Children of the Twelve Tribes – nearly 100 beatings in two days

Von Anika Taiber
Translated from the German

An RTL report shows that the Twelve Tribes uses flogging as an education method. The reporter (Wolfram Kuhnigk) documented the punishment with concealed cameras.

The little girl with blue pants is crying loudly. The pain is hard to miss, but the woman with the baby on her arm is completely unimpressed. She pulls the girls trousers down. The rod pops on the bare skin of the buttocks and the girl screams and sobs. The woman continues to beat her.

Change of scene, another girl with blonde pigtails enters the basement. Only a pale light illuminates the scene of a dark corridor. “I’m not tired!” cries the girl. The woman sitting in the chair, repeated again and again: “say: I am tired!” In the beginning the girl replies “no.” After several blows from the rod, she whimpers an indistinct “I’m tired.”
The educational methods of the cult shake up all of Germany.

The secretly shot scenes of RTL-Reporter Wolfram Kuhnigk reveal evidence of systematic punishment in the Bible-based Twelve Tribes cult. Kuhnigk reported that he had recorded a total of 84 lashes in two days, of which 81 are on the buttocks, three on the open hand of a boy. “Six adults who are not the parents beat six different children.” When he saw Kuhnigk’s film, Alfred Kanth, Head of Youth and Family at the District Office of Donau-Ries said, “I’m visibly shaken. “They preach peace and torment their children. I’m stunned.”

Reporter visited the farm three times for several days in Klosterzimmern. He pretended to be a paramedic in a life crisis and thought the community would be a solution.

In a 40 minute contribution of Kuhnigk, it becomes clear that beatings are a normal educational method in the community. During 6 a.m. gatherings the children must stand still and obediently listen to the adults as they rehash the teachings of their “Apostle” and leader Elbert Eugene Spriggs.

The members also participate in singing, Hebrew dancing and Bible quotations. If the children fail to stand still and listen like little adults they are led out of the room and return minutes later, distraught and weeping, Kuhnigk reported. He concludes: one of the hitting areas must be in the vicinity. Kuhnigk is shooting footage with video goggles but a visiting American recognizes him. Kuhnigk returns immediately.

The RTL- Reporter installs his hidden cameras in rooms where children are beaten and he is able to observe this. He also installs cameras in a cellar space assembly room and a boiler heating room at school.

The violence on the children is “so quiet, systematic, planned, and torturous,” said Kuhnigk. Also the Twelve Tribes “restrains” babies. Soon after the baby is born they tightly wrap the child so it can no longer move. This breaks the baby’s will. This is exactly what the Twelve Tribes wants.

Bible based Twelve Tribes cult

The Twelve Tribes is a Bible based cult founded in the early 70s in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Play and fantasy are prohibited for children, observed Kuhnigk. The young Sven, who fled from the cult at the age of 14 tried to explain: “When a child would imitate the hum of an airplane, the adults would hit him.” The Twelve Tribes adults believe the child has entered a different world where Satan has taken possession of the child. Only beatings will bring the child back into reality or the real world according to the Twelve Tribes. Often the elders decide to take the child away from the parents and then they entrust the education of the child to another person. Kuhnigk presents his film to the Family Court and Youth Welfare Office. Meanwhile, he visited the Twelve Tribes during their open house field day in Klosterzimmern.

Two weeks after the open house, the police and social workers raided the Twelve Tribes communities of Klosterzimmern and Deiningen. The police removed 40 children from their parents and placed them in foster homes. An investigation was started in the Family Court of Nördlingen. The hearings for the parents is expected to start in the coming week.

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