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On Thursday 8 January 1998, the Spanish police in Santa Cruz on the tourist island of Tenerife announced that they had only just prevented a mass suicide planned for that day.
A Berlin psychologist, Ms Heide Fittkau-Garthe, (57 years old, according to CNN TV; 56 according to RTL Television) was the leader, the 'World Mother', of the Atma Center (Isis Holistic Center); the cult involved in this. Supposedly, it arose from a split in the Order of the Solar Temple, notorious from earlier suicides and murders in France, Switzerland, and Canada, and from a recent British TV program, stating that the late Princess Grace of Monaco had been a member. Solar Temple activity in Tenerife began with a visit by leader Luc Jouret in 1984; Ms Fittkau-Garthe has been living in Tenerife for years.
32 cult members, 31 of them German (however, BBC TV mentioned also Britons), one Spanish woman, five of them children, were supposedly on Tenerife, to commit suicide on the volcano Mt. Teide. Their leader told them the end of the world would be on 8 January. The axis of the earth would shift abruptly, causing natural disasters (a theory, similar to the Dutch Spiritualist J. Rulof, and other occultists). If they would commit suicide as she told them, a vehicle from outer space ('not an aircraft, but a space shuttle', according to Fittkau-Garthe) would appear, to save them. It would take people and animals from doomed Planet Earth to 'Planet Aida'.
The police say that they prevented mass death by going into the cult's premises during their 'last supper', and arresting the leader for inciting people to suicide, and to murder of the children. They claim they found a stock of poisonous chemicals at Ms Fittkau-Garthe's house. They seized documents, including suicide notes (Herzenschlüssel; 'keys to the heart' which Fittkau-Garthe's devotees had already written). These described Ms Fittkau-Garthe as divine, and mentioned uniting with her by death.
According to the WAZ of 22 January 1998, on 21 January the police released Ms Fittkau-Garthe on bail. She was not allowed to leave Spain then. In February, she was; but she had to report to the court regularly and be available for further questioning. The inquiry would continue. On 25 January, RTL-Spiegel TV (Germany) broadcast an interview with Fittkau-Garthe, recorded on 21 January. She admitted the papers on suicide were from her home. A devotee then interpreted them as about killing 'the ego', not the body.
Ms Heide Fittkau-Garthe was a business consultant. She saw businesses as 'organisms'. She was a prominent participant in a congress on 'synergy' (a concept of the psychologist C.G. Jung, recently the subject of critical books by R. Noll).
According to Der Spiegel, 4/1998, Ms Fittkau-Garthe said the victims of the Nazi Holocaust owed their deaths to karma, to their own bad actions in past lives. She herself claimed to have been Czar Nicholas II in a former life. A disobedient cult member had supposedly been Lenin, murderer of Fittkau-Garthe's previous incarnation's family; who could make up for that only by total obedience to Fittkau-Garthe in this life.
Apparently, Fittkau-Garthe had been the leader of the Hamburg branch of the Brahma Kumaris religious group (founded in the 1930s in India; headquarters at Mt. Abu). She retained its doctrine of an elite of 'golden souls', destined to reincarnate to rule the world in a new world era, and its belief in "Shiv Baba" (or "Brahma Baba") as supreme deity.
Occult tendencies tend to see Tenerife, and especially Mt. Teide, as a remnant of the mythical former continent Atlantis. At least six UFO cults regularly meet on Mt. Teide, according to Der Spiegel, 4/1998.
Since Madame Blavatsky, occultists consider ancient Egypt to have links with Atlantis. The first book by Madame Blavatsky was Isis [ancient Egyptian goddess] Unveiled.
Article by Herman de Tollenaere (with thanks to Heinrich Eppe). Published, in slightly different form, in the Indian Skeptic, 15 August 1998
Fittkau-Garthe; Evangelische Informationsstelle, Switzerland Berliner Morgenpost, Gift im Haus der Berliner Sekten-Chefin gefunden Berlinerin Chefin von Selbstmord-Sekte? B.Z.: Fittkau-Garthe und Brahma Kumaris Kölner Manager (40) besuchte Seminare bei Fittkau-Garthe Die Selbstmord-Sekte der Berliner Psychologin Fittkau-Garthe: Sie spielte Millionen Zuschauern etwas vor Berliner Star-Psychologin Rhein-Zeitung: War Gehirnwäsche im Spiel?
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