“This Forum aims to raise awareness about the LaRouche group. We will give voice to all those who suffer because of a failure of our European society to address the legal and ideological issues in question. Families are failed by a system that does not protect their children from methods of subjugation. Now, for the first time in Germany, former members together with the disaffected families will publicly examine whether the LaRouchites represent a danger to society, and to European law.”—ERICA DUGGAN
The Lyndon LaRouche movement is a U.S. based far-right sect that is one of the most prolific purveyors of anti-Semitic propaganda in the world. Operating with impunity in Germany, France and other EU countries since the 1970s, it poses not only political and legal problems but also a mental health one—its use of deception, psychological intimidation and outright mind-control tactics induces many young people (the chief focus of recruiting efforts) to adopt paranoid ideas and a rigidly disciplined and self-denying lifestyle that most of them would otherwise reject.
In 2000, the sect launched the LaRouche Youth Movement (LYM), which today has hundreds of organizers worldwide seeking to win adherents via lectures, the Internet, “cadre schools,” and (most visibly) recruitment tables on or near university campuses. Depicting the LYM as a group dedicated to world peace, classical music and the study of science and philosophy, the street organizers seek to draw idealistic young students into what will become, for many, a black hole of fear and hate.
The LaRouche sect was founded in the late 1960s, and includes many devotees who’ve spent their entire adult lives serving the ideology and megalomania of Lyndon Hermyle LaRouche, Jr., a prolific tract writer who was a communist before moving to the far right in the 1970s. The group is known not only for its artfully-crafted anti-Semitic broadsides but also for its ruthless harassment of perceived enemies (such as the late Green Party leader Petra Kelly) and its involvement in various illegal activities to pay for its leader’s propaganda efforts.
U.S. courts found them guilty
In 1988, LaRouche and five of his followers were convicted in U.S. federal court (and about a dozen more LaRouchians were found guilty in Virginia and New York courts) of swindling tens of millions of dollars from lenders throughout the United States, including senior citizens who had liquidated their life savings to provide cash for the sect’s political needs. LaRouche received a sentence of five to 15 years in a federal penitentiary for his role in the scheme.
The convictions were a heavy blow to the U.S. branch of the LaRouche movement, but posed only moderate problems for the branches in other countries. Today, LaRouchian organizers are active in Canada, Australia, the EU countries and several Latin American nations as well as in the United States. Its European headquarters is in Wiesbaden (and has been for over 30 years), and it operates throughout Germany via the Schiller Institute (headed by LaRouche’s German wife Helga Zepp-LaRouche) and the electoral party BÜSO, as well as through the LYM.
Mind control, LaRouche-style
A university student will typically first encounter the LYM at one of its literature tables, and will be urged to come to a meeting at which he or she will hear a low-key version of LaRouche’s ideas. After students are drawn into LYM activities, they come under intense pressure to drop out of school, distance themselves from their families, and join the movement full time. Those who take that final step are moved into cheap communal flats where they sleep several to a room. They are expected to work long hours, six or seven days a week, under the close supervision of abusive team leaders, and to attend frequent indoctrination sessions where they are told exactly what they can, and cannot, read and think.
The leaders of the sect's work teams use fear, shame and guilt to control recruits who are already beaten down by overwork, malnutrition and lack of sleep. The recruits are also subjected to “ego-stripping” sessions which leave them in a traumatized—and highly suggestible—state of mind. Such techniques suppress their capacity for critical thought, and they end up internalizing LaRouche’s paranoid belief system, becoming utterly convinced that Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and a cabal of mostly Jewish bankers in London (the “oligarchy”) are plotting to kill billions of people and usher in a New Dark Age—and that only LaRouche knows how to save civilization from this catastrophe.
The plight of the families
Parents and siblings are usually horrified by what has happened to their loved one. But if they speak out about their pain or seek help from the authorities, they risk retaliation by the sect’s leadership, which may order the recruit to break off all contact with them. The sect may even send the recruit to another country (for instance, from Australia to the United States) and/or shuttle him or her from city to city so that the parents may not know where the recruit is for years on end. Who cannot sympathize with parents paralyzed by their fear of such an eventuality? In effect, they are victimized twice over: first, by losing their loved one; and second, by being forced to participate in the sect’s conspiracy of silence.
When the authorities do nothing, tragedy strikes...
In March 2003, Jeremiah Duggan, a 22-year-old British student studying in Paris, traveled to Germany, unaware that the supposed anti-war conference he would attend was really a recruitment effort for the LaRouche organization. Eyewitnesses say that although he remained in Germany for a cadre school after the conference, he was strongly resistant to much of the sect's political ideology, including its anti-Semitism (he was himself Jewish). And as the days passed, he appears to have become acutely aware that he had wandered into dangerous territory. In the early hours of March 27—five days after his arrival—he called his mother in London and told her (before their phone connection was suddenly cut off) that he was in "big trouble." Shortly after dawn he would be found dead beside a Wiesbaden autobahn.
And then…an inadequate (to put it mildly) investigation
A young Jew had died that morning under murky circumstances after being continuously surrounded for five days by members of an anti-Semitic sect that has a history of violence and psychologically brutal indoctrination tactics. One would expect law enforcement to scrupulously investigate whether or not the sect had any involvement in his death. This is not what happened in Wiesbaden.
The police decided at the outset that Jeremiah's death was the result of his being struck by two cars, and run over by the second car, after he supposedly dashed in front of them. This determination was based in large part on informal conversations at the roadside with the drivers of the two cars, who were allowed to leave before the investigating officer arrived. The authorities' subsequent "rush to judgment"--its conclusion that Jeremiah must have committed suicide--was therefore made under the influence of hearsay information.
LaRouche’s Schiller Institute encouraged this theory by making false allegations that Jeremiah was a mental patient and a drug abuser even though the group's leaders had not personally known the young man (the allegations would be vehemently disputed by Jeremiah's family, fiancée and friends, but the police had already made up their minds).
The police's hasty adoption of the sucide theory short-circuited the investigative process. The police did not seek for any witnesses other than the drivers, did not take formal statements from the drivers, did not conduct a forensic investigation at the apparent death scene, did not follow the recommendation for an autopsy made by the physician at the scene, and did not preserve Jeremiah’s clothing for possible future forensic examination.
The sect’s suspicious behavior
Equally important, the police did not investigate any possible role of the LaRouche movement in Jeremiah’s death, especially to determine if he had been held against his will at any point or subjected to psychological or physical abuse. According to the Duggans, a police official told them that he and his colleagues had no intention of investigating LaRouche's Schiller Institute, which the official characterized as a respectable organization.
Yet the behavior of the LaRouche movement's leadership was very suspicious. Helga Zepp-LaRouche spoke at a cadre meeting at the sect's local office within hours of Jeremiah’s death, alleging that he had been a spy sent over from the UK, and that he had been brainwashed by the Tavistock clinic to harm the movement. (The LaRouchians believe that Tavistock, a London mental health network that is highly respected by professionals, is really a center for training assassins to stalk LaRouche and other dissident public figures.) After this meeting, individuals who had been with Jeremiah during the conference and at the subsequent cadre school were sent out of the country and warned not to talk to the Duggan family.
The forensic evidence
Not accepting the decision of the German authorities, the Duggan family has continued to investigate Jeremiah's death over the past five years. Here are some of the findings they believe are most important:
Jeremiah's passport (which was not on his body at the purported death scene but was later turned over to the police by the Schiller Institute's manager) was stained with blood. A test obtained by the Duggan family determined that the blood was Jeremiah's.
Two leading forensic experts examined the UK post-mortem report from 2003 as well as the German police photos, and noted (in their 2007 reports) evidence of head wounds that were consistent with a beating and "exclude any possibility that the injuries to his [Jeremiah's] head occurred because a motor vehicle ran over the body." The experts also noted what were apparently "defense wounds" on Jeremiah's forearms and hands, as if he had been trying to protect himself. (Quoted in the London Observer, March 25, 2007; read here.)
The UK experts saw no evidence of tire marks on Jeremiah's body, even though the police had said that the second vehicle ran over Jeremiah. The experts also failed to find spinal or neck injuries that would have been consistent with a high-speed impact. (These findings fit with the report of the German police expert, who acknowledged that there were no deposits of skin, hair, blood or cloth on the supposed impact vehicles.)
According to The Observer's summary of the reports, Jeremiah "survived long enough to swallow large amounts of blood...which would not be the case after a high-speed collision."
In spite of the above—and much other—evidence, the German authorities have obdurately refused to reopen the investigation.
Why is convicted felon LaRouche allowed to set foot on German soil?
In 1994, LaRouche was released on parole from U.S. federal prison after serving only a third of his 15-year sentence. Afterwards, while still under court supervision, he was allowed by both U.S. and German authorities to visit Germany (he also visited Russia and other countries to spread his message). In 2003, no longer on parole but still a convicted criminal whose legal appeals to the highest courts in the United States had been turned down, LaRouche was permitted to enter Germany to give the keynote address at the Bad Schwalbach conference attended by Jeremiah Duggan.
It’s time to stop coddling the LaRouche organization
As Chip Berlet, a U.S. expert on neo-fascist groups, stated in a report for this forum: “For Germany to continue to ignore the fact that a major international anti-Semitic propaganda enterprise run by the LaRouchites has a major base on German soil once again raises questions about the memory of the Nazi Genocide. Germans have an historic obligation to act on that memory, and in the past have done so repeatedly. Why the LaRouchites are not subject to the same moral outrage deserves a full public discussion.”
Aktion für Geistige und Psychische Freiheit (Ingo Heinemann) – http://www.AGPF.de/LaRouche.htm
Justice for Jeremiah (Duggan family and friends) – http://justiceforjeremiah.com
LaRouche Planet (website run by ex-members) – http://laroucheplanet.info
Lyndon LaRouche Watch (Dennis King) – http://lyndonlarouchewatch.org
Political Research Associates (Chip Berlet) – http://publiceye.org/larouche/
Rick Ross’s archive – http://www.rickross.com/groups/larouche.html
Verrit: Mein Leben in einer radikalen Politorganisation, Aglaja Beyes-Corleis, Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder/Spektrum, 1994.
Deckname Schiller: Die Deutschen Patrioten des Lyndon LaRouche, Helmut Lorscheid and Leo A. Mueller, Rembek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1986.
Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism, Dennis King, New York: Doubleday, 1989 (read it here).