German news concerning the Twelve Tribes
The raid on September 5th, 2013 in the Twelve Tribes community in Klosterzimmern/Deiningen and Wörnitz/Ansbach.
*How did the Twelve Tribes communities come to have a police raid?*
Background: The RTL reporter, Wolfram Kuhnigk had gone undercover in the community of the Twelve Tribes in Klosterzimmern. There, he managed to bring secretly filmed footage with cameras he had hidden and managed to smuggle out a radical education manual he had discovered there to the authorities.
Originally, the report was scheduled for a later date to be released under the new RTL series “Undercover Deutschland”. However, the recordings he had brought forward were so explosive that the authorities were informed of their content.
Here is where you can see a clip of the origional episode, in which, ex-members also have their say as to how they fought somewhat unsuccessfully for changes within this group.
In 2012, several ex-Tribes members had made public reports on internal practices in the sect.
A short time later, a family man who also left the community appeared on RTL.
There was a police operation with a group of a hundred police in the early hours of the morning. Due to the recordings made available by RTL, the children were taken into provisional custody on September 5th.
Soon to follow were reports, opinions and explanations from Twelve Tribes members.
With the raid in Germany, this became the second major raid which the Twelve Tribes members and its founder, Elbert Eugene Spriggs (of Tennessee, USA), has faced.
The first largest raid against the Twelve Tribes took place in 1984 in Island Pond (Vermont, USA), when the authorities removed 112 children from their parents and briefly removed them into state care. The children were returned shortly after, citing the constitutional rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Here are some of the discussions of this fateful event:
After the first RTL broadcast on Twelve Tribes practices, especially in the area of their educational practices; the Twelve Tribes community initially tried to take legal action against RTL.
An equally unsuccessful legal action was placed by an unnamed person against reporter Wolfram Kuhnigk. The investigations against him were discontinued. Shortly after the issue of the Twelve Tribes became known, individuals who are against the treatment of the children in the sect founded a Facebook group to advocate for the children.
In September, a vigil was organized and many people walked the street to advocate for the children.
It was at this vigil that an entrepreneur from Switzerland made his appearance and allied himself with the Twelve Tribes community in Germany.
He reports regularly on his blog for the Twelve Tribes, frequently using disparaging comparisons of modern Germany with Nazi Germany. As this is reflective of the beliefs of the religious community, it doesn’t get further attention from the authorities at this time.
Meanwhile, there was an increase of public and international reporting. Here are a just a few examples:
The courts have confirmed that the children must remain with foster parents or in youth welfare institutions for the time being.
Later, supporters of the Twelve Tribes brought forward a petition which demanded the children be returned to their home on the commune.
The battle for the children continues, closure of the commune school, a former sect member speaks out, Politics
The loss of parental custody for the majority of the children is provisionally maintained at this time. The parents in the sect have encouraged a letter writing campaign to the authorities and judges. On their blog, they began to regularly share letters (including those by the children involved in the case) which annoys the authorities.
In November, it was reported that two girls are missing. They were returned to Germany by the Swiss Police. The older girl returned to the commune as she is nearly the age of majority.
The Alliance 90/Greens Party became active again.
The government was requested to report to the Bavarian Parliament about the background and order of events.
Meanwhile, the socalled “supplementary school” was closed.
In December 2013, the custody of two babies was returned to their parents.
More children began to be returned to their parents.
The parents of the Twelve Tribes invited Germans to a round table discussion and triggered resentment as a mother began showing off the “rods” that the sect uses to “discipline” their children, as they feel fit.
More children were removed from a Mother-Child home.
The mothers and fathers and the recordings or letters from the children were reported in several video recordings that the Twelve Tribes later published.
The following are massive complaints against the authorities on the part of the sect.
At around the 4 minute mark, on the subject of the Twelve Tribes, it is reported that 15 children were allowed to return to the sect.
“Amitsa” goes public with her life story.
The Bayrisches Rundfunk (BR) informs us that another girl has vanished and they secured an interview that the police were unable to do. A reporter speaks with the girl who is still unable to be located.
The parents who made a public appearance on Augsburg TV reject the decisions of the court.
Support for the Twelve Tribes, Termination of Investigations, Tragic ex-member reports, Refusal of Compulsory Education, Proceedings before the Federal Constitutional Court
The investigation of the parents of the “Twelve Tribes” faith community in Wörnitz were discontinued due to lack of evidence of specific crimes. The proceedings before Family Court continued independently from there.
The tragic story of a family who left the sect was published in Australia (Winter of 2013) reached Germany.
The Twelve Tribes community in Germany received support from two authors in the United States. The articles they wrote were openly published on CESNUR, where you can also find older posts by Jean Swantko Wiseman.
An amicable solution was reached between a set of parents and the youth welfare office were made for a 12 year old girl in Klosterzimmern. (This should not have happened IMHO and action to bring further clarity on the situation was later denied)
The State Prosecutor presented the investigations of Wolfram Kuhnigk, which has now been shown by the Twelve Tribes lawyer again.
BR reported on the drastic experiences of the children of the Twelve Tribes.
The Twelve Tribes community filed a complaint against the authorities. The allegations are false imprisonment, coercion, tresspassing…
The “Sect Info” North Rhein Westfalen published their assessment and a review of a concerned ex-member of the Twelve Tribes which gives us no doubts that reports about the sect are true.
Christian Reip told his story of a difficult childhood to BR Radio.
As all complaints are rejected, the Twelve TRibes announce via their lawyer that they wish to have a hearing in the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe.
Via members of the Twelve Tribes, we hear of motivated support in favor of the Twelve Tribes from the Czech Republic, a meeting with members of the Roma community and a demonstration in Prague.
The older children (13 and older) who are temporarily or permanently returned home to the commune are informed they must go to school. It does not take long until parents again protest against the compulsory education law.
This latest protest has consequence; an emergency motion for enforcement of compulsory education is delivered in the Bavarian Parliament.
Moving abroad, Requests and Public Relations within the Twelve Tribes, An Ex-member again describes his experiences in the sect; Urgent Motion in the Bavarian Parliament, Charges against RTL Reporter
A video is uploaded to youtube with two girls who protray the school in Ries as a place of complete disorder where they couldn’t learn.
In June, a notice appears that several families have moved to Austria.
New thematization of events in Germany appear at CESNUR (Respondants are Jean Swantko Wiseman, Holger Roehr, Edward “Isaac” Dawson, Charles E. Wiseman)
Opinion from the district office in Donau-Ries
Once again, Christian Reip portrays his experiences in detail
A request to sent the Twelve Tribes children home for Pentecost (Shavuot) is rejected
Swiss Federal Court rejects appeal.
A large police operation began to search for a missing Twelve Tribes girl.
Der Einsatz wird von dem Rechtsanwalt der ZS kritisiert.
A press release from Ruth Waldmann (SPD) was issued requesting an urgent motion to the Bavarian Parliament.
Shortly before another broadcast by RTL, the Twelve Tribes lawyer, L., holds a press conference. He issues justification that the corporal punishment of children in the sect (“Discipline”) belong to an overall concept. Also, Wolfram Kuhnigk made misrepresentations and falsified data in his footage. This is the second time he has been thusly charged by the Twelve Tribes’ lawyer in Germany.
RTL reported again on the Twelve Tribes. Allegations in this report relate to possible clandestine employment. (Specifically child labor laws being broken.)
Wolfram Kuhnigk commented on the allegations.
The prosecution wants to review the TV reports.
The Twelve Tribes’ lawyer criticized the conduct of the District Court: