I have longed for thy salvation, O L-RD; and thy Torah is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. Psalm 119:174-176

17 October 2013

The Twelve Tribes in Germany, part 4

Photo by A. Stahl

 I was notified by commenter LittleProf that there was going to be an editorial on page 3 of the Süddeutsche Zeitung this past week on the Twelve Tribes, and also notified of a news article I should pay attention to. I've since had dental work and gotten sick, so I've been slow in updating because I wanted to be assured that quality work went into this post before it was to be published.

On the 10th of October, we had an update from several news outlets:

Four pairs of Wörnitz concerned parents have now filed an appeal against the order of the District Court of Ansbach before the Higher Regional Court of Nuremberg.
Augsburger Allgemeine: Complaint of "Twelve Tribes" Cult members from Wörnitz go to the High Court
Their nine children are currently placed in foster families.
BR: Twelve Tribes Parents appeal ruling in Wörnitz (County Ansbach)

39 children are still in foster care. The group had repeatedly acknowledged that it chastises her children.
Augsburger Allgemeine: "Twelve Tribes": the sect parents defend themselves against loss of custody

With the temporary deprivation of custody from the parents of the controversial sect "Twelve Tribes" must now be addressed by the Nuremberg Higher Regional Court.
Nord Bayern: "Twelve Tribes": parents defend themselves against loss of custody

 The bulk of the proceedings shall be conducted at the district court in Nordlingen, where there has not yet been a decision from the family court judge.
Focus Online: Parents of the sect "Twelve Tribes" defend themselves against loss of custody

Also on the 10th, there was a story released by Pro Medienmagazin that was snippet of the interview with an ex-member of the sect, which published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung [entitled: A life of Punishment: Two ex-members of the Twelve Tribes sect tell how they were beaten and exploited for years in the middle of Bavaria - no one helped them], which we found  thanks to LittleProf. I'll happily try and scan it in for anyone who is unable to get a back issue of the paper.

Photo: J. Stahl, Die Seite Drei "Das Leben, eine Strafe"
Süddeutsche Zeitung nr. 234, Donnerstag, 10. October 2013

...Behind the corporal punishment, blame is placed on the faith of the members in "innate depravity and original sin of man." The lawyer for the "Twelve Tribes" Michael Kremnitz, sees things differently. "Properly applied, the punishment would have "the character of a ritual gesture". The sect has a 146-page educational booklet which identifies the positive experience of corporal punishment in the dressage of dogs...
Pro Medienmagazin: Ex-member reports: "All children are beaten"

The Süddeutsche Zeitung, in Die Seite Drei, tend to take a rather good and harsh look at the ex-members and questioned them rather well, in my humble opinion. Inside the article, two former members are questioned, who had lived within the sect for fourteen years or more.  They describe daily beatings, being required to work for long hours and not being compensated for it and how the sect moved children around and presented an idyll to state inspectors.

On the 14th, the Donau-Ries Aktuell ran a story on another Twelve Tribes issue; and said that they've got a new website up:
..the names of people living in Klosterzimmern Wörnitz and families are all listed. By clicking on the families, we come to a collection of documents that were drawn up by members of the Twelve Tribes... On the website administrators have published documents that members of the Twelve Tribes have sent to the family courts at the district court in Ansbach and Nördlingen...
Donau-Ries Aktuell: Twelve Tribes: published opinions of the courts

This was later pulled, but was up for enough time that anyone could download and/or read these documents. Which is problematic given the court case and privacy laws.

So, there you have it. The update on what I've seen coming/going in the German news on the issue. Hopefully there will be a resolution for the children soon, but I fear this will be a long case and not finished until after the holidays.

You can also read more here: Part 1, part 2 , part 3part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8 and part 9 


  1. More news: I hope this is not to slowly prepare the Germans for a fiscally driven court decision.On the other hand, the politician arguing for the increase in the budget of the regional Youth Welfare Office seems to plan for 2014 already - so it may mean that the children of the 12 Tribes will be in state custody come next year?! Hard to speculate on that one. Let s wait for the Nördlingen court decision - it is expected next week.

  2. Thanks for updating us. Having been a member of the Twelve Tribes, it further saddens me that such pressure and severe strictness with the children continues decade after decade. I don't like using words such as cult and child abuse, but they can and should be applied to the Twelve Tribes at times. At other times it is a beautiful life in some ways. The children have never had toys to play with in general. I believe in God, prayer, and meditation, but sadly, religion sometimes has the power to ruin lives. Right now the Tribes feel they are being persecuted. They are never allowed to question their founder's Teachings or the Child Training Manual, or the idea that the 144,000 Male celibate Evangelists of the End Times are to come from their communities, if they are careful to discipline their children now. They must obey. Disobedience is never an option. I used to believe in communal living, now I despise it. When you have to give up all your money and work for free, you are made into a dependent. A book could be written about the Twelve Tribes. Members are never allowed to say anything against the group or the founder. As one member friend recently told me, "We're really not here to make the world a better place." They work long hours for free for one main purpose on earth, to raise up the 144,000. In their Teachings, if they fail in this, Jesus cannot return to Earth. And the Earth will remain under the control of Satan. The Tribes have been taught everyday that they alone are God's Chosen People, the True Jews. The rest of us are to pay for our sins in Death, and/or be punished forever in the Eternal Lake of Fire by their God. I wish I had never met the Twelve Tribes or joined. Their life, good and bad, haunts me everyday. They say I belong there, but I won't. I won't go along along with the home circumcisions, the elite mindset, hitting children frequently for trivial matters, and being afraid of God all the time if I don't lead a perfect life. My God is not their God. And their God is not my God. They choose fear that demands obedience. I choose love without conditions.

    1. Cassey, could you please send an affidavit to the court in Nördlingen and help Child Protection Service and the Youth Office with your statement? - It is vital to get more voices heard that say hitting children is the same all over the world and you do not have a choice when raising your children there! One of the strategies of the defense is "oh, it is just individual cases, you can t generalise". The members of the TT are saying: just a few bad apples who abused their children (those happen to be those that defected - how convenient...)

    2. here's the address:

      Direktor Herrn Beyschlag
      Tändelmarkt 5
      D- 86720 Nördlingen

  3. If the German court is blind enough not to consider the Tribes own Teachings exposing how they feel about child discipline and punishments, then what i say over here in America will not matter either. They will continue to discipline children as they see fit, probably now doing it only in bathrooms where cameras cannot legally be hid, or in couple's bedrooms. I know i am sounding pessimistic. The German people and the German court must rule in Germany. The Twelve Tribes will move out of Germany if they have to in order to follow their founder's Teachings and the Child Training Manual. They will lie in court under oath if they have to. They will do whatever it takes. I feel the only real answer is education and the Internet. Still, desperate souls will go to the Tribes anyway. Desperate for a new life, desperate for a new identity, desperate for friends, desperate for a family, desperate to "leave the world", desperate to find God, desperate for what they believe will be a way to raise children that will not become homosexual, fornicators, adulterers, drug addicted etc., desperate to find a mate.
    If the court can't read and understand the following as it applies to all the Tribes worldwide, i don't know what to say:
    “The blueness of the wound drives away all evil.” [October 1980 Child Training -Notes from Teachers Meeting - Page 5]
    “Unless your son has blue wounds, by this standard, you know what kind of a
    standard is in you — it is the spirit that hates your son. If one is overly concerned about his son receiving blue marks you know that he hates his son and hates the word of God.” [No date – Execution of Justice – Page 1]
    “We must beat respect into our children.” [Unraveling The Races Of Man]

  4. I wish LittleProf and Jennifer to know that i did address the Nordlingen court as you suggested.
    I don't know what else to say.
    It is my own personal hope and prayer, that the court will be able to know what is best, how to best
    protect the children.
    I am not saying these things to demonize the Tribes parents or the communities.
    Most adults i have lived with in the Tribes dearly loved the children, But at the same time, they have been indoctrinated
    to frequently hit the children on the first offense for any disobedience or foolishness of any kind and for trivial matters,
    according to the founders directives.
    I still love my friends in the Tribes. I wish it could be the life of love that I originally pictured it to be. That i hoped it would be.
    There was much love there in some ways, but a darkness of uniformity and unquestioned obedience and austerity was mixed in.
    As two of my Tribes friends recently told me,
    "Our life hasn't changed any, it's excruciating (very painful)."
    "We're really not here to make the world a better place."
    "You really need to be saved." (Come there and live and repent and obey and never leave).
    Thank you for providing this blog, and the genuine love and concern i sense behind it.

    1. Thank you Cassey.

      I believe that one of the worst things about punitive, authoritarian communities is that they really do wear a person down. Having come out of that, one will find that it is quite difficult not to be completely cynical about situations that are similar to or the same as what you were exposed to.

      Spiritual and mental abuse is very subtle sometimes. It takes a great deal of work and time away from the situation and perpetrators to deprogram from it all. Be gentle with yourself.

      There is no reason to feel any shame for exposing the wrong that happens in any abusive environment, even if you were at one time blind to it or participated in it. You know now. You grew, you left. It is normal to feel loss for something that should have been one way and ended up being completely the opposite of that once you were in the trenches.

      Hopefully your information will assist the court.

  5. Hi everybody from Italy.
    I never met a member of 12 tribes, never knew they existed. However I have seen their videos, cards and letters of the children now "prisoner" of the German system. They do not seem abused children at all. They and their writings appear very balanced, well written, better that the average. I would say also that judges and the office for youth had to admit that they are well educated and their upbringing goes with and over the standards. Notwithstanding their methods are under attack.

    I am sure that they are not perfect, as none of us is, they make mistakes. However the abduction of children from parents has to be the last option. 2,3 up to 10,11 years old children must stay with their parents. Please google Jugendamt Germany and see what is happening in that country. If you wish I'll be glad to read your comments.

    1. Cinzia, please reserve your judgment until after you've read all parts of this story.

      The children were beaten regularly. The religious texts from the Twelve Tribes have said that children *must* be beaten regularly (daily) to save their souls from hell.

      Corporal punishment has been illegal in Germany since 1997 and firmed up to completely ban it in 2000.

      The 1997 law moved to end "degrading methods of discipline including physical and psychological abuse", but this did not explicitly ban physical punishment. In October 1998 the new Family Minister announced that that the government was committed to prohibiting all corporal punishment which finally was fulfilled in the 2000 law which states: "Children have the right to a non-violent upbringing. Corporal punishment, psychological injuries and other humiliating measures are prohibited".

      The Twelve Tribes are a cult group. I will stand behind the German Jugendamt on this and say that they were too slow and they are finally making up for that to some extent. I would suggest that you continue reading all parts to this story and seek out the video that was posted by RTL which details what happened when Wolfram Kuhnigk infiltrated the group in Donau-Ries (Bavaria) and found their spanking rooms. If you cannot find that here via the blog, you can find it now on Vimeo here:

      For what it is worth, I live in Germany and the Jugendamt is not known for child snatching, irregardless of rumors on the internet about that.

    2. Cinzia:

      The TT are a horribly evil, racist, sexist, and homophobic cult. I do not qualify this statement of mine with the politically correct "in my opinion", I state this as a FACT. This is simply a toxic and psychopathic group, and my heart goes out to all whose families and children are trapped within the TT Borg-like hive mind.

      Also, I am afraid that after Yoneq and his consort eventually die, the TT will survive, and even thrive. This is not a group that will wither away after the deaths of its founders/leaders; in fact, I predict that they will get stronger yet. But I hope to God that I am wrong in this prediction.

    3. Please also see:

  6. Jennifer - I love your website . I am a former member of the Twelve Tribes and I currently operate a anti twelve tribes web site called Twelve Tribes-ex. I would like to know if you could make available to me the newspaper articles "A life of punishment two ex members of the Twelve Tribes sect tell how they were beaten and exploited for years in the middle of Bavaria - no one helped them." My email address is Thanks for all you do. May Yahshua Ha Meshiach bless you! I am a Gentile believer in Christ!