saw a group of servants of the word sitting in a semicircle. I had to stand in front of my judges, and they proceeded to accuse me of sinning against God. I was a dirty girl, a disgrace to all. Lots of questions were asked, but I could not talk because I was so terrified and felt so humiliated. I was 15, and my breasts were showing through my blouse, and these men sat there and accused me of sinning. They kept this up for almost an hour. All I did was cry constantly and I peed my pants. Then I was told I was not to return to school, to have no contact with anyone. For 3 weeks I had to peel spuds and sprouts in the little hut across from the kitchen. This is where I also had my meals. I was branded UNCLEAN and the whole community knew this. But I was innocent! Roger was sent away the same day to live in Bulstrode, away from his father and sister. His mother was never in the community. I felt completely abandoned by everyone, even God. Only one person showed the slightest bit of understanding, and than person was Marianne Zumpe. If it had not been for her, I would not have lived through this time of utter hell. This incident has affected my whole life severely. When I was finally sent away for good, I was broken in spirit and mind. I was totally unprepared for the life on the outside. I was uneducated and unable to cope or look after myself. I was only 16 years old. I did not know the facts of life. I was terrified of everyone. I thought I was dying, and I might have, had it not been for the prayers of my father's cousin in whose home I was forced to live. I requested many times to come back to Wheathill but was told I was not wanted. A year or so later, my family was sent away and I then joined them. My parents were given 50 pounds. We were seven in our family. An old school friend of Dad's let us live in a cottage on his farm. We lived in poverty for a very long time. Often there was not enough food to go around, so my parents went without so that the children had some food. I feel such anger at the way my parents were treated after having given all to the Bruderhof. They suffered terribly, and there are no words to describe the isolation we all felt. All my brothers and my little sister have suffered a lot. One of my brothers won't even talk about the Bruderhof. When he was 9 years old, he was accused of a terrible thing, and later, after my parents insisted on an investigation, the truth came out but the damage was done. During my isolation in Wheathill, I was very disturbed and occasionally walked in my sleep. One morning I woke up in my bed and saw that I was covered in coal dust. Instead of being reassured and loved, I was once again accused of going out at night to meet a boy -- in the coal pile! If it wasn't so serious, I could laugh my head off!! I do not understand why I was always under suspicion. There was never any person who stood up for me -- my parents couldn't either. I will now stop writing, as I have to get out into my garden and think about all this and more, I am so very thankful I have finally found a person who believes in me, LOVES ME FOR WHO I AM.

------KIT Newsletter, November 1991 Vol. III #11------

The Fourth Biannual Report on The State of KIT
Well, it's been an eventful six months! We held our Second Annual Conference and experienced amazing moments of heartfelt togetherness, of sharing each other's pain and laughter, while acknowledging our individual differences. The variety of viewpoints expressed run the gamut, that's for sure! Pity your faithful KIT staff who try to serve the needs of all without treading on anyone's pet peeve. ("Was that YOUR pet peeve? {Wiping shoe on the grass} Oh, I'm so SORRY!") But please understand, KIT cannot speak editorially to the Bruderhof for the readership. Aside from our shared 'gestalt' of community experiences, we are as varied as a meadowful of wildflowers and weeds. And isn't that what life is all about, to allow each his or her unique voice? After all, isn't that basic respect for one another's uniqueness what was lacking in the Bruderhof? Of course there are some basic issues upon which we do all agree: the need to help one another adjust to life on the 'outside,' and to keep asking the Bruderhof to assist the elderly and the youthful, as well as those experiencing emotional or medical difficulties. Here KIT can speak for the readership by asking the Bruderhof to contribute to a 'no strings attached' fund that would disburse grants or loans as needed, which we are calling 'The XRoads Fund.'
One important question: is the Bruderhof a destructive cult or merely a sect with some unfortunate failings? If they are the former, is it naive to expect them to change? If the latter, have the past wrongs described in KIT been recognized by them and changed long ago? Are those who take a positive view of their Bruderhof years just suppressing and denying their own abuse? Beyond the role that KIT tries to fill as a sounding board for all, there still exists a higher need to get at the truth of things. Part of the maturity of living outside in the real world is recognizing the necessity to assess any and all information that comes your way....
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