Federal asylum agency opens its doors

The musty odor has disappeared out of the barracks

Visitors admire renovations in the former Merrell Barracks

by Georg Escher

Nuernberg, Germany
October 18, 1999
Nuernberg Nachrichten

Nuernberg - Yes, confirmed Hans Georg Dusch, the President of the Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees in Nuernberg, several years ago there was even a German who applied for asylum. A member of the Scientology Church, who had come under surveillance here at home by the Constitutional Security agents, settled down in the USA, where he was actually recognized as a political refugee. "At the time we regarded that as an unfriendly act," admitted Dusch, with a friendly jab in the side for nearby William Sheldon, the director of the German-American Institute in Nuernberg.

Only a few guests of honor, however, heard anecdotes like this yesterday, on the first day of the open house in the former Merrell Barracks in Nuernberg: besides Sheldon were a few other honorary consuls and Dagmar Woehrl, the CSU federal house representative. Letting prominent politicians into his spacious office is the exception for Dusch. "I have always been afraid of bringing the Minister in here because he would get jealous," he said amidst the guests' laughter.

"Have a look at the old SS barracks"

The visit to the awesome structure with its moving history was also exciting for the "mere mortals." About 950 people wanted to see the building, which had been opened to the public for the first time. The one group, primarily elderly people, wanted to "have a look at the old SS barracks" once. Others, including representatives from human rights groups, were more interested in "how that functioned with the refugees." Most of the guests, however, are apparently federal office staff who wanted to show their families their work place.

There the visitors could be given a demonstration of things like the "Asylis" data base, the heart beat of the federal office, with which about 100 of the staff of 850 are currently involved. In a matter of seconds, case workers can call up every piece of conceivable information on the countries of origin of the asylum applicants. Situation reports from the Foreign Office, from Amnesty International, from exiled governments, along with countless newspaper reports, because "there is nothing more recent than that."

Among other things, the visitors could also learn that, without doubt, Dusch is "Germany's most-sued man." About 270,000 applicants who have been refused asylum have filed against the federal office in court. For many of them, refugee assistance groups had warned that their lives were in danger in their homeland. Dusch now relates, with satisfaction, that he can incontrovertibly tell the human rights groups that "nothing happened to a single one of them." Also occupying the former Merrell Barracks today, which had been vacated by the U.S. military in 1992, are five representatives of the U.N. High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR) "to take note that everything runs properly." That is also part of the openness which Dusch has introduced into his office.

Many showed visible approval, however, mainly for the renovation of the former barracks, which, after the Americans moved out, had improvements made for the federal office, which had previously resided in Zirndorf. Where the rooms had previously been musty and almost oppressive, an easy atmosphere now prevailed, and it was augmented by powerful portals from the Nazi era, remnants of the U.S. barracks and modern steel and glass structures in stunning contrast to each other. Most of the visitors were unanimous in their agreement: "really impressive."

Propaganda War

Berlin, Germany
November 24, 1997

The nation's government, as the request of the SPD, must get involved with a dubious asylum case.

Antje Victore always seemed to get along particularly well in southern climates. Six years ago she cruised through the waters of the Caribbean with colleagues from her work on the "Freewinds" Scientology ship; now she has settled down permanently in the sunny state of Florida - allegedly as someone who has been granted asylum by the USA.

The federal government in Germany has not gotten officially involved in this case. SPD federal parliamentary representative Renate Rennebach has asked the administration, in writing, to explain "this asylum case which is of significance to the Federal Republic of Germany in reference to the international perspective." Besides that, the sect expert would like to know whether "other German citizens are being granted asylum in foreign countries."

Renate Rennebach has her doubts about the the story published on the front page of the New York Times. "As long as Scientology does not present a single piece of evidence, this story, for me, is sheer fabrication which is being used as sect propaganda." In the Foreign Office, where an effort to clear up the matter is in process, spokesman Martine Erdmann indicated there was a puzzling lack of sources on the situation.

In the mean time, the psycho-concern is trying to exploit the alleged asylum case to the hilt. At a press conference in Stuttgart last Friday, the sect presented three members who were said to have moved out of the country because, according to the "exile Scientologists," "our foundation of existence was destroyed by systematic state politics of discrimination."

In the case of alleged refugee Victore, however, her former colleagues do not know anything about Scientologists in Germany who have had professional difficulties as a result of having to suffer any kind of repression. Victore worked in a firm which was managed by sect members. In the early 1990's she built up the "Heilig Werbeideen" company with Scientologists Karl-Erich Heilig and Detlef Foullois in Schwaan near Rostock. The operation flourished, and a total of seven million marks flowed to the sect.

When the company in Schwaan had to be abandoned overnight - Heilig and Foullois were under investigation by the state attorney's office and were later convicted of tax evasion and put on probation - Victore and Foullois went to Hamburg and founded the successor company, "Hanse Werbeideen." As Foullois' problems with the law continued to grow, Victore inherited company leadership from him.

According to her former fellow travelers, she departed Germany saying that she intended on working in the USA for Scientology's elite guard, the "Sea Org."

Axel Kintzinger

Munich. The information about the German Scientologist who allegedly received asylum in the USA came from a Focus news magazine article about 42 year old Antje Victore. Victore has been living for about three years in Clearwater, Florida, where the east coast Scientology center has been established. The German woman, who works in the States as a real estate agent, was employed in Germany in the early 1990s in the Rostock firm of German top Scientologist Detlef Foullois.

As Focus has already reported, Foullois, who had obtained the highest "step of enlightenment" in the sect of "Thetan of the Eighth Grade," had been convicted and sentenced for tax evasion. According to statements from prominent Scientology former member Gunther Traeger, Foullois was heavily involved with Scientology's plan to take over power in Germany. Foullois allegedly obtained Stasi secret police records which were to be used to put pressure on German politicians.


Refuge: Florida

The story about the German Scientologist woman who has received alleged political asylum in the USA

Berlin, Germany
November 17, 1997 FOCUS 47/1997

[picture subscript]: I am suffer from the false accusations about Scientology
- Antje Victore, Scientologist from Germany

[picture subscript]:Scientology: the psycho-sect is under surveillance in Germany by Constitutional Security
SC-CENTRAL The East Coast headquarters is in Clearwater, Florida

The date was well picked. Two days before the U.S. Congress was to vote on whether Germany should be condemned for persecution of the Scientology Organization (SC), the New York Times dropped a bombshell: for the first time a Scientologist from Germany had received political asylum in the USA. Reason: religious persecution.

The story caused a stir in Germany. The Foreign Office and the Embassy in Washington have been trying in vain to get details. The court responsible in Tampa, Florida, referring to the protection of asylum cases, refused to even verify that the case had taken place.

The alleged asylum seeker is named Antje Victore, 42, nee Pingle. She has been living since 1995 in Clearwater, Florida, where the East Coast central of the sect is also established. In the USA Antje Victore works as a real estate broker. She used to live in Berlin and raced as a jockey on horse tracks. In the early 90s, she was actually in the vicinity of state prosecution - as a close staff member of top Scientologist Detlef Foullois, who was later convicted of tax evasion.

According to statements from former high-ranking Scientologist Gunther Traeger, Foullois had been participating as a Level 8 Thetan of the highest SC step of enlightenment in the "Clear Germany" plan in which the sect was working out who it was supposed to take over power in the Republic. Foullois, according to Traeger, created Stasi folder with which politicians could be put under pressure.

In Foullois' company "Heilig Werbeideen" in Schwaan near Rostock, Antje Victore was established high up in the hierarchy as the the "Executive Director Expansion." The business flourished: "In only 6 months we supported Scientology with about six million marks," said an internal memo. Unlike Scientology, however, the treasurer had to run down its money, undelivered goods remained on the books. Business manager Foullois landed in prison.

Whether Antje Victore meant that process when she was talking in Florida about persecution by the state, and whether, according to the statement of the SC intelligence agent Kurt Weiland, who appeared as her spokesman, she also presented twelve witnesses? When asked by "Focus" about the details of the alleged repression, she referred to "her written statement" which she had sent to "Focus" through Weiland.

It said in her written letter, "I suffered from false accusations about Scientology since I knew they were not true." And more, "What shocked me the most what the total immoderation and the narrow-mindedness with which certain politicians judged my religion."

The fact that the asylum case was publicized right before the vote in Congress was a coincidence, according to SC man Weiland. The peculiar thing about that is that the decision about Antje Victore's asylum application had already been made on February 28.

[picture subscript]: Spokesman SC member Kurt Weiland gives official information about the alleged asylum-seeker

The German top Scientologist Detlef Foullois was convicted for tax evasion.

Authors: A. Kintzinger / U. Wolff