Account of a Recruiting Effort in the City of Herrnhut (1997)
It is already a few years since I (HCG) was in a youth group in Herrnhut. A few of the older members went away every year to study, but kept in touch with us. One girl had gone to Berlin and had not yet found a connection to a congregation there. Because she had played in the brass ensemble, she came along with us to brass convention. While we were there, she told me about a group of Christians who believe very seriously, read the Bible a lot, and are really interesting. She wanted to know what I thought about that. Somehow I had a feeling that this wasn’t an entirely healthy thing. I expressed this feeling to her. She didn’t want me to judge the group without seeing it. I was interested in the group. We had a nice time at the brass convention and enjoyed being together. At home, I told about my experience.
A week later, this girl showed up at my home and had two other girls with her. One of my sisters and I went for a walk with them, and we sat down for a conversation in the youth room. We both found this conversation to be extremely difficult. It revolved only around theological questions, and we sat in such a way that we didn’t all have eye contact with each other. My sister and I perceived it similarly, and the conviction grew in us that we were dealing with a cult. It was conspicuous to us that these people did everything the same way. They used the same phrases, walked at the same tempo, laid their small daypacks off to the same side, and sat with the same posture. After the conversation, we both (my sister and I) were totally exhausted. When the cult people came to visit us again, my sister had to deflect them, because I way lying in bed and felt sick. Then the unexpected happened: when those people left, I felt very good again. The girl from our youth group was no longer to be persuaded that this group could be dangerous.
After that we met people from this group one more time. They traveled to our grandparents’ place in a small village. There we made acquaintance with a few more people from the group. A middle-aged woman with a child was along. We took a walk. My friend and one of my cousins came along on the walk. The conversations made us certain that we could not become united with these people. One conversation partner gave my friend a hard time. My grandfather rescued her by forcing a conversation about the landscape onto the woman from the cult. So these people decided to travel on. The customization of their van fascinated me. (It was an old white Mercedes with a license plate from Reichenbach in Vogtland.) In the van, there were builtin places to sleep, and nets to hold luggage. The girl from my youth group remained in the cult, and broke off contact with her home. Soon I learned that she had stumbled into the Holic Cult.
A few years later I met the girl from my youth group at a conference in Bad Blankenburg (2003). She was traveling with another person. We exchanged a friendly greeting and parted. I sought out the conference leaders in order to tell them that somebody from the Holic Group was there. Whether it was of use to anyone, I don’t know.
The next day, I was busy with the brass choir. My wife was waiting for me, and stood in an entryway. She was approached by two people who spoke with her. She deflected them and told me about it. A few moments later, we met the girl from my youth group again. I introduced my wife to her. Both of them were visibly astonished to see each other again in this way.
Afterwards I didn’t see the girl again. I learned from her family that she has remained in the cult through the present (late 2006).
This report was generated for a presentation on cultic studies at the Gnadau Theological Seminary in Falkenberg. The name and address of the presenter are known to the website’s author.