Waning numbers: Germany to suspend monitoring of Scientology

Discussion in 'Media' started by The Wrong Guy, Nov 25, 2013.

  1. The Wrong Guy Member

    Criticism as Germany Reportedly Suspends Monitoring of Scientology

    Spiegel Online, November 25, 2013

    Waning Numbers: Germany To Suspend Monitoring of Scientology

    Germany's domestic security agency has reportedly decided to suspend monitoring of the controversial Scientology organization in the country. The decision, part of wider reforms, has led to criticism by some states.

    The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BFV), Germany's domestic security agency, is effectively giving up its monitoring of the controversial Scientology organization as part of its ongoing reforms. In doing so, it has upset officials in several of Germany's states.

    Scientology is officially recognized as a church in the United States and has the backing of celebrity members such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta. In Germany, however, it is viewed as a business that seeks to present itself as a church. Scientology has been monitored by several state chapters of the domestic intelligence service since 1997, but now the agency wants to reorganize its priorities and hence "reduce to a minimum" its activities relating to the organization, it said in a letter to its regional offices dated Oct. 19.

    The significance of Scientology, BFV officials believe, is declining in Germany. The agency, which describes the organization in its most recent report as having a "totalitarian character," estimates that Scientology only still has around 4,000 members in Germany, mostly concentrated around major cities.


    The plan to put an end to monitoring of Scientology in Germany, however, has met with opposition. Lower Saxony has expressed concerns, and Hamburg and other states also have doubts.

    Following a report in the latest edition of SPIEGEL which first revealed the supposed plan, a BFV spokeswoman said on Monday that the agency was generally "in conversation about the monitoring of fields of work." This was being done in a "prioritization process." As one of these fields, Scientology is part of that review.

    BFV offices in North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg had recently warned that Scientology was trying to lure young people through hidden Internet portals.

    The complete article, which has open comments, is here:
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  2. anonamus Member

    Oh boy. I hope some Germanons will poon the shit out of the BFV security agency.
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  3. Anonymous Member

    No doubt the Hamburglars will be all over this shite.
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  4. jensting Member

    .. that's what we want them to believe, anyway...
  5. DeathHamster Member

    Too bad the article doesn't say what the sites are--then they wouldn't be hidden, duh!
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  6. The Wrong Guy Member

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  7. Anonymous Member

    The decline in Germany can be directly attributed to the awesome enturbulation skills of the German anons.
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  8. DeathHamster Member

    But Scientology will claim it as a giant victory because they are no longer being monitored or mistrusted in Germany. If they still have a puppet in the US State Department, have them applaud Germany for increased tolerance and forward thinking.

    Watch and see.
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  9. Anonymous Member

    I think Germany might be copying Russia's approach. In general Russia has ignored FreeZone groups, and as a result Ron's Orgs (one such FreeZone group) has flourished to some extent. Pressurising the central organisation while allowing the FreeZone competitors a free ride is using those FreeZone groups to keep the central organisation in check.

    From a state view, Russia's approach makes sense and seems to be somewhat effective. It would not surprise me that Germany, starting with inviting Rathbun to put smiley face on it for potential FreeZone groups, is hoping to do the same thing. It would save them money on the spying while keeping the central cult in check.
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  10. Boris Korczak Member

  11. Random guy Member

    It will give Miscavige something to bloviate about for years.
  12. Anonymous Member

    The agency, which tracks extremists in Germany, has monitored Scientology since the late 1990s and said in its latest annual report it considers the belief system ‘‘totalitarian’’ and a threat to democracy.

    A spokeswoman for the agency on Tuesday confirmed German media reports over the weekend that its nationwide observation was being reviewed ‘‘as part of a process of prioritization.’’

    She spoke on condition of anonymity according to agency regulations.

    Interior Ministry spokesman Philipp Spauschus told reporters Monday there are no plans to stop surveillance of Scientology entirely.

    A 2012 domestic intelligence report on Scientology claimed the group’s membership in Germany had fallen by about 10 percent from a year earlier, to between 3,500 and 4,500.
  13. CarterUSP Member

    This is a stable datum.
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  14. JohnnyRUClear Member

  15. Anonymous Member

  16. JohnnyRUClear Member

    No, srsly, this is the opposite of too big to fail.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. The Wrong Guy Member

    • Like Like x 3
  18. The Wrong Guy Member

    Germany freaking out over Scientologist running art museum

    By Tony Ortega, March 2, 2017


    Very unusual story developing in Bavaria, where Scientology has long been looked on with suspicion by the regional government. An investigation has been launched to find out how a suspected Scientologist had, over a couple of decades, worked his way into a powerful position at a Munich state art museum, the Haus der Kunst, that was founded by the Nazis in the 1930s.

    Acting on a tip, authorities were stunned to learn that the person is in charge of personnel and has a great deal of responsibility at the institution, even though they had started out as a sort of outside consultant in the 1990s and had never really been official hired or something. Oh, those sneaky Scientologists!

    Here’s what we heard from one of our readers about it:

    Apparently, the guy in charge of all the staff and personnel – including hiring and firing – has been treating employees very poorly and numerous complaints about him have been made over the last years. The paper reveals he is an outspoken Scientologist (which might explain some of the strange practices and complaints) and to make matters more interesting, he wasn’t even an employee by the art gallery – he was hired as far back as 1995 as an external employee – and news people now are apparently surprised at how many posts he held considering his “external” status: Supervising basically all personnel, the security staff, scheduling, etc. The German version of the FBI (Verfassungsschutz) is investigating if possibly the cult of Scientology (what the press called it!) is undermining this art gallery. Which, by the way has a slightly delicate history, being founded and built under the personal supervision of Hitler from 1933-1937.

    Well, that’s slightly crazy. We’ll check back with our correspondent there to see how that develops.


    German spooks investigating Scientology infiltration at Haus der Kunst art gallery

    Inquiry into man "in an important position there who belongs to an organisation with fascist-like structures".

    Scientologist ‘mole’ in famed Munich art gallery prompts German intel probe

    Bavarian intelligence is inquiring into suspicions that Scientologists infiltrated the famous House of Art in Munich, built by a notorious Nazi architect. Critics say local authorities neglected the church’s activities there for over 25 years.
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  19. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientologists ′infiltrate Munich art gallery′ | Deutsche Welle

    One of Munich's most important art galleries may have been undermined by the Church of Scientology. Leaked documents suggest a Scientologist personnel manager applied psychological pressure on workers.


    Bavaria's domestic intelligence agency - known as the Verfassungsschutz, or Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution - has been set to work investigating whether the Church of Scientology has infiltrated one of Munich's most important art galleries.

    Okwui Enwezor, director of the Haus der Kunst, which describes itself as one of the world's leading centers for contemporary art, terminated a contract with an external personnel manager earlier this week after a string of complaints about his behavior and ties to the Church of Scientology.

    In a letter sent to the gallery's employees, and leaked to the "Süddeutsche Zeitung," Enwezor said that the decision had been made following consultation with legal advisors.

    Rumors of the Scientology influence on the gallery had reportedly been accumulating among staff, causing an atmosphere of suspicion that was demoralizing members, the newspaper reported.

    Enwezor also called a staff meeting on Thursday to address the issue, taking particular care to invite part-time staff members who had the closest interaction with the dismissed man, who has not been named.

    Recruitment and psychological pressure

    At least one other member of the gallery's supervisory committee is thought to have attempted to recruit colleagues, and state parliamentarian Isabell Zacharias claims there is "evidence that there might even be significantly more Scientologists in the Haus der Kunst." The Social Democrat MP is now demanding that the Bavarian Culture Ministry, which oversees state art galleries, investigate the entire management of the gallery, as well as that of its last two directors.

    The SZ also published excerpts from several written complaints about the personnel manager from staff members, alleging that he had exerted "great psychological pressure." One employee wrote to the supervisory board in February 2016: "I wouldn't be writing here if the man called Mr Scientology would only operate privately. The ideology flows directly into his work," before alleging that the manager had invited three board members to a nearby Scientology center.

    The man began working as a freelance accountant at the Haus der Kunst in 1995, gradually gathering more and more responsibility over the years - including the power to hire staff and draw up shift plans.

    This makes the affair "the most interesting Scientology case we've had so far in Germany," according to Arnd Diringer, a lawyer who has written extensively about the Church in Germany. Should the manager contest his termination in court, Diringer thinks the legal ramifications could expose all of the state's long-running problems with Scientology.

    "If he deliberately hired other Scientologists, then he may of course have violated his responsibilities as a personnel manager," he told DW. "He is of course obliged to hire people impartially." But Diringer had another concern - what if the man used Scientology-based management techniques for the job? "Then it'll be interesting to see if using those techniques count as a reason for dismissal," he added.

    Scientology - a threat to the state?

    In the past, legal cases involving Scientology in Germany have tended to be settled out of court, precisely to avoid carrying out such conflicts in public. But the Church has always been under much heavier pressure in Germany than elsewhere.

    Along with right- and left-wing extremists, Islamists, and other potential "threats to the constitution," the Church of Scientology is one of the organizations that Germany's domestic intelligence agencies keep tabs on (it first came under surveillance 20 years ago). Since 1996, Scientologists must declare their membership of the Church when applying for public positions.

    Germany's intelligence agencies are fairly unique in considering that the Church of Scientology has a political dimension. In its most recent annual report, the Bavarian Verfassungsschutz says the Church "uses psycho-technologies and the unconditional subjugation of the individual to replace the principle of democracy and basic rights with a totalitarian system of rule under Scientologist leadership."

    The agency also claims the Church is out to influence the "state, politics, and the economy in order to subject them to Scientologist aims."

    This is only half true, according to Diringer. "The aim is to have as many Scientologists as possible, and to put Scientologists into positions where they can spread the ideology," he said. "And the more they do that, the more they can change the state from within." But this makes it little different from most religions: "Like every ideology, it tries to broadcast itself."

    Germany's Church of Scientology did not respond to a request for comment.


    Also, here's a related article that was published in 2013:

    Scientology is still a red flag in Germany | Deutsche Welle

    Critics in Germany accuse the Scientology sect of denying fundamental human rights. The organization insists that it's a religion. While it is not banned, Germany's domestic intelligence monitors the group.
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  20. Quentinanon Member

    They ought to finish the job and ban the cult.
  21. It's Germany, and when they say suspend its exactly what they mean. Right now their hands are full checking on the recent influx of guests arriving from other countries as a result resources are stretched to the limit.
    They haven't lost sight of Scientology or what it does , if anything this could be a double blind.
  22. The Wrong Guy Member

  23. The Wrong Guy Member

    Haus der Kunst Will Face Independent Audit Over Scientology Controversy

    By Henri Neuendorf, Artnet News, March 21, 2017


    An external auditor is being brought in to investigate allegations of mismanagement at Munich’s Haus der Kunst. The move comes as an attempt to stabilize the institution after complaints about decades of poor treatment and work conditions at the hands of a human resources contractor with links to Scientology broke into public (for the specifics of the controversy, see artnet News’s previous coverage).

    Now, in the face of the long-brewing controversy, Bavarian interior minister Ludwig Spaenle has declared that an independent audit of the museum is at the top of his agenda, calling it the most important step towards the clarification of a tense situation. According to Süddeutsche Zeitung, the audit is expected to be complete by April 26, the day Spaenle has assigned for an extraordinary meeting of the Haus der Kunst supervisory board, during which time restructuring measures are expected to be discussed and adopted.

    This plan has, in turn, attracted criticism of its own. For one, the museum’s employee council criticized the government’s choice of auditor, pointing out that the relatively small and obscure firm was appointed by neither the Bavarian culture ministry nor the museum supervisory board, but by the Haus der Kunst’s own management — the same management that is already under fire for allowing the contractor to carry out unethical human resource practices for decades in the first place.

    Isabell Zacharias, the opposition representative in the Bavarian state assembly who first made the allegations of mismanagement public, criticized the government’s lackluster response. “Why isn’t the role of the wider management under more scrutiny?,” she asked at a hearing of the Bavarian state culture committee. “What about the director [Okwui Enwezor]? And what about the two former directors [Chris] Dercon and [Christoph] Vitali, who are not being held accountable? I find this indecent.”

    Oliver Jörg, deputy chairman of the same committee and a fellow member of Spaenle’s ruling CSU party, said he was “surprised by the management’s attitude.”

    Michael Piazolo, an independent and chairman of the state culture committee, expressed his astonishment that “no one from the management of the museum is at the hearing when the Haus der Kunst is being discussed here with the minister.”

    He added that he couldn’t understand why the museum’s management took so long to act. “I say this as a lawyer with full understanding of complex legal situations: with a case like this, there is a faster solution.”

    The hesitation to act, Piazolo said, has damaged the international reputation of the Haus der Kunst.

    It also seems that the museum is in no rush to begin the audit and limit further reputation damage. According to Süddeutsche Zeitung, after a brief visit, the boss of the consultancy appointed to perform the Haus der Kunst audit — who wants to handle the case personally — left Munich for a vacation.

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  24. Quentinanon Member

    The Haus der Kunst infiltration clearly was done for recruitment purposes. The scientologists involved out to be public identified and fired.
  25. The Wrong Guy Member

    Mismanagement, and a Scientology Scandal, Blamed in Munich Museum Chief’s Ouster

    By Valeriya Safronova, The New York Times, October 17, 2018


    At a recent exhibition opening, a painting of a black baby was attracting an unusual amount of attention.

    The work, by the German artist Jörg Immendorff, was part of a series of several cartoonish infants painted half a century ago. Visitors at the Haus der Kunst, one of Germany’s most important contemporary art museums, were peering closely at the painting’s title, taking photos on their smartphones and furrowing their brows in consternation.

    As it turned out, the title of the 1966 piece contained a word now considered racially charged: “Negerchen mit Kerze” (“Little Negro With a Candle”).

    “I think the artwork is nice,” said Asso Soumade, one of the evening’s attendees. “I’m just concerned about the title. At least they should have put an explanation on it. If Enwezor had been here, he would not have allowed that.”

    Mr. Soumade was referring to Okwui Enwezor, the former artistic director of the museum who unexpectedly resigned last June, leaving a flurry of unanswered questions in his wake. Mr. Enwezor had worked on the exhibition, a major retrospective of Immendorff’s work, but he departed before it was mounted. (After the opening, the museum affixed a label saying that the title does not “connote a negative or discriminate impression vis-à-vis people of color.”)

    Mr. Soumade said Mr. Enwezor’s time at the museum was “a fresh breath of air.” Similar words have been used to describe Mr. Enwezor throughout his career. Considered one of the most influential curators active today, Mr. Enwezor was born and raised in Nigeria. Since the mid-90s, when he started a magazine about African art in Brooklyn, Mr. Enwezor has fought to bring attention to African, Asian and Latin American artists, and many have praised his curatorial work at the 2002 edition of Documenta, an important exhibition held every five years in Kassel, Germany, as challenging Western hegemony in the art world.

    The mid-September opening at the Haus der Kunst was packed — a large crowd had come to see Gerhard Schröder, the former German chancellor, deliver a speech about the artist. But Mr. Enwezor was nowhere to be seen. Just weeks before, he had given an interview to the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel in which he called the short statement announcing his resignation “an insult” because it did not highlight the accomplishments of his tenure, and said that statements about the museum’s financial situation created the impression that his leadership had been a failure.

    Officially, the museum had cited Mr. Enwezor’s health as the reason for ending his contract three years early. (Mr. Enwezor has cancer.) But critics of Mr. Enwezor say that he mismanaged finances and personnel, and point to those as the causes of his early departure. “Enwezor had too many scandals to handle at once,” said Isabell Zacharias, a spokeswoman from the center-left Social Democratic Party in the Bavarian Parliament. “Enwezor is not a manager. He’s a great artist, but artists are not managers.”

    The State of Bavaria is the biggest shareholder of the Haus der Kunst, and provides the museum with millions of euros every year.

    An in-house scandal in 2017 revealed that the museum was under surveillance by the intelligence services for harboring Scientologists in its ranks might have seemed bizarre to outsiders. It caused a small uproar in Bavaria, where Scientology is considered a threat to democracy and where it is illegal for Scientologists to work in government or for state-funded organizations. Three Scientologists were fired, and the flap exposed fissures between Mr. Enwezor and some members of his staff.

    “Initially, I was baffled by it,” Mr. Enwezor said in a telephone interview. “But I think it’s very serious.” He added, “I know art is subversive and all of that, but not at that level that we should have had the equivalent of the F.B.I. watching us.”

    Mr. Enwezor and the supervisory board of the museum were accused of not acting quickly enough after discovering that Scientologists were on the staff. Employees had repeatedly complained about a human resources contractor, who some said hired other Scientologists to work in the museum, but had not seen management take any action. A group of them formed a workers’ council to protest the situation and sent a letter to the supervisory board accusing “the executive level” of tolerating “gross abuses.”

    According to the Munich newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, workers also complained that Mr. Enwezor was distant and did not speak German. Some observers wondered how he could be an effective artistic director while curating the Venice Biennale in 2015 — no small task. For his part, Mr. Enwezor still wonders whether the furor surrounding the Scientologists was part of a strategy on behalf of some on his team to “bring change about within the organization,” as he put it.

    Against the backdrop of the Scientology scandal, the Haus der Kunst was struggling with its budget, as it had been for years. In April, the museum hired Bernhard Spies to sort out its finances. In an interview with The Art Newspaper, Mr. Spies blamed the museum’s current 500,000-euro deficit on management mistakes made during Mr. Enwezor’s tenure.

    Oliver Joerg, a member of the Bavarian Parliament, wrote in an email that Mr. Enwezor’s exhibitions drew international attention but carried financial risks. “This is particularly true if, for example, visitor numbers fall short of expectations or exhibition partners drop out at short notice,” he wrote.

    Postwar,” a huge exhibition at the Haus der Kunst from October 2016 to March 2017 of art from the two decades after World War II, was cited by Mr. Enwezor’s critics as an example of a show that did not pull its weight financially. It brought together more than 350 artworks from 50 countries; planning it took three and a half years. It drew acclaim from critics, but costs were much higher than projected — €4.4 million, or about $5.1 million, instead of €1.2 million — and ticket sales were much lower than expected. The Brooklyn Museum, which originally signed up to host the exhibition in the United States, pulled out unexpectedly.

    “ ‘Postwar’ was a debacle,” Ms. Zacharias, the center-left member of Parliament, said. She added that after that exhibition, the supervisory board should have taken a closer look at the museum’s budget and questioned the financial wisdom of Mr. Enwezor’s future plans.

    Mr. Enwezor said he knew from the beginning that the exhibition would not be a blockbuster, but he did expect a higher turnout. He expressed disappointment that an exhibition that explored Germany’s history and the global shifts that followed World War II did not entice more people. The letdown was especially cutting because the Haus der Kunst was built by Hitler in the 1930s to house Nazi propaganda art. “I wanted to engage the public in this conversation,” Mr. Enwezor said.

    Mr. Enwezor said he was always aware that the museum needed more money to support his plans. But, he added, “It’s not like in the United States. It’s very difficult in Germany. Someone doesn’t write a check for $10, $20 or $100 million.”

    According to public figures, 6 percent to 7 percent of the funding for the arts in Germany comes from private sources. Corporations, which can typically provide continuous and significant support, do not have as active of a presence in the German art world as they do in the United States.

    The Haus der Kunst is funded and directed through a complicated structure in which three separate groups are shareholders, one of which is the State of Bavaria. Mr. Enwezor and his team did not manage to secure any large corporate donors, and even lost one that donated $500,000 annually. But they did secure 78 million euros in government funding for a planned renovation of the museum in 2020, and raised more than 4.3 million euros in donations between 2015 and 2017. But it wasn’t enough. The costs of Mr. Enwezor’s projects outpaced the profits, and a deficit formed.

    A lingering question on the minds of some observers has been whether racism or xenophobia were factors in Mr. Enwezor’s departure. Mr. Enwezor was hired at the Haus der Kunst with fanfare in 2011, but since then, the political mood in Germany has shifted and xenophobia is no longer the purview of fringe political parties. In Bavaria, in elections for the state Parliament last Sunday, the populist Alternative for Germany, which has made anti-migration policies a focus of its platform, entered Parliament for the first time with a 10 percent share of the vote.

    When asked if he had experienced racism at the Haus der Kunst, Mr. Enwezor approached the question delicately. “I’ve enjoyed my relationship with the cities where I’ve worked, and I think there was a sensitivity to racial discrimination, but let’s face it, we live in a context where if you want to win an election, the easiest thing to do is to attack immigrants,” Mr. Enwezor said. “Blackness always seems to be at the lowest end of that totem pole. And that makes people more vulnerable.”

    Mr. Enwezor’s exit has not been the only change at Haus der Kunst. In the last months, the museum has announced the departure of Ulrich Wilkes, the head curator, and the addition of a deputy for Mr. Spies to help with a new department dedicated to fund-raising.

    A few weeks after the Der Spiegel interview published, Mr. Enwezor took a more diplomatic tone, reflecting on the goals he set out to accomplish and the role a museum can play in a society defined by political battles.

    “Museums are places of the human imagination, and that means we want to be as open as possible in our engagement with that imagination,” Mr. Enwezor said, adding he was “proud to have been part of the conversation.”

    Source, with photos:

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