Scientology's "Holocaust" - 1997-02-25
When she met with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl last week, Albright was committed to bringing up U.S. "concerns" about Germany's treatment of Scientologists. At the same time, she clearly aimed to distance the U.S. government from the type of inflammatory rhetoric blaring from the full-page ads that have been appearing in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune and other newspapers in recent weeks, which have invoked the specter of Nazi persecution. As the secretary of State made plain, such comparisons absurdly belittle the horrors suffered by 6 million Jews, Albright's own grandparents and other relatives among them.
One ad, in the form of an open letter addressed to Kohl, particularly stung the Germans because it was signed by 34 Hollywood celebrities, none of whom are Scientologists themselves. (The ad was sponsored by Bertram Fields, the Hollywood-based lawyer for Tom Cruise, who is a Scientologist.) "It's a mockery, a scandal," says Anna Rühle, the representative in the Berlin Senate in charge of keeping watch over sect activity in Berlin, "and very clever. Because it's an old story. Back in 1994, the Scientologists released a booklet called 'Hate and Propaganda' drawing the same parallel."
But this time, names such as Dustin Hoffman and Oliver Stone are attached to it, and even if they don't lend the parallel any more credibility, it's just the sort of story the media loves to bite into. It's got everything: movie stars, the reopening of Germany's old wounds, international friction and a weird cult to boot.