Stern-TV, 11-18-1998, Transcript of the documentary part of the show
(The second part is part of a talk show)
Off Screen speaker (OS): Bernhard Aigner in front of the Munich Scientology Center. The 38 year old Bavarian is at his wit's end. He has nightmares, he can't sleep. One and a half years ago his brother collapsed in these rooms. Acute shortness of breath, coma. For 22 years, Konrad Aigner was a member of Scientology; the psycho-sect turned him into a mental wreck. He popped vitamin pills by the handful; he thought he would never get sick. Nevertheless Konrad Aigner died after being in a coma for three weeks.
Bernhard_Aigner: My completely clear opinion about it is: if he would not have been with the Scientologists, if he would not have been a Scientologist, then he could still be alive.
OS: Konrad Aigner was a man of the earth, happy, a true Bavarian, family man with six brothers and sisters. He came from Ruhmannsaigen, a sleepy little village with seven houses close to the Austrian border. Here, everyone is devoutly Catholic. What Konrad could have been looking for in Scientology, the family could never understand.
The Aigner matriarch: I was always asking him, Konrad, you don't need them. You have a mind of your own. Successful is what he wanted to be, he strove for success. You already have that . . . You're young and healthy. I was not able to do anything.
OS: After his death, disaster struck his family. Konrad Aigner only left debts behind.
B_Aigner: That was a shock to us. We were well aware that he was a Scientologist, but we didn't know how deep he was into it.
OS: That wasn't the worst of it. After Konrad's death, his family found very peculiar documents in a storage area near his room: records in which two Scientologists described how they wanted to get at Konrad Aigner's money. Terms and symbols which the family did not at first understand.
Document Excerpt: "Konrad Aigner has been in Scientology for 16 years + has not yet managed to go clear, that is, to go up the bridge, but is always falling off the bridge . . ."
OS: "Clear", that is, according to the promises of the psycho-sect, a higher state of awareness. The way there is called the "Bridge" and it consists of dozens of expensive courses in which one must subject himself to questionable psychological techniques. Two examples are intensive interrogation and hours of sitting and staring. We inquired as to which status Konrad Aigner had in Scientology, and were granted a rare interview.
Interviewer (I): Had he really obtained the status of "clear"?
Johann Altendorfer, Scientology Speaker Munich: No.
I: But he had it at one time?
I: I've seen a certificate which stated he had the status of "clear".
Altendorfer: My understanding is that he didn't have it.
OS: Peculiar: In Konrad Aigner's estate Scientology had certified that not only was he actually "clear", but had been since 1984. In spite of that, the Scientologists were able to talk him into thinking that he had to reach this status again, although he had already paid for many expensive courses.
Document Excerpt: "Konrad needed 37,000 to clear,... Konrad had the problem that he did not want his parents finding out anything about the matter. I told him that we would go to them + that we would tell them that it was for SCN + that we would handle them . . . Konrad did not want that + was totally afraid that all hell would break loose with his family."
OS: That was because Konrad Aigner was responsible for the money. In 1985, his father had naively put him in charge of the family's estate.
B_Aigner: Our father had signed over the estate and property over to him in 1985 because he was the most down-to-earth, the most manually gifted of all of us, and this was the reason he could also take out loans on these properties.
OS: Only one month after the estate transfer took place, Konrad Aigner went to the bank and took out a 50,000 DM [1.6 deutchmark approx. = $1]. Today Scientology pretends that only small sums of money were involved.
Altendorfer, Scientology Munich: Konrad Aigner was in Scientology about 22 years, and if you calculate that out, then he may have paid 500-600 DM per month.
OS: In only six months in 1989, over 70,000 DM were taken in, according to the sect's own accounts. Right after his military service, Aigner worked as a switchman and bus driver with the transportation department. During that time he made contact with Scientology. Presumably, he was fascinated with the promises of L. Ron Hubbard:
L Ron Hubbard: If one knows certain things and applies them, it improves the intelligence of a person.
OS: But Konrad Aigner only earned 2,000 DM net pay. When he ran out of money again, the Scientologists had an idea for him.
Document Excerpt: "We then went to Raiffeisenbank in Triftern + they had immediately declared themselves ready to lend 200,000 DM on the property, but in order to get it Konrad's parents had to have their signatures notarized."
OS: And Konrad Aigner actually took out a 200,000 DM mortgage [Grundschuld] at the notary's. After his death, his brothers and sisters had to pool their money together just to be able to save their parents' house. Pastures, fields and woods had to be sold. Today the 76 year old matriarch has to operate a small beverage store, otherwise there wouldn't be enough money. She recalls how much pressure her son was under in the early 1990's:
Aigner Matriarch: "Mama," he said, "I have learned something, that if I were to tell you what it was, you would fall down dead." Well, what was that supposed to mean. I didn't ask him about it any more. I thought I would do that some other time. That was not exactly the right point in time.
OS: Aigner also confided in his friend, Dr. Stephan Gemen. The country doctor was supposed to help Aigner get out.
Stephen Gemen: I was supposed to write up an attestation. And as to my question what he wanted to do with that, he said: Yes, he would like to get out. And he could really only do that if he could proved to them up there - that is how he called them - that he had changed for the worse.
OS: However the sect did not want to let him go. Again and again Scientologists sought out contact with Aigner, even people he had never met before showed up looking for him.
Excerpt from letter: "Unfortunately I only know you from our rolodex but would like to meet you once in person."
OS: Aigner changed entirely, it was as if he had put on a completely different personality. For hours he lay around apathetically on the sofa.
B_Aigner: He used to be the life of the party. He was a happy person, full of vitality, and then he became the opposite. He would just lie around on the couch without taking part in anything, brooding, laid around the whole day, was no longer into things. It looked as if he was in a different time zone.
OS: July 21, 1997. As an independent bus driver, Aigner was just making ends meet. He often drove for Scientology, as he was doing on this day. After returning from a trip he collapsed in the Munich Center. For three weeks he lie in a coma in intensive care. Then one organ after the next failed. Aigner died of multiple organ failure. It had been thought that he was robust and healthy. The police searched the Scientology buildings and investigated for a year, but there were no poisons in Aigner's body. The witnesses, Scientologists, told the police that they had taken immediate action as soon as it was a recognizable emergency. The proceedings were suspended.
Konrad Aigner's room in Ruhmannsaigen, empty and desolate. However, his family will not get over his death for a long.
B_Aigner: His destruction was complete in every regard: psychologically, financially, . . . he was at rock bottom. And the Scientologists are still saying: "I would rather have you dead than incapable." That is how I see what happened to my brother.