|politics & busines|
WORST CRISIS IN CHURCH'S HISTORY
Clergy scandals are suppressed. Accused priests keep their jobs. Bishops who cover up misconduct are promoted. A diocese teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Students, refugees, architects, physicians and many others are starved and harassed and even threatened with death if they refuse to "surrender". Some simply disappeared after having been imprisoned. SAST REPORT investigates the existence of so called Volksgefängnisse or Detention Centers and why in this sleepy alpine town of Innsbruck, every man, woman, and child seems to be dependent on or afraid of one man: A loser who turned mad.
Public outcry over the cover-up had grown so loud in the States that the Vatican summoned U.S. Cardinals to Rome to hold a meeting on the problem. The outcome of the meeting was harshly criticized by many Roman Catholics round the world, who stress that church leaders still fail to provide enough transparency on the crisis and continue to repress clergy scandals. However, the problem remains with the Catholic Church's loss of credibility because of the scandal and the different handling of clergy scandals in Austria. There the ruling clergy elite fear that some of the Church's dioceses will face a financial crisis over compensation to victims which could amount to tens of millions of dollars. After all, the rules have changed in the USA and the public demands openness and fairness from its clergy leaders, also in Austria.
THE DARK DAYS ARE HERE
Nevertheless, in Austria clergy scandals are still glossed over and suppressed, while accused priests are allowed to keep their jobs. It's hard to believe that in that country bishops who cover up misconduct of their subordinates are still being promoted. So Roman Catholics are still in the uncomfortable position of waiting for the surprise attack before they can retaliate adequately. The dilemma is, that because it is very well known to the "bad" priests, that the potential of retaliation by the victims is so "miserably unsuccessful", it is not expected to prevent the initial blow.
"What am I going to do now?" the somber Palestinian with the etched face of a postage stamp engraving said. "Well, I am working here, and I have to get to work on time. But if these priests seal me again, I will get fired ... If I am not cooperative, they often replace the door lock. So I have to sleep outdoors in the freezing cold of the Hofgarten or in a bush in front of the SOWI ... Meanwhile one of these priests reports to the police that I am "obdachlos" ... So I get problems with my residence permit ... I don't have enough money for a hotel, because my small apartment is so expensive ..." He shook his head and said bitterly: "Why are they doing this ... I always paid my rent on time ... I never complained that this sheitan steels my sugar and my tea and eats my lemons ... When I am allowed to go back, I often notice that my room has been searched and that photos of family members and friends are missing ... It looks like somebody slept in the bed ... the bedcover often is dirty ... I am only allowed to get back into my apartment if I do some crazy things ... " His eyes stricken with sudden fear, reflected pain and disillusionment. He looked like a man, who had just had his first glance of hell: "They want me to surrender ..." He was angry, because he felt he had been deceived. And so, although he was bitter about these strange incidents, he took no action. He still could not believe it. He could not understand why these roman catholic priests behaved like ordinary criminals. But he was rapidly disillusioned ... And then, very slowly, he said: "No more questions, please ... Inshallah." He stood and brushed the sand from his clothes, packed his burberry coat under his arm and began walking up Universitätsstrasse. Nobody heard from him again, not even a report or a rumor reached anybody, either of his imprisonment in the cellar of the Jesuits or of his death.
"I have been in an Israeli prison for a long time and there prisoners usually get something to eat and water. But here, I didn't get anything," Rifat, 20, born in Bagdad, a lightly built, raven-haired, hawk-faced blue-collar worker who was held captive together with Yussuf by priests, stressed, idly drumming his fingers on one knee. "I was there to visit my friend Yussuf. I know that they do these bad things just to force us to be cooperative and to break our will." Altough, he said, that there were some very strange things going on.
A CAREFUL MAN
Moreover, requests for an investigation were casually brushed aside by the Diocese Innsbruck. In an interview with SAST REPORT the "Kirchenrichter", white-faced, nodded understandingly and said that there was nothing new about the misconduct of these priests and that he sees no reason for an inquiry, particularly since the priests' religious order itself would have to do something about the problem. He pointed out that they are well informed about the shocking situation, that it was even worse years ago and that they can do nothing. He stressed: "As far as our experience goes, their Provincial Superior of Austria in Vienna and even the Superior General in Rome continue to cover up the misdoings of members of the Society of Jesus in Innsbruck." And then he reflected ruefully: "Openness and fairness ... not possible here ... You must know, a saying goes: Sillgasse 2 ... one asshole is enough, but two assholes are too much ..." He spoke with the irritation of fear, got up from his chair and said slowly: "Meine Hände sind gebunden." He glanced at the journalists without interest: "Schreiben Sie das bitte." Then he made a gesture - it might have been an attempt to sketch a blessing in the air which he had forgotten how to give. One would have to be a trained observer to detect the trembling of his hands.
"VADE, SATANA, INVENTOR ET MAGISTER OMNIS FALLACIAE, HOSTIS HUMANAE SALUTIS ..." *
A sly spokesman for the Jesuits, tall and grey and hollow-chested, wearing a dusty 20 year old Burberry jacket, his teeth yellow and brown from lifetime chain smoking, said with a smile which was quite as unmeaning as any smile at a cocktail party: "My real name is not important ... whether I am a priest or not, is not important either ... I am just a grammophone ... what I want to say is that ...," [he played with his .25-caliber ASTRA UNCETA pistol] ... I'm a criminal, and I'm proud of it ... I'm not a bloody plaster saint ... I have murdered two or three men ... perhaps more ... you can write this, it does not matter any more ... It has become time-barred ... but don't dare sell my fingerprints ... With his creased forehead and steel grey hair he looked his seven decades. Like some of the other priests he had had another life, one that he had left far behind. Whatever had happened in the past was past. He would not risk losing the largess of his benefactor. Should anybody dare to make public what he said, he would deny it. It was as simple as that. But it was not as simple as that. Many bad things had happened. And the victims began to talk. And this has raised provocative questions few wished to recognize as valid. Nothing had changed. The lies of hundred years ago still existed. Perhaps he was plagued by a primitive sensation of guilt as the spokesman for the Society of Jesus continued in a faraway voice: "Ich persönlich bin nicht stolz auf diese Zwangsmassnahmen ..." [after a short pause] "Das wird immer von allen bestimmt ..." [he lit another cigarette] "Es wird abgestimmt ... Wenn etwas schiefläuft?" [he grinned wryly, displaying his discoloured teeth] "Dann erholt sich halt ein Jesuit im Häfen vom anstrengenden Klosterleben ... oder ich cash vorzeitig meinen Richter ein ... Sie wollen es genau wissen?" [he pulled a few pieces of paper from his pocket] ... ""Pater ... S.J.: Achtung! Was kostet es einem Bullen in den Arsch zu treten? Möchte ausschliesslich in der Fastenzeit in den Häfen ..." More? ..." [he found himself talking more freely about things he usually kept to himself] ... ""Pater ... S.J.: Möchte gerne Steine klopfen, der Chef geht mir auf den Keks, wenn möglich in der Fastenzeit ... mit freundlichen Grüssen ..." Some more? ... "Pater ... S.J.: Dringend !!! Neuer Schlagbolzen für Luger 08, Munition hab ich noch ..." Or: ... "XXX Frage: Wann sind unsere Mieter reif? Brauche dringend neue Sachen ..." Impressed?" [he tore open another pack of cigarettes] Asked whether they have enough food, tea and coffee, he replies: "Wir(!) haben genug zu essen ... " Asked again, he says: "Wir(!) haben genug zu essen ..." [the fingers that held the cigarette were slightly trembling, he did not continue speaking until he had deeply inhaled several times] "Die anderen haben natürlich nichts zu essen ... wie immer ..." [and after a while he added solemnly] "Lustig, lustig ... aber manchmal wird's ernst ... muss ich wieder hinuntertauchen? ..." Coming up from the cellar, there was a smell of an unrecognized plant in the air, which brings back to some men the sense of something nearly forgotten.
According to multiple sources close to the case, some members of the diocese are now struggling to find ways to approach the problem despite constant cover up attempts of their clergy leaders.
NEW BACKGROUND DETAILS EMERGE
CAST INTO THE RHYTHM OF NATURE - SENT INTO THE DEEP FREEZE
Then, after having survived and escaped, the "program" seemed to go on outside of the facilities of the religious order: They had to deal with something utterly alien and non-European. For one thing, nobody in this small alpine city dared to give them shelter, which meant sleeping in the freezing cold outdoors, in the Hofgarten and the ruins of the Dogana, enduring viciously cold snow storms, some of them with their little children, of whom not all survived. The hunger, the cold, the damp and the constant harrassments had whittled their former strong frame down to a mass of skin and bones. Enough to ruin the constitution of a healthy man. Food rations were half-liter apiece of so called soup, mainly tinted water, sometimes with potatoes in it, mostly cold, with a slice of black bread. When they tried to cook their meals, mean-faced, brutal young men, who jabbered and roared, virtually animals in human face, appeared forbidding them to do so, threatening to break their bones. "I learned late that not all people are evil, only individuals. Therefore guilt is individual, like salvation. But there are some men whose crimes surpass comprehension. For they are still among us, in their late forties, walking through the city of Innsbruck in their Lodenmäntel, working in the offices, at court, in a bank, in a bookstore, as lawyers, at the University, smiling and shaking hands, saying "Grüss Gott!" and calling decent men Kumpel. And in this we have all failed, and failed miserably, because the terror goes on." Backed by considerable funds these Kumpels have been measurably successful and in none more so than in reducing official retribution through Austrian courts to a minimum. It seems that they have been absolved in advance.
CITY OF FEAR
Even now, thirty to forty years later, the same unprecedented calamities are happening, people continue to suffer the same injusticies and indignities as those families and young students have suffered then. "I remember one day in December 1966, we were living in the Hofburg at the northern edge of the city, not far from the Hofgarten, when a man with frozen fingers and with a little child standing next to him rang the bell. He wanted to rent a room, and also asked for some hot water and a bandage; he had enough money with him. My father instantly got a phone call. I was standing behind him, as the call came through. I passed him the phone. He listened for a few seconds, muttered "Jawohl, ich verstehe," into the mouthpiece, set it down and finally, with a trembling voice, said slowly to the man at the door: "Sie müssen wieder gehen.""
"Terrified by the way he had acted, I later asked my father why he had sent them away, and he told me "I don't fear "Würstchen" ... but if I help them, ..." my father's mouth trembled open, "... his cronies will smash through this door, take all our belongings and we will lose this apartment immediately ... They usually storm peoples' private homes by night, drive out men, women and children who then wander about in the streets looking for shelter.** So if we help this man and his little child, we will be those who will have to sleep outside in the Hofgarten, carry our belongings with us all day and knock on other people's doors to rent us a room or give us some hot water ... There are many cowards here in Innsbruck, good at court games, keen sportsmen, winning beer drinking contests, but these bloody four letter men all fear "Würstchen" and his cronies ... Fear," he said slowly, "Miedo." That afternoon, late, my father bought an automatic weapon, a brand new "Sturmgewehr 44", at the black market on the other side of the Inn river."
BANDITS OR POLITICIANS?
It is interesting to note that everywhere the victims went to ask for accomodation the people they talked to received a phone call and were apparently advised what to say and what to do. Day after day they were marching through the city and up the hill, looking for a room and day after day they returned to the Hofgarten, an integral part of Innsbruck, to snow and frost. Nevertheless, a few managed to rent a room in Innsbruck. But after having paid a month's rent and a month's deposit in cash the day they moved in, they were very soon kicked out - also after a mysterious phone call. The few belongings they had been able to keep with them until then and the rent were withheld, de facto stolen, again and again. Exclaimed one young woman: "My father, then a student, never found out which asshole phoned all these people, and whom he could hang. He only found out, that some landlords faced genuine economic pressures." And then, after a while, she slowly said, with tears in her dark blue eyes: "My attorney told us that there exists a so called Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which has been ratified by Austria ... but I don't know ..." In all of these cases, to quote M. Thatcher, "it is very unlikely that the ordinary procedures of a national court will be sufficient to secure its punishment, because genocide is a crime that is only likely to be committed by or with the collaboration of those in power." ***
THE BOOK-STORE GAME
Another telling example: There was a small bookstore in the Maria Theresien Strasse in the center of this provincial Austrian town, Athesia Tyrolia, which offered coffee and water free of charge. With freezing temperatures outside and in an effort to stay alive, some of the people living in the cold in the Hofgarten and who seldom had anything warm to eat or to drink, sometimes went to that bookstore and drank coffee. The students, afraid of possibly being called a "Schnorrer", usually bought different small items and books every time they went there. But, also here, the same kind of phone call reached the employees of the bookstore. After a short telephone conversation one of the clerks came to the students as they sipped their coffee, and kicked them out, telling them also to buy their books needed for university elsewhere, in Vienna for example. "Poor little men," he said sardonically, "you have "Hausverbot" as from now on," he added, flashing a toothy smile. "You heard it?" asked the man, otherwise "Er, ihr wisst schon wer," would call "unsere Funkstreife". "Grüss Gott," he said, put the back of one hand against his mouth and chewed at the knuckles. He blinked rapidly six times and started to walk back to his desk.
Now, in December 2004, this small bookstore, situated at the same place, is named Tyrolia, and offers coffee and water free of charge again. Incredibly, against all comprehension, the same things are occurring there, just as two decades after the war. Students of the University of Innsbruck often buy their books and different other items there. But, also now in 2004, for some unknown reason, the same kind of phone call reaches a thin, ahungered employee of the bookstore. After a short telephone conversation this clerk, in his late forties, comes to the students as they are drinking their coffee made in Mils, 10 km from Innsbruck, and kicks them out. He is, for this alpine town, an astute man, which is so often the background of a criminal mind. His quality is his insight that enables him to understand the cowardice and the vanity of his master. In that lies the secret of his amazing success, allowing him to do as he pleases, quite openly, collecting money for his own reptile fund. "If you don't pay 20 cent for the coffee," he says sardonically, "you have "Hausverbot"," flashing a mean smile. "You heard it?" asks the man, his eyes narrowing at the question, otherwise "Er, ihr wisst schon wer," would call "die Polizei". "Grüss Gott," he says, puts the back of one hand against his mouth and chews at the knuckles.
THE TOILET GAME
THE LIBRARY GAME
In addition almost all of them were excluded from borrowing educational books from the university library, which in Innsbruck is also a public library. This of course turned out to be an enormous obstacle, that prevented them from making good progress in their studies. The library director frostily stated as reason that they had not returned other books. And that it did not matter that they had been stolen by a notorius thug and his companion. "Chickenshit," he said, giving the students a lazy smile and not seeming impressed by the fact that they had already filed a suit. With that he guided them out of his office. It was not clear whether the library director had also received one of these phone calls. Some insisted there had been a phone call, but they were not sure if it was the same person who had phoned all the other people in town. Others say they were certain there had been no phone call, at least not in their presence, a well informed source, a university professor, told SAST REPORT under the condition of anonymity.
AN OLD THREAT - LACHGAS OR FENTANYL ...Since 1999, however, this game is being played again. Educational books are stolen, mainly from student rooms in the "Tiroler Heim", run by the "Österreichische Studentenförderungsstiftung", the "Karwendel Heim", run by the "Wirtschaftshilfe für Studenten", and from luggage lockers of the "SOWI" building. The broke and desolate thugs enter the rooms with a passe-partout or a lockpick during the absence of the students or while they are sleeping(!), and search the rooms. American exchange students told SAST REPORT that they suspect they might have been anaesthetised by an unknown gas, austrian students said they are not sure, but medical students presume chloroform was used. A german expert on chemical warfare suspects that "Lachgas" is used in these cases. However, until now no one dared to talk about these strange, usually "non-existing", shameful things. The perpetrators take teabags(!), greenbacks and the library books with them. They also open certain luggage lockers at the university, rummage through all the items and documents and if they find credit cards, they make a copy. The students' "part" in the "game" is to rush to the next police station where they are awaited by policemen who laugh and usually say taut with tension: "Yeah, we know, this is "Landtrottel" and "Stadttrottel". They play this game together." Interestingly enough the police regularly refuses to register complaints of the theft. They say: "Das ist nicht vorgesehen." The consequences are always the same, as described above: They are barred from borrowing books from the library. Sandra Kujan from the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Culture: "We are sorry to inform you that the student, whose library books have been stolen, and who is therefore barred from borrowing books at the university libraries, can only borrow books again, after he has either returned the missing books or has refunded the books." Usually, to avoid delayments in their studies and to avoid the hassles of a time consuming lawsuit, the students take the easier road and tend to pay a sum of money instead of filing a suit, the price of new books, not used, plus a fine. If they are not in favor of paying and refuse to bow to their wishes, they are surprised to learn that somebody is placing real and unpleasant obstacles in their path and that, suddenly, they are constantly being harassed at the University. Some female students feel so intimidated and scared by the gang member nicknamed "Struppi", medium build, height 1.75 m, with a huge disproportional roman nose, and brown, greasy, shaggy hair, sandalled, usually dressed in short combat trousers of the german army, and threatening remarks like: "Madl, i hau dir eine in die Pappn, wennst nicht tuast sofort die Hosen runterlassen, dann muasst mir einen blasen, sonst tua i di nit in ruh studieren lassn," - that they only reluctantly, and only when it is absolutely necessary, enter the university compound. In any case, they prefer to avoid going to the campus, including the library. Meanwhile the thugs are selling the books, drinking high quality tea wearing a complacent smile and washing their bucks with soap and warm water.
"GIVE ME ALL YOUR DATA, AND YOUR PIN CODE TOO ..."
Since February 2002 staff members of the "Zentraler Informatik Dienst - SOWI" were recruited as ring members of the ATM card gang. Some of them have the sole function of hassling those students, especially female students, who are not willing to pay immediate cash for the stolen books or who dare to complain about the unusual shoppers "identified" by the police as "Landtrottel" and "Stadttrottel". Usually they say: "Madl, du stinkst wie a Sau, verlass sofort den Computerraum. Wennst nit sofort tuast aufgeben, tua i den Account auf Ewigkeit sperren. Ausserdem möcht i dei Namen, dei Adress, dei Login und dei geheimes Passwort wissen." If the student just shrugs and carries on working, the "thug in disguise", a fireplug of a man, powerfully built, walks straight to the computer she is working on, simply pulls the plug, then brutally grabs the arm of the girl and threatens: "Ohne Verletzung wird des nit abgehn, tua mir sofort dei Passwort gebn." Normally at this point a second employee of the "ZID", a corpulent woman in her late forties with dark straight hair and a rosy sweating face, has her answer. She gives her cappuccino a desultory stir, strides back to her desk where the telephone is situated to place a local call, says something like: "Gut, ich weiss nicht, ob es passt." or "Gut, wo stehst du jetzt?" and sets the mouthpiece down. Then she strolls out of her office, usually takes a rolled newspaper from under her arm and carefully unfolds it twice. "Okay," she says with the tiniest hint of a smile and taps the girl's shoulder, "Passwort oder gehen." She is normally joined by another person, a hired muscle, with the stature of a heavy-weight boxer, 2,05 meters tall, a chucker-out of a local bar, nicknamed Mike Tyson, who until then stands post near the door. In the end many of the harassed students give way in this head to head confrontation and tend to pass on the information they are forced to. A well placed source told SAST REPORT that these "bad" people brag that they can decode every ATM card within minutes, but often they say: "So geht es einfacher. ... Ausserdem tu' i den Gestank von Parfum schrecklich hassen." By finding out name, address, date of birth and other personal data these computer specialists can decode the ATM cards much faster. It is interesting to note that students who witness these dirty doings at the campus are afraid to tell anybody about what is going on. The thugs, probably well-connected, have them nicely under control. Impossible to believe that they can do as they please, quite openly and without being disturbed. It seems that the persons affected passively accept the evil system of this dark city. Some cynical observers go even further and suggest that "the system's stability depends on its pervasive illegitimacy". ****
Prof. Dr. Dipl.-Ing. Manfred Pausch, cyberneticist, official expert in the electronic data processing (EDP) field, especially in card-based payment systems, Darmstadt, Germany, assuming a criminal background, told SAST REPORT in a telephone interview: "With the knowledge of certain personal data you can crack the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) Code within minutes."
It is always tempting to wonder what would have happened if . . . or if not. Usually it is a futile exercise, for what might have been is the greatest of all mysteries. But back in 1965 the students were not prepared to settle the affair at their expense. They were facing a whole range of harassments, including often being robbed and sleeping in the cold; they were experiencing the deaths of fellow students. And there was apparently one person who was tracing them and phoning people, called "Würstchen".
THE DEVIL'S ARM
So, within a few months this mysterious person had become the Devil incarnate to this small group. There was little that he did not succeed in devising. "This dedicated sadist" exterminated as many as possible and "stored" the rest. "He did it because he liked it. He couldn't help himself. The terror was, in part, an episode of sensual indulgence," one victim says. Obviously, their energies were drained in daily combat with the forces of poverty and despair, which is precisely one of the consequences the program "Le Grand Grammophone" aims at achieving. The victims, the sufferers, the oppressed, were not as one would expect all on one side, all right, all conservative or all liberal, known or unknown, men or women, old or young, Jews, Christians, Muslims or Protestants, and many more. And it seems that no one knows who carried out this mini-genocide against these people. Some, mainly old men and women, the frail, the sick and children, died of malnutrition and cold, others apparently decided to end their own life and hanged themselves. Their death certificates always stated sudden cardiac death as the cause of death. And if they asked the physician: "Why didn't you write suicide on the death certificate?", since he must have known that "his" cronies had driven him to suicide. Every physician said the same words: "Er hat ja eh ka Luft mehr kriegt, und g'wehrt hat er sich auch nicht mehr." But the remainder, filled with bitterness, with hatred and a desire for revenge refused to be flushed out and swore to fight back. Revenge wouldn't come quickly ... By the late sixties, starved and facing steadily growing pressures and harassments, some of them saw only one last possibility to survive: to pay a particularly high price, to become priests themselves; to surrender and to cooperate with their former tormentors. But in many ways it was a bad bargain. This meant only their persecutors around them, the friends that they have known, all dead. Nevertheless, to take that risk was the only way to stay alive. And this possibility offered good food and good living conditions, they assumed. They were wrong on both counts.
AN EYEBROW RAISING DEAL
The great irony of their lives is that, ultimately, they had to succeed their own tormentors as those who in turn "freeze" others. It was frightening to see the deep changes in the psychological outlook of those who participated in the campaign of their tormentors, and instead of going mad, became professionals for whom terror was from then on a normal method of administration, and obedience to an order from above a high virtue. One can speak of a real dehumanization of these people then working in that apparatus.
In the early seventies visitors often reported, that it was not possible to talk to any of these "forced priests", and if they were allowed to see them, there were always three other persons around, tall young men with a thin but satisfied smile, who watched and listened to their conversation, their Walther PPKs laid casually about the furniture. Usually the "priest" whom they visited would say: "These are my guards." From time to time one of them dared to say, whispering: "..... is being held incommunicado for weeks." With the guards always around, they never had a proper chance to talk. And it seemed that the mail sent to them was withheld, thus not reaching the intended recipient, and the letters they themselves wrote were never posted. Irrevocably trapped in a world of mistrust, reversals and lies, the manipulated and the manipulators, totally isolated from the people they had known before. Unisonously the shocked visitors reported that the priests they visited told them that they are starved and that they urgently needed penicilin, food, tea and coffee. Some of the visitors were even held captive by hard men of little brain but considerable strength, unemployed and unemployable, "hired muscles", after their meeting with a priest, in the same building, "nicely tied up" in cells, which all stank of old faeces, urine and sweat, some for a few hours, others for a few days, without food and water. But the complete story of who died at whose hands in which cell will never be told. Even today there is a deep chill there that never goes away. So the persecutors could be sure that the visitor will not like to visit the priest twice. It seems that those responsible wanted to, forcefully and by any means, break all links between the "newly recruited", forced priests and every person they might have known in their past, thus trying to ensure that there would be no old loyalties or associations. Almost without exception, the remainder, on being released were threatened with death, if ever they dared to visit this priest again. A final warning was given, an actual verbal warning: It could be anything, they were warned. It could be sudden cardiac death at a certain time, a crash on the road, or a fire, a building ablaze, with their children trapped inside - nothing personal, just the way things are, they were told. It was these activities that gave rise to talk in Innsbruck of the existence of so called "Volksgefängnisse". Many relatives of the men and women, who saw one of these priests and who simply disappeared after having been imprisoned, were convinced that they had been liquidated. But for decades they had kept their eyes closed and their mouth shut.
HELD CAPTIVE: THE KIDNAPPING OF AN ARCHITECT IN INNSBRUCK
An architect, an austrian citizen, who experienced a nightmare and who declined to be identified because of security concerns, recounted the horror and told SAST REPORT how he survived: "I was kidnapped and placed in one of these cells, well tied up with a rope, with no food and water for three days." The architect said the psychological pressure was immense: "These days have been the hardest of my life. Do you know what it means to be tied up for days and left alone? ... Spending those days tied up? ... Lying in your own urine, because you are not able to move? ... Not knowing where you are ... After two days I got problems with my heart, I think it was because I didn't get anything to drink." In subsequent telephone contacts with his father, the kidnappers sounded confused, their precise motives unclear, one woman was speaking in a characteristic "singing voice" he said. "In the end, the kidnappers demanded the code of my ATM card, tea and coffee, bottles of red wine and that my father hand over copies of a construction plan of a big building we built in Innsbruck. After this transaction and after I had handed over my wallet, watch, shoes, socks and all other valuables I was carrying, I was released the same day and handed over to my father." Speaking about the moment of his release, the architect said: "It was one in the morning, I could hardly walk, was frightened, pale, but physically unharmed. My eyes were aching and my vision was blurred. The first thing I did was to drink one liter of mineralwater." This was an incident the architect never forgot. He kept going back to it, talking about it, harping on it. This kidnapping in Innsbruck had left a mark on his soul. He was bitter. He was humiliated. Nevertheless, the way in which he kept going back to this kidnapping in conversation gave one the impression that the mark on his soul was very deep. What made him even more furious was the fact that while on holiday outside of Austria he came across an exact copy of the building he had designed and of which he had had to hand over the construction plan to his kidnappers. Even the paint was identical. At that moment, he told SAST REPORT, he felt really double-crossed.
In the late eighties and the early nineties it is said that members of the Society of Jesus leased small rooms to psychology, law and medicine students at an extraordinary cheep price. But all of them encountered similar incredible "stories" and faced the same problems. First, all reported in unison that old men, presumably "forced priests", with whom they sometimes happened to speak during the day, what had not been possible in the past, complained that they were chained to the bed at night. The seemingly cultivated and intellectual people, who prefer the french language in conversation and who liked to discuss Rousseau, Voltaire and Camus, could talk openly and as long as they wanted to in an atmosphere, in which minds relaxed and the traffic of ideas could move. Not talking as priests, there was present, behind the superficial gaity, a profound melancholy. But if they tried to visit them at another time, these priests were surrounded by 20 to 22 young men, who watched and listened to their conversation and whom they called "Unsere Wachen". The guards were always there and walked beside them. On the first floor they could never talk of anything much. Second, the tenants had to deal with the so called speaker of the Society of Jesus, nicknamed "rue" by the priests, who constantly showed up at various day and night times, knocking on the door, wanting simply an apple juice and to strike up a conversation.
Maybe it was this very sense of amateurism which had persuaded many victims, in the past decades students, now multipliers and well-educated people in high places, like judges, physicians and bankers, to "surrender" and to become involved. Blinded by the advantage of promised profits they became "grammophones", "dogs" or "instruments", not realizing that these amateurs might after all be deadly dangerous.
A behavioral psychologist, an austrian citizen, who was imprisoned in 1980 and who spoke under the condition of anonymity, told SAST REPORT: "At that time I was studying Psychology at the University of Innsbruck ... I leased from the Society of Jesus a small room at an extraordinary cheep price ... I was ... very, very poor ... and so I was happy to find an accomodation ... affordable ... you know ... You know it is not easy to find a room in Innsbruck ... for a student ... The first thing I did, was to paint the walls of the room ... and then I went down into the cellar, looking for something to eat ... yes ... My neighbour's door was locked ... no ... There was nothing to eat in the kitchen ... no coffee ... no tea ... no sugar ... only very old onions ... [he says] "Ich sag eh alles" ... [and carries on] ... "There was a strange smell in the cellar ... like in a cemetery ... and in one of the rooms I found suitcases piled up on top of each other ... I remember some of the names on the luggage tags ... [he asks] "Is' des mit der Schweinsstelzen fix? Mit Sauerkraut? A Cola drübergschüttet?" [then he continues] ... "Some names from long established Innsbrucker families ... No, not from Jesuits ... No, not from priests ... In some of the suitcases there was clothing ... used, but not old ... personal belongings ... books, records, shoes, personal documents ... letters, toiletries ... even savings books ... in Reichsmark ... in Schilling ... strange ... If you know pictures of Konzentrationslager ... It looked like that ... I found a bearskin ... I took it with me ... And there was this Strassenköter ... they call him "rue" ... When I rented the room he said: "Der Angstschweiss ihres Vorgängers ist noch im Zimmer" ... And on the second day he told me ... "Sie müssen wieder gehen" ... and that I have to cooperate ... What a strange dog ... I raised a credit ... I furnished my room ... and polished the wooden floor several times ... I oiled the window grill ... That took me two months, I think ... yes ... I often noticed that my room had been searched ... Photos of family members and friends were missing ... and often it looked like somebody had slept in my bed ... The bedcover was dirty ... there were dark hairs on the sheets ... yes ... The next day I found three bricks of shit in the shower arranged in the form of a "V" ... I thought it was Plankton ... I have seen him there ... One day he told me ... "Zieh das B¨a;renfell an." ... [mehr sag I nit] ... [nit! ... niit! ... niiitt!] ... yes ... Plankton helped me ... He said if you work at the court ... "Gutachten frisieren ... und anderen Scheiss" ..." [angrily he cries out] "I hab' an Hunger g'habt ... Andauernd hat's aus dem Keller g'stunken! ... In der Dusche is' die Scheisse g'legen! ... Mei' Zimmer is' durchsucht word'n! ... Und der Trottel sagt die ganze Zeit ... I soll gehn! ... I hab's g'mietet! ..." [with trembling hands, he lights a cigarette] "One day the telephone line was cut, all the doors were locked, the toilet was locked, and there was no water ... One of these hungry thugs had replaced the door lock, while I was sleeping ... No ... trellised windows ... No ... it's not possible to open that front door with a can ..." [slowly] ... "Molotow-Cocktail ... solid wooden front door ... Somebody already tried in the past ... I tried to break open the door ... It didn't work ... 48 hours without water ... that was a problem for me ... I got weak ... unable to raise an arm and to shoo away the flies."
Another trustworthy source, an austrian citizen, in her late forties and still attractive, now working at the "Universitätsklinik Innsbruck"told SAST REPORT that she was imprisoned as a student of the University of Innsbruck in the year 1980 or 1981, she refused to specify the date, but confirmed the shameful incidents mentioned above. More than two decades later, robbed of her youthful ideals, stunned by grief, traumatised, she still wakes up in the night and cries. She stressed that her neighbour also disappeared a few weeks after she had been in "solitary confinement" and was never heard from again since the early eighties. She stretched the cramped muscles of her shoulder, muttering a curse, and said heatedly: "Everywhere I went to ask for help, they immediately got a phone call and then they said in the same tone, with the same smile, the same words, which reverberated powerfully in my mind: "Lass' doch den Blödsinn ... Du musst kooperieren ..." In this sleepy alpine town, every man, woman, and child seems to be dependent on or afraid of one man.
No one, not even her own mother, believed her tale, and when she phoned her parents, who lived in a small tyrolian village, the answer had been terrifyingly simple: "Lass' doch den Blödsinn ... Du musst kooperieren ... Wir ham aufgeben müssen ... Wir dürfen dir kein G'wand, kein Geld mehr schicken ... Wir tun uns furchtbar fürchten ..." There had been no one to help her. She was trapped. She remembered her father's promise that he had everything under control, "but where was he now?", she had asked herself and whispered: "My God," knowing that there was a man in a cell with no water and nothing to eat.
And she remembered the next day, when she had to beg tourists for a few Schilling, as she had had to leave all her belongings at number two, to be able to buy a ticket back home. And she remembered her father's face registering shock for several seconds, his fearful eyes, and the moment when he uttered a small cry. And she remembered the moment when he got this phone call, muttering nervously: "Jawohl, ich verstehe," into the mouthpiece and saying slowly to her at the door, his voice full of anxiety: "Du musst wieder gehen ... Wir ham aufgeben müssen ... Wir dürfen dich nicht 'reinlassen ... Wir fürchten um unser Leben ... Die tun uns sonst hinrichten ... Du musst verstehn, wir ham a neues Herrchen kriegt ..."
LA MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: THE RESCUE OF A UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR FROM A BLACK JAIL IN INNSBRUCK
I bare you on eagles wings,
. . . DEVELOPING . . . PUBLICATION IN 2016 . . .
What happened to the professor of the University of Innsbruck during his 24 hours in captivity is shocking; how he finally was liberated through a commando raid is more than remarkable. In the late eighties a well known professor was held captive in this secret prison in Innsbruck and ten young death defying students have been urgently summoned to the GEIWI building by the caretaker of the University, Mr. Oefner without explanation. The sense of urgency was understandable, as it was Thursday midday March 6th, two days after this man had suddenly disappeared. Their job: To locate the secret detention center, to storm it and to rescue the professor from certain death in a furious race against time. Normally, such an attack is suicide. On the other hand, let's say some are courageous that day and come right out with an original idea ... There were several parallel diabolical plots: Austrian police refused to help, just saying: "Das ist nicht vorgesehen ... Der ist obdachlos ... Der ist amtsbekannt ... Den ham ma oft aufgegriffen ..."; a powerful, amoral group of fanatics well armed with machine pistols and hand grenades; while the students did not get any arms; and there was this mysterious woman with a dubious background, the girlfriend of the professor, nicknamed dolly parton. She suddenly appeared at the campus of the University and told the students that she was held captive together with her boyfriend, that she was treated well and received something to drink, but that she realized that her boyfriend was not given anything to drink or to eat. The professor, according to the official Austrian police report a well known derelict, a hobo, was still held captive and in serious trouble, but everywhere she went for help in this alpine town of Innsbruck people told her: "Lass' doch den Blödsinn ... Lass ihn verrecken ... die bringen dich sonst um die Ecken ... Du musst verstehn, der wird a neues Herrchen kriegt ham ..."
There was this well connected professor who tried to reach NATO headquarters in Brussels. And there was this professor who tried to reach US Special Forces at Bad Tölz, Germany. An assistant professor talked with the Commander of the nearest Garrison of Forces Italiana and asked to hurry forward to the support of the rescue team. A young student phoned the Ministry of Interior of Austria in Vienna. They said something not comprehensible to a civilised person, something strange -- that it was not possible for them to dispatch police units from Salzburg to Innsbruck, because Salzburg has "surrendered" and to dispatch units from Vienna would take about seven hours. And that no one would take nasty risks.
And there was this group of World War II veterans, some highly decorated, standing nearby, who were also willing to rescue the academic member of the University of Innnsbruck, after having heard that he was held hostage. They asked for infantry weapons and close air support. Realizing there would be none of the sort, they soon abandoned the idea of a rescue operation on their behalf.
The Hostage Rescue Team: Ten students of the University Leopoldino Franciscea. They agreed to do what the Austrian government did not want to do. To go in and get the man out. . . . . DEVELOPING . . .
Over the last three years SAST REPORT interviewed many of the victims - architects, artists, physicians, refugees, students, teachers and workers - who were held captive at this "Volksgefängnis" and has learned that many of them are still missing and that, even to this very day, there are other "Volksgefängnisse" in Innsbruck, right in the center of the town. Reports about this situation in Innsbruck were rarely immediately credible. In the past it was often said that these "Secret Detention Centers" exist and that people are missing, but no one could be sure. No one wanted to believe it. No one could believe it. Now, however, it is accepted as fact, despite official silence.
"It reminds me," said an American foreign correspondent, "of all I ever heard of the last days of the Weimar Republic."
Injured feelings run high. "It's my church, and I'm not going to let the bad priests take that away from me," said Herta, 75, after the Mass in the small alpine town of Innsbruck. "They say that Jesus forgave everybody," she said. "But I have never been Jesus. I can't forgive. I wish I could, because I'm still Catholic and love my church, but it's very hard to get over the sense of betrayal."
DEVELOPING . . .
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