Scientologists Take Offensive in Reich Land

Alexander Cockburn writes for the Nation and other publications

Never get on the wrong side of the Scientologists, as I often say to Heber Jentzsch, with whom I have spent many interesting hours discussing the evils of the CIA, brainwashers, shrinks, the pharmaceutical companies, Time and other pet peeves we share. Jentzsch is president of the Church of Scientology International and is now much preoccupied with their great battle against German politicians.

To people who remonstrate with me for having truck with Scientologists, I always say that folks who hate the organizations listed above can’t be all bad, and that there’s probably more psychic oppression in every 10 seconds of the life of the Roman Catholic Church (or--let’s be ecumenical--the Mormons, Lutherans, Baptists and Methodists) than in the career of the Scientologists since L. Ron Hubbard got them launched. Last time I heard, the Vatican (which has to OK every deal) was settling sex abuse cases against priests in the U.S. at about $1 million per.

Anyway, the provincial German government got up Jentzsch’s nose by being beastly to German Scientologists. They wouldn’t even let jazz player and Scientologist Chick Corea perform inside the country. In some German provinces, they won’t let the children of Scientologists into kindergartens. This is because Germans are constantly worried that unless vigilance is exercised, covert groups will take over the state, suck out their brains and turn them into zombies.

Jentzsch and his fellows have been fighting back, with considerable success. They ran big newspaper ads saying that the Third Reich is being revived. (The Nazis started persecuting Seventh-day Adventists before pressing on to the big task of killing all the Jews, gypsies and Communists.) There have been letters from Scientology supporters and adepts in Hollywood. There have been condemnations of Germany by members of Congress and finally some stern words about German abuses of Scientologists’ human rights from the State Department.

A particular bugaboo of Jentzsch’s is one Norbert Blum, German minister of labor. He’s been the chief hound-dog snapping at the Scientologists’ heels, but he’s soft on former members of the Waffen SS. When he’s not purging kindergartens, he’s sending out 50,000 pension checks a month to SS vets living in a number of countries, including the U.S., where there are 3,377, and Holland, where there are 20,000. There are plenty in Canada, too, though the Canadian government won’t tell the Simon Wiesenthal Center who they are.


In total, 600 million deutsche marks a year go to the SS vets, which is 30% more than the German government pays to victims of the Holocaust. In addition, there are 13,000 Jewish victims who have been vainly trying to get reparations out of the Germans for years.

Aside from surfacing the SS pensions, Jentzsch and the Scientologists have just put out an issue of their publication, Freedom, revealing criminal conspiracies--misuse of money, etc., etc.--inside the two major German political parties. The special issue is being put out in a run of 500,000 in English and German. As I said at the start, don’t get on the wrong side of the Scientologists. They don’t give up.

Now, to save people the bother of writing to me about the evils of Scientology, let’s stipulate without delay that they can be vindictive, tireless in trying to destroy those they perceive to be their enemies, greedy for money or whatever other charges might come to mind. My point is to try to introduce some perspective. The German government, which recently protested to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright about her department’s criticisms, is doling out money to thousands of war criminals and protecting their identities. These same war criminals were mostly Catholic or Protestant. The Vatican helped smuggle many of them to Latin America after the war.

It’s the trick of ruling opinion to create a few symbolic devils: a Moammar Kadafi abroad, a Louis Farrakhan at home. It behooves us always to be on the lookout against uncritical acceptance of these devil labels. Sunday’s New York Times spent thousands of words on the topic of how the Church of Scientology won tax exempt status from the IRS in 1993. The Scientologists have the devil label ‘round their necks and so the Times evidently thought it would be worthwhile to run its piece, even though it didn’t turn up much of interest. In 1995, the Boeing Corp., huge and profitable, paid no taxes and indeed got a refund of $34 million, but not having a devil label allowed Boeing to escape any critical scrutiny on this matter.

The application of devil labels is, after all, what the original employers of the SS vets made their prime order of business in the Hitler years.