Scientology Crime Syndicate

31 Jul 2000

German_Scn_News <german_scn_news@hotmail.com>

Disappearing from the city picture

Bremen, Germany
July 28, 2000
taz Bremen Nr. 6204

Bremen's Scientologists have moved

Another step out of the public view?

Or merely a shortage of disciples?

No, the former home of the Bremen Scientology Mission, the Nobelvilla on Osterdeich, had nothing to do with membership figures. That is according to Jan Labes, President of Scientology Mission Bremen, Inc. "Eight years ago, we simply did not find anything else." Back then 27 Osterdeich was not a bad emergency solution, not least of all because rent for the 1,500 square meter Villa was halved, from 30,000 to 15,000 marks. A nice gesture from the owner, a Bremen businessman and Scientologist. Even then the spaces of the magnificent, almost 120 year old structure, protected as a monument, have recently turned out to be extremely oversized. Too few disciples in the Hanseatic City. Scientology Bremen had to move.

"They were no longer using all the rooms," believes real estate dealer Guenther Diekamp, who currently is offering the property for sale at 3.2 million marks. "Perhaps the Mission did not develop as much as had been planned," Diekamp expressed a pertinent assumption. President Labes sees things somewhat differently, "In order for things to have been right with the building on Osterdeich, we would have had to neglect our real work. It is primarily for that reason that we moved." Financial difficulties, as Scientology Bremen had admitted during a trial before the superior administration court of the Hanseatic City of Bremen on February 25, 1997 (in which the organization was instructed to report as a business and in which they were prohibited from advertising in certain areas of downtown) probably also played a role. Finally, 15,000 marks a month rent is not a small figure for an association which allegedly makes no profit.

Are the new, 700 square meters of space Scientology has on 36 Stolzenauer Street in Hastedt perhaps also more suitable because they are less visible in the city picture? Would the organization, which is still under surveillance by Constitutional Security in Bremen as much as it ever was, like to inconspicuously slip off into a quieter portion of the city? Something like that can be conceived of in the department of the Senate which is responsible for the area of sects and psycho-groups. "In those places where Scientology maintains larger buildings, that would be churches, in Germany, like in Hamburg and Munich, there has been talk in the last several years of a massive decrease of adherents. That leads to a general phase of upheaval in which Scientology re-organizes itself and which, certainly, is also taking place in Bremen. Part of that phase could mean disappearing from the city picture," said the unnamed source.

The possibility of the move being a delayed reaction to the court decision of February 25, 1997 which prohibits Scientology from advertising in certain zones downtown is vehemently disputed by association President Labes. "We are doing exactly the same thing that we were doing previously: We are helping people in the achievement of their spiritual perfection." He says he has heard nothing about dwindling membership in other cities. "As far as I'm concerned, those are rumors." In any case he says that in Bremen the number is holding at "a couple of hundred members." He doesn't want to get more concrete than that.

Gregor Kessler


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