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Scientology on the Autobahn: Selling blue sky to the Germans and Swiss back in the day

[Bruce Hines]

Bruce Hines has another piece for us today from his time in Scientology. Make sure you see his earlier pieces for us here, and here.

One day Werner dressed up in his full ministerial garb and the two of us drove off in his dark blue BMW 3.0 CSi coupe. (That means the car had a 3-liter engine and the ‘i’ indicated fuel injection.) It was pretty much the top of the line of BMWs in those days. He had on a black shirt with a white priest’s collar, black shoes and slacks, and a silver cross hung around his neck on a chain. It was autumn, 1975. There is some background to this little trip.

Werner Heinzel was the guy I worked for, a well-known Scientologist in Europe. He and his wife, Doris, had been in the Sea Organization in Denmark for a few years, but then left. They managed to stay in good standing despite breaking their billion-year contracts with the Sea Org.

Werner did not have a lot of money. But he was a talker. He could be charming. He had somehow made a deal for that BMW with a local car dealership without having to put much money down. He could get mad and yell. He wore nice clothes and acted like he was affluent. Luckily for him, his wife’s parents were wealthy and helped support the family.

He was trying to run a Scientology center in Germany. I had started working for him as soon as I was discharged from the U.S. Army. I had been stationed in Germany, near Stuttgart, for two years prior to that. While in the army I had been taking introductory courses in Scientology and I was wanting to continue my involvement. When I went to work for Werner, I had only seen his charming side. I was enticed by the fact that I would be spending a lot of time in the Alps in northern Italy, where he and his wife had a house. It was beautiful there and reminded me of Colorado, where I had grown up.


As time went on, I grew to know Werner’s not-so-charming side. In my later years in that cult, I ran into other people like him. Narcissistic, self-important, swaggering, arrogant, thriving on some sense of power. Clearly, my decision to join his Scientology group was ill-advised. Hopefully, I learned from the experience to be more prudent, though not all of my choices after that were particularly smart. However, I am glad to have had some of the adventures that resulted from that decision. I went back to the U.S. after about a year and a half. Not long after that, some higher-ups in the Scientology organization declared Werner to be a suppressive person — not because he left and spoke out against that cult, but because of some of the crazy things he did.

Our trip in his BMW that day serves to show a bit about his true character. That journey and others like it happened for a reason. There was a guy named Hania Mrkos who lived in Switzerland. He was from Czechoslovakia, as it was called at the time. I’m not sure how he ended up in Switzerland. He ran a Scientology mission in Bern that was remarkably successful. I had heard that he started by himself with just a phone and a phone book, and in something like ten months had grown that operation exponentially.

There were 35 full-time staff members servicing hundreds of customers in a beautiful three-story building that looked like a rich person’s French mansion. It had an ornate clock on a tall pole out front. His mission was still growing. Years later he ended up leaving Scientology.

Werner also had a Scientology mission to the north in Heilbronn, Germany. However, his mission was tiny. It consisted of him and his wife, plus me as the only staff member at that time. Still, the Heilbronn mission had something that the Bern mission did not – trained auditors. Auditing, so-called in Scientology, is a one-on-one practice, faintly resembling counseling, that costs a lot of money. In those days, people paid the equivalent of a few hundred U.S. dollars per hour to be audited at a mission.

Customers purchased this service in advance in 12.5-hour blocks, usually paying for two to four such blocks at a time. So it could be fairly profitable for the mission. Both Werner and his wife, Doris, had gotten their auditor training a few years earlier when they were on staff in Copenhagen, the highest Scientology organization in Europe. Since Hania could not offer auditing at his mission in Bern, he was missing out on a lot of income. His mission could only offer the Scientology version of self-help courses. Werner and Doris were two of the most highly trained auditors in the German-speaking area at that time. Hania was trying to lure one or both of them to provide auditing for his mission in Bern. He already had a lot of customers who were ready to pay for it.

Hania struck up a relationship with Werner, which included asking him to give introductory lectures in various cities in Switzerland. Hania was starting up satellite missions around the country. People in those cities were invited, at no cost, to come hear about Scientology. Werner was a good person to give these talks – he had an ability in public speaking, plus he was fluent in French, having studied at the Sorbonne in Paris prior to getting involved in Scientology. A significant portion of Switzerland, in the western part, is French-speaking.

These lectures were a way to get new business. Someone would come to such a talk, having received a flyer or phone call about it, get interested in the subject, hopefully buy a book or a low-level course, and then move on to more books and courses and eventually become a full-fledged Scientologist. That was the objective.

The day of our trip in the BMW must have been a Saturday. It was easier to entice people new to Scientology to come hear about it on a weekend. The weather was mild and dry, which is good for a drive. It would take an average driver, going the speed limit, a good four hours to get where we were going, if the traffic wasn’t bad. The lecture was scheduled to begin at 7:00 P.M., if I recall correctly. We should have departed by about 1:00 pm, or maybe earlier to be safe, to allow time for traffic problems, to eat dinner, to find parking, and to get set up in the venue.

Werner, unfortunately, was notorious for being late. He just didn’t seem to care about times he had agreed to. That particular day, some time around noon, he and I were driving somewhere in Heilbronn. We must have been out to pick something up. I was assuming we would be leaving for Switzerland fairly soon. I had thought we were on our way back home to get ready for the trip. Suddenly, Werner parked the car on a street I was not familiar with. He got out of the car and indicated that I should go with him. We walked to a place that turned out to be a public sauna and steam bath. Werner went in with me following behind, unsure what we were doing there. He stopped at the front counter, paid some money, and walked back to a locker room. I of course went
along, puzzled by what was going on. It turned out that he wanted to spend some time at this spa.

We put our clothes in a locker, got a towel, took a shower, and went into an area where there was a dry sauna, a steam bath, a small but deep pool, and a lounge area. It was pretty big. I had never been in such a place. We ended up spending quite a bit of time there, maybe two or three hours. I was concerned about the time, but figured Werner must have known what he was doing. Possibly I said something about needing to get on the road, but Werner would have just waved me off. Or maybe I didn’t bring it up. In any case, he seemed utterly unconcerned about the passing time.

It could be that Werner thought he would make up the time by driving fast. He loved to drive fast. Another time when we were on an autobahn in northern Germany on our way to Copenhagen, in that same BMW, I noticed that we were traveling at 215 kilometers per hour. That’s over 130 miles per hour. On an autobahn in Germany, at least in those days, one could drive just about as fast as one could. There was a posted speed limit, but you wouldn’t get pulled over or ticketed for exceeding it unless you were involved in an accident. Since much of our route to Switzerland was on an autobahn, maybe we could save over an hour of driving time.

When Werner was done enjoying the spa, we showered, got dressed, and drove to our apartment building. He still did not seem to be in any hurry. I changed into some nicer clothes and Werner put on his ministerial garb. Finally, we climbed into that BMW and got under way. And, yes, Werner was driving at very high rates of speed, or was trying to. He didn’t act stressed. He drove like that even when he was not supposed to get somewhere by a certain time.

There was a problem though — the roads were jammed. Werner was passing other cars whenever he could. As he would pass, he would cross himself, like a Catholic. Not that he was at all religious. Scientologists don’t believe in God. That Christian cross around his neck was just for show, to try to make it appear that Scientology is a religion. He thought it was funny. He hoped the driver of the car he passed would see a priest in an act of prayer, as if asking for forgiveness for that person driving so slowly. There were many areas where passing was not possible. Bumper-to-bumper traffic was crawling along. The minutes and hours ticked by. When we had to get gas, there was a long line of cars waiting to get to a pump. Probably we could have found a phone in a restaurant or something, and called someone in charge of the public lecture to let them know of the situation. But Werner pressed on undaunted.


We finally arrived to the lecture hall. I think we were a couple of hours late. The organizers were understandably upset. It always amazed me in such circumstances that Werner did not seem at all bothered and offered no apologies. Some of the people who had come to hear Werner’s talk had left, but some were still waiting. He gave the lecture. He was good at explaining the introductory concepts of Scientology.

At one point a man in the audience asked a challenging question about something Werner was saying. Scientologists are very sensitive to such scrutiny. They think there is an international conspiracy against them, which includes the cabal-controlled media spreading lies. Likely that guy had read some lies about mankind’s only true salvation. So Werner responded back to the man that he was clearly just there to make trouble and that he should depart that assemblage. Or something along those lines. The man then said that he didn’t have to leave and had a right to be there, or the like. Well, at that point Werner, who was 6’3” and muscular, still dressed as a priest, walked into the area where the listeners were seated, took hold of the man, pulled him from his chair, and shoved him down the aisle and out the door. The man tried to resist but Werner had a firm grip on him, pushed with the force of his weight, and was the stronger of the two. Werner closed the door, walked back to his lectern at the front of the audience, and resumed giving his lecture. As if nothing had happened. He could put on a pleasant face is if flipping a switch.

Finally the lecture ended. Werner seemed pleased with himself. Most of the attendees left. A few people milled around. The Scientology sales people were busy talking to prospects. I don’t know how many books or introductory courses were sold as a result. Hopefully, there were people there who might have gotten involved in Scientology that evening, but avoided that fate because of Werner’s behavior.

— Bruce Hines


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Source Code

“Man is continually representing to you that he owns a body, and he doesn’t. He steals one. And Freud was looking for guilt. Do you want to find some guilt? Let’s look that one in the eye for a moment. The very thing he owns with he stole and he knows he stole. And somebody comes along and grabs him and throws him into the clink or something for having run off with a couple of teaspoons from the local manor or something, and he goes into a complete fit. Why does he go into a fit? He thinks he’s going to be tried for his basic crime in this life which is the theft of one Homo Sapiens, which is kidnapping.” — L. Ron Hubbard, January 23, 1953



Avast, Ye Mateys

JANIS GILLHAM is assigned a condition of LIABILITY for goofing up an LRH Conference recording resulting in that one side of the tape did not record. I am assigning myself a condition of NON-EXISTENCE for not testing recorder before the recording started.” — Msm Anne Tidman, January 23, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Ultimately the truth is that each of us is here by our own choices, perhaps naively without understanding the consequences, yet it is our own choices and compromises that have ultimately led us through the entire cycle of creation to where we are now. Whilst someone else is responsible for the problem and the solution. The person is basically at total effect. This is a lie, and a trap, a prison of disbelief the person has chosen to adopt as a way of protest. The responsibility is elsewhere with someone else. This is false. A neat trap.”


Past is Prologue

2001: An article from Source magazine, issue 100 was posted to a.r.s this week which lists some of the goals of Flag for the year 2000. “1. The new Flag building opened and Super Power released to the public, thus bringing world clearing within reach…..10. All Flag public through their prerequisites and prepared for the release of New OT IX and X. 11. Clearwater known as the first Scientology city in the world…”


Random Howdy

“Typical Space Ozzie & Harriet ‘Remember the good ole days before all the perversion and permissiveness that lead to the downward spiral?’ reactionary bullshit. Except for the Space Opera, Scientologists have the same mindset as your average teabagger, fundie christian, conspiracy nut, gun lovin’ closet Nazi wingnut. I suggest we round them all up and send them to the FEMA camp called Branson MO.”



Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next hearing set for February 8. Trial scheduled for August 29.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Last hearing was on January 18, referred to grand jury.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference January 27 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for February 11.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.
Yanti Mike Greene, Scientology private eye accused of contempt of court: Next hearing February 15.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Eleventh Circuit affirmed ruling granting Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Garcias considering next move.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ US Supreme Court denied Valerie’s petition Oct 4.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Scientology has said it will file an anti-SLAPP motion.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for June 28.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 23. Appeal hearing held Aug 23-27. Awaiting a ruling.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Lawsuit filed by the FTC and state of Georgia in August, now in discovery phase.



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.


After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] Tom Cruise doesn’t want you to visit his camera-heavy condo in Scientology’s mecca
[TWO years ago] Where in the world is Scientology leader David Miscavige?
[THREE years ago] Never forget: Scientology calls exes liars, but spells out its own abuses in documents
[FOUR years ago] Scientology celeb Kerri Kasem marches for religious freedom in Hungary
[FIVE years ago] Scientology wastes no time making a move on the new president, but where does Trump stand?
[SIX years ago] Whale watching, 2016 edition: Who’s keeping Scientology afloat?
[SEVEN years ago] VIDEO LEAK: Another segment from Marty Rathbun’s deposition — his ‘Liability Formula’
[EIGHT years ago] Ray Jeffrey on Scientology in the courtroom: ‘Constantly getting tripped up on the facts’
[TEN years ago] Scientology Network TV Ads: More Precious Reactions!


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,554 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,059 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,579 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,599 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,490 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,797 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,665 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,439 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,770 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,243 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,559 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,125 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,044 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,212 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,793 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,054 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,090 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,805 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,330 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 685 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,860 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,411 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,560 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,880 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,735 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,854 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,210 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,513 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,619 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,017 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,893 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,476 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,971 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,225 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,334 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on January 23, 2022 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2021 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2021), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists | GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice | SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts | Shelly Miscavige, 15 years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


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