Death of the Ideal Scientologist, Konrad Aigner
Alongside a well-placed ad from the Cult of Scientology encouraging viewers to “Get the facts” is an article by John Brown entitled The Ideal Scientologist: Konrad Aigner. This must-read story summarizes the life and death in Scientology of Konrad Aigner.
Aigner joined the cult in 1976, after leaving his family’s German farm to take up employment as a bus driver in Munich. Aigner became a committed Scientologist, devoting himself to crossing Scientology’s disingenuously-named Bridge to Total Freedom, which Brown described as “a very expensive process, currently believed to cost US$360,000” that leads not to Total Freedom “but to Total Disillusionment, as several OT8s have stated in no uncertain terms.”
In order to be able to devote more funds to traversing the Bridge, Aigner returned to the family farm in 1995 and began working as an independent bus driver. Aigner’s family reported changes in Konrad. Normally cheerful and easy-going, Konrad was said to have become tense, nervous and preoccupied. In 1996, Aigner tried to leave Scientology but ended up sticking around. In 1997, Konrad told his mother that he wanted out, claiming that “he had learned something so terrible that it would kill her to hear about it”. That August, after three months in a coma, Aigner was dead.
No-one seems to doubt that it was his involvement with Scientology which, directly or indirectly, led to his premature death, and it may be significant that vitamins were found among his possessions after his death. Konrad died of multiple organ failure – his heart, lungs and stomach had all stopped working. The autopsy report notes that their condition was abnormal for a man of his age. No answer to this mysterious collapse has so far been found. However several things point to a notorious and dangerous Scientology practice known as the Purification Rundown or Purif. It involves overdosing on vitamins and spending many hours for several consecutive days, in a very hot sauna. Prolonged exposure to abnormally high body temperatures causes soft tissue damage and death. Consequently multiple organ failure is a feature of severe or repeated heat exhaustion. An individual can survive a single episode if given the proper emergency treatment but he remains vulnerable to even a modest rise in body temperature for an unknown period. If Konrad had been forced to prolong his ‘purif’ or repeat it too often, it could produce exactly the symptoms which killed him. It is in fact difficult to think of any other possible explanation. He was already sweating and shaking before he left for Munich, which suggests that damage had already been done. As in other Scientology deaths we can point to the cult’s negligence, arrogance, irresponsibility and a lack of the normal care due to one human being from another.
The Cult of Scientology’s impact on Aigner’s family continued even after Konrad’s passing.
This simple bachelor who lived at home, worked hard, lived frugally, never went on holiday, left huge debts. His brother Bernard calculated that during the last few months of his life Konrad had paid the cult 70,000 marks and estimated that his total payments over the years were at least 600,000 marks. Not only his own savings but those of his family had been given to Scientology. To repay his loans his brothers and sisters had to sell their land. The only thing they managed to save was their parents’ house, and a useless e-meter for which their brother had paid 8,000 marks. ‘We cannot bring Konrad back to life, but maybe he can serve as a warning to others.’
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