In spring 2010, it was revealed that teachers at Ettal Monastery in Bavaria had psychologically and physically mistreated and sexually abused boarding school pupils over a period of several decades. The monks announced they would carry out full investigations into the cases. But what has really happened?
In terms of dimension, the reports about the Bavarian Benedictine monastery represented a sad culmination of all the horror stories that have surfaced from confessional schools. How could such an idyllically located, apparently God-fearing place turn out to be the scene of terror for so many children and adolescents?
Bastian Obermayer and Rainer Stadler interviewed more than 50 former pupils, some of whom still suffer from the trauma of their school years today. They met parents, teachers, and housemasters, monastery representatives, psychologists, theologians and social scientists. They visited the scenes of the crimes and studied numerous documents from that time.
The fragments of information are pieced together to produce a picture that contradicts any instinctive attempts to explain the incidents. Because the perpetrators were not isolated offenders who strayed from the path as monastery heads have repeatedly claimed, but violence and abuse at the monastery school were systematic.
About the Authors
Bastian Obermayer, born in 1977, studied politics, history and American studies in Munich, where he also attended the Deutsche Journalistenschule. He has worked as an editorial journalist for the supplement of the Süddeutsche Zeitung and has received numerous awards, including the Henri Nannen Prize and the Theodor Wolff Prize.
Rainer Stadler, born in 1967, studied computer science and gradu-ated from the Burda Journalistenschule in Munich. He works as a free-lance journalist and foreign correspondent in Los Angeles and writes for the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Focus and Spiegel, among oth-ers. He has also worked as an editorial journalist for the SZ magazine since 2001.