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Volume XXIII No 3 December 2011 The KIT Newsletter editorial staff welcomes all suggested contributions for publication in the Newsletter from subscribers and readers, but whether a given submission meets the criteria for publication is at the sole discretion of the editors. While priority will be given to original contributions by people with past Bruderhof connections, any letters, articles, or reports which the editors deem to be of historical or personal interest or to offer new perspectives on issues of particular relevance to the ex-Bruderhof Newsletter readership may be included as well. The editors may suggest to the authors changes to improve their presentation.
Have you made your KIT Newsletter subscription/donation payment this year? Please find details on last page.
Contents Euro KIT 2012 – in England Advent Singing in Bremen Gertie Vigar Celebrates a Very Special Day The Best for Norah, Balz and Migg KIT Newsletter Finances Thank you Joy! Requiescat in Pace Paul Edwin Arnold, Teresa Hsu, Lorenz Braun Chris and Ollie Ahrens My Cousin Lisa Maas Johannes Schultz Passed Away Community at the Margins Early KIT Newsletters, Stories and Views are Now Online 8. Oh Heart, Where Are You Going? – Part 1 Childhood Memories of Primavera, Paraguay – Part 3 Book Review: Stolen Innocence Picture Story of a Trip to Paraguay September 2011 KIT Staff – Contact Details _________________________________________________ 1 1 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 4 5 7 10 13 15 16 commodate as many as 40 people and we will source other B & B facilities nearby. More details, including accommodation and day costs as well as booking information will be available in the April KIT Newsletter. There are good coach/train links from all major airports to the Swindon Railway and Bus Station. NB. For UK potential participants: Please contact John if you are able to assist him in helping with organising menus, food purchasing and meals etc. Please pass this information on to all who may be interested.
Advent Singing in Bremen
Euro KIT 2012 – in England
Three nights: Friday, 19th through Monday, 22nd, July 2012.
KIT. Irene and Horst Pfeiffer invited members of the Friedemann family and friends into their house for an Advent singing. One of their guests was Maris Vigar, who submitted these photos, saying, “Our get together was ever so nice; gemütlich and welcoming as always! I loved seeing everybody again and reliving sing-along moments which are among the highlights of my childhood memories.” The people below from left: Horst, Karola, Brigitte, Stephan, Kurt, Hedwig and Irene.
In 1998 KIT people had their UK Weekend gathering at Lower Shaw Farm in Swindon/Wiltshire.
Saturday, 20th and Sunday, 21st of July 2012, will be the main days at Lower Shaw Farm, Old Shaw Lane, Shaw, Swindon, Wiltshire. SN5 9PJ – UK, www.lowershawfarm.co.uk Contact telephone numbers for the organizer: John Holland preferably mobile +44 (0)7771 615 663 or landline +44 (0)1793 770920 We will have the full use of the meeting areas, games rooms etc. all weekend, including cooking and BBQ facilities. Tea, coffee and snacks will be available throughout the day. There are Youth Hostel style accommodations, similar to Friendly Crossways, with some individual rooms and several two – four bed rooms available at Lower Shaw Farm which can ac-
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Gertie Vigar Celebrates a Very Special Day on Invitation of the British Consul
By Maris Vigar My mother, Gertie Vigar, celebrated her 100 th birthday on October 19th, 2011. It was a very special occasion organised entirely by the British Consulate in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with no cost at all to the family; truly amazing. We were picked up from the Lar Santana where she lives, very happily and contented I'd like to say, in a chauffeur driven vintage car and got to the British Brazilian Centre where the celebration was to take place. Many people were gathered outside to welcome her, including most of my siblings and their children and grandchildren. There was a wheelchair ready for her which she waved off and walked in. It was a brunch type of an affair, with a long table laid out with the most amazing spread of goodies and drinks. The Church of England Padre and old friend said a blessing. Then, after a few nice words, the Consul handed her a birthday card from the Queen which, as you can imagine, tickled her pink. After a few more people spoke about their friendships with Gertie – and I was actually not surprised to hear what an inspiration she has been to so many of them – we all started to tuck in and catch up with old family friends who had come, some from quite far, to wish mum well. It lasted for over two hours and I can honestly say that I've not seen my mum so happy in many, many years. She was positively glowing. It took her a few days to get over the excitement of having been the centre of attention, something that does not come easily to her. We as a family have been blessed with a mother, who was so amazingly patient with the whole vigorous lot of us; who now at one hundred, is still so healthy in spirit, mind and body. We are all very, very grateful for that, and if dad where still with us, he'd agree, I know. Affectionate greetings to all! * KIT: Dear Gertie, we are sure many of the KIT readers are proud of you, wish you happiness, good health and loving care! – First photo in right column: Gertie with her children, back: Arnold and Maris, front: Miriam and Valentine. (Photos submitted by Maris.)
The Best for Norah, Balz and Migg!
KIT. Besides Gertie Vigar, there are three more Ex-Bruderhof members over 90 years old: Migg Fischli is now 95 years old (born June, 24th 1916), Norah Allain became 96 on the 14th of July 2011, and Balz Trümpi celebrated only recently his 97 th birthday with his children on December 4th. They are enormously challenged in daily life – but all want to stay in their own homes.
KIT Newsletter Finances
By Joy MacDonald Raphael Vowles has kindly agreed to take over the collection of KIT subscriptions in UK and also the end-of-year combined accounts as of January 2012. I have been involved in various roles, from assisting Leonard by collecting bundles of Newsletters which Ramon had sent to the Heathrow Cargo Terminal, to organising the first and subsequent KIT gatherings in England, and since the KIT production moved to Europe in late 2007, I have kept the financial records. I have enjoyed working with the whole volunteer group though my main contact has been with Erdmuthe and Linda who both do a great job working tirelessly, spending many, many hours pro-
ducing what for me is and always has been a vital connection not just with our present Ex-Bruderhof, Keep in Touch folk, but also to our historical past. Collecting much needed funds and keeping the Finance records is a pleasurable task when lots of people contribute, and I would like to take this opportunity to encourage everyone who receives the KIT Newsletter, to give their support to KIT by sending their contributions to Timothy, ($’s), Anthony (€’s) and Raphael (£’s). Please refer to the last page of each KIT Newsletter for the details on where to send your subscription money.
Thank you Joy!
By Linda Jackson The KIT Newsletter production and distribution team would like to convey a heartfelt thank you to Joy Johnson MacDonald for all her efforts throughout the years on behalf of KIT. Over the past twenty years Joy has taken on many time consuming organisational responsibilities, for example: since the KIT production moved to Europe in late 2007, she has kept the financial records and coordinated income and expenditures in at
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least three different currencies. Now we hear that Joy wants to devote more of her time to being a Grandma. However – this is not goodbye – it is hello again in all that you are still doing for KIT ... Thank you Joy!
Requiescat in Pace
KIT. Paul Edwin Arnold died at Platte Clove community on November 20th, 2011 at the age of 82. He is survived on the Bruderhof by his wife, Laurel Ruth, and by his children, Steve, Marybeth, Julie, Susannah and Jeannie and their families –off the hof, by Celia Piper and her family. Some of us remember Paul from Oaklake in the early sixties. Only after finishing the layout did we get news that Teresa Hsu died at the age of 113 years (!) in Singapore; and Laurenz Braun in Paraguay. More to be included in the next Newsletter.
Chris and Ollie Ahrens
By Hector Black KIT was informed in May 2011 that Ollie Ahrens had passed away recently. Hector (Duffy) Black remembered her and her late husband Chris, and shared the following on Hummer on May 20th 2011: Chris and Ollie arrived at Woodcrest, I would guess, during our first five years. If memory serves (and it doesn't always) they were friends of the Chatham's from Puerto Rico. Chris was in “difficulties” and left while Ollie stayed and worked in the Community Playthings office. She was there during our family's “in and out” stages. Ollie eventually left and rejoined Chris. We reconnected at SAYMA (Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting of Friends) and had some wonderful visits together. Ollie was nearly blind and a little frail when we last saw her a couple of years ago, but she always had a wonderful sense of humor. Chris taught at Warren Wilson College where our middle daughter went to school. They were both very interested in environmental and social justice issues and Chris invented some kind of building block making machine which was very low tech and useful in third world countries. Some years ago Chris gave a workshop at SAYMA on aging (which I should have gone to!). They spent the last years of their lives in Swannanoa near Warren Wilson College. We are grateful for their friendship.
My Cousin Lisa Maas
By Elisabeth Bohlken Lisa-Margaret Maas, daughter of Heini and Annemarie Arnold died suddenly on May 18th 2011 on the Beach Grove Bruderhof, this just one day after she was taken to hospital with severe abdominal pains. The Family was told by doctors that Lisa had widely spread cancer all throughout her body and no medical treatment could be given. Lisa was taken back to Beach Grove only to die on arrival. It saddens me to hear about Lisa’s death. She was born March 13th, 1945 in Loma Hoby. I had just turned ten years on March 11th, when my mother told me at Vesper (teatime) under the big bamboo tree that my aunt Annemarie had given birth to another little baby girl. I was the “family helper” at that time. In the community all of us children were given big responsibilities at an early age. I had to go to the Kindergarten every evening to pick up Roswith and Christoph, walk to the kitchen with them to get a jug full of water and wash them, especially their dirty little
faces, hands and feet, dusty from the red earth in Primavera. Once in their clean nighties I would put them to bed, and read to them until Annemarie had finished washing the little ones, Anneli and baby Edith. I loved to be in the family for “family time,” as my own family was scattered throughout the Bruderhof into different families, because of my mother’s sickness. Margot Davies came that very day and told me that my aunt Annemarie wanted me to come and see the baby. She said: “This little baby is special, born almost on your birthday and her name is almost like yours: Lisa Margaret!” (My name is Elizabeth Emmy Margaret.) Aunt Annemarie was pale, with the tiny little baby on her arm. The baby was smaller than I remember the others had been; a delicate little face with strong features. I marveled to see her tiny little hands and feet. Annemarie put her into my arms and I was proud and felt so special holding this new little life. Heini was away, so were many fathers of the babies born at that time, like Luise Sumner’s Tommy, Anni Mathis’s AnnaMengia and more. We children knew something about exclusions from the brotherhood, (members who had fallen out of grace by the main body of the community) but we were raised to accept this as normal. Soon after Lisa’s birth, Heini came home again and Traindel and I were in their family as the big helpers to carry water from the kitchen, go to the laundry with the dirty diapers and laundry, pick up clean washing, and many other little tasks. Many, many years later, in December 1984, when I visited Woodcrest with my son Jurgen, I was made to feel very welcome by everyone and especially by my cousins, who still lived at Woodcrest. My aunt and uncle had passed away in the meantime and Lisa was married to Peter Maas. They had their own family with two little girls and one boy. Lisa was a quiet person, kept to herself a lot as a child and youth and would never ask for special attention. She remained delicate and not so strong as her sisters. She looked different too; having the fine features of the Arnold family as my grandfather Eberhard, my uncle Hans-Hermann, some of his children, as well as the children from Hermann Arnold (a cousin of my mother). I find it quite painful, that Lisa died as she did, just after the diagnosis of cancer. The Bruderhof seems to have started living by a new principal: Accept your pain and sickness. It is God’s will when your time has come and your life fulfilled. Accept this fact and prepare for the life hereafter.” – And the family should not mourn when life on this earth is completed. * KIT: Elisabeth Bohlken had written this on Hummer in May 2011. In the meantime the Bruderhof has published an article online communicating with the world that Peter Maas has remarried past month. His second wife is Clara Greenyer, whose husband Jonathan had died October 29th 2008.
Johannes Schultz Passed Away
By Erdmuthe Arnold Johannes Gustav Wilhem Schultz passed away on October 4th, 2011 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan – greatly missed by his wife, Anna and by their children, Andrew, Anette, Christina and all their families. Johannes Schultz was born in Germany on July 19th, 1929. He survived World War II, and graduated school as a professional waiter and
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chef. On June 6th, 1966 he married Anna (Änni) Friedemann, whom many of us remember affectionately from old Primavera times. Together, the couple purchased a hotel in the Bavarian Alps in Austria, then another in Kierwang, Germany. They moved to Canada in 1978, where they opened a restaurant and catering business, and farmed as well. The Celebration of Johannes' Life was held at the Church of God on October 8 th 2011. Irene Pfeiffer told me that the large Friedemann family in Germany is expecting a two-month-visit from their sister Anna
beginning of next year. But before that she will celebrate Christmas with her children on the farm in Moose Jaw. Her son, Andrew with his family lives with her there, and her oldest daughter Anette with husband have built a house nearby. So Anna is in good care. Dear Anna, my heartfelt condolences. As you said in your announcement, Johannes will stay in your heart and in your children’s hearts. I wish you much courage in this time of mourning.
A Community of Bruderhof Leavers: The KIT Phenomenon, as a Community at the Margins
By Ruth Lambach and Tim Johnson Abstract: (as originally submitted to CSA, early 2011) The Bruderhof communities, also known during their 90-plus year history by a variety of other names (and currently preferring the appellation “Community Churches International”, or “CCI”) are well known among students of intentional communal enterprises. In the Bruderhof’s turbulent history, periodic crises have resulted in the ejection of substantial proportions of the membership. In addition, there is a steady exodus of smaller numbers of “children of the community”. This presentation will explore the evolution of the mechanisms leavers have developed for establishing and keeping contacts with other leavers in the face of strong countervailing pressures from the Bruderhof to discourage such contacts. We particularly consider the “KIT-Hummer” process which began over twenty years ago. PART I: THE HISTORY OF HUMMER/KIT, AND A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF PARTICIPANTS The Bruderhof was born in 1920 out of the social and religious ferment of post-WWI dissatisfaction in Germany on the part of young seekers for “better ways” with the existing societal structures. One of these groups was the international, anabaptistpacifist “Bruderhof”, founded by Eberhard Arnold and others. Eventually, the Bruderhof attempted to pattern itself in part on the model of the centuries old “Hutterites”. 1930’s Nazi harassment led the first Bruderhof communes to regroup and consolidate briefly in England. When with the outbreak of WW-II this became non-viable, an exodus to Paraguay began in late 1940. After WWII one European and the Paraguayan community remained, but then beginning in 1954 there was also one in the US, with the latter rapidly becoming the dominant “power center” of the international Bruderhof “movement” thereafter. The US domination was solidified by the dissolution of the Primavera and Wheathill communities, and the expulsion or departure of roughly half the entire Bruderhof membership including children worldwide between about 1960 and 1964. (Some left earlier, including Ramon Sender, in early 1959) LEAVER HISTORY: TRENDS AND PATTERNS IN THE PAST FIFTY-PLUS YEARS 1960-88: the pre-1989 “leaver Diaspora”, with only limited networking and no “virtual community” among the many leavers. After an initial disruptive flood of leavers in the early 1960's, the Bruderhof continued to grow, partly through new recruits, but largely through “natural increase”, from high birthrates, in spite of a continuing trickle of leavers due to periodic expulsions and voluntary departures. This pattern continues to present). 1. The KIT/Hummer era, from about 1989 The early KIT years, in which Ramon Sender, the somewhat “accidental” founder of KIT (which he started in late 1988) played a catalytic and charismatic role. Ramon, with first wife Sibyl (nee Inslee, with an Oneida community family background), came to Woodcrest in the late 1950’s, with their young daughter Xaverie. Ramon left in early1959, but Sibyl and Xavie remained. Ramon had only sporadic contact with his estranged wife and daughter until he heard, well after the fact that Xaverie had died of cancer in 1988. Thwarted in getting information about Xaverie from the Bruderhof, and thwarted in visiting his two young grandchildren there, he contacted first one, then more and more leavers in late 1988 mostly by word of mouth. By 1989 this network began to be identified by its participants as “KIT,” an acronym for “Keep In Touch.” The first “KIT Newsletter,” by Ramon Sender and his team of helpers is dated August 1989. It consisted of a single two-sided page, with limited circulation. This effort generated many more addresses, particularly in Europe, and KIT grew rapidly. Within two years, the mailing list reached about 500, for a 10-page monthly newsletter. This network and outreach effort rapidly mutated “on-line” into “The Hummingbird Express,” an informal early email network among former Bruderhofers which was soon followed by development of a more organized communications network of Bruderhof leavers and a few “fellow travelers”, to exchange news and views involving quite lively interchanges at times! Concurrently with the establishment of KIT and the Hummer, KIT-Peregrine embarked on the publication of several books (memoirs of leavers, etc). Soon this newsletter network and the various publications and ancillary activities became a resource for non-Bruderhof researchers, and also, inevitably, a gadfly to the Bruderhof establishment. To this day the “Hummer” continues as an ongoing exercise in networking and communication, and a resource to the KIT Newsletter, and also as an archival source. The first KIT meeting at Friendly Crossways youth hostel, in 1990, with a second much larger one in August, 1991 (about 70 attendees) was followed by a first “British KIT” in 1992. A pattern developed which mostly continues, of annual KIT gatherings, alternating between the US and Europe (England and Germany) typically attended by 40-50 leavers, with a few spouses and children added to the mix. 2. The middle years: an established “virtual community” – in involved consolidation of networks and publications, but no improvement of relations with the Bruderhof, and no real KIT breakthroughs with Bruderhof on issues of concern to leavers;The establishment of the Peregrine Foundation, and the XR (CrossRoads) Fund. Several books/memoirs published, and
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Legal “encounters” between Bruderhof and KIT participants! Note: By this time, largely through KIT, but unintentionally aided by the Bruderhof’s overt hostility (expressed through several legal actions against KIT participants), the “intentional communities” world had by this point become more aware that there are disconnects between the image of itself the Bruderhof has tried to project to the world, and the countervailing reports coming from former participants who had either chosen to leave, or had been expelled. The Hummer continued during this period as a wellestablished and lively medium of interchange, and sometimes disagreement and debate among alternate narratives within this “virtual community”. Hummer served, indirectly, as a major source for the KIT editors. The KIT Newsletter continued to be produced monthly, as a 10-12 page newsletter, and also appeared as a bound “Annual”, for several years. 3. The “post-Ramon” era Ramon still involved, but increasingly explores other interests that he had set aside during his KIT de-facto leadership years. In the last decade, there has been less drama, but KIT and Hummer have continued as a medium for dialog, and for exchange of information and interpretations on past Bruderhof history, and on more recent developments. There has been a gradual reduction in frequency of KIT productions, while relations with Bruderhof remain cool, at best! Meanwhile, the Hummer has continued to hum along. Annual gatherings still take place most years, and there have been smaller “country level” gatherings and other informal group meetings, which may become more the pattern for the future. However, this year’s US-based event (August, 2011) was both lively and well-attended. How large is Hummer and KIT Newsletter participation at present? The “Hummer” currently has about 45 participants, with varying levels of involvement. The KIT Newsletter goes out to somewhat over 200 addresses, with about 25 percent receiving it electronically (by email), and the remainder by regular mail. Nearly 60 percent of the readership is in the US and Canada, with most of the remainder in Europe. Note: some KIT Newsletter receivers choose not to have their names made public, in our periodic address list updates. KIT therefore keeps both a “private” and “public” list of subscribers/newsletter recipients. While we’ve stressed the “Bruderhof leaver” connection, we are aware of a number of interested “other” readers of the
Newsletter, including notably some Hutterites, and some academic researchers. 4. The Future? A few speculations are ventured. These include noting the “aging out” of the earlier generations of leavers, and the increasing numbers among later generations of leavers, and their greater use of such contemporary media as Facebook and other “Instant Messaging” approaches, rather than “Hummer” and “KIT”. There is limited overlap and communication across these leaver generations, but some efforts are underway to bridge the gap. (Paralleling changes in our “community of leavers” population, we note that the Bruderhof has also changed in substantial ways from the “Communities” “we” grew up in). Predicting the future? Que sera, sera! PART II: WHAT FUNCTIONS HAS THIS “COMMUNITY ON THE MARGINS” SERVED FOR ITS PARTICIPANTS? Note: On our research methodology and data sources: We have both been “participant observers” in the KIT process, but for this presentation have also mined the available literature, and contacted key participants in the process we describe, and at the most recent KIT gathering in August, we invited and obtained additional perspectives and insights from what could be described as a “focus group” of Bruderhof leavers from the US, UK, and Germany. What is KIT? At its most basic, it is simply whatever its participants consider to fall under the “Keep in Touch” rubric for which it was established. No formal “mission statement” or objectives were initially identified, beyond “let’s keep in touch”, which is certainly a function that has been ongoing now for more than two decades. Can we impute other functions or objectives, and indicators of success in achieving these objectives? Doing so involves looking back at what participants in the KIT process perceive as functions KIT has served. As we found when we convened a group of leavers, and let them reflect on the functions they see KIT as having served, many such functions were identified, and these can be grouped in various ways. Let us first list a “grab bag” of KIT-related comments and questions from a FC “focus group” discussion of purposes, successes, failures, and miscellaneous aspects of KIT. These focus group “themes” are presented in no systematic order, and are supplemented by informal comments after the group discussion. We will then turn to trying to categorize some major themes emerging from these comments, especially as they relate to KIT participation as somehow defining a “Community at the Margins” (see open box on page 6: Comments and Questions by “Focus Group”). How do we best categorize the themes emerging from these observations (listed in the box), and organize them in terms that can illuminate the functions the “KIT process” has served for its participants? We will explore one simple categorization, adapted with his permission from a long-time KIT participant, Mike LeBlanc, to help us organize some “major themes” identified by KIT participants, and to help us assess how well some of these imputed functions have served the KIT community.
Early KIT Newsletters, Stories and Views are Now Online
The KIT online archive now includes many back issues of the KIT Newsletters from 1989 till today and much, much more. It can be found at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KIT-exBruderhof-CCI/ The online archive is a work in progress. We hope to make it as comprehensive as possible, and include a range of articles about the Bruderhof, photos, memories and opinions from leavers, and a list of other valuable resources, such as books. Think you can help? If you are able to contribute documents or support this work in other ways, please contact Susan Johnson Suleski: email@example.com
These five major KIT functions are:
1. Meetings of “sandpit buddies”, to recall the good, and bad, old days. 2. A mechanism for understanding one’s Bruderhof heritage. 3. A means for healing from some of the hurts of that Bruderhof heritage.
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4. A tool for effecting changes in Bruderhof behavior, especially with regard to interactions between family members in and out of the Bruderhof. 5. A means more broadly of shedding light on past and possibly ongoing Bruderhof abuses. If we consider these as a reasonable listing of functions served by KIT, what can we say about the extent to which KIT has been effective in achieving these objectives? On the first, the meetings of old friends with a common heritage, most participants agree that there has been remarkable success, particularly in comparison with the limited leaver contacts prior to KIT’s establishment. The KIT Newsletter remains active and widely disseminated by mail and electronically. “Hummer” serves a smaller, more active core of leavers (currently about 45). Updated address listings for those who are willing to be listed also facilitate other communications among old friends and acquaintances, and the annual KIT gatherings serve as happy gathering place to relive some of the more pleasant aspects recalled from Bruderhof days, such as folk-singing and hiking. On the second, of members gaining a better understanding of their heritage, again: mostly successful. Lively KIT verbal
discussions of topics they could not freely discuss in the Bruderhof, combined with a number of books and articles by former Bruderhofers, and spirited exchanges in Hummer and the KIT Newsletter, continue to provide enlightenment to those wishing to explore their Bruderhof provenance. More mixed is the success on the third function, of actually achieving some degree of healing from the members’ Bruderhof experiences, and the often traumatic process of departure from the Bruderhof. Not all leavers were equally traumatized by their experiences, and those experiences also varied greatly among individuals. Similarly, the paths to healing, and indeed the need for healing, have varied greatly. Most leavers would probably rate this function as, at best, a mixed success, but this aspect is not readily quantifiable. As a means to gaining the fourth objective, of effecting change in the Bruderhof, success has been at best marginal, and some would argue that on balance, this has leaned toward failure. The Bruderhof has effectively demonized KIT to the Bruderhof membership, and efforts to improve relations with those remaining in the Bruderhof have therefore largely failed. Here again, the internal dynamics of the Bruderhof, which goes through somewhat unpredictable periods of freezes and thaws
Comments and Questions by “Focus Group”
1. KIT has revealed to many of us “mysteries” about our early ostracism less personally. KIT has enabled people to find themBruderhof lives and our history. KIT allows the “senior” leavers selves as part of a wider family, possibly replacing the “Bruderto reflect on their past, and the interesting journeys they have hof family” in some respects. It was noted also that, as in any travelled through life. family dynamic, one doesn’t need to hold all members in equal 2. Among the factors holding us together is that “we are not typi- esteem, and sometimes family squabbles have been known to cal Americans”: we understand each other’s backgrounds, with- break out! out having to explain. We are not unique as people, but collec- 14. “Ad hoc” nature of much of KIT and its communication nettively we have a somewhat different vision, and “see the picture” works: Rather short on “organizational structure”! It was noted that others with our background see. that a large proportion of KIT “participants” are rather passive in 3. KIT sometimes has helped our spouses and children better un- their involvement, leaving it to a fairly small core of spearderstand us! carriers to shoulder the load. Is this just normal human group dy4. One of the factors in keeping KIT going has been Bruderhof namics, or is there a component of Bruderhof thinking and Bru“intransigence”, and unwillingness to listen and compromise on derhof “learned survival behavior” also at work? legitimate issues raised through KIT! 15. Bruderhof questions of “where do you stand regarding KIT” 5. Before KIT came along, there were several short lived efforts to leavers who wish to visit family in Bruderhof has deeply ofat “group communication”. Circular letters (eg, from Lee Kleiss fended some, and made them even stronger supporters of KIT, in mid-late 60’s?) were mentioned, along with other mini- and the right to associate with whomsoever they choose to deal networks, especially among leavers in Europe. with! (Several commented on these lines). 6. Are there substantial differences between Euro KIT and KIT 16. KIT has achieved notable successes in collecting and archivin North America? If so, what explains these differences? ing historical materials, memoirs, etc., on the Bruderhof, and has 7. Why haven’t more of younger and more recent leavers joined also served as an antidote to Bruderhof misrepresentations in KIT”? Responses included “The Bruderhof has done a good job some instances (including the Hans Zumpe narrative, and some of brainwashing their membership” including those who have early Primavera events). later left, against KIT, and it’s difficult to overcome that. 17. Help provided, formally through XRF and informally 8. KIT has served a function of validating to its members their through other channels, to recent leavers. (The moral and finanworth outside the Bruderhof, and the choices they have made. cial support provided to some, including one personal testimonial 9. “There is Strength in numbers”: KIT has been able to present was noted, as was limited financial assistance and other forms of a group response to Bruderhof abuses, which is more effective assistance in getting into college, for some more recent leavers). than individual efforts (but others question this!). 18. “Discuss the patterns of occupations that former Bruderho10. KIT “helped me to see that I was not alone” in such Bruder- fers have gravitated towards.” (It was noted that a large proporhof indoctrination, and helped me discover my self-worth (gave tion have found their niche in health and service occupations.) me self esteem). 19. Freedom from the suffocating Bruderhof version of “Political 11. Bruderhof “brought me up to believe I was a bad person” Correctness”: KIT as a breath of fresh air! (KIT helped overcome this). Note: the focus group ended the discussion meeting with a rous12. KIT has provided a “safe” (sometimes also anonymous) ing chorus of what has over the years become the unofficial KIT place for exchange of information and perspectives. “anthem”, “Die Gedanken sind frei” (“My Thoughts they are 13. KIT has helped some individuals deal with the cost and pain Free”)! Ruth brought this song along to the CSA-Conference of being cut off from family, and has allowed them to take this and the session participants sang a couple verses in German. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
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with regard to leavers and their relationships with those who remain, tend to complicate efforts to assess trend lines. No leavers, however, have unrestricted access to their loved ones in the Bruderhof, so clearly this hope has turned out to be a mirage. More successful in at least some aspects (to the chagrin of the Bruderhof!), has been the fifth function ascribed by some to KIT. This fifth function has been to provide a forum for alternative narratives to the Bruderhof’s public relations efforts, in portraying itself to the world, and particularly to some of the groups with which it claims some degree of historical and spiritual kinship, as representing somehow a purer, fuller exemplar of following Jesus and the early Church communities. Works by former Bruderhofers, published by the now defunct but previously KIT-associated Peregrine Press, have effectively provided scholars and lay-persons with perspectives that differ markedly from Bruderhof versions and interpretations of the history and especially the practices of the Bruderhof, and at the very least have called some Bruderhof interpretations into question. Thus, KIT publications have provided, and continue to provide, a resource for scholars in several academic disciplines, and others interested in exploring the Bruderhof, and interpreting it within the wider context of religious communities, and the societies within which they are embedded. CONCLUSION KIT, along with its associated activities, has served as a generally effective, multi-functional “Virtual Community” or “Community at the Margins” in meeting some of the needs of many leavers of the Bruderhof communities. How this “Community at the Margins” will evolve remains to be seen. Acknowledgements and Epilogue Ruth and Tim acknowledge the insights provided to us by numerous members of our KIT “virtual community”, in person and by emails. Your collective contributions to us and to your fellow KIT participants are nicely summarized for us in a message from Mike LeBlanc (cited with his permission), which we offer as an Epilogue. In reflecting on his years of association with other leavers, Mike wrote: Thank you for telling your stories, that I might learn something of my heritage. Thank you for sharing your pain, that my own might find validation. Thank you for sharing your joy, that my own would find kindred spirit. Thank you for your vulnerability, for it is the genesis of relationship. As many KIT participants might say: “Amen”! * (11/21/2011 draft, adapted for KIT, from CSA presentation outline for Oct. 1, 2011.)
8. Oh Heart, Where Are You Going?
By Susanna Alves – Part 1 It was Sunday evening at the Asunción Bruderhof house, the Upper House, as they called it. Simone, Evie and John sat at the coffee-table in the corner of the hall, near the door leading into the dining-room. They were reading the papers. The only sounds were their wicker-chairs creaking occasionally and Evie and Simone murmuring comments about the news. Simone’s mind really was on John. “Oh, John,” she said, as if she only just thought of it, “did you know – Carlos joined the Gemeindestunde. Great, don’t you think?” Carlos was one of the very few Paraguayan boys in the Bruderhof community. He recently had gone through a difficult patch but was settling down now and his wish to become a Gemeindestunde-participant showed just that. Simone felt extremely pleased and thought that John should take it to heart, especially as she couldn’t help liking him as she did. Yes – she liked him! But John merely nodded and grunted, “Uhm–hm”, although his face couldn’t quite hide his surprise at the news. “Take it to heart,” Evie said. He smiled and looked embarrassed. “I know,” he replied awkwardly. “Yes, we also know,” Simone chimed in, “but deeds speak louder...” She tried not to sound pompous. John continued holding the newspaper in front of his face, unwilling to make another sound. Simone ached to know his thoughts. Everybody wanted John to pull himself together and speak up and say what’s the matter with him. He seemed willing. Maybe he only lacked courage? Simone would so much have liked to ask him. Dear John! He was terribly shy when he arrived in Asunción. She liked him from day one. He was a tall, lean boy, long lanky limbs, not very handsome, with thin dark hair and very dark eyes. His face was long and narrow. He could make funny, witty remarks. But of course, what she liked most was when she caught him looking at her, his open face seemingly unaware of its expressions. It was flattering, but it was also touching. Could it be that he was in love with her? But she thought he was. Or at least, he “liked” her in a special sort of way. It seemed so obvious at times. It was little things. When he arrived in the dining-room, for example, and she was already sitting at one of the tables, he’d scratch his head and pretend he had a problem. She knew what he wanted, of course. He wanted to sit next to her, but it shouldn’t be evident. Unfortunately, they both felt uptight in each other’s presence; especially when they found themselves together on their own. Like recently. Simone had to work late at the office that night. So he walked her to the Old House, through the already darkened streets of Asunción, only dimly lit by the occasional street lamp. They went the whole way without saying a word. She felt awkward, embarrassed. She wanted to talk about something, anything, but knew that if she opened her mouth, she’d sound artificial, contrived. It was surely better if nothing was said than to expose herself. She suspected he felt just as relieved when at last they reached the house, disappearing quickly in different directions. But what was she looking for in John? For that matter, what was she looking for in Rupert? Yes, exactly. Rupert... What was happening to her? *
Nadine’s Book Translated into German
Dear KIT people: Renatus Klüver has kindly translated my autobiography, Free From Bondage, into German. By February 2012 it will be available on Amazon and through Dog Ear Press. The title of the German edition is, Behütet und betrogen. I am very happy about this and want to thank Renatus very,very much. Nadine E. Pleil, 1195 Bruce Street, Washington, PA 15301 USA, tel: 001 724 222 0189, firstname.lastname@example.org
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KIT. 1995 Susanna Alves started to publish her autobiographical stories in our Newsletter. To our great pleasure the gifted author submitted a new long chapter “O Heart, Where Are You Going?” which will be published in installments. We are sure that they will be enjoyed by our readers. We mention below the previously published “Simone” stories: 1. “Daniel” (No. 4, April 1995, page 7) 2. “Manuel” (No. 12, December 1995, page 7) 3. “It's Not An Easy Thing” (No., January 1996, page 7) 4. “First Glimpses of Another World” (No. 3, March 1996, p. 4) 5. “Marking Time” (No. 6, June 1996, page 8) 6. “My Solemn Vow” (No. 7, July 1996, page 9) 7. “Wedding Bells? Oh No!” (No. 1 January 1997, page 7) 8. "Oh Heart, Where Are You Going?" (We will publish this “Simone” story in this and following KIT Newsletters.)
Rupert had arrived in Asunción, from Isla Margarita, at the beginning of the year. He attended the same school as Peter and Martin, Simone’s brothers. He was about five foot eight, not much taller than herself. His blue-grey eyes were inquisitive. They didn’t miss a thing. There was an air of self-consciousness about him. But that wasn’t surprising. He was only eighteen. His mousy brown hair combed away from his sloping forehead made the pointy nose more pointed. He couldn’t be called handsome, really, but his smile was winsome and there was something easy-going and lithe about him. With his kind of build, and his bold, smooth movements, Simone suspected that he was a good dancer. There was just this irritating selfawareness which rather spoiled things, she thought. As if he sensed eyes watching his every move. Maybe he perceived that she noticed him? She tried to be very discreet. But she couldn’t help watching. His mother-tongue was English. He spoke German very well but with an accent and a hesitation, the typical fraction of a pause when he searched for an expression in German. It gave him away. She remembered well what she used to think of him. But that was last year. It had been on a Sunday afternoon. A game of volleyball was going on in the Upper House back garden area. Rupert was jumping about. It looked quite ridiculous. Was he showing off to the girls? It irritated Simone no end. “This Rupert – no backbone!” she muttered to herself as she watched his silly antics. “Watch what you’re saying,” she heard a voice behind her. It was Lydia. She startled Simone. I need to be more careful, Simone thought, but her composure was swift, and grinning, she added: “At least he has no spots like others of his age.” And with a bit of a cackle, provocatively: “I think I can’t stand him.” She waited for Lydia’s reaction. She didn’t want her to think that this was serious, but she didn’t want to apologise for any remarks either. Lydia’s reply was mocking. “Simone,” she said, “you’ll regret this one day.” Simone laughed coquettishly, tossed her head and walked away. But that was then. Now, Simone wasn’t at all sure about her feelings anymore. She had seen Rupert before, of course, in Primavera, but because of their age difference – two whole years – she used to regard him and his ilk, all those sweaty, smelly boys running around in knee-length trousers, as immature creatures, still wet
behind their ears. They were kept at arm’s length by young ladies like herself. Once here in Asunción, Simone became inexplicably curious about him but at the same time couldn’t help feeling exasperated. There was certainly nothing very striking about him. To make things worse, he tended to behave somewhat boastfully, which she found irritating and quite childish. But in spite of it, Simone now found herself attracted not only to John, but also to Rupert. What on earth was happening? The thing was, she reasoned with herself, the two were such opposites. Rupert was easy-going. She got on well with him. It was John, with his magnetising quietness and reserve that told about a secret to which no-one was privileged. He made Simone think of the German proverb, “Stille Wasser sind tief” [“Still waters run deep”]. She thought it fit him well. She was convinced that he preferred to remain in hiding for the time being. Rupert in contrast had turned out to be pretty unreserved since last year. His piercing eyes were rather attractive and passionate. At times Simone felt quite disconcerted. He seemed to peel away her protective layers. If she didn’t watch it, she might fall for him. Yes, Rupert was easy to get on with. The other night at supper Simone had been fooling around, swapping places at the table teasing one of the boys who was still in that running-awayfrom-girls phase. In the musical-chairs rush and drama that ensued she ended up sitting next to Rupert. “Aha!” he said. “Actually your intentions were always to sit beside another.” He had that look in his eyes. Her reply came swiftly: “Yes of course. I like sitting by you.” He wasn’t flustered, although Simone suspected he knew that she did like sitting next to him. To be honest, he quite fascinated her. He was good to talk with. He knew a lot, and was interested in many topics. He took active part in group discussions and seemed to enjoy them. Simone wanted so very much to have a “friend”, one with whom she wouldn’t fall in love with instantly; a boy with whom she’d be able to get on just as well as she got on with a girl. She believed a boy could contribute such a lot. Immediately things got more interesting and lively. This to her was an objective opinion. It truly was! Sadly, she knew that she was prone to lose her objectivity all too easily because she got diddled by her feelings. At the Campamento Simone was half sitting half lying on her bed on the second floor of “California”, writing in her diary. “California” was the name of the bungalow where the girls had their quarters in this holiday camp. The one next door was called “Alhambra”. The other two bungalows opposite, across the clearing, on the other edge of the forest, were “Pasadena” and “Arizona”. They were taken over by the boys. The living quarters near the dining-room had no name but the group cast around for ideas and decided on “Philadelphia”. It housed the married couples: Alex and Hope Forrest, Mark and Marylin Bates, and the house-parents Jeremy and Rebecca Thompson, with little Andy, the Bruderhof house baby. For Simone, the Campamento was paradise. They were to stay there for a whole week. Simone loved this place. To spend time here was a thousand times better even than the Sunday trips to the Jardín Botanico in Asunción. Here, they were fully surrounded by nature, far away from everything hot, dusty, noisy and bothering that the city stood for. In the surrounding woods were secretive thickets, moist and mossy forest floors. Ferns, mushrooms and fungi of every shape, size and colour hid in shadowy glens and on fallen, rotting tree-trunks. The whole place
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seemed untouched. There were small, romantic clearings flooded in sudden fierce sun-patches that broke through the dense and leafy latticework. And there were exciting places to explore, calling for new adventures. There was a constant to and fro of shouting birds. Simone could hear the hammering of woodpeckers. And at night she could see the stars again. The cicadas had packed away their musical instruments till next summer, but crickets played endless wistful concerts in the evening, trying to outplay one another, and the fragrance of the humid forest floor and scents of wild flowers wafting in on the breeze were simply sublime. In the afternoon, Simone had sat with Liese Frischman and Barbara Thompson in the meadow at the outer edge of the Campamento. Little Andy, Barbara’s baby-brother, was playing in the grass and crawling over the girls’ legs, inspecting closely what they were doing. They were winding wreaths made from the meadow flowers, to wear in their hair. Simone hadn’t plaited such crowns in a long time. The aroma of the wild herbs and flowers surrounding her was heady, and it was a delight to feel the sun-warmed earth under her bottom. She had never realised before that even her bum was hungry for such pleasures. Then there was this morning, when they had all met up very early by the dining-room, in the building that housed the open dining area. It had only one wall on the “weather side”, with a thatched roof over a criss-crossing of rough rafters. The breakfast-team was busy getting food ready. Delicious smells of fryups and freshly brewed mate tea drifted toward them, probably carried along on the early sun rays, as there was no perceptible breeze. Someone began to sing, and the rest joined in. Simone found a deck-chair outside in the open. The early sun rays slanted in from her left, from where, too, those delightful smells were coming. Here, good weather cooking was done on an open fire place that relied for protection only on a beautiful deep blue autumn sky. Part of the waiting breakfast-crowd was already sitting around the tables. On one of the chairs, a bit away from a table and slightly tipped back, Rupert sat strumming his guitar. Simone thought Rupert was pretty good at it. His songs could be charming. They were folkloric and happy, and he sang well and in tune, with a bit of a twang in his voice. He had his own style. What bothered her, though, was how he sometimes looked at her while playing. His pupils would widen and his eyes wouldn’t want to let go of her face. She didn’t fancy this attention. It made her feel uneasy. Now and then she felt so uncomfortable that she would move out of his field of view. But this morning Simone had noticed something quite lovely. The early sun was shining into the room, reaching Rupert’s face. She had been watching his fingers on the strings. He noticed it and looked over. When he turned his face, the rays shone sideways into his eyes, and the effect was extraordinary. She had never seen such beautiful irises, so blue and clear in the morning light. She was fascinated. She had to look for it, over and over again. So she unashamedly looked at him so he should turn his face to her, and each time he did, there was this radiance in his eyes, so exquisite, so translucent, and so delicate. Simone had never seen anything like it before. Another blue-eyed girl sat in a spot where the sun reached her face in a similar fashion, and Simone saw this magic also in her eyes when she looked over. But she didn’t look across to Simone that often. So Simone made Rupert look at her, and he never knew that this was only because of the remarkable play of light in his eyes. Last night Simone sat on the small “dwarf’s bench” by the trees near “California”. Barbara, Ella and three other girls had
joined her there earlier to sing love songs and ballads, gentle songs full of feelings and longings. After they left, it was quiet, so quiet. The moon, shaped like a cradle, was about to set. Simone hadn’t seen the night sky in so much beauty for a long time. The wind whispered sweet secrets. Darkness had already descended, but she could still discern the silhouettes and movements of trees and bushes nearby. They gave way to the breeze and rustled gently. She pulled her feet up and embraced her knees, burying her face. Now, in the arms of the night, she at last felt alone, as she so often longed to be, around her only the whispering wind. It rustled, sighed and caressed her tenderly. She felt very safe. It was like coming home. * Earlier that evening, there had been another big sing-song. Actually, there were sing-songs all the time. They sang all those romantic German folksongs, about “Wanderlust” and parting from one’s sweetheart. Everybody joined in. This had been in the dining area. Simone had felt chilly. John’s red and black checkered shirt was hanging above her on one of the rafters. “John,” she signaled across the room between songs, “can I borrow your shirt? I’m cold.” He nodded. She slipped it on. It felt warm. But it wasn’t just the shirt. It was John’s shirt. She loved his smell... During the singing John’s eyes kept turning to her corner. Whenever their eyes met she felt a sweet, painful sensation and her heart trembled. He’s only seventeen. How does he feel? Is this his first time? She’d love to ask him, but that is impossible. * That night the whole group gathered, as they usually did after supper, to continue the meeting of the night before – the one where they had examined their consciences to discover what lay in the way of speaking out freely and openly their innermost thoughts. It was triggered by a young Primavera member, now in one of the United States Bruderhofs, who had said that for him it had been a long and hard struggle to utter the simple words, “I love Jesus.” He used to mock religious expressions by applying them in ways that ridiculed them. The Community was shaken by this admission and the echoes of their soul-searching reached the small Asunción group too. Simone was astonished at what she found when she looked at her own experiences. At first she was convinced that she never had any trouble using the “I-love-Jesus” kind of words. But to her shame she soon realised that she too had rarely used similar simple and childlike phrases. There was of course that reticence of old that went right to the centre of her troubled relationship with her parents. It had hampered her. Still, what surprised her most was that nearly everyone admitted to little or no sharing of matters of an inner nature at home, with parents. They sat together, around the tables, each taking their turn to talk. The generator had stuttered and performed erratically, so it was shut down, and by the flickering light of a few candles they spoke about their experiences and shared their thoughts with one another. It was very peaceful. Alex Forrest, the Asunción Servant-of-the-Word, then also challenged the younger boys not yet taking part in prayer meetings – the Gemeindestunde – to say what was in their hearts. For a while not a sound was heard.
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Simone furtively watched John’s face. There was something very strange about him. He looked as if he had totally disappeared into himself, but his hands on the table top were moving restlessly. Does he want to say something and is looking for courage?, she wondered, and secretly pressed her fist against the chair. Do it John, just do it!, she cheered him on in thoughts. And then he opened his mouth, and she actually heard his voice! And word for word it came, quietly but fluently: “I have the feeling that with me, the problem of a crust isn’t so acute,” he said. “I think I have been shy about the words because in my family these things were rarely talked about. But I want to break through that now, and want to ask if I can come to the Gemeindestunde.” Simone could have thrown her arms around him just then. Ever since John spoke up regarding the Gemeindestunde, he had changed. He seemed to be more at ease in Simone’s presence. She wondered: Did he now know what wove its web between them? Did he read it in her eyes? * At the end of the Campamento outing, while everybody was busy getting pots and pans together, packing up and tidying the place, the sounds of their songs echoed around the clearing. During the song “Wenn wir marschieren,” [“When we march
away”], at the words “schwarzbraunes Mädel, du wirst mein Weib” [“dark–eyed girl, you’ll be my wife”], John’s eyes met Simone’s. It felt physical. She had to avert hers. During the trip home, with everybody on the back of the bouncing lorry, Evie suddenly said to Simone: “You know, Simone, Rupert likes you.” Simone wasn’t at all surprised. Yes, Simone liked him too. Things had really changed there too, with the way she saw him now. But what she wanted from him was to be just “friends”, nothing more. She wanted Rupert to be her friend, and John to be the other, the one to have her heart, to own it and live in it, even in its innermost secretive corners. Back in Asunción, she had talked about it with Carla, who had warned Simone: “Both friend and the other are based on love. That’s where they spring from. That’s why friendship between a boy and a girl is so dangerous. It can go wrong too easily.” There had to be a truth in this. If Simone was quite honest, she had to admit that she hardly knew where to draw the line between the two. She felt even more confused. She was working hard at finding her answer. But when would she find it? She wanted an answer now! To be continued
Childhood Memories of Primavera, Paraguay
By Hans Zimmermann – Part 3 Another feature was that the soil in Loma Hoby was mostly gray and sandy as the elevation was low, almost even with the grassland. Isla Margarita lay much higher on a hill where the soil was richer and mostly red. It would turn into slippery mud after a rain. MORE ABOUT OUR NEW HOME, LOMA HOBY It was quite a change. There were so many new people to meet and get acquainted with. The only family I knew was the Zumpes from the few visits I had made to see my friend, Timothy Johnson in earlier years – whose family in the mean time had left again for England – and of course the Hüssys who were good friends of my parents. The oldest son of Chris and Nora Cain, David became a good friend of mine. I got acquainted with many new families and made new friends with the Fischlis, Migg and Hilde (Hundhammer) and their children; the Fischers, Wilhelm and Leni (Rudolf) with their children; the Bollers, whom I actually knew already in Isla Margarita; the two Fros families; Dr. Cyril and Margot Davies; the Mathis family (Peter and Anni nee Rudolf); Leslie and Elfriede (Braun) Barron; the Sumners, Bruce and Luise nee Kolb; Ted and Ruth Land; Johnny and Betty (Randle) Robinson; the Beels family (Francis and Sylvia nee Walker); the Kaisers, Manfred and Rosel, and certainly others. Of the single men I remember Walter von Hollander, Walter Bennett, August and Hermann Pleil, Friedel Sondheimer and Otto Kaiser. What struck me, and I could not quite define it, was that life in Loma Hoby seemed different, less structured and more carefree. The youth group seemed to have a big influence in what was going on; there was more spontaneous singing and dancing. The cattle-ranching was centered in Loma Hoby – the estancia, horse stables, and dairy were close by. Daily, the cowboys crossed the hof on their horses. The hospital, with the many Paraguayan patients and visitors lent its own flavor. Loma Hoby had many of the same features as Isla Margarita, such as the saw mill, and the garden; it just seemed a little more intimate and laid back.
“My role model was Christoph Mathis” – the gaucho in the middle It did not take long before I made friends with David Cain, Seppel Fischli, Ludwig Fischer and his sister Lukrezia, who was in my school class. With them I explored the woods and campos around Loma Hoby. The head teacher in Loma Hoby was Trudi Hüssy (Dalgas) – an excellent but very dogmatic and strict woman. Among the men teachers was big and heavy Fritz Freiburghaus, a good but much feared teacher, when he got mad he would roar like a lion, scaring the dickens out of us kids. The school children had a couple of horses, two donkeys and a few sheep. The boys had to work afternoons in the dairy, in the horse stable or with Walter Hüssy in the orchards or gardens, everything being within walking distance. My interest for work with the cattle and horses started to grow, and soon I had a horse to take care of. My role model was Christoph Mathis. His work with cattle and his horsemanship made a great impression on me. Later George Mercoucheff came into picture; he taught me more about horses and riding. Having moved to Loma Hoby did not mean I would go to school there from the start. We were short on teachers, so for the next two years, I and all kids my age had to walk almost four kilometers to Isla Margarita every morning through the woods,
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To get to school, we had to walk four kilometers through the woods.
along with an adult, and back to Loma Hoby after school. This we did, rain or shine. Some of the older children from Isla Margarita had to go to school in Loma Hoby, so the two groups would meet halfway in the middle of the forest. For the most part I enjoyed the walk through the forest and fields, there was always so much to see, birds, animals snakes and flora. The aroma of the many different flowering trees, shrubs and vines of the Paraguayan forest is difficult to describe in addition to the noise and sounds of bees and myriads of insects descending on the feasts of nectar. As was the custom on the Bruderhof, people constantly moved from one hof to another. Soon some of my old Isla friends moved to Loma Hoby: Hardy and Sekunda Arnold with their children, Miriam and Gabriel being good friends of mine. I especially remember Niels and Dora Wingard with their adopted son, Ingmar (alias William Bridgwater). The population of Primavera was growing as more people came from Wheathill and from Argentina and Uruguay, and also from North America. Among the Americans were Jere Bruner, Bob Peck and Jim Bernard, with his wife Ricia. They settled in Loma Hoby; Jere became a teacher; Bob worked in agriculture, and Jim with the dairy operation. DAYLY LIFE Life fell into a certain routine. The village bell would wake us at six or six-thirty in the morning. One family member would go to the kitchen, get bread, boiled eggs, sometimes porridge and the customary mate for breakfast. In our family no meal was started without a song. After breakfast, kids would head off to school
and the adults would go to their respective work assignments. My father always worked in the carpentry shop or sawmill and my mother was mostly a teacher. Lunch was always at twelve noon, again announced by the bell. It was followed by siesta until two-thirty, at which time the bell rang again when families got together for vesper: having a short snack with the customary drink of mate. By three o'clock kids went off to the school wood. The older kids went to work in different departments: boys to the dairy or horse stable, gardens or to the workshops, girls to the laundry, kitchen, sewing room or hospital. As kids we tended to rotate between the various departments. By five or five-thirty in the afternoon work ended, and we all headed home to wash up and get ready for supper The bell would ring at quarter to seven, and the older kids would gather with the rest of the adults in the communal dining hall to eat. Meal times were used to inform the community members about what was happening in the world. People who came back from a trip gave a report about their experiences, or the Servant of the Word or another individual would read letters from other communities in England, Uruguay or the United States. At times one of the community members would give an account of how they came to join the community. When we had visitors from other countries they were asked to tell about their lives and what interested them in communal living. Frequently however, the Servant of the Word wanted to impart some real deep, meaningful religious dogma to us. Eberhard Arnold, the founder of the community, wrote some convoluted religious diatribes, and his readings quickly put me to sleep. After a long day of hard labor or play, many of us had a hard time absorbing such heavy stuff. Writings by Blumhardt, Bonhoeffer or Eberhard Arnold were not a welcome desert after a bowl of goulash and manioc as far as I was concerned. We kids were more interested in trip reports by the youth group, be it to our own River Tapiracuay, to Asunción, the German Colonia Independencia, or trips to other parts of Paraguay. I was always looking forward to the days when I would be part of the youth group. EXPLORING WAS FUN For us boys, life was interesting and fun. We explored the campos and forests, looking for bees nests, such as Yataí. They did not sting, but the nests had to be chopped out of a hollow tree. Another kind of bees, the Yataí Hú, builds their round nest high up in the trees on a branch. They also did not sting, however they were very aggressive; they bit you, and liked to attack your eyes and secrete a burning liquid. Then there were the wild house bees with their nests in hollow trees; we had to tranquilize them with smoke to be able to chop open the trees and get the honey. Many black Armadillos lived in the woods, good eating but hard to catch when they disappeared into the dense Caraguatá (bromeliads) growth. Agutí and Acoutí pai were also abundant, but even harder to catch; our dogs first had to chase them into a fallen, hollow tree. The same was true of the Cureí or Peccari (wild boars) for which seasoned hunting dogs were required. Most of our dogs were not that good at hunting bigger game. Then there were the long tailed Cuatí (Nasenbären). The dogs would first chase them up a tree, but if you beat against the trunk or shook the vines leading up into the canopy, they would drop down and run into the thick underbrush. The Cuatí had very sharp teeth. When the dogs attacked them they often inflicted heavy damage on them. Cuatí were not good eating; the meat was tough, and smelly. The Aguarápo-pé, or Raccoon was very shy; they moved mostly at night and were very elusive. Other wild animals, such as Deer or Tapir also moved mostly at night. Foxes, Ozelots, Pumas and Jaguarundi were also very
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elusive; while present they were rarely seen. In the early years we still had Jaguars, but those either were killed or moved away as human activity encroached on their habitat. From time to time a Jaguar was sighted, so we always kept a watchful eye out for these critters.
Trips to River Tapiracuay were fun (photo: Anthony Lord’s album)
The Loma Hoby school kids would sometimes go to visit our neighbors, the Mennonites to the west, and our Paraguayan friends in Rio Rhuguá or Mbocayatý. We made day trips to Potrero Amambay to pick sweet oranges which grew wild in the woods. – That was always a lot of fun. Then there was the customary three or four day's trip during summer vacation to our own river Tapiracuay, by far the most popular event of the year. The swimming, boating and fishing were great. By then the youth groups from the three different Höfe: Isla Margarita, Loma Hoby and Ibaté had built a house by the river. There were two large rooms on each end of the house, the middle was open, had a large long wooden table to accommodate up to twelve people. A small open kitchen abutted the building on the north side; it needed to be open, as cooking was done over an open fire. After a long day on or in the water, dinner never tasted better, be it burned rice with a little tomato sauce or corned beef, and not to forget, all the fried fish or an alligator tail. Then we would sit around a campfire and sing all the songs we knew in English, German or Spanish. At the end of each day we were so tired we had no trouble sleeping in spite of mosquitoes. NO SEX-EDUCATION We had no formal sex education, that subject was taboo as the Bruderhof was very prudish. But like kids everywhere in the world, we had to explore our sexuality. In school we would disappear into the woods. Boys wanted to see how girls pee, and the girls wanted to see how boys do it. I thought it rather harmless and innocent and was never caught engaging in these things, nor did I have any bad conscience about it. My father always told us we need not be ashamed of our bodies. As we grew older we did not do this anymore, also because we knew it was forbidden and could land us in exclusion. The older boys wanted to show off their masculine maturity in a not so subtle way. When we went swimming in the Orange Wood tacamar or in the Loma Hoby repressa, we did not always
have swimming trunks, so we just swam in our shorts. After the swim we put on our shirts, took off our shorts and flipped them over a wire fence so that we could wring out the water. If no fence was nearby we wrung them out by asking one of our buddies to grab one end which made it much easier. More than once one of the older boys asked me to help them wring out their shorts, but when doing so they left their shirts unbuttoned to show off their phallus, crowned with a garland of pubic hair. Growing up on a farm and ranch with animals all around us, it was not difficult to realize were babies come from. In addition, storks were a rarity while babies were not. They came like clockwork virtually on a yearly basis as the community did not practice birth control. My father told me sex between humans and animals is different; animals follow a natural urge while humans do it out of love. I was not that naïve but resisted the temptation to tell him that his explanation seemed rather doubtful. We knew very well what was expected of us children: “Chastity” meant controlling your urges and imaginations, or else. Once one of my colleagues and I were hunting for wild doves with sling shots at the end of Piqueteí. Behind a little wooded island Leslie Barron had dug a new tacamar while he was in exclusion for some indiscretion in Asunción. Rumors had it he showed too much interest in another woman. Well it was hot, and the tacamar full with fresh water and out of sight from the road. The water looked too inviting so we stripped and swam in the buff. This was a new experience for us and must have had a rather erotic effect on us because both of us emerged from the water like two frigid midgets with rigid digits. Time kept marching on, the forests were cut back more and more to expand our fields around all the three villages to increase our production of manioc, corn, sorghum, bananas, beans, melons, vegetables and grass for our dairy cattle. The hill of Loma Hoby was now totally cleared of trees; birds and other wildlife lost their habitat. The higher forest between Loma Hoby and Isla Margarita was shrinking, and the path through the virgin forest became shorter and shorter. One result of cutting down the forests was that the edges of the lower campos turned into bogs: Rainwater, previously absorbed by the forests like a giant sponge was coming up as ground water at the bottom of the hills. This was true for the previously dry Piqueteí, Campo Lechera in Isla Margarita and the tongue of narrow grass land between Abeboí and Abebo, which became completely impassable. LAST SCHOOL YEARS IN LOMA HOBÝ By now I was in the 8th grade and our school classes were shifted to Loma Hoby, so we did not have to make the trip to Isla Margarita every day – a great time saver. My friend Kilian Zumpe had left, as his family had gone to Wheathill (1953). I inherited Kilian's dog, Lampo who became a trusted friend and an acceptable hunting dog. Our teachers now were Trudy Hüssy, Jere Bruner, Charles Headland and Migg Fischli or Niels Wingard for physics. Our classrooms had big windows, (no glass panes), so we could look over the campo and hear the birds in the many trees of the School Wood. The 8th and 9th grade were seated together and taught side by side in the same class room, however most of the time the study assignments were different but quite a few subjects were given to both groups combined. In the 9 th grade were William Bridgwater, Gabriel Arnold, Paul Allain, and Susanna Fischli. In the 8th grade: Miriam Arnold, Irene and Elske Fros, Ursula Sumner, Paul Gerhard Kaiser, Michael Cain and myself. Our airplane landing-strip used to be about a mile away on Campo Guana. It consisted only of a dirt road with many mud holes and frequently standing water which was rather inconvenient. So a new landing strip was built just outside the School
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Wood on Campo Loma. Wilhelm Fischer was the project manager, and we kids helped by leveling the ground and removing the termite hills. Whenever we expected visitors, or people came or left by plane, the kids along with many of the adults would gather at the new landing strip to welcome or say goodbye to the travelers. The landing strip also became our soccer field; we also had athletic events such as foot races, and once in a while, horse races. These were organized in combination with the children’s festivals. By then I had turned fourteen, and boys my age and older had turned their interests to hunting even more. We roamed the forests fearlessly hunting for Agutí, Armadillos, Peccaries or other game with our dogs, and later with shot guns. We always carried knives, machetes and axes to chop open a hollow tree to get at the Agutí, or Peccary. Or we went for honey from the Yateí- or other bees nests. The Tapiracuay River was always on the top of the list for fishing or hunting Yacaré (Kaiman) by night with a boat, harpoon and flashlight. More than once the alligator was too big and the harpoon broke or the boat almost tipped over and we had to let it go. Those were exiting times for us young boys, and naturally on Sundays we’d rather go hunting than attend Gemeindestunde – our Sunday version of a church service. More people were coming from England, United States and other South American countries, such as Uruguay, where another community was started called El Arado. Others came from Argentina – like Stan and Hela Ehrlich with their small kids. With the influx of more Americans and British a decision was made to change the emphasis from German to English in our schools – because of strong pressure from the Americans who were growing in numbers. The hospital was also expanding; our service to the local Paraguayans was increasing. As one wing of the hospital was devoted to native patients we needed new doctors and nurses, and we trained local Paraguayan women as midwifes. Doctors came and went, one new addition was Milton Zimmerman, who quickly questioned whether we were doing the right thing, whether we should waste our spiritual talents in a backward emerging country. With the increase of patients, more and more supplies and medication were needed, so we sent people out to Argentina and Brasil to appeal for support for the hospital. It seems that this became somewhat of a contentious issue; however we younger people did not get involved. SCHOOL ENDED AT AGE OF FIFTEEN/SIXTEEN By now the Paraguayan government was also demanding that every child should have at least the basic national education, which was 6th grade or locally called Sexto Grado. After that, starting with our class, our Spanish had to be good enough so the local authorities could come and test us for it. We now were effectively trilingual, how proficient though, is another question. After the last exam for the national 6 th grade in Spanish my school years, and with that, my childhood officially ended. It was the beginning of 1956, and I had just turned sixteen. Most of us children ended their education at fifteen or sixteen after finishing the 9th grade of our school. After this, young people either moved into the work force, or went on to further education in Asunción, be it for a specific trade or for a profession. What I did after ending my “official” schooling will be told in a subsequent chapter. Needless to say there were many questions and uncertainties in the air for me. Our education was good, but did not prepare us for a specific goal or profession; we were trained and schooled to become part of the community to be used and employed as the brotherhood saw fit. This meant we or our parents had little say on what would happen to us professionally in our future To be continued
Primavera’s airplane landing-strip, January 1961. This is one of the many photos the Swiss reporters made – more of them can be enjoyed on the Primavera Photo DVD – see KIT Newsletter No 1, April 2011, page 5 (Copyright: ETH Bibliothek Zürich - Bildarchiv)
Book review by Martha Bradley, University of Utah Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs. By ELISSA WALL with LISA PULITZER. New York: William Morrow (an imprint of HarperCollins), 2008, 464 pages, cloth $25.95, paperback $7.99, ISBE 978-0-06166837-1. The September 2007 court case of Warren Jeffs turned Elissa Wall into an instant celebrity. The image of her as a fourteenyear-old child bride was brandished in media accounts of the trial, forcefully making the point that this was an unhappy child being forced to do something she didn't understand. As do each of the most recent narratives of women who have left the [Mormon] FLDS to begin lives on the outside, this book has a bone to pick. But it's not as simple as that. Indeed, Stolen Innocence, demonstrates how incredibly difficult, complicated and emotional it is to choose to leave the religious community you have been raised in and choose another life. It is easy to say, why don't these women just pick up and leave. It requires an enormous amount of planning and an incredible amount of pressure to jettison a young woman out of everything she is familiar with into a world where she is un-tooled for success on any level. Often, abuse is not enough. Her story obligates us to try and understand. In photos taken of Elissa Wall as a little girl, she is always smiling, a lovable sun kissed Utah child, always dressed in handmade but lovely cotton dresses that matched those of her sisters and her mother. Her father, Douglas Wall, had three wives and twenty-two children. Her mother's family spent much of their time in Salt Lake City at their home on a quiet street in the Sugarhouse area as well as in Southern Utah, so there is a diversity of backdrops in these photos – the aspen forest of a mountain picnic or family camping vacation, bike riding in the Salt Lake City neighborhood, or posing in the enormous family dining room of their cousins, the Steed's family ranch. Families like the Walls were scattered throughout the valley of the Great Salt Lake, living subterranean lives of secrets just underneath the radar. Elissa knew her cousin, Allan Steed, long before Warren Jeffs chose him for Elissa's husband, and never liked him. She portrays him as a bully and in many ways a young man as igno-
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rant about sexuality and marital relations as was she. Besides plurality itself, the book is most useful in helping us understand how it works. Before the early twentieth century, marriages were arranged by parents or for convenience, a sort of economic arrangement for the production of the family. But beginning in the twentieth century, marriage was romanticized and sexualized. The FLDS practice or “Law of Placement” goes backwards in time; the prophet makes all choices about who will marry and when an individual is ready for marriage. In this story, Elissa Wall did not feel ready or even grown up enough to think about marriage. She did not like the partner Rulon Jeffs and his son Warren Jeffs had chosen for her and she tried to say no, but importantly, she essentially had no voice. This lack of “voice” or agency for the women involved and many of the men, challenges basic human rights and creates a power imbalance that is social, religious and in the community setting, economic. Wall shows us the consequences of each of these types of power plays and what happens to the people involved. Marriages were a way of securing loyalties or alliances, moving up in the priesthood hierarchy, gaining greater access to the church prophet and his key advisors. Marriage was also a way of controlling dissenters or apostates and of checking the actions of those prone to questioning, trouble making or disorder. In many ways, plural marriage was the core doctrine and distinguishing characteristic of the FLDS movement, but structurally it was also the way everything made sense – human relations, the relation between a human being and the celestial afterlife, and importantly, the relationship between a human being and God. Elissa Wall suggests that the men and women in FLDS culture live the way they do because they believe God told them to do so through their prophet, but that this system has become perverted or has fallen off track because of human frailty, greed for power, influence and sex, and the incredible and destructive imbalance of power and influence between men and women. Much of the book is spent explaining the way Elissa Wall set herself up for an exodus from the community of her youth. In a scenario that is probably familiar to some other women who feel entirely powerless in a loveless, abusive relationship she fell in love with someone else. It is astounding how much time she was able to spend with her lover in motels, in drives across the wild Utah landscape, and in his truck in quiet conversations. Elissa fell in love with another man from the polygamous community, but the circumstances of their relationship caused her great pain and heartache. At the end of the day, this helped her justify her decision to leave. Chapter 24, titled, “Choosing My Future” begins with a quote from Warren Jeffs: “An apostate from this Work is the most dark person on earth,” a poignant reminder of the incredible cost this choice made for Wall's life. It is equally impressive that a young woman with limited education, recently shunned from her family home and community could find enough personal power to take on the most formidable man in the FLDS world. Elissa Wall had tremendous gumption. Warren Jeffs had more than fifty wives and countless children, but more important for this story, had constructed an aura of fear and obedience around his person that was awesome to many and destructive to others. Jeffs absolute power excluded men who had historically been central to the movement – the Barlows, descendants of the original priesthood leader, John Y. Barlow and Fred Jessop. In total, twenty-one men including four sons of John Y. Barlow, four sons of Rulon Jeffs, his own brothers, four who were the sons of leaders surrounding Jeffs among others, were cast out. He condemned them as “master deceivers,” ordered them to leave the community, telling them: “You judged and criticized legitimate authority.” And to their wives, “All you ladies married to these men are released from them and will re
Please Submit your Personal Stories
KIT. We want to encourage our readers to submit personal accounts and stories on topics which are of interest for our group of ex Bruderhofers. Please send them electronically by email, as word.doc, or pdf-file attachments – to make the work easier for those who edit and publish the Newsletter on a voluntary basis. Typed letters will also be accepted – as they can be converted easily. Send your submissions to Erdmuthe Arnold or any of the other KIT Staff who are all listed on the last page. move yourselves immediately from their presence. If you don't, I will have to let you go.” This ultimately cruel and divisive move, banished the Barlows and others who questioned his leadership from the communities of Hilldale/Colorado City and demonstrated how far Jeffs would go to punish those who disagree with his way of doing things. It was an important and biting message. Wall uses the example of Jeffs' reaction to a monument that Mayor Dan Barlow, some of his sons and other church elders had planned to raise in the center of town to commemorate the anniversary of the Short Creek raid and the long administration of Leroy Johnson as evidence of his harsh and arbitrary way of operating. Jeffs was originally out of town during the planning for the anniversary celebration, but when he returned and found out about the plans he was furious. According to Wall's account, Warren accused the people of being unworthy of future blessings and declared there would be no more meetings held, neither priesthood nor Sunday meetings. He also commanded that there would be no more marriages, baptisms, or confirmations. But he said the people would continue to pay tithing to him and support the FLDS storehouse. Raising his hand in the air, our prophet told us that the lad of Short Creek would not be “cursed”. Jeffs reaction prompted an altered reality for the FLDS, a clamp down like nothing they had experienced before. She continues, “That day, Uncle Warren officially put an end to what had become a way of life for the people of the FLDS. He delivered a message from God, informing us that because of what we had done there would be no more socials, no more school, and no Harvest Fest. He had effectively ended Short Creek social life. We were to repent and pray privately that the Lord would forgive us.” It is difficult to imagine the agony Wall must have felt during the months after the arrest warrant was issued for Warren Jeffs as he fled to avoid prosecution. On April 5, 2006 Jeffs was charged with having been an accomplice to rape in forcing a teenage girl into a marriage to an older man. In the accusation, Elissa Wall was identified only as Jane Doe IV. Her identity was closely guarded by the state. These were months when Jeffs' name was added to the Ten Most Wanted list of the FBI. He traveled widely across the United States to escape detection until August 29 th, 2006 when he was pulled over by a highway patrolman on a simple traffic violation. The trial itself raised questions about the protection of vulnerable witnesses, and the pain of testimony given about intensely private and potentially embarrassing situations. The fact that Elissa stayed strong, found her voice and testified against the man whom she had formerly viewed as a prophet of God, speaks volumes about the power of the human spirit. Supported by her loving second husband, a passionately committed Attorney General's team, and a personal sense of integrity and justice, she was able to put in prison and put an end to the rule of Warren Jeffs.
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It is important to remember that a memoir such as this one is only one person's story, not the story of every woman who experienced the FLDS world. But the themes that run through this narrative – the impact of arbitrary despotic religious rule on individual believers, the powerless position women assume in a dysfunctional patriarchal system, and the fear required to make it work are poignant, strikingly powerful, and have the ring of au-
thenticity. In a weirdly logical way, her story makes sense. It is a sort of religious moral play of cause and effect relations: If a prophet does this, this is what happens to his people; this is what happened to one FLDS child.
 Elissa Wall, Stolen Innocence, 285.  Elissa Wall, Stolen Innocence: 256.  Ibid.
Picture Story of a Trip to Paraguay September 2011
By William (aka Ingmar) Bridgwater is impassable when it rains. The Estancia is owned by Carlos Storm, whose father bought some cedar benches when Primavera was closed down. These benches are still in daily use. The picture is of the writer fishing Zahnis and piranhas in the swamp.
Martin Dyroff, and myself. The horse and small cart is used to fetch sugarcane for the cows. It also was used for distributing milk in the vicinity. Today the herd of Friesian milk cows which was quite substantial has been reduced to cover the family’s milk needs only. From right to left: Vence í and I had dinner with the cowboys.
Outside Lino Gneiting’s house: Tina, Lino,William, Lino’s wife, Michel.
Martin Dyroff’s wife Paulina with Tina Jaime. Vence í and I cleaning the mornings catch of about 25 Zahnis. Michel Gneiting with his wife Elisabeth.
The “BRUDERHOF ESCAPE” BOOKS
by Elisabeth Bohlken-Zumpe, Miriam Arnold Holmes, and Nadine Moonje Pleil are available. Please contact: Margot Purcell, 2095 South Emmas Lane, La Porte, IN 46350 USA, tel: 001 219 324 8068, email@example.com Michel Gneiting and me.
Vence í Jaime and I went to an Estancia situated two hour’s drive from Itacurubí on a dirt track into the Tapiracuay swamp. The track requires a four-wheel-drive and
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Vol. XXIII No 3 December 2011
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