Records of Destruction

A Look Into the
Secret Personnel Records
of Scientology

From: "Sueddeutsche Zeitung Magazin"
August 21, 1998

The Extended Suffering of Konrad Aigner
How Scientology Destroys People.
A Case Study with Deadly Consequence.

by Michaela Haas

1. "We would rather have you dead than incapable."

For his friends from earlier, Konrad Aigner lives on as if nothing had ever happened. Hardly a week goes by in which he does not receive mail from Scientology. Several days ago, according to Konrad's brother, Bernhard, a letter addressed to Konrad came which proclaimed, "Please share your greatest Scientology success with us." Bernhard Aigner said, "I sent them a copy of Konrad's obituary after I wrote on it, 'Your greatest success was my death on August 11, 1997,' we want to finally mourn in peace."

The Scientologists would have to realize the fact of the matter, because it was in their Munich branch on Beich Street that Konrad collapsed on July 21, 1997. The emergency doctor came about 10 o'clock at night, and three weeks later Aigner died in the Schwabinger Hospital without ever coming out of the coma again. Even though he was a chain smoker and a coffee drinker, it was unusual and puzzling to the doctors that one organ failed after the next without responding to treatment in a 43 year old man. Normally, only elderly people die of this "multi- organ failure." The doctors immediately ordered an autopsy. The result of this was that Aigner had died of an infectious disease. The state attorney will not be more specific because of privacy law. It is a diagnosis which is as ambiguous as it is vague. On February 10, 1998, 130 police and 4 state attorneys searched the Munich Scientology Center to answer, among other things: why did Konrad Aigner die?

The Aigner family perceives derision in a sentence from an instruction of the Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard, "We would rather have you dead than incapable."

2. "Make money, make more money."

Konrad Aigner was in Scientology for 23 years. That is the controversial psycho-business which calls itself a church, and which counts only 10,000 members in Germany since domestic intelligence put it under surveillance. Scientology puts the number of its members at more like 30,000. When Konrad Aigner died, he left behind a legacy which his family had not counted on: debt in the amount of six figures. His parents found piles of "donation receipts" of the organization in his room - and two extraordinary documents: hand-written records from 1990. In those, two Scientologist women detailed on thirty pages, step by step, how they tried to borrow money for a total of 200,000 marks - an exemplary document never before published in the German press which shows how Scientologists rip off their members. The report begins in the artificially cryptic speech which is typical for Scientology:

Konrad Aigner has been in Scientology for 16 years + has not yet managed to go clear, that is, go up the bridge, rather, he is always falling from the bridge and has drunk alcohol, etc. Therefore, we (G. + I) decided several weeks ago to help him get it together and finally get him up the bridge. Konrad Aigner has some property (pasture land, forests + acreage + farmhouse) in Lower Bavaria which belongs to him, but his parents live there and have usage rights (or something like that) to these properties. Several years ago, Konrad had already borrowed 50,000 marks on this land + put it on his account in Copenhagen. His parents had to co-sign and Konrad lied to them at the time + said he took the money "if something needed doing around the house."

Konrad Aigner grew up with six brothers and sisters in Ruhmannsaignen, a small hamlet by Pfarrkirchen in Lower Bavaria. Little of an organization by the name of Scientology had been heard in this ultra Catholic, firmly established community. It was not until the mid 1970's when he moved to Munich to work for the department of transportation as a bus driver that Konrad happened upon the psycho-business - as did many others in this time frame, long before Scientology's humanly contemptible methods were known to the public. Made curious by his brother's narratives, Bernhard Aigner, 37 years old at the time, also visited the Munich Center. "I took one of those personality tests that Scientology uses to snare people," he said. "There were loud, friendly people there, many young, good-looking women, it was easy to be dazzled in there [literally: "you could go blind in there"]. Konrad was a good-natured, gullible farmer's boy - the ideal victim for Scientology."

Konrad Aigner was brimming with humor, always so raucous and gleefully happy, that his best friend, a doctor by the name of Stephan Gemen, occasionally became skeptical. The two had gotten to know each other while in the Federal Defense Force. He had often asked himself, said Gemen, how much, behind his [cheerful] facade, it bothered Konrad that he was not the best-looking guy with his small, thick stature and thinning hair. He was as anti-soldier as Schweik [a fictional draftee of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire]. He tried so hard, but he just could not do it."

Scientology did not only promise money, success and recognition to the bus driver, who was still young at the time, and who was happy neither in work nor in romance. The organization had something higher in mind for him. They wanted to make a "clear" out of him, a perfect, psychically purged "super-human." The training, however, cost more money than the bus driver made in the civil service.

Konrad needed 37,000 more marks to clear, therefore we went to his bank in Augsburg + asked if we could borrow 37,000 more on the properties. (...) From the start, Konrad had the problem that he did not want his parents to know anything about the matter. I told him that we would go to them + that we would tell them that it was for Scientology + that we would handle them for him. I told him that I was there to help him. (I had already done that frequently), Konrad did not want that + had total fear of the devil of his family.

"We had thought," said his 76 year old mother, Anna, "that Konrad was paying membership fees, but we had no idea that they wanted so much money." The seven family members had always agreed, "Konrad is the most honest, most solid, most manually gifted, he should take over the farm."

Today, Bernhard Aigner knows, "We were fooling ourselves." On the same day that his father signed the farm over to Konrad, Konrad secretly surrendered the land. He took out a loan. Bills prove that he had signed over more than 85,000 marks to the organization in the first six months. For an "intensive of auditing" which is a type of interrogation, Scientology charged 6,750 marks (about $5,000). Bernhard Aigner has calculated that his brother must have signed over about 600,000 marks altogether. "He never took a vacation, he could never afford anything, and he still left nothing behind but debt."

When the Augsburg Bank raised objections because of the money I had the idea that we go to a bank in Lower Bavaria which was closer to the properties + was familiar with them, then we would have a better chance. So we went to Raiffeisen Bank in Triftern and they stated they were immediately ready to loan 200,000 marks for the properties, but Konrad's parents would have to sign in front of a notary public.

(2nd record:) In the meantime we had to handle Konrad again, because he needed the signatures of his parents to raise the mortgage, which he was not able to confront. First we went to the bank, I went in with Konrad and he introduced me as an acquaintance. I had taken off my wedding band so that they could have taken me for Konrad's fiance.

(1st record:) Konrad had called up his parents + told them to go to the notary public + said he would need the money "in order to get something done around the house etc." + they had signed. He had also told the same story to the bank. (...) Well good, that was the first cycle.

(2nd record:) It was a win all the way down the line.

Again and again, Konrad wanted to leave. He told his mother, "Mama, I want to leave them. I have experienced something so terrible, that if I were to tell you, you would fall down dead." Before the records were produced in March, 1990, these references abounded. To his friend, Stephan Gemen, Konrad Aigner appeared "turned around 180 degrees: oppressed and depressed. Aigner asked the doctor for an attestation which confirmed that he had changed for the worse, "so that I can prove to them that they have not kept the promises they made to me." He talked about his debts and said, "I have finally seen through that group. I want out of there." Gemen advised his friend to leave immediately. After that discussion, Aigner did not appear for a long time. When Stephan Gemen asked him about it later, Aigner brusquely brushed him off. "I had the impression that they had prohibited him from having contact with me. It seemed to me like his judgment had been altered. [literally: brainwashed]"

The records also document that Konrad Aigner protested again and again. After the bank had approved the first loan, the two Scientology women urged Aigner to borrow still more money and lend another financially strapped Scientologist 50,000 marks.

He was very bitter, he spit venom at us like an adder. We found out (...) that he had counter-intentions with the plan. R. put his head on straight for him.

When the bank became suspicious after more loan applications and demanded proof of the alleged renovations of his parent's house, the two Scientologist women finagled him some faked documents:

Then we managed to get two bills for Aigner, 1 from H. Transporte for a small shipment and (20,000.-) 1 from my husband for renovation work (50,000.-). We were as cool as could be.

The bank finally informed the parents, and the father prevented any more loans until his death in 1993. However, Konrad Aigner needed more and more money for new courses. Therefore, he gave notice at his civil service job and worked as an independent bus driver. "You'll see," he told his family, "now things are going to skyrocket for me very quickly. Money does not have anything to do with it." Konrad hardly slept any more. His brothers and sisters heard him running to and from his room until three or four o'clock in the morning. "He was under brutal pressure," recalled his brother. "Whenever the telephone rang, he would always come to a start. It was as if he was always being pursued. I was always sorry for him." Whenever anybody mentioned this to Konrad Aigner, he brushed them off; he did not want to talk about it.

The family often talked about it and came to the conclusion that Konrad was worried because of his financial independence. It was not until after his death that the degree of the financial damage was evident. The Aigners had to sell all their property holdings in order to pay off Konrad's debts. "We were only able to save the house." Anna, the 76 year old mother, works the day long in the beverage market in her house, "because otherwise we would not have enough money."

The state attorney's office had weighed pressing charges against both of the writers of the records with coercion and fraud, but the investigation had to be discontinued at the end of July: the statute of limitations had already run out. However, there is no doubt as to the authenticity of the records. In Scientology, according to the internal regulations of the business, these type of "knowledge reports" have to be submitted to the so-called "ethics officer" if a Scientologist finds himself in a "non-optimal situation." The person being written up receives a copy and is invited to express his opinion. What can that prove before the court? After all, Konrad Aigner is the one who signed his own credit application.

It is your own fault if you let somebody rip you off - with that attitude, says Jurgen Keltsche, more people such as Aigner are sentenced to be victims. The long-term district attorney and judge is qualified as ministerial counsel to the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior and as a member of the sects Enquete Commission for Scientology. "The Scientologists assimilate you into their system as in obedience training. The point of it is that they deprive you of your internal control and your will." That has nothing to do with belief or religion. "The difference between a religious community and Scientology is that in Scientology you will be methodically drilled on the basis of modern, pedagogical fundamentals. Your will power becomes restricted. Anybody who knows how these techniques work can quite easily defend himself. If you do not, sit tight." Keltsche talks about "psychology as a weapon," applicable in Hubbard's sense, "make money, make more money." "You can produce euphoria in a person using certain psychological techniques. In that moment they take people to the bank so they can borrow more money for the next course. I think that is unethical."

3. "Clears do not get colds."

There was an open argument between Konrad and his family a single time. On April 2, 1997, there was a broadcast on television about the mysterious deaths of seven Scientologists. The case of the 36-year-old Lisa McPherson from Florida, who also had wanted to leave the organization, was described. After several peculiar episodes, one of which was a traffic accident, McPherson fell into a coma and died. The cause of death was listed as a bacterial infection. The American police were investigating as to whether Scientology was giving the young woman high doses of vitamin preparations instead of effective medication - high enough doses which, if taken over a long period of time without medical supervision, could have caused internal organ damage. Konrad Aigner did not want to sit through the entire broadcast; he angrily left the room saying, "How good they can act!"

On Thursday, July 17, 1997, Konrad Aigner received a call sometime after 9 p.m. "Yes, yes, that's clear, I'll come immediately." With beads of sweat on his forehead, he packed his things, and shortly before midnight he and his bus were on their way to Munich, said his brother. At that point, he had a slight cold, but was otherwise, in the opinion of his family, healthy. On Sunday, a colleague reached him on the bus telephone. Aigner sounded as if he could not stand up or talk straight, is what the man recalls. "All out," is all Aigner said, "I can not explain to you, all out."

On the same day, he caused an accident with his bus. Whether that was before or after the phone call could not be determined afterwards. On Monday he was supposed to drive several Scientologists to Frankfurt for a demonstration "for religious freedom." On Sunday evening, accompanied by two other Scientologists, he hectically rented two new busses. The car rental agent was the last non-Scientologist to see Konrad Aigner before his collapse. He said that Konrad had appeared as though he was under pressure, "He was cut and dried."

There was another traffic accident with one of the rented busses, which was driven by a 19 year old. After that, a room waiter in a hotel in Frankfurt allegedly noticed that Konrad was not at all doing well. Nevertheless, the Scientologists later drove together with him back to Munich. Neither Konrad's condition nor who drove the vehicles is clear - the Scientologists refused to give details. Around ten o'clock at night, Aigner collapsed in the Scientology center. "No acute event," noted the emergency doctor who had to report the collapse in the final days.

For Bernhard Aigner, Scientology is responsible for the death of his brother, "help was called too late, after nothing more could have been done. That is why I am going after them, because they let the whole weekend go by. If they noticed on Sunday morning that he was not doing well, then he needed help - help from a doctor, not from Scientology. If he had not been with them, he could have still been alive."

Konrad Aigner no longer had any medical insurance. He believed that Scientology could protect him from illness. In his most sold book, "Dianetics," (first edition 1950), Hubbard promised his adherents that arthritis, allergies, ulcers and a long list of other complaints would be "healed without exception" "with the help of Dianetic therapy", which means Scientology teachings. It alleged "a fact proved by research: clears do not get colds."

As a rule, the "therapy" consists of expensive counseling, vitamins, and going into the sauna for four to eight hours at a stretch. In Konrad's belongings, the state attorney's office found not only the records and invoices, but also boxes of high dosages of vitamin preparations, addresses of Scientology drug stores, and pages of instructions for the so-called "purification rundown," which is supposed to detoxify body and spirit. It states that after one hour of jogging, "spend about 4 hrs. in the sauna, during which time the heat is gradually increased. (...) (There) are salt tablets and also potassium available, if necessary, in case one detects physical difficulties such as faintness or nausea in the sauna."

In the weeks following, Bernhard Aigner repeatedly drove down to see the Munich Scientologists. "If nothing else, those were the people who had been together with Konrad during his last days. I wanted to know what had happened on that weekend, but I never got any information."

Scientology denies any responsibility. Never, asserted Johann Altendorfer, press representative of the organization, had anyone "advised Konrad to buy or consume pills or other preparations." In order to legally insure themselves, Scientology has their members sign a form before undergoing the torture of the purification rundown. As though Hubbard had never given his promise of eternal health, it states on the form, "I understand that Scientology is not intended to handle or cure physical illnesses. I and my heirs hereby renounce and abandon forever all foreseeable and non-foreseeable claims and specifications, actions, demands, rights, damages, injustices, expenses and losses against persons or owners of Scientology.