Sunday, 14 September 2008

Matthias Rath's websites: Concerns


Angryyoungalex has looked into the claims that the records of the IG Farben trial are being purposefully buried. Results here.

In my previous post I described a close-knit group of websites for various campaigns, initiatives, awards etc. all of which have been set up either partially or entirely by the Dr Rath Health Foundation. Having looked at yet another other official Dr Rath site this morning (clearly this is what Sunday lie-ins were made for), I've decided there's enough *ahem* interesting aspects to fill a whole book. I'll just stick to the points I was planning to make yesterday:

  • There seems to be a deliberate attempt, through repeated use of the phrase "the Auschwitz Survivors", to suggest that the foundation have been singled out for an official award from a group representing all former prisoners of Auschwitz. I've carried out several searches, including on the official website for the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum. There's a brief mention of the hospice foundation stone being placed but nothing on Rath or the "Relay of Life" award.

  • The relationship between the small group of Auschwitz survivors and the Dr Rath Health Foundation could be described - depending on what you've read elsewhere - as anything from ironic to utterly sick. If reports of his actions in Africa are accurate then "profit before life" would be a fitting mission statement. Although I should probably add here that his foundation is reported to have distributed dietary supplements for free, not to make a profit, and this statement appears prominently on
    All profits from the sales of our natural health programs go to the Dr. Rath Foundation.
    This Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to research and education in natural health worldwide.

  • The scale and complexity of this operation is staggering - to accuse regulated medicine of deliberately murdering countless patients, to gather 'proof' that World War II was started by a pharmaceutical company, to warn us that the 'oil and drug cartel' ruling the USA and France are planning a nuclear war (either before November 4th 2008 or October 2007, depending on the website) or that subjecting dietary supplements to "unreasonable and arbitrary risk/benefit assessments" is a danger to democracy - all of this is an impressively wide range of goals. There have been other organisations in history who adopted a similar approach and they've rarely changed the world for the better.

  • All the websites I looked at were well designed and had their own, individual style. Clearly, a great deal of effort has gone into widening the foundation's online presence; buying appropriate domain names, choosing the right message, the right pictures and layout, adding content from other sites in a different format etc. There are campaigns to appeal to various different groups of concerned citizens. Decisions have clearly been made about whether the links between sites should be obvious or hidden. For example, Profit Over Life has a link to the Avenue to Life funding appeal whereas visitors starting at the Avenue to Life site would only know that 'Dr Rath Health Programs' have bought a tree. There are also significant differences between different language versions of the same sites. For example, the foundation's German site doesn't seem to mention the 'award', or at least not as prominently as the English version.

  • Opponents of Matthias Rath could view this creeping network of semi-independent campaigns website as a cross between a hydra and Voldemort's horcruxes. Should it come to the point where legal action is taken against Matthias Rath, dismantling this massive operation could be an impossible task. If the man is removed but others pledge to carry on work in his name... this is how new religions form.

  • Before I get too carried away with Da Vinci Code style international plots, I have a small legal concern too. The Avenue to Life site is calling for donations from English speakers without providing information about the project in English. The project is a memorial - and it's excellent that a memorial is being built to those who helped escaped prisoners from Auschwitz - but it will also be a working hospice. Before they collect more donations for the project, they should make it clear - in all relevant langauges - how the hospice will be run, who will pay for the staff and equipment, whether treatment will be provided for free, and who will provide the medication required by the terminally ill residents.

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