I almost cried

Augsburger Allgemeine
September 8, 2013
Von Anika Taiber
Translated from the German

Wolfram Kuhnigk has secretly infiltrated the Bible-based cult “Twelve Tribes” and has transferred his records to the Youth Welfare Office. In this interview he talks about his experiences in the cult.

Wolfram Kuhnigk, a freelance journalist, has smuggled himself secretly into the Twelve Tribes cult and has provided material to the youth welfare department and family court. His contribution will show on television on Monday at 10:45 p.m. on RTL Magazine “Extra.”

Mr. Kuhnigk – What have you experienced in the Twelve Tribes?

Kuhnigk – I can confirm the allegations of child abuse. I almost cried because I recorded cruel and inhumane scenes.

How did you enter the community?

Kuhnigk – I presented myself as someone who failed to manage his life. I claim that I miss my children and that women treat me badly. Therefore, I see the community as a solution to my life. I received a letter from the Twelve Tribes stating that I must grow a beard in six weeks and then move in with them. I went to the community three times for several days.

How were you able to film on the property?

Kuhnigk – I have special cameras that can record over a longer period of time. I only needed to install them.

What have you documented?

Kuhnigk – I documented more than 50 beatings. Often the parents would beat the children and many times other baptized members would pummel the children. The adults would beat the children until they were without emotions. They did not care if the child cried. The women would sit on a chair, and the children would have to drop their pants and stand in front of her with their legs straight and arms hanging on the floor. When I saw this, I thought to myself, this cannot be true.
The public prosecutor’s office also spoke of rooms to mistreat the children.

Kuhnigk – Yes, Everyone would gather at 6:00 a.m. to rehash the teachings of their “Apostle” Elbert Eugene Spriggs and to pray and dance. Beginning at the age of two, toddlers started to participate in the gatherings. If they do not stand still, they are led out of the room and return three minutes later weeping and distraught. I concluded that the children are beaten in a nearby room. I have also documented that the children are pummelled in a school boiler room.

Bible-based cult “Twelve Tribes”

The “Twelve Tribes” are a Bible-based cult which was founded in the 70s in the United States.

What did you think of the children?

Kuhnigk – The children are not close to their parents because they cannot protect them. Parents must obey their elders and shepherds in the matter of child discipline and also the teachings of their cult leader Elbert Eugene Spriggs. The children fail to develop individual personalities. Children are playing in the yard. Just a side not – Fantasy and play is prohibited! This is just a photo opportunity!

Are you glad that the police finally intervened?

Kuhnigk – Yes. I worried that the sect would recognize me and some of my work. The children must attend state- recognized school here in Germany. As a result Tribes members brought their children to the Czech Republic in order to dodge German laws. When they returned, they argued that they were just visiting the country. I was afraid that this might happen. I believe it will be more difficult for the older children. But I’m sure it was the best for the babies. What could happen to them? The children were indeed separated from their parents.

You have provided material to youth and family court. Are you happy with how quickly the courts have handled the case?

Kuhnigk – It was not as fast as I wanted. I am convinced the authorities wouldn’t have acted without the video evidence. I find it incomprehensible that the “Twelve Tribes” cult was never prosecuted for abusing their children.

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